Planning your own funeral may not sound like the best way to kick off a new year. After all, New Year’s resolutions are usually made with the objective of improving health, increasing happiness, and embracing life…not resigning ourselves to our inevitable demise. However, if you’ve ever helped make end-of-life arrangements for a lost loved one, you may already know how challenging the process can be, especially if that person didn’t share their final wishes while still living.
Talking with your family now about how you’d like to be remembered could help make things a bit easier for them when the time eventually comes to say goodbye. So as you hang up a fresh calendar this January, consider setting aside some time to make a plan and start a conversation. We hope that this short guide helps you through the process.
Burial, Cremation, or Alternative Option?
One of the first questions your loved ones may have is how you’d like your body to be laid to rest. Whether based on religious beliefs, cost awareness, or just personal preference, many of us have strong feelings about what happens to our bodies after death, and even if you don’t, it may not a be decision your family is comfortable making for you.
If you’re undecided, this could be a good opportunity to research some of the increasingly popular alternatives to traditional burial and cremation. A few to check out are:
Green burial - a more natural, eco-conscious method of interment in which the unembalmed body is typically placed in a biodegradable casket or shroud and allowed to return to the earth. You can find out here if there are any Green Burial Council-certified funeral homes and/or cemeteries in your area.
Alkaline hydrolysis - sometimes called “water cremation” or “green cremation,” this process uses water, pressure, and potassium hydroxide to reduce the body to liquid and bone fragments rather than burn it. Alkaline hydrolysis uses less energy and creates lower emissions than standard cremation, but the practice has only been legalized in 16 states so far.
Coral reef balls - an oceanic burial method in which cremated remains are combined with concrete to create a huge, hollow “reef ball” to support coral growth. This option not only helps address the issue of coral reef deterioration, but may also provide a meaningful resting place if you’re someone who has a deep connection to the ocean.
Type of Service
Typically, the gathering of family and friends following the death of a loved one is an important part of honoring the person who’s passed and beginning the healing process for those left behind. Whether it’s a traditional funeral service or a less somber celebration of life (or both), this event has the potential to be a wonderful expression of who you are in life.
Ultimately, it can be whatever you and your family want it to be…mournful or joyful, religious or secular, intimate or all-inclusive, elaborate or simple, formal or relaxed. While of course you can’t exactly plan every detail without knowing the timing, there are many elements you can decide on in advance. Here’s a list of ideas to get you started:
Choose your preferred venue(s) - depending upon what type of arrangements you decide, this could mean a place of worship, a funeral home, an event space, or even a park, residence, or some other location that’s meaningful to you and your loved ones.
Choose your own music - creating a playlist of songs for your funeral/celebration of life can help define the atmosphere you’re going for and be a beautiful way to help those in attendance feel the presence of your personality.
Decide what role technology will play - if your family and friends are spread out geographically, you may want to consider live streaming your funeral to include those who can’t physically attend. You could also create videos, slide shows, etc. to be shared.
Create a menu - food is often central to family gatherings, and your funeral doesn’t have to be an exception. Ask your loved ones to serve some of your favorite foods as they celebrate your life, whether that means hiring a caterer or organizing a potluck.
Make your own rules - if traditional is your style, there’s nothing wrong with that. But if you want an open bar and a live band at your funeral, that’s ok, too! If you’d like everyone to wear bright colors, let your family know that. If you’d prefer humorous eulogies to sentimental ones, let them know that, too.
No matter how you choose to be remembered, it’s bound to come with a price tag. The average cost of a traditional funeral in America is $8,000-10,000, which is a significant sum to many families, especially if it’s an unexpected expense. Having a final expense life insurance plan that may help cover funeral costs is an amazing way to better protect your loved ones from financial hardship. Because final expense policies are designed just to provide coverage for end-of-life expenses, they tend to be affordable and often don’t require a medical exam.
As this new year begins, take the first step toward your goals with a no-obligation quote from Final Wishes Covered℠. Having a plan in place for the end of your life is a powerful expression of love, and if you ask us, that’s always a good resolution.