Dying? Not Me! Why you should plan for Transition
by C. Bailey-Lloyd / Lady Camelot
Remember the Eulogy projects we had to write back in High
School? Death is a tough subject to broach, and many would
rather deny death then embrace it. Someone once said,
"...There are only two guarantees in life: Death and
Taxes." How true is this phrase? It is normally when we are
faced with the imminence of dying or death that we only begin
making plans or arrangements for our transition.
Having firsthand knowledge, it is very difficult to experience
the physical death or passing of a loved one. It is even more
taxing when you are subjected to last-minute funeral
arrangements when physical death does occur.
To gain better insight in dealing with death, and to
establish a better understanding of death altogether, I present
I personally don't like the word "death" myself; so I prefer
to call it "transition." While it is vital to focus on our
living it is equally important to focus on our physical
departure as well. We often view this passing as a permanent end
to life. And, in all actuality, physical death after physical
life is imminent. Like everything in nature, the cycle of
physical life begins with physical birth and ends with physical
death. Our earthly bodies are merely shells that provide housing
to our living energy. Because energy is neither created, nor
destroyed, it can only transform. So, in retrospect, physical
death is the death of the physical being, but never the inner
being, or soul. This is what I refer to as the
That being said, we now redirect our attention to our transition
plans. I never quite realized the meticulous details that
surround death's event. Funerals just don't "happen."
They take planning, organization and a great deal of in-depth
research and modus operandi. Just as painstakingly, we
pre-arrange parties, receptions, births, and weddings. Of
course, the aforementioned are much easier with which to deal.
They are "living" and "vital" events, so we don't mind
contending with them. But mention the word, "death," and
suddenly, we shy away from it. We shelter ourselves from the
reality of death as long as we can because we fear it.
Through my own experience, I've learned that the best way to
deal with physical death is to embrace it. After all, it is a
natural occurrence in human life. We cannot choose "Option C,"
when we only have options A and B. Below our some common excuses
people use with regard to funerals:
Really, the above answers are an
all-too-common means of running away from death. It is much
easier to remain in denial. The truth is that anyone can die at
any given moment - death is not picky. And remember, when
- not if-- our physical death does happen, we
leave behind our legacies, our coworkers, families, friends and
even our pets. Have we thought about them? Of course we have. We
love the people and living creatures that are part of our lives.
And the thought of being without them can be heartbreaking. The
imprints we leave with them create a lasting and loving
impression. The last thing we want our friends and family to do
during our transition is to plan our individual funerals
for us. Preplanning our funerals eases the financial and
emotional burden on our family members and is one of life's
greatest virtues we can bestow (upon our families).
- "But I'm not dying
- why should I plan for death?"
- "I'm too young to worry
about that kind of stuff..."
- "It won't be a big deal,
I'm getting cremated anyway..."
- "I've got my whole life
to live. Who cares about funerals now?"
- "Why should I
worry about planning a funeral now? I need to focus on living
- "How can you even ask such a
Funeral Arrangements are an Individual Choice
Ask yourself the following Questions:
These are just a few, detailed questions you will need to ask
yourself when planning your funeral. Next items to research are
cost. Remember that funerals can be as simple or elaborate as
you wish - but do you have adequate life insurance to cover the
cost? According to the National Funeral Directors Association
(NFDA), 98% of American
funeral homes offer preplanning options to families; and three
ways individuals can prepay a funeral are:
- What will
- Cemetary or Mausoleum?
- If you choose to be cremated, would you
like your ashes placed in an urn or scattered?
- Church Services or Funeral Home
- Do you wish to donate your body to those in
need medically; scientific research, etc?
- Do you know
what type of vault and casket you'd like?
- Do you prefer
a viewing and/or funeral motorcade procession?
you like someone to sing at your funeral?
- If you're an
Armed Forces Veteran, do you wish to be buried in a National or
local cemetery? Would you like full Veteran burial?
- A licensed funeral director can
establish a regulated trust.
- A life-insurance policy
can be purchased, equal to the value of the funeral.
- Individuals can establish a savings or certificate of
deposit account earmarked for funeral expenses. The account can
be designated as "payable on death" (POD) to the funeral
In addition to prepayment, the NFDA offers invaluable
insight with their "Bill of Rights for Funeral
Preplanning." See their guidelines below:
"An ethical and reputable NFDA funeral home
will ensure the following rights and protections:
Provide you with detailed price lists of goods and services
before you make your selections. Provide to you, at the
conclusion of the funeral arrangement conference, a written
statement listing all of the goods and services you have
purchased and the price. Give you a written preneed
funeral contract explaining, in plain language, your rights and
obligations. Guarantee in the contract, that if any of
the goods or services you have selected are not available at the
time of need, goods and services of equal or greater value will
be substituted at no extra cost. Explain in the
contract the geographical boundaries of the funeral home's
service area and under what circumstances you can transfer the
preneed contract to another funeral home if you were to
relocate, or if the death were to occur outside of the service
area. State in the contract where and how much of the
funds you pay will be deposited until the funeral is
provided. Explain in the contract who will be
responsible for paying taxes on any income or interest generated
by the preneed funds that are invested. Inform you in
the contract whether, and to what extent, the funeral home will
guarantee the price of goods and services you are purchasing. If
the prices are not guaranteed, the contract will explain who is
responsible for any additional amounts that may be due at the
time of the funeral. Explain in the contract whether
and under what circumstances you may cancel your preneed
contract and how much of the funds you paid will be
Because death, or transition, is inevitable it is our
responsibility to make arrangements for our funerals
before they occur. Though sometimes, a daunting task,
preplanning our transition can be an enlightening experience
that enables us to appreciate life that much more. Don't wait
until it's too late.
For more information on options and preplanning funerals,
please visit the National Funeral Directors Association at NFDA. If you would like to share
your story or experience, we always welcome your insights.
An insightful prose on "transition" can be read here: Fly Away.
article re-published 10 October 2006