The topic of death for many families is never discussed until it happens among our closest loved ones. Why is this? Why can we not bring ourselves to discuss death in general, or why can we not discuss our own death, or that of a loved one?
Death in America, over the years, has become a taboo subject. We feel it isn't good dining table discussion, we can't mention it in casual conversation. We only confront the subject if we are forced to do so. Many times one spouse or the other, will come to the funeral home and want some information about funerals, what options are available, financing options, but the other spouse refuses to discuss it or even get information for the future. Why is this.....? Denial? Do we think we are immortal? Are we ashamed to say we truly want something for ourselves? Why can't we bring ourselves to face this unavoidable event in our lives We plan for graduations, weddings, births, home purchases, all of lifes major events.......but we don't plan for death.
When a death happens within our close family ranks, we are forced to discuss it, and without ever mentioning it prior to need, we create more stress and heartache on our survivors. When the topic of death is discussed within a family from time to time, we become more comfortable with it, we are able to learn what our loved ones preferences are, what special things they want or don't want. Simply put, prior discussions make dealing with the actual death easier on those left behind.
Now, I am not saying you must go to a funeral home and make selections and prepay your funeral, although that is always a good idea, but by answering a few questions during a family discussion can open doors that make dealing with death easier.
** Have you written a will? Why or why not?
**Does your family have access to your social security number, parents names, your place and date of birth, your education level? Would they have an idea of how many death certificates they would need for bank accounts, probate, financial needs, insurance, stocks and/or bonds, retirement accounts, credit cards, royalties or trusts?
**What kind of funeral or service would you want? Burial, cremation, religious or non-religious, minister or family member, music/musicians, pallbearers, location of service, (church, park, family home, cemetery)?
**How would you want your survivors listed? Do you have both children and step children or grandchildren and would you want them all listed as children or children and then step children seperately, brothers, sisters, or other survivors that you want listed a particular way?
**Do you have a favorite charity that you would want your family to suggest for memorial donations?
**Are there certain options you definitely prefer to have or not have, (such as embalmiing or cremation)?
**How will your family or loved ones pay for these choices? Do you have life insurance or prepaid funeral plan, checking or savings? Does your family know where your important documents are located? Are they easliy accessible? Are your bank accounts where your family can still access and use funds while settling your estate?
**How would you want to be remembered? If you could choose 3-5 words that you'd hope were mentioned in your eulogy, what would they be?
As you see by the list above, there are many questions to be answered, in what most families feel, within a short amount of time. Even if your family knows much of the information, due to grief, they might be forgetful and not be able to supply the answers immediately, causing them to feel more frustrated.
Go ahead, have the discussion today! Your family will thank you!
If you would like further information, or a list of items to answer, please feel free to contact us. We would be honored to visit with you with no obligation.
Todd Abell, Abell Funeral Home & Flower Shop