pre-planning final wishes conversation

The Hardest Conversation To Have With Your Family

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Ann Bacciaglia

Death: a word that people never want to talk about. It could be fear, superstition, denial or a combination of all three. Everyone has their own reasons. I will be honest. Before Darin died, I never talked about death. My reason? I was superstitious. I believed that if I talked about death, something was going to happen to me or my family. Everything changed after Darin died. I am no longer afraid to talk about death and I encourage everyone to push their reasons aside and talk about it with their families.

After someone dies, your life becomes a blur. You are faced with a thousand questions and need to make extremely important decisions. It is hard enough to formulate a sentence, eat or sleep, let alone decide about funerals or memorials. I had no idea what Darin’s final wishes were. I remember feeling guilty that I did not know….after all, a wife should know how her husband wanted his life celebrated.

I recently read a survey conducted on behalf of Arbor Memorial: a family-owned Canadian company that provides interment rights, cremations, funerals and associated services to families across the country. The statistic that jumped out at me was the fact that 60 % of people haven’t shared their funeral/memorial wishes with anyone, leaving their loved ones to figure out all the details once they have passed, and potentially guess at what they would want. Darin was only 44 when he died so it was something we never discussed. Did he want to be buried or cremated? Did he want a traditional funeral or a celebration of his life…I had no idea.

One of the most important lessons I learned following his death was to discuss my wishes with my kids and parents. I pushed my superstition and fear aside and thought about what I wanted. It was very hard to think about and process but I knew how important it was. I had to!  I wrote my Will, made arrangements to have my ashes placed in the same niche as Darin and shared my ideas and plans with my family. I did not want my family to wonder what my final wishes were. I did not want them to feel guilty because they did not know how I wanted my life celebrated. It gives me great peace of mind knowing that everything has been discussed and planned. Not an easy discussion but that peace of mind is worth it.

I never thought I would ever preplan my wishes, including purchasing a niche for myself. If I was too superstitious to write a Will, I was certainly too superstitious to pre-purchase my own funeral plot. Luckily, there are experts who are ready to assist, and make the process less stressful. Having a licensed professional answer your questions is a huge help and relief. They provide guidance and consult with you to help you determine what best reflects your wishes. They walk you through the process and give you pause for thought on aspects you wouldn’t consider, ultimately helping you create a unique and meaningful experience. For me, that meant deciding on a larger niche that will fit my urn as well, so that I can be placed beside Darin. With the help of a certified professional, my in laws and I were able to purchase something that met our needs. When you are overwhelmed with grief, you need someone to hold your hand and guide you through a very confusing time.

I was also surprised at the following survey result “Fewer than four in ten (38 per cent) say they know every detail of the parents’ funeral preferences.” My parents told me their wishes and we discussed how their want their lives celebrated. My parents, in fact, wrote it all down so that I would have their wishes at my disposal in the event of their death. I want to make sure their lives are celebrated the way they want and by having the details in writing, I will have peace of mind, knowing I am doing what they want.

As hard as death is to talk about, people need to think about and discuss their final wishes regarding burial/cremation and memorial. Why let your surviving family members wonder what you would like for your memorial or celebration of life? I know it is a hard topic to think about. No one wants to think or talk about death but you really need to take some time and ask yourself what you want, and then you need to communicate your ideas with your family. It is, after all, your life and you deserve to have a say into how you want to be remembered.

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