Reducing Funeral Stress
Keys to Reducing Funeral Stress
1. Even in an Emergency, You Have More Time Than You Think
One of the greatest causes of stress around planning and arranging a funeral—especially an unexpected one, is that you have to do it in a very short time. Trying to plan a funeral in just a couple of days can be extremely stressful, and frustrating. But the reality is that you have more time than you may think.
While it is true that certain aspects have to be done quickly, the actual date and arrangements for the funeral can be done on your schedule, within reason. (The exception to this is that certain religions like Judaism require strict timelines for burial.)
2. Empower Your Family by Getting Information in Advance
For many families, especially in American culture, the idea of discussing death, and funeral planning is uncomfortable. Even in families where a loved one is terminally ill, the idea of discussing funeral arrangements is often seen as morbid, or an indication that the family is “giving up” on the loved one. In addition, because information about funerals, cremation, monuments, hospice, nursing homes, has not been readily available, the subject is treated with the fear that accompanies the unknown.
Your funeral director can provide planning materials, and information about your options and rights on-line, or over the phone. Gaining this information in advance allows families to plan in a calm and peaceful way in the privacy of their home. When you can discuss options, look at choices, and consider ways of saying goodbye to your loved one, the perspective about the funeral can change dramatically. Knowledge is power, and never more so, than about this inevitable life event. Funerals will always be stressful events, but knowing what to expect in advance, can reduce that stress tremendously.
3. Plan in Advance (Even Shortly in Advance) if You Can
Giving your family a funeral plan, may be one of the best gifts you ever give them, since it allows them to stop worrying about details, allows them to come together as a family to grieve, without distractions.
Often, a significant cause of stress in planning a funeral is the disagreement between family members over what “dad or mom would have wanted.” Arguments can occur over whether burial or cremation is desired, what kind of casket is appropriate, what kind of service, what kind of monument, when to have the service, and how much to pay for these arrangements.
Ironically, these arguments often occur in the most loving families, where different family members have strong opinions on how to honor their deceased family member.
4. Explore Hospice Care as a Way of Making End of Life a More Natural, Personal Process
Almost 40% of all families now choose to use hospice care as the way to make end of life a more personal and natural process. Allowing the loved one to be cared for at home, surrounded by family members, is seen by many as a tremendous advantage over a death that occurs in a hospital, that almost always has to be more impersonal.
In addition, many families find that the care provided by hospice nurses, chaplains, and medical and social worker professionals not only helps the terminally ill patient but helps the family as well. These professionals are experienced in helping families say goodbye to their loved ones in personal ways, and they can also help in personalizing the care the dying person receives.
By helping make death part of a natural process, rather than a sudden and separate event, the hospice experience leads to a funeral process and event that for many is more natural, more humane, and in many cases, more spiritual than what they have experienced by dealing only with the hospital.
5. Budget and Explore Financing Options for the Funeral in Advance
If you have time to prepare, there are many ways to reduce the financial stress of a funeral. If you have traditional insurance, your funeral director can help process this for you. In addition, your funeral director can discuss various approaches to making sure you get the funeral you want, in a way that matches your budget, so that you can focus on moving from grieving to remembrance. They can also tell you about final expense insurance, which is inexpensive and generally available to people 50-85.
6. Connect with a Clergyman or Spiritual Counselor to Help Your Family Through This Time
End of life is a difficult passage, and for many families, the counsel and advice provided by experienced ministers or clergy can be a significant aid. Even for families who may not be actively involved in a church, the guidance and support of a clergyman or woman can be wonderfully comforting. In addition, many families may need advice on religious traditions that their parents observed, and which they would like to honor.