“Life is so beautiful that death has fallen in love with it, a jealous, possessive love that grabs at what it can. But life leaps over oblivion lightly, losing only a thing or two of no importance, and gloom is just a passing shadow of a cloud.” —Yann Martel, Life of Pi
My Financial Coach is proud to introduce you to our latest guest blog by Camille Johnson. Camille brings her unique firsthand life experience with unexpected tragedy and overcoming the emotional fallout. She now dedicates her time to helping others be emotionally prepared and work through the trials and tribulations that come from the loss of a loved one via her own blog The Bereaver.
While death is an inevitable part of life, most of us are completely unprepared for it. And for good reason! Thinking about your demise—and talking about it with loved ones—is unsettling and uncomfortable. One of the best gifts you can leave for your loved ones is to make these plans yourself and try to set your discomfort aside and tackle your funeral arrangements today.
One of the most important reasons to plan your own funeral is to reduce the financial burden on your loved ones. According to MarketWatch, a funeral can easily set your family back $10,000. Extra expenses for renting a venue, catering, floral arrangements, and burial clothing can add up quickly. Most families aren’t prepared to spend this kind of money, but with the emotional toll of the situation, it’s easy to overspend. Your loved ones will also find it hard to shop around for affordable options when they are pressed for time and swamped with emotions.
Preplanning your funeral will save your family significant stress and money. Losing a loved one is already one of the most stressful life events we can experience, even without the pressure of planning a funeral on short notice. Intense emotions, conflicting values, and unexpected expenses can cause all kinds of family disagreements.
By documenting your wishes, your family will have some guidelines to follow when making these plans. This also ensures that your wishes are carried out and gives you the opportunity to personalize your service.
Planning how to pay for your own funeral is one of the most important parts of this whole process. One way to cover your funeral costs is to purchase burial insurance. This is a low-cost form of life insurance—with a smaller benefit than traditional life insurance—meant for covering the immediate costs associated with your funeral plans. Your beneficiary can also use the payout to cover any debts you leave behind.
If you decide to purchase burial insurance, try to estimate the costs of your final arrangements so you can get the right amount of coverage. You can also prepay for your funeral through the funeral home of choice, but ElderLawAnswers warns that this is risky since funeral homes can go out of business.
When it comes to planning your funeral service, your options are nearly endless. You can decide every small detail, right down to the type of food that is served to your guests. If it’s too overwhelming to make these decisions, tackle the larger, more difficult arrangements and leave the less important details to your loved ones. Think about the kind of service you want, such as a graveside ceremony or a celebration of life, and pick out a location that’s meaningful to you.
While you don’t have to come up with an entire guest list for your service, make note of people who your family may not think to invite, like coworkers or people from groups you belong to. You may want to designate people to deliver eulogies, poems, and other readings. You could even ask your guests to honor your memory by making a donation to a charity organization of your choice.
One of the toughest parts of the planning process is determining what you would like done with your remains. It’s important to make this decision so you can be prepared to cover the costs involved and take care of all the relevant arrangements. For example, if you decide on a traditional burial, you may want to pick out a cemetery plot, headstone, and casket right now.
NBC points out cremation is a trendy option, thanks to lower costs than traditional burials and the flexibility it affords. If you decide on cremation, let your loved ones know where you would like your ashes spread or buried.
Planning your own funeral is a gift that will prevent your loved ones from shouldering additional stress and urgent expenses during a time of grief. The last thing your family members will want to do in the wake of your death is to make a multitude of important, time-sensitive decisions about your funeral and burial plans. Take the time to tackle these arrangements and give yourself some peace of mind!