When you Don’t Pre-Plan

What arranging a funeral looks like when you haven’t pre-planned

No matter how many times we emphasize the importance of pre-planning, nothing teaches that lesson as strongly as arranging a funeral that you haven’t pre-planned. We’ve collected some common stories of last-minute funeral planning to share with you so you don’t have to experience the struggles for yourself.

“I was in no state to plan.”

When my father died unexpectedly, it fell to me to plan the funeral, as I was the oldest son and I still lived locally. My siblings had to arrange travel plans to attend the service, take time off of work, get their kids out of school, etc. That was planning enough for my two sisters. I wanted to relieve the burden they were feeling, so I volunteered to most of the heavy lifting, funeral-wise. When I actually started the process, I discovered I was in no state to plan. My grief was sharp and all-consuming. The daily demands of planning this large event absolutely buried me in anxiety, and my grief at the loss of my father manifested with heavy depression.

“I resented my family for not helping.”

My brother died in a drunk driving accident, and I mostly remember the shock we all felt at this time. When I met with the funeral director I had chosen, I was again shocked at how many factors went into a viewing, funeral, and burial. I got overwhelmed and immediately felt angry at my parents and siblings. I resented my family for not helping, and instead of supporting and being there for each other during this difficult time, we fought and argued constantly.

“The service felt rushed and unfinished.”

My wife passed away after battling cancer for 4 years. I had the most wonderful funeral director to help me arrange her funeral. Even so, when the actual day came, there were so many things I wish I had done or added to the service that I just didn’t have time to accomplish. The service felt rushed and unfinished to me, and though everyone in attendance enjoyed it, I felt like I had fallen short because of time constraints. I had so many ideas about tokens we could have created for her, photos I should have printed, musical numbers I wish I had arranged. If we had pre-planned together, all of these ideas would have occurred to me during the planning process, and my wife’s funeral would have been much more personal and detailed.

“Was this funeral what my loved one wanted?”

I would say the biggest question in my clients’ minds is whether or not what they have planned is what their loved one would have wanted for their funeral. As a funeral director, I do a large amount of intimate planning and detailed organizing with my clients. I like to ask what they thought of the services after the fact, and the question I think most people ask themselves is: was this funeral what my loved one wanted?

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