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Beyond The Casket: Why Mass-Market Planning May Not Be the Best Option

- Tuesday, April 29, 2014

When the time comes to say goodbye and honor a loved one, it’s never easy, especially when a death is unexpected. In such situations, families are often thrust into the harsh reality of having to make arrangements while still overwhelmed with the grief and sadness that accompany mourning the loss of a loved one.

At times, the emotional stress family members feel can be virtually unbearable, and the search for peace can be challenging. I’ve been in the funeral business for many years, and remain convinced that grief is a process people go through at various rates. It’s my belief that the grieving process is not something that can be sped up, but it can be eased, allowing the therapeutic effects of real healing to emerge with greater impact.

One way to deal with grief is to allow it to run its natural course. Family members should be fair to themselves and to one another.  They should allow for mourning. Far too often, however, I’ve seen families scurrying to make burial and other arrangements – logistical concerns that may be necessary and understandable, but don’t allow for much in the way of needed time for healing.

It may be wise to give some thought to funeral planning before the immediate need arises. Not only will you be able to address a challenging topic with great sensitivity, but you’ll do so free of the emotional turmoil that so often permeates the death of a loved one.

Clearly, planning a funeral is a complicated process – but it doesn’t have to be. Mortuaries strive to help families with the decisions and arrangements that make for a unique and meaningful remembrance. Every family’s budget and cultural traditions are different, and a trustworthy and reputable professional will make a world of difference during the grieving process. Be open with and trust your funeral director to help you make the right choice for your family, so you can focus on what’s important: reflecting and honoring the life of a loved one – as well as your own healing.

One of the many ways to honor a loved one is with an appropriate casket. I’ve noticed that some “big box” stores are suggesting the separation of a casket purchase from the rest of the funeral planning. They advertise this as some kind of cost-saver but it may actually complicate the funeral planning process. 

The casket is just one piece of a delicate puzzle and when chosen in isolation, it’s rarely a smart decision. And, contrary to the opinions of some, it’s not a more cost-effective option.

The biggest problem in buying a casket from a retail store is that the seller is not a funeral director knowledgeable about the care, preparation and burial or cremation of the deceased. He/she likely is not experienced in working with families to create the overall funeral experience. Often, retailers are not licensed by the Department of Consumer Affairs, which means less consumer protection for the purchase of these caskets.

I caution families about “ordering” funerals from a la carte menus. Each part of the process – from the casket and preparation, to the service and burial or cremation – needs to be developed together. It’s ideal when the process is pre-planned. But even families who must make decisions suddenly and quickly will do best by viewing the process holistically, not individual components to piece together.

In the end, saying goodbye is never easy. A meaningful service can help bring closure and comfort to a grieving family. Seek a warm and caring funeral director to help you create a perfect service. He or she understands the complexities of the funeral-planning process, which, when done correctly, can allow family and friends to celebrate and honor a loved one’s life.


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