At one time, end-of-life planning for your family was straightforward. There were not the numerous options and considerations there are today — most likely, you’d purchase a burial plot or a number of family plots together. Families often chose to be buried in the local cemetery alongside other family members, making this an easy decision.
Nowadays, many families don’t live in the same town, so ending up together in family burial plots or mausoleums may be challenging. Not only that, but with burial prices at an all-time high, cremation memorials are becoming an increasingly popular end-of-life option. If your family members decide to be cremated, that leads to the question of what to do with the ashes. All of this means that families, now more than ever, need to discuss their wishes for a memorial together while they can.
Here are 5 details that families need to discuss when making their end-of-life plans together.
1. Where do you want your final resting place to be?
Many people move, start families of their own, and spend most of their lives in cities other than where they grew up. Each family member should consider where they want their final resting place to be, and come to an agreement — perhaps you’ll all agree on your hometown or a favorite family vacation destination.
This can be a sensitive subject and there may be many differing opinions, so begin conversations with your family now.
2. Cremation vs. burial
Today, 56.1% of Americans will choose cremation, making it the most popular end-of-life option. However, your family could find themselves divided on the subject. Some may prefer the idea of a family plot in a cemetery, while others want to choose something less traditional.
It’s important to discuss this early so that you can come to a reasonable compromise. For instance, if some members of the family want burial because they think it’s the only way to be together after death, you can remind them that cremation ashes could be spread together in a special place, put to rest in a mausoleum, or another after cremation option.
3. Who to include in a family memorial
If you’ve decided on a family memorial, there’s the important question of who should be included. Is it just you and your partner? You, your parents, and your siblings? What about your siblings’ partners and children? The bigger the extended family, the more complicated this decision can be. In order to avoid anyone feeling excluded or hurt feelings, have an open and honest discussion so everyone can understand the plan.
Finding burial memorial options for a large number of people isn’t always easy. While adjoining plots are an option, they can be expensive and hard to find in numbers to accommodate an entire extended family. With cremation, however, there is an opportunity to create family memorials that can include many more people — and pets.
4. What style of memorial does your family prefer?
End-of-life planning can be an emotional subject and deciding what memorial style you want is a deeply personal decision. Not everyone in your family is going to feel the same way about what they envision for their final resting place, so it’s good to find out what everyone’s wishes are sooner rather than later.
While there are some very unique memorial options available today, common memorial examples include:
Talk about each of these options with your family and ask everyone to share their thoughts. Together you’ll be able to find a solution that works for the whole family.
5. Discuss price
Talking about end-of-life can be uncomfortable for most people, and adding financials to the conversation may make it even more difficult. However, it’s important to decide who will pay for the various memorials. Many times people pay for their own, making arrangements in advance to relieve the burden from their grieving loved ones. There are many ways to go about this, and although the topic can be awkward to bring up, it’s important to set expectations and make a plan everyone is comfortable with while grief isn’t a factor.
Coming together as a family
When it comes time to talk to your family members, use the five items detailed above as a guide to get a conversation started. Approach the discussion with empathy and mutual respect, knowing that not everyone will want the same things. Depending on emotions and family dynamics, you may need to have multiple discussions to get everyone on the same page. For more advice, learn how to talk to loved ones about end-of-life planning.
No matter how difficult it might be to have these discussions, remember that proactively planning ahead is in everyone’s best interest. You’ll be glad you did.