The title “The conversation that can change your life..” seems very dramatic and to a certain point it really is.
My experience working with grieving families is that a simple conversation can change the grief structure that a person will experience after the loss of a loved one. Guilt is a hurdle that will cause deep mental traumatic stress and can definitely prolong the grieving process and in most cases can be prevented by a simple (or maybe not so simple) conversation. This topic seems to come up quite often in our blog but it is something that I keep experiencing and I want to keep stressing the importance of. The conversation concerning how you want to be remembered and what that actually looks like in your mind.
The first contact a family member has with our Team is usually when they are letting us know that someone in their family has passed. After we express our condolences and make sure you as the surviving family are being cared for, we then turn our attention to the deceased. One of the very first questions I ask a family in regards to their loved one is what type of service the deceased requested and how the final committal would be performed, casket burial or cremation with burial? So many times this question goes unanswered and the younger the deceased is the higher the percentage is the surviving family will say “We never really discussed this”. Lately we have served so many “young” families and this is probably why this is so near to my heart right now… but just knowing the answer to which type of scenario the deceased preferred can leave a family with a peace of mind that they were able to honor their wishes.
Now, there are many different variations and considerations with each family we serve, but this conversation will eventually happen and we want you to feel 100% confident in your choices without receiving guilt after the fact when you start to ask yourself questions that start with “What if….”. We as funeral directors come in to make sure you have the time and information you need to make the best decisions. Even with that, in the face of grief mental breakdown could occur and cause you to make a different choice.
“So, what do I need to do?”
As you best know your spouse, parents, etc… deciding how to start this conversation is up to you. Basically there is no wrong way or right way to start this conversation. It could be simply “Hey, this may sound strange but I’m thinking about being cremated, what do you want for yourself?” or “Mom, have you and dad ever discussed what you want to have happen after you pass?”. Simply starting the question may open a long conversation or just get you a short four word sentence in return, either way this will save you when the time comes! Also, make mention of your wishes in this conversation as well just to be sure they know what you prefer.
More times than not you will not get answers to all the little questions but you will know how to answer these when the time comes. Items like, Church or Chapel, cemetery location, pall bearers, music selections, flowers, etc… will come easier after you know the two big items, service or no service, casket burial or cremation? And yes, all this can happen without involving me or any other funeral director for that matter… of course we are here if that conversation ever became very detailed and we can help you with answering any questions that come up.
With saying this I understand that these conversations are very hard and are not always able to happen but if there is ever a time, please consider what you have read, it seriously could change your life or even someone else’s.
If you have more questions on how to start this conversation or would like some more materials to make these decisions please feel free to contact me or anyone on our outstanding Team!