Sunday, December 7, 2008

Should you plan your own funeral?

Should you plan your own funeral?

This may seem a taboo or morbid subject to talk about. But death can come to you when you least expect it. Last month was my baby son’s ninteenth anniversary. With him dying at such a young age, the topic death is always mentioned in my family even when my daughters were very young. When we buried him, there was provision for my husband and me to be buried at the same plot, unwittingly when we made that decision, we made our first funeral plan.

To many people, it can be a crazy idea or a scary one to plan for your own funeral. May people may not totally understand the concept of why we should plan our funerals ahead, before we get old.

A death is a very traumatic event especially if the departure is sudden and unexpected. The surviving children or spouse can be so distressed that they couldn’t make decisions.

When my dad died at eighty four, we found he had almost planned his own funeral. He had paid for a funeral director, all the cost involved and the burial plot. It made it less daunting as his surviving children and definitely no argument because we agreed to follow his written wishes.

After the experience of Dad's funeral, I think one should plan one's own funeral. It is a taboo subject to many, but to be realistic, it is not so bad.

In many countries, including New Zealand where I live, there are insurance companies that have funeral plans. You can plan for a simple funeral or a lavish one. By putting a set amount each week, the insurance company will provide a lump some when you die. This saves a lot of grief because money in the bank or assurance money can take some time to be processed. Worrying about money is the last thing a grieving family should think about.

A big decision which incurs a lot of money is whether you wish to be buried or cremated. If you have left no instructions, one member may prefer burial, and another cremation. A burial usually costs a lot more than cremation. Some people prefer to scatter their ashes in a particular place like the beach etc, others like the ashes in an urn and kept in a columbarium.

It is a good idea to write down the nitty-gritty things like whether you want your casket opened or closed, whether you want to be at home or at a funeral home, even who to say your eulogy or what hymns or songs to sing. Even agreeing to such small decisions can cause family feuds, and breaking up of family relationship.

To be pragmatic, when I die, I want the least hassle for my surviving family members. Therefore I think that one should plan one's own funeral.

1 comment:

Mike Testa said...

Good post. I am a CPA and financial planner that helps families needing to save money on funeral costs. You can find some good, objective information about funeral and cremation planning, funeral costs, and ways to reduce funeral costs here: