The Good, The Bad And The Ugly Of Funeral Planning

5 min. readbyVexxit StaffonAugust 19, 2020
Planning a funeral is a tough task to approach. In addition to the emotional cost of spending time thinking about death, funerals can be pricey. Let's explore the good, the bad and the ugly of funeral planning.

“Five to one, baby, one in five, no one here gets out alive…” Jim Morrison, who knows a thing or two about death, wrote and performed these lyrics in 1968. Marilyn Manson covered the song in 2000 and Jay-Z and Kanye West sampled it in 2001. It’s a track with history, meaning and haunting resonance, because it’s true.

Avoiding one’s mortality is nice. Much easier than dealing with the emotional discomfort of imagining the legacy – or mess – we may leave behind. Planning one’s own funeral, can seem dreary, a little bit scary and maybe even sort of controlling, right?

Which is why many people prefer to leave the rellys to pick out the casket, the sad songs for the violinist to play and the assortment of tea sandwiches. Ideally, there are enough assets in the estate to cover these costs.

Yet for family and friends left behind, these decisions of where to throw the ashes, or who to invite, can be a gut-wrenching burden at a time when they are already struggling with grief and difficult emotions.

Perhaps better to think of a funeral like a bottle of champagne chilling in the fridge: much better to have it organized before you actually need it.

By planning your own funeral, you can help loved ones to give you a send-off they know you would approve. This will release them from many logistics and decisions and allow them to focus on their loss and the sharing of memories with other loved ones.

The downside of planning your own funeral is that it’s going to cost you. You didn’t think death was free did you? Earlier this year, CBC cited research from InMemory database suggesting that on average, a burial costs between $5,000 and $10,000 in Canada, while a cremation costs between $2,000 - $5,000.

Cremation is the more popular method of disposition in Canada – rising from 48 percent in 2000 to 72 percent in 2018 – according to the CBC and the Cremation Association of North America. Yet depending on your afterlife style, you might prefer cryonic preservation or resomation, a water-based and carbon-footprint-friendly method.

Funerals can be planned in advance with a professional funeral home, often without cost, leaving the expenses to be picked up by your estate. However, this can leave relatives out-of-pocket for these fees until the estate gets settled. A more gracious strategy is to prepay, with funds held in trust by an organization such as Guaranteed Funeral Deposits of Canada.

The most difficult funerals are often the least prepared. No arrangements. No last will and testament. No idea where passwords or accounts are kept. Add a few complicated relationships and you’ve got the recipe for a legacy of turmoil and stress rather than the fond, loving memories you’ve surely earned.

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