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How does planning for your funeral in advance save you money? Doesn’t it just let the funeral home make money on your money? How big a part should emotion play in your funeral selections?
First, let’s be honest. Emotion is not a bad thing. Some life events should move us emotionally.
Marriage, birth, and death all appropriately tug at our heartstrings. But the cost of all three can also get out of hand if you make all the decisions when emotions are running high.
Put the word “wedding” in front of anything and the cost doubles. If you’ve ever planned a wedding you know that the dress will cost you half as much if you buy it in far in advance instead of just before you need it. The same is true of funerals.
When you and your spouse sit down together with the funeral director, well in advance, you’ll feel a little emotion as you consider the reality of your death.
But that little tug is nothing compared to what your husband or wife will feel if you don’t prepare in advance and they’re making those decisions alone hours after you’ve died.
Emotional overspending happens. Funeral directors don’t make it happen. In fact, they don’t like it either.
Advance planning allows you to make all the decisions that determine the final cost. Making them together with cool heads and warm hearts saves dollars.
Planning ahead eliminates the excessive spending that can occur when someone is in a heightened emotional state.
Think back to wedding planning.
Starting early can also help you absorb the cost over a longer period of time. That means you don’t drag the wedding debt into your brand new marriage.
When you plan your funeral in advance, you will also have the option of paying for it over time. That means you don’t have to take money from your savings or investments and your survivors won’t have the financial burden of paying for your funeral days after your passing. Advance planning eliminates the need for a lump sum payment when death occurs.
All money set aside in advance for a funeral should be held with a third party. Nearly all funeral homes participate in programs that hold the dollars in either insurance or a trust product until the death occurs.
The funeral home should not have access to your funds and the insurance products they use should have an increasing death benefit to help offset inflation, providing a cushion for increasing funeral costs.
Consult with an advance planning specialist for more details.
Why is food such a fundamental part of any funeral?
Food provides comfort and strength. A gift of food shows that we care. It’s natural to connect food with the healing process of a funeral.
When should you give food? What’s helpful without being overwhelming? How do you accept food graciously without having to buy a second refrigerator?
If you’re helping a friend who is dealing with the death of a loved one, a gift of food is appropriate before the funeral, at the conclusion of the funeral, and even weeks or months after the funeral.
As you think about your gift, be aware that your friend may not even know they’re hungry. They likely won’t be able to tell you what they want or need.
Take the initiative and make it easy on them. Call with a simple offer that can be changed to meet the needs of those on the receiving end. You might say something like this:
“I’d like to bring your family dinner tomorrow evening. I thought I’d bring you a turkey roast with a broccoli casserole. Will that work for you? I’ll bring dinner by around 10:30 a.m. It’ll be all ready for you to warm in the oven or microwave.”
When you’re on the receiving end, be gracious, but honest.
Your friends want to help you. If their offer won’t be helpful, give them an opportunity to make a different suggestion.
“Thank you for your offer, but we’re all set for the next few days. May I have a rain check?”
If you’re part of a close circle of friends, consider coordinating with others in your group to cover the family’s food needs on different days and with a variety of dishes.
Consider breakfast food. A basket with granola, muffins, or a breakfast casserole may be a nice change.
Sheet pan dinners, where the entire meal is cooked on one pan in the oven, are easy for both parties. You can find lots of recipes online.
If you don’t cook, consider giving a gift card for a local restaurant that offers take out.
Whatever you do, don’t forget your friend after the funeral is over. Most people find sitting alone at the dinner table one of the bigger challenges of their bereavement.
A loaf of your famous zucchini bread will be greatly appreciated and it’ll be even better if you can share it together over a cup of tea.
First, understand that what you wear to the funeral is much less important than actually going to the funeral or gathering. Don’t underestimate the value of your presence.
Your kind words, shared stories, or even just a hug will mean a great deal to friends and family when there has been a death. Don’t let not having a pair of dress shoes keep you from offering your support.
That being said, what you wear depends on several different factors. The first thing to consider is who died.
If your 80-year-old grandfather passed, the funeral is likely to be more traditional. His older friends will attend, so you will want to be more conservative.
A pair of slacks and a collared shirt for men and boys will do nicely. If you own a sport coat, by all means wear it. A tie with or without the jacket would be a nice, but not a required, addition.
For the ladies and girls, dress slacks and a nice sweater or blouse will serve the purpose. A dress or skirt would also be lovely. Do pay attention to necklines and length of the skirt.
When the funeral is for a younger person or will not be faith based, it may be more informal.
A celebration of life is typically more relaxed and may even have a theme that the family will ask attendees to support. So if you’re asked to wear golf attire to the funeral of an avid golfer, don’t be surprised.
Like the dress code for most events today, what we wear to a funeral has relaxed. Black is no longer required, but neat, clean, and subdued are always in good taste.
A funeral is not a place to stand out or be the center of attention. As you survey your wardrobe, think in terms of what you would wear to an important job interview or something you would want to wear to apply in person for a bank loan.