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An elderly woman sits down to talk to her daughter about funeral preplanning.

While the idea of planning your own funeral probably isn’t at the top of your mind, thinking about it now could save your loved one’s unnecessary heartache when you die. If you don’t plan your own final arrangements in advance, someone will. Whether it’s your spouse, child(ren), or close friends, the task of planning and paying for your cremation, burial, and memorial services will fall on someone else’s shoulders.

As a funeral director, my job is to help families plan their loved one’s final arrangements and guide them through grief the first few days after their loss. The family is left to make every decision regarding their aftercare – both logistical and financial. Families are just beginning to grieve, and instead of having time to accept their loss, reflect, grieve and begin the healing journey, they’re faced with making hundreds of decisions.

They must spend several hours at the funeral home, going over every detail of their services and arrangements, including whether to bury or cremate, what flowers and colors to incorporate, what music to play, who will participate in the services, what the deceased will wear, etc. They must search for and procure paperwork, remember social security numbers, maiden names, birth dates, military service details, and much more—all on top of the sudden financial burden they now must take on.

People often ask me, “Why should I preplan my funeral? I’m not sick or elderly. And it’s kind of creepy.” To that, I respond, “Because you will die. You never know when it will happen. And although it’s difficult to think about, it’s not creepy. Death is a part of life.” I know how hard of a subject death can be to think about, let alone talk about. However, it’s important to understand that the conversation isn’t about death at all. It’s about protection and love.

Preplanning your funeral is one of the best gifts you can give to your family and friends to protect them from having to make all the decisions for you. It protects their space and time to grieve their loss. And it protects them from financial responsibility during one of, if not the most, difficult times of their lives. Through expressing your preferences and formally planning your arrangements in advance, you provide the ultimate peace of mind for you and your loved ones while ensuring your wishes will be honored.

Planning your own arrangements allows you to craft a unique, meaningful goodbye in the way only you could.

You may be wondering if your will or a conversation with your family over the dinner table would suffice in place of preplanning. While I strongly encourage you to create a will and to most definitely have those conversations, neither have the legal power to guarantee your final wishes will be carried out, nor do they save your family from having to plan and pay for your funeral.

With preplanning, not only do you state your disposition wishes (burial or cremation), you also choose the type of services you prefer, the location of your final resting place, music, scripture readings or favorite literary passages, catering—every last detail if you prefer. Preplanning also takes away any confusion or potential disagreements between family members that often arise. I’ve often heard families express relief and gratitude following their loved ones’ preplanned services.

If you feel you’re ready to begin the funeral preplanning process, our experienced staff at Horan & McConaty can help. We’ll start by arranging for you to meet with one of our advanced planners. They’ll explain the process, walk you through all your options, and get to know you so they can guide you and help you plan the most meaningful final arrangements possible.

After your plans have been finalized, we keep your contract safe and ensure your wishes are carried out upon your passing. If you ever want to change your plans, all you have to do is call us, and edits can easily be made at any time.

If you’ve ever lost a loved one, you understand how difficult the days immediately following a death can be. Preplanning your funeral, documenting your wishes, and paying for your arrangements beforehand gives your loved ones the time, space, and permission they need to grieve and be present with the people they love.

Having a plan in advance is one of the most considerate ways to let your loved ones know that just because you’re no longer physically present, you’re still looking out for them and their well-being.

As we have for over a century, Horan & McConaty is here for our communities of Denver, Colorado in their times of need. If you’d like to learn more about preplanning or any of our services, or you would like to make an advanced planning appointment, call us at 303.745.4418. We are always available.

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