If you think about it most of us plan for those milestone events in our lives weddings, trips overseas, our education, buying a home, or even planning our daily dinners, but why is it that an event that happens to all of us, is hardly spoken about and most likely not planned.
“Nothing is certain but Death and Taxes”
– Benjamin Franklin
Through the years of being a funeral celebrant, I have worked with many families during their darkest hour and I know how vulnerable and exposed the family feels during this time. I have found the families who were able to plan with their loved one some details of their upcoming funeral (for instance if someone was terminally ill) or if their loved one had a pre-paid funeral, these families were significantly less stressed.
In 1997, when my father passed away suddenly from a heart attack, we made some very bad financial decisions, the main one choosing a casket which cost way too much money. He was our dad and we wanted him to go out in style. We were vulnerable and overwhelmed with our grief. When I think back to the awful music played as we were walking into the church, I’m sure my dad was looking down and thinking “Are you serious?!”
I have thought about his funeral often and how I would have done it differently. This experience has really fuelled my desire to have an open dialogue with friends and family about what should be done if I died unexpectedly. I have made 2 speeches at my Blue Mountains Toastmasters about planning for a funeral and having a “Just In Case” box with all of your relevant details.
In June 2013, I gave a presentation at Pecha Kucha at Scenic World highlighting a “Just in Case” scrapbook, provided below.
A story that has stuck with me, I was listening to a Funeral Director at a seminar talking about a funeral he organized for a family. The family decided that a cremation for their father would be appropriate. The father’s will was read a week after the funeral and the father clearly stated that he wanted to be buried. The family was extremely distraught. This is often the case that a will is read after the funeral, so make sure if your funeral details are in your will, let your family know. Better yet, have a copy of those funeral details accessible to your family.
I know death is an uncomfortable topic to speak about, but getting your matters in order and letting your family and friends know what you want done after you’ve passed away empowers them. A few hours of gathering vital info now, will save your loved ones hours of frustration later.