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How to Talk to Your Family About Your Funeral 

It’s natural to plan ahead for many kinds of events throughout life. We plan vacations, holiday gatherings, birthdays, retirements, weddings, and more. However, something we may not think of to plan is our own funeral or memorial service. When it comes to talking about death, it's completely normal and understandable to avoid end-of-life conversations because they can be emotionally challenging for us and our loved ones. But as much as most of us would like to push it out of our minds, death is something that will inevitably happen.

In actuality, talking about our final wishes in advance can bring us peace of mind and help protect our loved ones from future emotional and financial burdens, along with having to make difficult decisions while grieving. Here are some common questions and some guidelines to help approach the topic with your family, so you can rest easy knowing your personal wishes will be carried out and your loved ones will be taken care of when the time comes.

Why is it important to talk about funeral arrangements?

Discussing funeral arrangements can feel overwhelming at first, but it’s a conversation worth having and produces many benefits. If no one knows about your final wishes, there’s no guarantee they’ll be carried out. During a family’s time of grief, it’s harder to make decisions on the spot, especially if everyone isn’t on the same page. Documenting your wishes beforehand not only ensures they’ll be honored, it also brings considerable relief to families who simply want to do right by their loved one when honoring their life. A Letter of Contrary Intent legally guarantees that your wishes will be carried out when you die. Bean Funeral Homes can provide you with this document and answer any questions you may have.

When should you have the conversation?

There’s no right or wrong time to talk to your loved ones about your final wishes, but we find that bringing it up as soon as you can will make it easier to discuss. This helps avoid having to have these conversations during a time of crisis or stress, such as after a terminal medical diagnosis or accident. It can be an ongoing discussion and you can always modify your plans down the road if you wish. We suggest you bring up the subject with your loved ones, along with anyone else you trust such as a counselor, lawyer, or funeral director, when it feels most comfortable for you—both emotionally and physically.

What should be included in the conversation?

Planning a funeral isn’t a common topic of conversation, so there’s no set checklist for everyone, but it can be helpful to make your own or write down some notes. Because the topic can be emotionally stirring for you and your loved ones, it's best to start off slow. Some of the important items you can talk about could include your choice of final disposition, whether it be a burial, cremation, eco-burial, or donation to science, as well as the locations you’d like for any of these to take place. Also important to discuss is what type of services you’d prefer, such as a viewing, traditional funeral, scattering ceremony, memorial service, or something unique that reflects your personality and lifestyle. We have helpful resources to provide tips on having what can be a difficult conversation with your loved ones.

How can I make sure my wishes will be honored?

Once you’ve had the conversation with your loved ones, you can enlist the help of a funeral director. A funeral director can also show you all of the options available to you, help you make choices that are right for both you, your family and your budget, and make your plan official. To guarantee that your wishes will be followed at the time of your death, paying for your plans in advance is not only encouraged, it’s smart. By paying in advance, you lock in today’s prices and avoid having to pay inflated costs years or even decades in the future. But there is an even greater advantage to pre-paying for your funeral, and that is making sure your family won’t have to when they will be grieving the loss of someone they love.

How can Bean Funeral Homes help?

MWe believe you and your loved ones should oversee the making of your own final arrangements. Your choices will reflect the wishes and desires that we are here to honor. Our caring and professional staff are happy to help you with any questions or concerns that may come up throughout the preplanning process. To make things easier, we provide a pre-arrangements form to help you and your family get started when the time feels right. You can also call any one of our four locations in Hampden Heights, Shillington, Sinking Spring, or Exeter Township at 1-610-376-1129 We have helped countless families share their thoughts and feelings, and to create a plan that brings them all peace of mind.

There are many ways to begin the conversation of planning for a funeral, but the important thing is to have one. If you feel apprehensive about bringing up your own death, just remember what a priceless gift it will be when the time comes and your family won’t have to think about any planning details or shoulder the financial responsibility. They’ll be free to be with each other to grieve.

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