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How does Advance funeral Planning affect the first hours before a funeral and the days and weeks that follow?
CALLING THE FUNERAL HOME / MORTUARY
Funeral preplan already in place: When a funeral preplan is already in place and on file at the funeral home, there is no question as to who to call. The deceased has left a clear message. The stunned, tired, grief-stricken family just makes the call and the funeral home takes your loved one into their care.
No funeral preplan in place: When a death occurs and no funeral preplan has been recorded at a funeral home, the first order of business is deciding which funeral home to call. The stunned, tired, grief stricken family must agree upon who they will trust to guide them through this difficult time. They must determine the funeral establishment that will help honor their loved one in a way that satisfies all their needs and fits their budget.
THE EVENING BEFORE THE FUNERAL ARRANGEMENT CONFERENCE
Funeral preplan already in place: When a funeral preplan is in place, the family can take this time to comfort each other. They can share memories, go through pictures or just rest. Tomorrow they will meet with the funeral director and review the funeral plan their family member put together with them in mind.
No funeral preplan in place: For the family with no funeral preplan in place, tomorrow will bring many questions and decisions. Tonight, they will be weighing in on one big question – burial or cremation. They’ll be figuring out how much to spend and who will pay for the funeral. They will need to decide which of them will participate in the arrangement conference. They will need to consider and agree upon how to honor their loved one’s life.
DAYS AND WEEKS AFTER THE FUNERAL
Funeral preplan already in place: The family with the funeral preplan has no doubts, no second-guessing, and no regrets. They know they did the “right” thing. They know they spent the right amount of money. They miss the one they lost but they have no regrets about the service that honored their loved one’s life.
No funeral preplan in place: Sadly not all families are able to pull together following the loss of a family member. Some are pulled apart because they disagree about decisions great and small. The days and weeks following a death are emotional and tense. It can be a very difficult time to be making group decisions.
To: Funeral Director
From: Dad with no plan
Subject: A question about funeral preplanning
Before I get to my question, I have to tell you the background.
Friday after Thanksgiving I took my wife (who cooked for a week for that dinner) and my kids (who came from west coast, east coast, and the middle) and the grandkids (who only ate rolls for Thanksgiving) out for pizza.
Sounds nice, right? OMG! It took us forever to order, no one could agree! We ended up with one cheese pizza for the picky grandkids, a large with ¼ meat lovers, ¼ with anchovies, and ½ supreme. We also ordered a medium white with gluten free crust. Still they were all picking stuff off, making faces, and huffing and puffing. OMG again!
So, my question…and I need your opinion here…how are they going to do when the time comes for them to meet with you to plan my funeral? Do you think maybe the wife and I should do one of those funeral preplans or advance funeral plans?
To: Dad with no plan
From: Funeral Director
Subject: Re: A question about funeral preplanning
OMG yes, you and your wife need a plan. Your family sounds perfectly normal! They’ll get over the pizza … but I’ve seen too many families break apart over disagreements about how to honor their parent’s life. Decisions such as burial or cremation or who is going to pay can be tough when families are grieving. A funeral plan is an easy fix. I‘d be happy to help. When do you want to meet with me? At the funeral home or your house?
“And the two shall be as one” just rolls off our tongue. But think about it. What does it mean to the one who lives when their partner has died? Are they now a half? Families are interesting in that we tend to “know” our family member as their role relates to us. Mom is mom, dad is dad. We kids typically don’t really see the couple side, or the work side, or the friend side of our parents.
So how must it feel to lose your life partner? Try to step into your parent’s shoes. Pretty quickly in a marriage the jobs are assigned. She does the laundry, he cooks the dinner, she manages the household budget, and he manages the retirement plan. Sure, they have separate interests but look at all those shared interests. Are they lost with this death? What happens to their couple activities? Do friends still invite them for bridge or to join the bowling team when they become a single? Life changes drastically when death parts a couple.
If your parent begins to date, it is not so easy to move from your point of view to understanding and accepting theirs. For a child it may feel too soon, like your living parent is replacing your deceased parent. Perhaps this new wife or husband is stepping in a way that you thought you would. She is going to the doctor’s appointments with dad or cooking dad dinner when you expected to fill that role. He is mowing mom’s lawn with dad’s lawn mower no less! It’s hard.
Consider working on changing the way you look at this budding relationship. How hard would it be to live as a half when you have been married for 35, 50, or even 60 years? Maybe this new relationship is a search for the happiness they had with your deceased parent? Try to understand that as we age, time really is limited and precious. And honestly…maybe they can’t wait. Maybe they need a partner, or another half, to be whole again.