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It's Your Funeral – Things to Consider Ahead of Time
It’s devastating to lose a loved one, and the logistics of loss only add to the stress. If you want to lessen the burden of your eventual departure and give the gift of clarity to the people who care about you, making certain decisions ahead of time is important.
Though it isn’t easy to contemplate death, making and communicating decisions about the below can be a huge source of relief for your loved ones.
Do you want to donate your organs?
If you don’t have a current driver’s license, your preference on this matter might not be spelled out anywhere. Register online to make your wishes clear. During the registration process, many states allow you to specify which organs and tissues you’d like to donate or whether you’d like to donate everything that can be used. By filling out these forms now, you can make your intentions for the future clear.
What should happen to your body?
Explore your feelings and the many options out there to find the one that feels right to you. There are traditional options like burial in a casket and cremation, but there are many other options too.
- You can donate your body to science
- You can have your ashes turned into a piece of art, a diamond, some fireworks, a keepsake or a vinyl record
- You can choose an eco-friendly option like a scattering by balloon, a bio-degradable shroud or an urn that grows a tree or flowers; or you can even be the foundation for a coral reef
You can’t make the wrong choice for yourself but if you don’t indicate a preference, you force your loved ones to make a difficult and personal decision on your behalf without any guidance.
This adds stress at a difficult time, and it might even have financial implications. If you don’t specify that you prefer, for instance, a plain pine box, your loved ones could feel compelled to spend more than they can afford on a top-of-the-line casket. They might feel it would be a disservice to your memory to go for something so basic when in reality, you appreciate the simplicity and wouldn’t want them to put themselves out for a fancy casket.
By specifying what and where, you can protect your loved ones from feelings of uncertainty and guilt when it comes to making these decisions.
Many people envision some specific ceremony surrounding their death, whether it’s a traditional religious service or an informal party celebrating their life. If you have a preference, let your loved ones know so they don’t have to wonder what you would have liked best.
Mention any religious rites you’d like performed – or skipped – as well as whether you’d like all friends and acquaintances notified and invited or just close family. Maybe there’s a certain song you’d like played, a poem you’d like read or a prayer you’d like recited. Perhaps there is a message you’d like read from you to those in attendance. These choices can shape the legacy you leave behind and help loved ones to remember and celebrate you in a meaningful way, so don’t be afraid to get creative and request what rings true in your heart.
Money seems meaningless alongside the behemoth of mortality, but you can save your loved ones a lot of struggle by taking it into consideration. Is there money in your will set aside to carry out your wishes? Perhaps a life insurance policy? Consider whether the funds you leave behind are sufficient to pay for the kind burial or cremation and ceremony or celebration you’d like.
A fairly recent study by the National Funeral Directions Association found that the average funeral costs $7,181 – and that includes a viewing and burial, embalming, hearse, transfer of remains and service fee. If you think there might not be enough money to carry out your wishes, talk to a loved or professional to identify what aspects of a funeral are most important to you and where there’s room for adjustment.
It’s not a comfortable conversation, but it’s much better than leaving your loved ones to carry out a list of requests that are well beyond their means. By tackling this discussion and other difficult choices head on, you can give peace of mind to the people who care about you most.
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