Planning Your Own Funeral

December 14, 2020

When it comes to final arrangements, it's never too early to begin thinking ahead. Planning your own funeral might not be your favorite subject, but it's something all of us should spend at least a little time thinking about. Young, old, healthy, ailing, whatever the case may be - it's important to understand how to make funeral arrangements for yourself, to ease the future burdens on our family. It is in fact one of the greatest gifts we can leave our loved ones.

This is, by no means, an easy task. The good news is that you don't have to go at it alone. We've gathered some of the best information out there for planning your own Catholic funeral. This outline will help you understand how to make arrangements for yourself in ways that will take the pressure off your loved ones in the future and offer them some peace of mind during an emotional time. Let's get started, shall we?

Your Plan Doesn't Have to Be Complex or Complicated

When it comes to planning ahead, don't feel as if you have to take into account every single aspect of your own funeral. Your plan doesn't have to be a complicated step-by-step list; while you certainly can leave behind complex in-depth requirements for your own funeral, the important part is leaving something behind that expresses your wishes. Even the simplest of outlines will make it easier for your loved ones - the important part is having at least something in place.

Begin with the basics, such as internment choices. This covers whether you want a traditional burial, whether you prefer to be interred in a mausoleum or lawn crypt, or if you wish to be cremated. Additionally, you can also list some of the details of the funeral service that are most important to you, from the church and overseer, to specifics such as what readings you would like and if you would prefer any speakers. You can also take this opportunity to identify if you would like a viewing and a graveside service.

Examine Funeral Costs and Make Financial Arrangements

When it comes to planning your own funeral, price is obviously a factor. The typical funeral can cost several thousand dollars, but you can control the expected costs of your own funeral. Cremation, for example, is a more economical choice than burial. Other aspects, such as the choice of casket for a burial or the type of urn for a cremation, also play a role in the overall cost. The key is that by you making these decisions, you can not only determine how your own life story will be told, you can remove the stress of your loved ones trying to decide what they think you would have wanted.

In addition to planning these details now, if possible, it's best to actually purchase and arrange everything in advance. You can set up a payment plan not unlike life insurance, and what you do is secure your preferences with today's dollars, versus paying years or even decades of inflation.

This also allows you to select and secure your preferred gravesite, perhaps at a cemetery connected to your church. If you purchase the burial plot now, you can ensure you have it forever. You can also secure plots for other loved ones, to ensure you are all together.

Share Your Funeral Plan with Loved Ones

Once you're done making funeral arrangements and have locked in the financial aspects of your own funeral, it's time to share your plan with your loved ones. Doing so ensures that you make your wishes known to them as explicitly as possible. As it's never too early to let your family know your final arrangements, you can even begin by simply telling them your basic plan and then update them when, over time, you add more details.

Of course, you may not want to burden your entire family with these plans, which is understandable. In this case, it's an excellent idea to pick one trusted member of your family, or even a close friend or confidant, to be the primary responsible party for ensuring your final wishes are followed. You may want to have these plans put into writing if you're only sharing your wishes with one other person, as this can help make your intentions crystal clear, preventing any argument or misinterpretation. Planning your own funeral through Philadelphia Catholic Cemeteries is a concrete way to establish that your preferences will be followed.


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Keep Your Personal Information Organized and Documented

Speaking of written records, it's absolutely essential that you keep all your personal information organized and well-documented. Having all of this information in one place is a necessity to help your loved ones wrap up your affairs, and it will be a boon to those who will be writing your obituary or delivering your eulogy.

The information you include in your files doesn't need to be all related directly to your funeral arrangements, either. If you have any genealogical records, for example, those who come after you in your family are likely to value this information highly. Ephemera like photographs, newspaper clippings, and correspondence all fall into this category as well.

Try to Future-Proof Your Plans

Specifying all the details while making funeral arrangements is optional, but more detail is always helpful for those who will be following your instructions. That said, providing leeway in planning your funeral for the completely unexpected is more important now than ever. In the post-COVID-19 pandemic landscape, for example, the necessities of keeping social distancing rules intact mean that many states have placed severe limitations on large gatherings. This extends to funerals and memorial services, so placing language in your funeral plans to accommodate virtual services will go a long way toward making things easier for your loved ones who desire to see your final wishes fulfilled.

Take the Next Step

It's never too early to begin planning for your own funeral. Remember: this is the ultimate expression and celebration of your life and legacy. It's for your benefit as much as it is for your family and friends, and planning ahead provides you with endless opportunities to decide what you want that celebration to look like and how you want it to take place.

We recommend you start by contacting one of our burial planning consultants. They can meet with you in-person or virtually to discuss these steps in more detail and determine the best plan for you.