My family recently experienced the loss of a loved one. We had to make decisions quickly as the average funeral is held in one week or less following a death. Money needed to be paid to the funeral home, arrangements for a pastor, grave opening, visitation times, etc.; the list was long. It felt as if there was little time for tears. We still cried, however, amidst all the work that needed to be done, and it was completely unfamiliar work.
For example, no one ever tells you how difficult it is to write an obituary. There isn’t a checklist that passes from generation to generation, checking off what clothes would he have wanted, who should we call, how do we reach out to friends and family…the list goes on and on. We do not expect to have to make these decisions, but the reality is when we do not plan, those remaining do have to make them.
All these decisions are made during a time of immense sorrow when we should be focusing on the stories of a lifetime lived, a family member we loved. Instead, we stress about decisions: how to pay for the funeral, what funeral casket outfit to choose, what music did they like and is it appropriate for a viewing, is there a cemetery plot available, and what should we say on the memorial? Did our deceased loved one want a celebration of their life, or a somber affair? We will never know because it was not talked about. If you are lucky, you may at least know if they wanted to be cremated or a traditional burial.
After such an overwhelming experience, I know I do not want my family to have to make such decisions while they are grieving. It was an easy decision on my part to go ahead and pre-plan my end-of-life decisions. I spoke with the cemetery and set up an appointment to look at available plots, picked out my casket and made a payment plan. I know what kind of memorial I want and get to figure out exactly what I want it to say. It was as easy as planning a night out with friends. Less than 2 hours and I planned my funeral and decided on a final resting place.
I want to share this experience because, even though I work at Dodds Memorials, I have never thought to pre-plan any of my end-of-life decisions. Like most people I was afraid, afraid that I couldn’t afford the cost, afraid to commit to my final resting place and afraid to confront my own mortality. What I did not expect was the sense of accomplishment, and relief I experienced finalizing these plans. I confronted my fear of the unknown and found out that pre-planning my funeral was liberating. I no longer fear what will happen to my family once I die, as a gift to them I have the hard part done.