Article: Funeral Planning - Why it is so important. A personal story!
Gosh! It really hits you hard when a loved one leaves this world.
In my case it was my father. It wasn't totally unexpected but still a massive shock when I got that call from my mother!
"Son", she said in a very shaky voice (so I knew something bad was about to be said...) "He's died." And then she sobbed uncontrollably. That was it. I didn't have to ask who she meant, it was obvious.
I was numb. I couldn't hear or see anything. I was in a space bubble. It seemed an age before any words came out of my mouth while I took this shock on board. My mother was crying on the line, whimpering like an injured animal. All I could muster was a "I'm Sorry mum, I don't know what else to say". Then there were a few questions about when, where and how. But it was like treading through treacle. The worst call of my life so far.
I immediately dropped everything and travelled from my home in Spain on the next available flight to visit her, to console and help my mother and siblings. I don't remember much about the flight. It was lonely and miserable. But this was no pleasure trip... my father had died and I felt empty, sad, lonely, confused, stressed, vulnerable and uncertain of what to expect in the coming days & weeks.
I spent some time on that flight remembering my dad. He could be very colourful and witty and he very rarely said a bad word about anybody. He was easy going, gentle and led a fairly simple and boring life in his old age. He had been ill for some time after his lung cancer operation, which was a success but the ailments that came with it (breathing difficulties) took its toll and broke his spirit. I liked how he always offered to help me out with the house DIY even though he was rubbish at it. He preferred the garden chores, being outside. He loved taking the dog for a walk and got quite attached to it really. He always wanted a dog of his own but mum wasn't keen... and so I reminisced some more. Sometimes laughing out loud and then a few tears of sadness. I was glad to get 'home' to the family and share the awful grief.
Planning The Funeral was Stressful
It soon becomes apparent that when someone dies there are many practical things to do. In fact so many it's overwhelming. I wasn't expecting that. As the eldest child it was left to me mainly. Trying to be businesslike and organised when all you want to do is grieve and weep. It was just not easy for me. I closed my eyes many times and hoped it would all go away.
Mum was too old and grief stricken to be of any real use but I had to ask her 100's questions, call many people, deal with the red tape, find the paper work, wills, insurance, bank accounts ... Gosh it was a nightmare!
I admit it, it was stressful. My life and my own business still had to carry on but it was on hold, storing up more stress for later. But I had to be strong when I felt weak.
Yes we got through it. The funeral went well (as well as they can do!). There were lots of tears and frustration in the planning of the funeral mainly due to Dad not leaving any instructions, last wishes and recording a damn thing about his paperwork... well he was never one for organising things. But he left a mess behind him, despite reminders from me to make some funeral arrangements - he hated paperwork he said. Funny, because so do I!
We weren't even sure if he wanted to be cremated or buried... so between us, the family cobbled together a funeral plan in record time. But it would have been nice to send him on his jolly way in a suitable celebration befitting his own wishes. Alas, without his pre-planned input we did the best we could.
Death - The Taboo Subject
On reflection, I wish we had discussed death a lot more. But most of us hide away from it don't we? We fear death. It was a taboo in our family. Crazy, as it's a 'dead certainty'. We don't even like to say 'die', 'death' or 'dead' - instead we ‘niceify' it all with such phrases as 'passed away', fallen, 'gone' ... even 'kicked the bucket!' We deny death exists, with good reason, as I now know how painful, awkward and stressful the grieving can be. I found that funeral planning is also time-consuming, stressful and needs a good organiser.
If only Dad had been a little more proactive in planning his own funeral, discussed and recorded it with us, it would have helped our grieving time.
Alas and ironically, having been through all this, it's taken me a while to get sorted. Inertia soon kicks back in. It's only now, 3 years on, that I have just started to think about my own funeral plan as I don't won't to burden my son or family as much as my father did.
Planning a Funeral Online from Home
The great thing is that the digital age and the Internet have helped so much. I can now Google ‘funeral' related topics. I have learned so much about what a funeral costs, what documents are needed, who to report to, search for funeral directors, order the funeral wreaths & flowers and I even found a funeral poem I could use. We can order the hearses online and found a site with free eulogy templates!
Amazing what can be done online these days. Well I am quite Internet savvy and it helps to save a load of time and money... my mum would have had to do that the old way - she was analogue and I am digital!
Well my funeral planning is going well now after I found quite a few niche web sites that offer an online funeral planning service. I plumped for 'Funerals To Die For' which lets you record your important document numbers, locations and accounts + you can write a will online, record your gifts and inheritance wishes. The best bit is being able to use video messages and photos from your social websites such as YouTube, online galleries, social stuff like Facebook / Twitter.
You also elect your 'Trustees' to take care of your funeral wishes for you. These extensive features will really alleviate the stress on those left behind. But even better you are able to upload a personal video message to friends / family to be played after your death. It's well thought out and the best thing is: IT'S FREE!
So I hope funeral planning online becomes a lifestyle choice just like so many domestic requirements have these days. After all we plan our birthdays, weddings and holidays online so why not our own funeral. That way we get to say how, what and where!
Spread the word, funeral planning online, is important. You owe it to your loved ones surely? It will make their lives a lot easier when you've gone. God Bless Dad!
About the Author
Innovative Online Funeral Planning by Funerals To Die For. We are a private and secure club for people who want their final send-off to be a true and positive reflection of their life and overriding passions. (ArticlesBase SC #3545786)