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When someone you love dies, it is hard to know what to do. Chances are, you’ve happened upon this blog because you’re searching for a cremation urn or beginning to research what to for a spouse or relative who has died or is nearing the end. And as you know, it is a difficult time.
But you have the opportunity of sparing those who love you some of these difficulties by talking about what you want when your time comes. Here is a good checklist of ten things to think about before you die from the Funeral Consumers Alliance, adapted from Harold Schechter’s Whole Death Catalog: A Lively Guide to the Bitter End:
- Do you want your organs donated? Which ones? Should they go to any particular medical school?
- Do you want to be buried? Where?
- What kind of coffin do you prefer? A cheap pine box? The best casket money can buy?
- Do you want to be embalmed? Do you want an open-casket viewing of your body?
- What sort of funeral do you want? Who should officiate? Is there a specific funeral home you wish to handle the arrangements?
- Do you want a memorial service? Where and what kind – in church, at home, graveside? Are there specific instructions – favorite poems to be read, special music to be played, etc?
- What sort of grave marker do you want, if any? What should the inscription say?
- Would you prefer cremation? What about your ashes – do you want them preserved? Or should they be scattered? Where?
- Who should be notified of your death? Who should be invited to the funeral/memorial service?
- What information should be included in your obituary?
“Given how discomforting it is to contemplate our own deaths, it’s no surprise that when it comes to funeral preplanning, most of us are prone to the Scarlett O’Hara syndrome: “I’ll think about it tomorrow.” But it’s important to keep in mind that making these decisions – and communicating them to your family – is good for everyone concerned. It will give you the grown-up satisfaction of taking charge of your own destiny. And it will relieve your loved ones of a terrible burden at a time when they’re least capable of coping with it.”
– The Whole Death Catalog, p. 47