Let us first look at the sales pitch. Here are two frequently used pitches: “plan now so that your family won’t have to worry” and “prices are always going up, buy now”. The problem with these two approaches is that in some ways they contain truths. If you preplan and prepay for the funeral and burial, you have taken some amount anxiety off your family, but he fact remains that at the time of your death your family will be in grief no matter what you do. If you pre-pay, your family won’t have to pay much or anything at all at your time of death and the prices are always lower today than tomorrow. Every year the industry increases their prices like clockwork. If you know you will pay less today than tomorrow, why wouldn’t you pay today? First, when you prepay, the industry gets your money, and it no longer works for you and your family. I suggest setting up an account that upon your death your heirs can access the money needed to pay for your final expenses. Pay yourself and not the industry. Second, in today’s world, we move around a lot. How can we know where we will be living when we die? Many people have purchased funeral and burial plans and have moved away from the area. In many cases parts of their plans are not easily transferred or in some cases not at all. I suggest only prepaying if you know death is imminent because otherwise you might change your mind on what you want for your funeral and burial.
Next, let us look closer at the products sold in the industry marketed to alleviate our fears. Coffins renamed “caskets” - treasure boxes- to make us feel better about placing our treasured loved ones in them at the time of death. Not only has the industry changed the name to make us feel better about them, but also they sell them as a means of protection. Some “caskets” are more “protective” than others. The sealing caskets are meant to make us feel that we are keeping the elements from reaching the bodies of those we love, when this is precisely what is supposed to happen after death. Why are we trying to stop nature? I have never understood why the industry wants us to stop this natural process. These sealer coffins make the natural process of death fairly gruesome. In nature, the ground acts as a natural filter after death. These coffins do not allow for the natural decomposition that takes place. If the caskets were not bad enough, we are sold “vaults”. These “vaults” keep our treasure and act as a second layer of “protection” from the natural elements. Vaults are nothing more than grave liners and underground tombs. Vaults have no guarantee that they won’t break during use, and the elements will eventually reach the “treasure” you have placed there. Vaults, like flush grave markers, make it easier for the cemetery to mow their lawn by helping keep the ground level. Sometimes the plots are so close together; they help distinguish one plot from anther. Once you understand the true use of the vault, you will know that they are there more for the cemetery than to help protect the bodies of our loved ones.
If you can set aside our fears and look directly at our death, you can help your family through their grief. If we can plan and talk about what we want as a memorial for us at death, we can help our family know what to do. Take the time today to start looking at the options around you and write down some thoughts. Those left behind to take care of your wishes should know what you would want. The uncertainty in the minds of those sitting in the offices of the death care industry makes for an easier sale for the industry. Your life means more than some easy sale. Make sure you do your best to fight against the fear of death in your own life and family. These conversations are not fun. I do know mean to imply that planning your funeral and death is a walk in the park. I know it’s not. I know that sometimes these plans and ideas change, so you might need to tweak it from time to time. Through the process of research and planning, you start to unveil the mystery and fear that the industry would rather that you don’t. You start to see things simply. This lack of fear in the face of death will alleviate some of the stress in the grieving process for your loved ones and make it harder for the industry to use fear as a way to make a sale.