How to Discuss Funeral Plans With a Loved One
Funeral plans require a lot of decisions, but having the conversation prior to death is never easy. Learn how to discuss these arrangements here.
By 2050, about one in every six people will be over the age of 65. In fact, the number of seniors in the US will outnumber children by 2035. More people are stepping in to take care of an older loved one as a result.
If you’re taking on the role of a family caregiver, it’s important to prepare yourself for some of the challenging tasks ahead. For example, you might need to consider your loved one’s long-term care options.
You might need to discuss their final arrangements and funeral plans, too.
Initiating the conversation before a loved one passes on is never comfortable. Death is an emotionally charged topic, after all. Discussing the topic early on will ensure you respect your loved one’s last wishes, though.
Otherwise, you might have to make assumptions about what they might have wanted after their passing.
Here are six tips that can help you discuss funeral plants with a loved one. With these tips, you can simplify pre-planning a funeral. You can respect your loved one’s wishes before it’s too late.
Get started with these end-of-life planning tips today.
1. Initiate the Conversation
Before anything else, it’s important to prepare yourself for the conversation ahead.
Pre-planning a funeral isn’t solely about death. As you work through this process, keep the benefits of discussing funeral arrangements ahead of time in mind. For example, you’ll have the chance to respect and uphold your loved one’s last wishes.
If you don’t discuss the topic of funeral arrangements, you might not know how to proceed after your loved one’s passing.
Pre-planning a funeral doesn’t have to feel like a grim experience. Instead, you can develop a plan. Having a plan will give you and your loved one peace of mind.
You won’t have to make critical decisions while in an emotional state. You’ll have a financial plan in place for covering expenses, too.
Take a moment to consider how you want to approach the conversation. You don’t have to schedule a meeting to discuss funeral arrangements and cemetery plots. Instead, try to remain subtle as you approach the topic.
Think of funeral plans as an ongoing discussion. It’s a normal part of life.
Try to gradually break the ice. For example, you can discuss current events or a recent loss.
Ask your loved one about their insights. Perhaps you want to ask how they’re feeling after losing a friend. Then, ask if they have their own end-of-life planning in place.
Your loved one might have an adverse reaction toward traditional burials. They might mention their likes and dislikes. You can use their comments to gradually bring up their own funeral requests.
Then, you can ask directly and broach the topic.
Otherwise, consider bringing up your own preferences. You might want to ask your loved one to go with you to a funeral home. You can work through the process together, which might help them feel more comfortable.
2. Take Time to Listen
As you start discussing funeral plans with your loved one, make sure you’re actively listening. Prioritize your loved one’s last wishes above all else.
Pay attention to comments they make about:
- Choosing between a burial or cremation
- A traditional funeral versus a celebration of life
- The type of wake they’d prefer
- Any words or funeral poems they like
- Funeral songs/hymns
- Locations for burying or scattering ashes
- Dress code (colorful versus traditional black)
- Funeral location
Before approaching the conversation, make a list of topics you want to cover as well.
For example, you might want to ask if they have a will. Determine who has power of attorney (POA), too. If they’re incapacitated, their POA will determine health and final decisions.
Ask about their insurance and financial resources as well. For example, you might need to know how to pay for medical care or living expenses.
Make sure you have copies of their POA, will, birth certificate, and medical records. Ask for copies of their financial documents and insurance documents, too.
Consider how they want to live out their remaining days as well.
3. Start Early
As you start developing your loved one’s funeral plans, it’s important to approach the conversation early on.
Don’t wait until the last minute to start their end-of-life planning. Otherwise, they might feel rushed to make decisions. If they’re in crisis mode, they might want to avoid the topic altogether.
Instead, start pre-planning a funeral as soon as you can. Remember, it’s an ongoing conversation. You might need to adjust your loved one’s plans throughout the years.
Approaching the topic early on will ensure your loved one is an active contributor. They’ll have an easier time accepting the process as part of life, too.
Consider approaching the topic well before your loved one retires.
4. Ask the Right Questions
As you start pre-planning a funeral, it’s important to know what questions to ask. Otherwise, you might neglect certain funeral requests. Here are a few topics you might want to cover.
Choose a Funeral Home
There are almost 29,000 funeral homes across the US. While pre-planning a funeral, it helps to have a plan before reviewing your options.
First, head online to find local funeral homes. Consider asking friends and family members for recommendations, too. Once you have a list of options, you can:
- Check each BBB listing for complaints
- Schedule a meeting
- Review their services
- Determine if they can meet your needs
- Visit to make sure the funeral home is well-kept
- Determine if they can accommodate cultural or religious needs
- Compare pricing
Make sure each funeral home on your list follows the Federal Trade Commission’s Funeral Rule.
Consider the Form of Disposition
About 42% of people choose to get cremated because of the costs involved with the standard funeral in the US. In fact, the average cost of a cremation service is just 10% of the average cost of a traditional funeral.
Ask your loved one if they’d prefer cremation or a traditional burial. If they choose cremation, you might want to consider the type. Otherwise, look at different types of coffins.
Help your loved one make an informed decision by reviewing the pros and cons of each.
Select a Service
As you start determining funeral arrangements, talk to your loved one about the type of service they want. For example, they might want a religious funeral service. These services are often held at a place of worship.
Your loved one might want to follow a ritual or prayer based on their religious background.
Find the Right Location
If your loved one wants a traditional funeral, consider where they want it held. For example, they might prefer to have their funeral at a church. Perhaps they’d prefer another area that’s meaningful to them.
If your loved one chooses cremation, discuss where they want their ashes scattered. Perhaps they’d prefer an urn instead.
Arrange a Plot
Does your loved one want a cemetery plot?
First, make sure to get a cemetery deed. A cemetery deed indicates who owns the grave. You’ll need proof of ownership to prove your loved one has the right to lie there.
You can help your loved one purchase a plot ahead of time.
Otherwise, ask if they want to secure interment space. You’ll need to consider endowment care to maintain their gravesite as well.
As you continue developing your loved one’s funeral plans, you’ll need to keep smaller details in mind as well.
For example, you might want to discuss:
- Creating a register book
- Funeral transport
- A program or order or service
- The grave marker
- Who will speak
- Funeral music
Make sure your loved one feels involved and in control every step of the way.
5. Gather Research
As you use these end-of-life planning tips, help your loved one by gathering the research they need.
For example, you can gather resources from the funeral homes you research. Print any online cremation forms or funeral planning guides you might need. Consider requesting a price list for products and services, too.
You’ll have an easier time estimating funeral costs if you gather the research you need.
Planning funeral arrangements can take time. Gathering research will help your loved one make more informed decisions.
6. Proceed With Respect
Once you start pre-planning a funeral, it’s important to proceed with respect.
Pay attention to your loved one’s last wishes. Make sure you fully understand what they want.
If your loved one struggles to discuss certain topics at the moment, come back to them later.
Respect their decision if they decline to comment on certain topics, too. You might need to consider your timing as well. Otherwise, they might have a negative reaction to the topic.
Instead, remain patient. It’s normal for the process to feel awkward at first. With time and patience, you can provide your loved one with the support they need.
Planning Ahead: 6 Tips for Discussing Funeral Plans With a Loved One
Discussing funeral plans can feel daunting at first. It’s important to bring up the subject with your loved one before their health deteriorates. With these tips, you can respect your loved one’s last wishes.
You can help them make informed decisions about their own funeral arrangements instead.
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