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First, relax. Talking about your funeral plans might make you a little uncomfortable at first but making a plan doesn’t mean you will be using it anytime soon. Your funeral director or advance planner will guide you through the process. Most people get very comfortable in just a few minutes.
Do consider bringing someone with you. Be aware that children are often reluctant to come. They don’t want to think about losing you. Insist they come anyway. They will thank you later.
Do allow enough time. Typically, you will need an hour or two to get the most from your preplanning appointment.
Make a list of your questions. You may be undecided about some things. That’s fine. This meeting is a good place to get the information you will need. Just ask. Why should I have a gathering? Is it important for my family to see my body? If I am cremated what are my options for a service? What are the benefits of paying advance? If I pay in advance can I make payments? Any question you have, is a good question.
Probably the most important thing you can do to prepare for your meeting is simply to think about your family and your friends. Who are your people? Brothers, sisters, children, grandchildren, the friends you have known forever and the friends you see every day. Picture them. Think about them. What will they remember about you? What kind of a service will bring them comfort? Will they want to share stories? Will music be important? Will a spiritual component be a valuable part of your service?
Become aware that not everyone in your circle may find comfort in the same way. Tell your planner about the needs of your family and friends. Let the funeral professional help you find the right fit for your people. The funeral is for the survivors, so think about them.
People smile, they even laugh at these meetings. What you are about to do is a final gift for those you love.
Let’s talk about the stages of grief. There is denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. I studied them in nursing school, reviewed them when I got divorced and generally found them to be a pretty accurate and helpful bit of knowledge. And then, a family member died. Stages?
In our house it was more like we all went to the amusement park and were all on very different rides. Up and down, round and round, quiet and loud. We were definitely not that family walking together peacefully along a path through stages. We were all a bunch of nuts. Although we love each other, we were dangerously close to coming apart at the seams.
I don’t think we are the only ones. Death is the number one stressor for families. I’ve seen families break under the weight of illness and loss. Funeral directors will tell you the hardest part of their work is dealing with families who are emotionally fragmented.
We all experience grief differently. It’s a singular journey. But you have to get along. If you don’t work it out you risk losing your family, not just the one member who actually died. So, what helped us?
Deep breathing and listening, I mean really listening to understand not just hear. Recognizing anger as an expression of fear. Seeing frenzied activity as a coping mechanism for helplessness. Making room for each other’s ways of expressing love.
Accepting the prayers and the mementos even when the prayers aren’t ours and the memento is not what we would choose for a funeral.
Being tolerant of each other’s needs and expression of their personal grief. Looking for what’s motivating the behavior not just the behavior itself. Being kind and tolerant. Hugging the huggers and giving the non-huggers their space. Letting go of judgment and making room for differences. I mean really, so what if your sister cries loudly? What’s the harm?
The days before a funeral, the time during the arranging of the funeral and weeks following a funeral are not easy. You and your family can come out of it broken or stronger.
It’s fair to state that funerals stick in the mind of a loved one years after a death. It’s important that you get it right. Please don’t put your wishes in the drawer with the rest of your files. Oh, and that thing where you tell the kids what you want. That’s not the best either.
Here’s what often happens:
The funeral plan in the file - It might be part of the estate plan or stuck in with the financial advisor’s paperwork, or just written on some paper. It is highly likely that it will not be found until well after the funeral is over. In the hours following a death there are literally more than a hundred things to do. The list exists and people count this stuff. There is a lot to do over a short period of time when someone dies. Your family will not be going through the files.
They will not know you wanted to wear your blue dress and that you wanted The Wind Beneath My Wings sung at your funeral. They just won’t. So, imagine the anguish when they find your “plan” two weeks after the funeral service is over.
Imagine how they are going to feel when they realize they buried you in the wrong dress and sang the wrong song. Terrible. That’s how they will feel. Sadly, they’ll feel that way for a very long time.
You’ve told your kids what you want - Seems like it will be ok, but maybe not. A woman and her two sisters have not been on speaking terms since their mother died. Seems everyone heard something different from mom regarding what she wanted. The twins heard she didn’t care, just “do what you want”. So, when mom died visiting one of them, a Southern Baptist service was arranged. That service stunned Martha who was raised Catholic and heard mom say she wanted “a service just like the one we did for your dad.”
Call the funeral home, make an appointment and get everything written down and on file at the funeral home. It’s easy and there is no charge for the appointment.
You are with someone with whom you share some history. Maybe it’s a brother, sister, or a childhood friend. You are talking about an event from the “old days” and you suddenly realize you all remember the event a little differently. Most of us have had this experience. Our relationships work in a similar fashion. The way we love, like the way we remember, is unique to each of us.
A man’s children know him as Dad. Each child knows and loves a slightly different Dad. His wife knows and loves him in yet a different way. A wife may know fears, strengths, hopes, and dreams children never saw. They all love, but in such different ways. Though not a bad thing, it can add to the stress a family experiences during a death and subsequence funeral planning.
So how do you preserve your family relationship and plan a funeral that provides comfort for each family member?
Emotions are raw when families are mourning a death. Tread lightly and be kind. Remember you may want to have Thanksgiving dinner with these people in a few months!
September 12, 2018 | 0 Comments | Category: Veterans
September 10, 2018 | 0 Comments | Category: Honoring
15 POEMS AND QUOTES TO HONOR GRANDPARENTS THIS GRANDPARENTS DAY
Compiled by Jenny Goldade