Johnathan Thomas, MBA, PhD, D.DIV
People often do not think about final arrangements until after a person has died. Suddenly, decisions need to be made quickly during a stressful time. It is possible to plan ahead by asking your loved one about his or her final wishes. Burial and cemetery costs, cremation and/or funeral services can be paid for in advance. Or perhaps your loved one wants to donate his or her body for scientific research. Whatever the wishes may be, talking about them and planning for them can relieve stress during an emotional time.
There are many things to consider when planning a viewing and graveside service: the choice of casket and marker, arrangements with the funeral home, transporting the remains if the burial is in out of state, the paperwork involved, the list goes on. The Funeral Rule, enforced by the Federal Trade Commission, requires funeral directors to provide an itemized price list of their services and all products they offer.
Burial involves decisions regarding viewing, casket, cemetery plot, marker and perpetual care of site. Memorial services can be held without a viewing at your home, church or any other location.
Cremation provides cremains that can be buried, placed in an urn at a cemetery facility distributed as your loved one or the family desires.
Burial at Sea
Active military personnel and veterans can have their bodies or cremains buried at sea by the U.S. Navy through the mortuary program. Private Citizens can arrange for burial at sea through a funeral home or can arrange it themselves, following guidelines that can be found on The Environmental Protection Agency website.
CHOOSING A FUNERAL HOME
The following questions can help when selecting the funeral home and services of your loved one. If possible, it is recommended that you consider more than one facility, visit with the funeral directors and tour the facilities. Meeting the funeral staff and feeling comfortable with them can help you and your family to create a meaningful personalized service. It is also recommended to openly discuss your budget with the funeral director so he or she can assist in selecting service options that will meet your loved ones wishes. Your Devoted Healthcare social worker is available to help you identify your needs and prepare for this decision.
- Does the funeral home physical building meet your standards? Is it clean? Have enough space?
- Does it employ licensed funeral directors?
- Is the funeral home established in the community?
- Have any of the licensees been disciplined by the state regulatory board?
- Is there a website you can visit for more information?
- Is the funeral director willing to come to you to make arrangements?
- Is the funeral home affiliated with a local cemetery that might offer special savings?
- Are pre-arrangements transferable if you should relocate out of town?
- Are 100 percent of the ashes recoverable?
- Are services available regardless of financial ability?
- Is there a service guarantee?
- Are personalized services provided, such as DNA (lock of hair), video tributes, online memorials? What are they?
- Are aftercare services included and what are they?
- Does the funeral home own and operate a crematory? If not, who does the funeral home use and where is it located?
- Can you meet the crematory personnel and/or witness different aspects of cremation?
- Does the funeral director assist the family with arranging religious services and cemetery arrangements?
- Is there a mausoleum?
- Are there property selections for cremation?
- Do they have a veterans’ section?
- Additional questions?
THE MEMORIAL/FUNERAL SERVICE: A CELEBRATION OF LIFE
A memorial service provides a sense of completion for the survivors. Despite the grief and fatigue, spending time with friends and family is a step in the healing process. Sacred texts, poetry and music are commonly used in planning a memorial service. Reflect on your loved one’s life. Think about his or her values, special events, life’s work, hobbies, travels and contributions. Honoring your loved one will help you understand and cope with your grief.
In most cases, planning a memorial service falls to the immediate survivors. It is also common for your loved one to participate in this planning, if he or she is able. If the patient has reached an understanding and acceptance about the terminal illness, planning a memorial service jointly can be very supportive for everyone.
Devoted Healthcare staff members do not make recommendations as to funeral homes or cremation services to use, but they do have a list of services in your area.
Things to Consider
Music: More than anything else, music affects your feelings and the atmosphere in which you remember your loved one. Select hymns, songs or other music that are your loved one’s favorites and bring comfort or celebrate their life.
Readings: Reflective passages of sacred text, poems and short stories are all helpful in remembering the person being celebrated. Some faith traditions may require that scripture be read, but many faiths are flexible and will include other types of readings as well.
Symbols of life: Share pictures, items from your loved one’s hobbies, avocations, important moments in life and symbols of accomplishments or milestones achieved.
Homily, eulogy, meditation: Integrate the music, readings and symbols with your loved one’s life and indicate ways he or she inspired others.
Devoted Healthcare chaplains are available to assist you in planning a memorial service for your loved one, and may be available to conduct the funeral or memorial service.
PLANNING THE SERVICE
Speak with the Devoted Healthcare social worker or chaplain if you need assistance with planning the funeral or memorial service. They are generally able to answer most of your questions.
If you have made funeral arrangements or wish to use the services of a specific funeral director, record that information here:
If a family member is flying into town to visit a loved one and/or plans to attend the funeral service, he or she can notify the airline of the reason for the flight when making reservations. Most airlines will issue the ticket at a reduced rate.
Supporting families through the many stages of dealing with on advanced illness is a vital part of Devoted Healthcare’s mission. One of the ways we are able to do this is to offer assistance in planning for the time ahead.
It is important to have accurate memorial information available for newspapers and the funeral director, and most of it can be gathered in advance. Devoted Healthcare staff members are willing to help you in any way possible.
Came to area from/when:
Career/type of employment:
Number of years: