Very often when a death occurs, most of the decision making becomes the responsibility of one person. Even with the help of loving family and friends, it is often a spouse or an adult child who will feel the responsibility of making final arrangements.
Many times I have heard a surviving family member say, “I was so busy making the arrangements, I felt as though I didn’t get a chance to grieve with everyone else.” When you prearrange your service, it can give them some relief at a time when they need it most.
Think for a moment about who that person is likely to be after you are gone. You know they will have to begin a long journey of healing, and nothing can shorten that process for them. However, there are many steps you can take now, while you are still in their lives, that can alleviate some of their burden in the days immediately following your passing.
You can make your plans with a funeral director (a service that should be offered free of charge), or you can sketch them out on a notepad at your kitchen table. Either way, the important thing is that your loved ones know you have indeed made plans, and they know where to find them.
Imagine your loved one is asking you these questions:
- Who should I contact to let them know about your death? How can I reach them?
- What should go in your obituary, and where should I send it?
- What type of service would you like? Who should officiate, read, sing, or serve as pallbearers? Who would you like to give the eulogy?
- Do you have preferences about flowers or charitable donations?
- Do you own a cemetery lot?
- Have you already chosen a funeral home?
Once you have made a list of your preferences, you can leave them with your family members, or have your funeral director keep it and refer your family to him or her. Do not leave this document in a safe deposit box, however, as it can take a long time for family to have access to its contents after a death has occurred.
If you would like a detailed checklist to guide you, one is at our website under “Plan Ahead.” Making even some of these decisions ahead of time can be a kind action to take for your family later.