I was speaking to a friend once about the loss of her brother, who died by suicide at a young age. As she recounted the experience, I remember vividly her description of grief: Grief is like a fog that slowly creeps its way into every dark corner and every forgotten crevice of your life. You’re aware it’s there, but you can barely tell that it’s moving, expanding, because it’s insidiously imperceptible.
It was some years later over a restaurant table decked with appetizers that I reminded her of that conversation in those hard days of loss. She smiled and assured me that the fog had been cleared from most of the spaces in her mind. “It lingers in a few corners, and truthfully, I’m happy for it to be there. The love I feel for my brother and the sadness for what he’s missed in my life is what keeps me connected to him. He’s a part of me.”
This experience grew in importance for me recently as I lost my mother and father within 3 months of each other last year. The shock of that grief, the power of that fog, surprised me in strength and immediacy. I was indescribably grateful that I was in a position to sit with my grief and take time for myself because both of my parents had pre-planned their funerals.
Although my parents were elderly, we expected them to stick around for much longer than they did, and we were so unprepared for their rapid health decline. After Dad passed, actually that very day, after we returned from the hospital, Mom pulled from her file cabinet a neat little file folder with all the information we needed. She called her preneed insurance agent and her funeral director, and the burden was taken from our shoulders from that moment forward. I could not believe how seamlessly everything came together.
Having the funeral not only pre-planned but also pre-paid was crucial for my family at this time. We had enough to do getting flights for siblings and grandchildren, preparing guest bedrooms and airport rides, all on top of trying to function through the fog of shock and grief. As the oldest child, people thought that I had arranged everything and that I was handling all the funeral and burial minutiae, but I actually had very little to do. Dad’s funeral was not a burden I had to bear, and my sweet mother didn’t have to coordinate anything either. Even better, we knew that what had been arranged was exactly what he wanted—because he had arranged it himself! I can’t even tell you what a comfort that was to my whole family.
When my mom got sick soon after, the grief fog just got stronger for me and I really struggled to engage in my everyday life. When she passed, I knew exactly where the folder was kept, I knew who to call, and I knew that I could breathe easily while our amazing pre-planning team took care of everything. I will forever be grateful that my parents had the foresight to contact a pre-need insurance agent. Having their funerals pre-planned gave my family space and time to heal, as well as peace of mind.