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Planning a funeral after someone has already died can leave family members with many questions and add stress to an already difficult time. But while thinking about your own death can be uncomfortable, planning ahead for your funeral wishes can lift a huge burden off your family’s shoulders.

As you begin to put your wishes down in writing and talk to your funeral director, don’t forget to discuss your wishes for your funeral with your family. While starting the conversation about this sensitive topic may be difficult, the discussion will benefit everyone. Here are 5 reasons you should talk about your funeral wishes with your family:

1. Make Your Wishes Known

young woman sitting on a bench, smiling with her elderly parents

Whether you choose to talk to your family when you start planning or after you already have something on file, they need to know that you’ve thought about what you want for your funeral.

If your family is unaware of your wishes, they may not know which decisions to make. That can lead to emotional overspending, where a family spends more because they want to get “only the best” for their loved one. When you talk to your family about your wishes, they can make more confident decisions during the planning process.

By sharing your wishes with them, you ensure that you’re all on the same page. Your family will know exactly what you want, and you’ll know that your wishes will be carried out.

2. Get Another Opinion

elderly african american couple smiling and hugging outside

In some cases, you may not know exactly what you want. Maybe you know you prefer burial but don’t know where you’d want a service to be held. Or maybe you just need a second opinion from someone you trust.

When answering tough questions like these, discussing your wishes with your family members can be helpful! Your family members are often the people who know you the best, and their suggestions could help you make decisions. Plus, by talking with them as you create your plan, they’ll better understand the reasoning behind your wishes.

However, if you think your family members might object to some of your wishes or influence you to make decisions you don’t want, don’t feel pressured to discuss your wishes with them before you have everything set! You can always wait and let them know after your wishes are on file.

3. Prepare Your Family

older couple playing with their young grandson outside

Whether you include your family in the planning process or not, discussing your wishes with them will help them understand what you want and make sure they aren’t surprised by your wishes, like if you choose to donate your body to science or have an outdoor service instead of one at your church.

In addition, as you discuss your wishes with your family, you’ll need to let them know where your funeral wishes are on file. What funeral home did you plan with? Who is the funeral director you talked to? Where are the important documents they’ll need, like your birth certificate, will, or other estate planning documents?

By letting your family know about your wishes, they’ll be ready to answer questions at the arrangement conference. Plus, they’ll know where to go and who to talk to!

4. Avoid Disagreements

large family with grandparents celebrating a birthday

After a loved one dies, emotions can run high. Family members are grieving, and they often have different ideas about what should be done to honor that special person’s life. This difference of opinion can lead to heated disagreements when there are no clear answers about what the deceased wanted.

When you clearly discuss your wishes with your family, you can eliminate confusion and give your family a guide to your wishes. And since what you verbally tell your family could be forgotten or misremembered, it’s important to also record your wishes and put them on file with your chosen funeral home.

5. Give Everyone Peace of Mind

young man hugging elderly mother

One of the best parts of sharing your wishes with your family is the peace of mind that everyone gains. When you tell your family you have a plan in place, you lift the burden of planning a funeral off of their shoulders and eliminate the unknowns.

And if you choose to prepay for your funeral, you also remove the financial burden for your family. They’ll know that everything is taken care of; they won’t have to find a way to pay for the funeral or wait for life insurance.

By answering the many questions that arise while funeral planning, you give your family one less thing to worry about. Plus, you’ll gain peace of mind, knowing that your family is taken care of and your wishes will be followed.

As you talk to your family about your funeral wishes, give them time to process and think through what you’ve shared. Because we often avoid talking about death, your family members may react in different ways. Be patient and know that your preparation will make things easier for everyone.

More Information About Planning Ahead

Why Plan Ahead for Funeral Wishes?

10 Reasons to Plan Ahead

5 Emotional Benefits to Funeral Preplanning

How to Get Started With Funeral Preplanning

6 Ways You Can Save Money with Funeral Preplanning & Prefunding

9 Preplanning Mistakes to Avoid

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