Death, no matter how it comes, is unexpected. When my father died, after a year-long battle with ALS, his death surprised and overwhelmed us. Even though we knew it was coming, the reality of death is hard to grasp until it happens. We were blessed to have a hospice nurse with us to guide us through decisions that had to be made about saying good-bye and calling the funeral home. Death can paralyze even the most organized and grounded person.
While trends are changing, the traditional funeral often takes place within 48-72 hours after death. In that short time, between death and the funeral, decisions have to be made. These days, many families choose to have a memorial some time (either weeks or months) in the future. Even then, decisions have to be made, including who will transport the body to the funeral home and whether to have a cremation or direct burial. Some suggest that there are as many as 150 distinct decisions that have to be made immediately following the death of a loved one. Those decisions can be particularly hard if you don’t know your loved one’s end-of-life wishes.
Talking about these things ahead of time is a gift you can give your loved ones. Planning ahead for death doesn’t negate the full, active life you are currently living. In fact, planning ahead can be a freeing experience, knowing that your loved ones won’t have to make hurried decisions when the time comes. In the face of death, your loved ones can focus on honoring their grief and celebrating your life, knowing that your wishes are being carried out.
If you’re not sure how to start the discussion, or if you would like some guidance in advance-planning, we can help. Whether you are an adult child not sure how to bring up the topic with your parent, or are a parent wanting to share your wishes with your child, death can be a difficult topic to broach. Schedule a free 25 minute introductory phone call to discuss how to make a start at addressing those 150 decisions.