When you are making a big decision do you try to make it when you are tired, stressed and emotional?  I bet the answer is NO.  You would choose to take your time, and make those decisions when you are clear headed and rational.  It is unlikely you are going to be at your best when you have just lost someone you care about.  In the moments and days following a death, having a pre-planned funeral is a huge weight lifted from family members and a sense of relief as they can focus on grieving rather than planning a funeral. Pre-planning a funeral and pre-selecting a Funeral Home is an unforgettable gift to a family member as it relieves stress. However when someone passes away there are many decisions that need to be made within hours to days of their passing while you are still coming to terms with the loss. 

Choosing a Funeral Home

I shared that I was going to be planning my husband’s funeral while he was still alive. Now each community normally has multiple funeral homes, as for example Brampton has 3 different funeral homes to choose from. It is important to choose a Funeral Home that can meet all of your needs and wishes and give you the experience you wish for the ceremony. It is important to find a Funeral Home that has experience in planning a similar funeral and you should feel confident and comfortable with the funeral director who will be in charge of the whole plan. Pre-selecting a Funeral Home allows you time to make the right choice and select the right location to meet your families needs.  Some questions to consider when selecting a Funeral Home:

1. Does this funeral home have a positive reputation?
2. How long have they been in existence?
3. What services and facilities does the Funeral home offer (chapel, visitation room, reception,catering, parking, staff)?
4. Does the Funeral Home registered with the Funeral Service Association?

 When considering these questions, I decided that Arbor Memorial in Brampton was the right choose for our family to pre-plan our funeral arrangements. In partnership with Arbor Memorial I was able to go through the pre-planning process to learn about what is required and discuss all the different options available for final arrangements.

 

Funeral Homes and Pre-planning a Funeral

Kate and Hubs laughing their way through life

In going through this process I learned a lot along the way. While I thought that I knew what was required for funeral planning given my previous experience with family members funerals, it turns out that there we’re even more decisions then I thought when it comes to making final arrangements.  It is important to note that you can make funeral decisions in the pre-planning process without paying for the actual funeral.

Planning a Funeral

Now I know, talking about death and funerals is not a fun conversation to have.  You are not sitting around on a Friday night saying “Hey have I got something fun to talk about”.  However the fact is that it is inevitable that we will all have to deal with it at some point.  Being able to have those conversations to let your loved ones know what your preference are and make those decisions when you are not in an emotional and stressful situation makes a world of difference.  I was able to talk to the friendly and helpful Arbor Memorial staff openly about the options and not feel pressured that I need to make a decision right away. Here are five tips to help you get started with the pre-planning process:

5 Tips To Help You Pre-Plan A Funeral

1 – Start Talking – We are so likely to plan for other life events however people rarely talk about funeral planning with their loved ones. While it might not be the most fun topic it is something that we will all need to deal with at some point.  And having conversations with the people you care about regarding your final arrangements will reduce stress and also let them know about the things that are important to you. Setting aside a little bit of time to start talking about your preferences now will help make sure that hasty decisions are not made during a time of grief. A pre-planning guide can be helpful in starting those discussions at home or you can always book some time to go in to speak to a funeral director to learn about the many different options available. Determine what you want the funeral service to look like, will you need funeral flowers, will the funeral be located inside or outside? Will cremation occur or will it be a burial in a casket? These are just some of the questions you should start talking about to truly understand each others last wishes. You can use the Pre-Planning checklist to help you open up the discussion.

2 – Determine Your Budget – We have all heard that funerals are expensive. But what do the cost actually break down to?  Putting together even a basic plan will allow you to start figuring out finances and a plan to save for these costs.  This also helps avoid emotional overspending, as you and your loved ones are able to objectively talk about your wants and needs. During times of grief people don’t always make the best decisions or may second-guess themselves on what you would have wanted.  By knowing the facts ahead of time you help avoid any surprises when it is time to actually hold a funeral.

3 – Record Your Wishes – By pre-planning you will have a record of what you actually want for your final arrangements.  This can provide great peace of mind to your family who will have fewer decisions to make at the time of your passing.  The pre-planning framework takes the burden off of those you have left behind as you have already discussed major decisions and there is a formal record of what you wanted.  Plus we all know people are more likely to fight when they are emotional, by laying out what you want it reduces the chance of bickering over those sorts of decisions.

how to personalize a funeral

4 – Personalize It – When visiting Arbor Memorial I was amazed and a little overwhelmed by all of the options available for final arrangements.  Many people think that funeral planning is just a decision between cremation or burial.  But there are so many more decisions that need to be made and multiple options at every step of the way.  From flowers to food you can truly personalize the experience and celebrate the memories you hold dear.  Sports fans, gardeners, crafters, movie lovers and more… Arbor Memorial had unique suggestions on how to capture and showcase the hobbies and passions that you enjoy so that when it comes time for the service, it really is about you.  Before going in to talk to the funeral directors I had no idea of the different options available for services and celebrations of life.  With all of the options out there you are sure to find something that is a perfect fit, to help bring comfort during a difficult time.

5 – Don’t Stress – Pre-planning your funeral is supposed to help decrease the stress for your family and give you peace of mind.  I think many people avoid pre planning because they are uncomfortable talking about funeral arrangements.  However we plan and research for so many things in life such as buying a house or car, taking a vacation or even doing your yearly taxes.  For all of those things we consult with experts in the field along the way, so why is funeral planning left to the last minute when everyone is an emotional mess?  Instead of leaving the planning to a stressful time start the conversation earlier and don’t put pressure on yourself to get it all done at once. Even having a basic conversation about your general wishes is a great way to get the process started.  With so many options available for final arrangements you can take your time to think about what would fit for your family, without being rushed.

5 tips for pre-planning a funeral

Reflecting on my experience of planning Hub’s funeral, it was an easier process then I thought it was going to be. That is not to say that there were not emotional moments and difficult thoughts about what it would be like if I ever did lose him.  However going through the process has given me the peace of mind that we are on the same page when it comes to final arrangements for when the time comes.  I feel better prepared knowing we have made the big choices and talked overall about what we want for each other.

Wondering what it is like to go through the pre-planning funeral process? Here is a video that highlights our experience:


Not sure where to start for yourself? Arbor Memorial offers a four-step pre-planning guidance program to help make the process easier.

I am looking forward to spending many more decades with Hubs and having lots of fun adventures along the way. However we never know what life is going to throw at us and in the case of something unexpected happening I now have the peace of mind that we are both better prepared for making final arrangements for each other. 

Disclosure: This post was brought to you by Arbor Memorial.  All opinions are strictly my own.

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