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Last week we made preplanned funeral arrangements for my Mom, after discussing with family the type of funeral we wanted to have. I contacted 3 homes to get quotes and specific details. The price ranges between the three were wide for the same services.

it just seemed like the right thing to do as I wouldn't want to have to make those arrangements in the emotions of the moment. Saw how that went with my MIL and it wasn't pretty or cheap. Some advantages to prearranging the funeral are that it will fix the costs; everyone knows in advance what and how the services will proceed; if Mom passes at home, I can call the funeral home directly and they will pick her up and take her to the coroners office to have her pronounced.

Making these arrangements in advance took one more background stressor out of my life. Just wondering if others have done the same and if it made things easier in the end?

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We have done that for my Mom, my Dad had everything paid and ready when he passed and it did make things a little easier. He even had a folder with his passwords and military documents ready for us.
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My sweet mother-in-law passed three weeks ago and we are so thankful she planned and prepaid for the funeral. She even wrote the obituary, selected pallbearers, songs to be sung ect. This took so much stress off the family and we know her wishes had been met.
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okay, here is a slightly funny story and a very serious story about this. i learned when i was only 19 and just coming out of the closet during the early days of the AIDS epidemic about the importance of having final arrangements made, because family situations are complicated in the best of circumstances, and relatives and emotions tend to pop in from nowhere at the last minute and have legitimate concerns at a tragic time. Having as much in writing as possible is really one of the kindest things a person can do. Also, I recently helped a dear friend say goodbye to her brother who suffered a massive stroke, and was a week and a half in the hospital, declining. Since he had his paperwork in order, the doctors were VERY relieved about what to do. He wanted a trial run of the most aggressive treatments, and when it became clear that those were not working, he wanted them stopped. The doctors took time to explain the treatments to his sister, and his sister had time to say her goodbyes. He was not in pain. His funeral was planned the way he wanted, and this brought great comfort to his family and friends. So, the funny (sort of in a morbid way) story is, I had JUST completed a pre-paid plan for myself and, since there was a sale, ordered a second plan for my spouse, who is in frail health and for whom I am POA. It kind of creeped me out that they mailed us our urns....I am disabled, but I am only 47 years old, hopefully not going to be needing one for quite a long time. my spouse is much older than me, and very sensitive about aging issues. I was searching for the right time to mention about the plan, but also needing to get things in order because finances are tight. Kind of one of those do it and then beg pardon later things. At any rate, I was watching the post box, waiting for these two urns, because I did NOT want Spouse to get the mail before we had a chance to talk about what a great price I got on the cremation. (and the urns could be exchanged later if someone wanted a different one, so it wasn't a really big deal, other than really, what do with them in the meantime....I mean really....put them in the linen closet? how strange, right?) So four or five days into the waiting, daughter in law calls, there was a death in the extended family and they needed to spend the night for a few days, with the grandson and the dog and a few distraught family members. Of course, we were more than happy to have them come. They were less than twenty minutes away, and we were just finishing the last minute preparations for their arrival, when there is a knock at the door. You guessed it. The urns arrived. Signature required on delivery. My spouse, who happened to be also having a birthday that day, and who is starting to show signs of a more easily confused and possibly early dementia brain said, "oh you bought me something special!" "Yes, I did." I said. "Close your eyes for a second" Just like a little kid, he put his hands over his face, I was able to sign for the packages and whisk them under the bed in less than two minutes flat. No sooner did I shoo the post office delivery clerk out the door than the family arrived. I enlisted the grandson to go with me to the store, where we purchased a replacement surprise for my spouse, and fortunately, everyone was ok singing happy birthday to grandpa, in spite of the funeral they had come into town to attend. Talk about close calls. About a month later, I got the opportunity to tell him about the preplanned funeral, which of course was dismissed as a "waste of money".....BUT....the amount paid counts toward the medicaid spend down, so it wound up turning out ok on that point as well. And the urns are carefully placed on a shelf, out of sight, out of mind...........
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My mom has preplanned hers and it gives me piece of mind.
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I think pre-planning avoids a lot of stress, confusion, family members chirping in their opinions and wants. There is enuf to deal with after someone passes as it is. We went thru this when my 2 brothers and my mom passed. When my mom passed, it was out of state from where their gravesites are, it was mass confusion to try to get her body/casket flown back and delivered into the backwoods of a small town in WV. Never again with the 'what do we do, what needs to be done' worries.
We have also encountered this with my sister, father in law, others who have passed and no planning was done, mass confusion, too many people either wanting to help or backing off, leaving the bereaved child or spouse to do it themselves.
My father is 90, late stage ALZ and Dementia, and is under Hospice care. He bought his plot, vault, headstone over 20 years ago which is beside my mother. A lot of funeral services now show a slideshow of the person's life, so we have already picked out the pictures we will use and put them on a CD, his favorite songs to be played have been chosen, color and type of flowers for the service. His bio has been prepared for the newspaper obituary along with the picture that will accompany the obit. If you don't have a preacher or rabbi or church who knows you intimately, you need to prepare notes for them, that's also done. Do as much as you can NOW. Think of the funerals you have attended including any 'after' events such as having extended family over for a meal, plan for that also. Know where ALL the paperwork is, ALL the paperwork. If nothing else, have copies made for you the caregiver. Also find out who needs to be contacted after: Social Security office, any pension plans, utility bills, credit cards, bank, magazine subscriptions, pharmacies that do auto refills, newspaper delivery, the list goes on...Get a copy of your loved one's calendar and a list of their friends addresses and phone lists. Buy stamps for the thank you cards. I know it sounds morbid, but you can get a roll of the peel-n-stick address labels and computer generate the addresses and have those ready to put on the front of the Thank You cards, then trash the ones you won't need. Make a list of what will need to be done, add or delete as needed, but you cannot be too prepared.
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Yes Absolutely! Both my parents and my inlaws prepaid for their funeral arrangements through PURPLE HEART, A service which covers most of the costs upfront and maintains the costs at today's prices. It made things so much easier for the 3 who have already passed, and leaves you to write the service without all those other decisions, which can become so very expensive and impulsive when you are so devastated with grief. I plan to do this as well with my husband soon.
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I have a different take on this question.
My mom passed away when I was 17, with just Dad and I left at home.Mom and Dad had bought cemetery plots when I was little, after my brothers had moved to other parts of the country, each near their inlaws. We got the call from the hospital at breakfast one morning, and spent the day going to the hospital, the funeral home, the church, the casket place, the cemetery. Dad had a pretty good idea what they wanted, but that day that I spent with my Dad was a day I will never forget, and I was able to have some input. . When Dad passed five years later, I was out of the country and unable to get home, but my brothers dealt with it, using Mom's funeral as a guideline, but again, they appreciated having some input as well. I think it is good to have general ideas as to what someone wants, but the surviving family should be able to be involved,, as they are the ones who are there. When my husband died, we knew where he wanted to be buried, and my kids and kids-in-law and I again spent a day setting it all up. Our pastor and my cousin's husband, a pastor who was a good friend of ours, basically set up the service with our cooperation.
The thing I appreciated about doing this pretty much on the spot is that we could deal with the realities as to who and what was available, and the biggest thing is that it KEPT US BUSY doing something necessary and useful! Having a church family to work with helped a lot, as well.
If the families are able to work together, and clearheaded enough to keep from getting pulled into excessive expenses,it can be a memorable family experience.
I've been involved in singing for at least four family and friend's funerals, two of them in small groups put together at the last minute, and was delighted to be included. When it becomes necessary, my kids have the experience of what we did for their dad; as well as their extended families and our church family. .
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One more thing...since it was prepaid, when mom died it was so easy. We just called the funeral home and they picked her up at the hospital, did what they needed to do, including giving dad a half dozen copies of her death certificate. We picked up her ashes when they called a few days later and that was all there was to it. It gave us plenty of time to grieve mom and have a memorial for her at home.
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My parents prepaid for their cremations. It worked for my mom, but now my dad is living in a different state with two states to drive through to get to the funeral home. It would probably be just as much to use one of the Texas budget cremation services (650.00) for dad as it would paying for preparing and paperwork to take dad to that funeral home.

When dad first moved out of state to be near my brother after mom died I called the funeral home and discovered they had prepaid for an insurance policy in case something like this should happen. It should cover the budget cremation along with some left over, so you might look into insurance if you think there might be a chance of them changing states.

It's was always my parents wish that their cremated remains be mingled and spread out over a large lake somewhere (they spent their lives boating, fishing and loving the water). There was no burial place so the insurance was probably quite reasonable. Dad's keeping mom's ashes safe until the time comes that they are reunited again. I think that's soooo sweet.
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My parents discussed their end of life wishes before my father fell ill and it was such a godsend. They chose to be cremated and then buried in my mother's burial plot which she got from her parents. So Dad was cremated but the funeral was a beautiful combination of my father's wishes (mainly non religious) and my mother's wishes (religious). Mom's church family continues to sustain her as my father passed about 6 weeks ago. Dad is now sitting in the study - appropriately next to his cd player - as he loved his music. when I am in there on his computer i say Hi. Pre-arrangements take so much stress off the people left behind.
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We did this not long ago also for my Mom, it is great to have everything settled,
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One thing to watch out for is a change in location after the plans have been made/paid for. You want to minimize extra charges (shipping a body, embalming elsewhere, etc). There are good consumer publications out there about what funeral homes can get away with, or not.
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Preplanning is a great way to make decisions under no stress, little emotion and clear thinking. By preplanning, you have the opportunity to receive discounts and make small monthly payments. Most people would rather make small payments than get hit with a $15,000 bill, due the same day.

Preplanning should be viewed like buying "Car Insurance". You take care of THAT because of what "might" happen, yet people don't want to make ANY plans for something that's "going" to happen. As things increase in price, so do they at the cemetery and the Funeral Homes. As the cemeteries shrink in availability, the prices go up.
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I pre-planned four funerals for family members that I have taken care of over the past ten years. In my book Memoirs of a Caregiver I explain the process step by step, to help others in their journey. It has been a blessing to have those arrangements out of the way. It may also be necessary to pre-plan when you have to do a "spend down" of their money. Either way eliminate that big task so you can concentrate on other issue that may arise during that time. Don't forget you also need time to grieve. Hugs and love. Cynthia
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Purple - My mom's casket was slightly over 4K in 1980's - pearlized pinky mauve number with matching interior. The similar one now is 7K. Just crazy. I just don't see how people can afford traditional funeral & burials.

You know we (DH & I) are doing a cremation with mulitple urns - so each urn get's a bit of us.....so some ashes go into a recycle box to be scattered in the Gulf of Mexico and then family gets a urn with ashes. What they do with them, is whatever. So maybe you could get an urn with 50% of mom for your brother? Ask the cremation facility about holding the cremation. Now some cremation places are NOT funeral homes so they cannot do this (hold the body) but others are. The FH my mom has her pre need with has a huge cold storage vault so she can go there if we have a week or so before her viewing. This FH does the military burials and they (the VA) are so backed up on funerals that it takes 2 - 4 weeks to get a military one done so they are setup to hold the bodies in cold storage. You know I was shocked when he (FH guy) told me that the VA is just backlogged on anything for veterans from aid & attendance to reinbursing the FH for stuff- they were not happy about it but this FH is big and can afford to do it, he said some of the smaller FH will not take a military burial because of those issues. Can you imagine!
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Wow Igloo- those are HUGE differences!! Luckily my Mom does NOT want a viewing - she has never liked being the center of attention (actually, we have very few pictures of her because she never liked having her photo taken either) so when she passes she wants a direct cremation once we have said our goodbyes. The only chink in that plan is that my brother lives 2 states away, so if she passes unexpectedly, that might present an issue for him.
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One thing to think about is to allow for changes and do what you can to minimize them. This is what I've been dealing with and in totally unexpected ways.

Dad died in 1980's & they had bought a mausoleum in 1980. Paid in full for it and paid in full for the lettering. Internment fee was $ 125.00. Now at the time, the cemetery did NOT allow for pre-need just as they did NOT allow for cremations.
Mom did her own pre-need in 1987 a couple of years after dad died. Total package...casket, viewing, cards, etc. Policy does not allow for an increase in costs - the FH has to just deal with increased costs. (Most new policies allow for an increase in fees & charges by the FH) Everything done BUT based on what was the situation in 1987......

Well flash-forward to 2013 and things have changed, here's my recent experience Really you MUST ask how things can change and plan for it.........:
Burial : opening & closing $ 900.00: service at chapel @ mausoleum $ 300. Neither included in the original purchase of the mausoleum (3K) as it just wasn't done back then (30 + years ago). Oh those vaults are now selling for 10 - 12K.

Funeral: everybody on my mom's list done in 1980's & redone in 2000's is either dead or unable to physically be a pallbearer. That's what happens when they live to forever.....Also almost all who knew my mom, she has outlived or they too are in a NH & unable to go to a funeral or know what planet they are on. I am a very late in life baby (my mom was mid 40's when I was born) and most of my first cousins are in their 70's and only just a couple still live in the city where we grew up, so there won't be much family showing up at this point in time. Really it would be those neighbors who knew her as they grew up and now inherited & live in the old family home. I looked into doing a conversion of her pre need but it is written as an all or nothing policy so that's that. It does include a visitation @ the FH, so we are doing that at the FH. They can hold the body for a couple of weeks, so we will likely do the visitation so it can be on a Friday night to maximize travel. One of her neighbors is a deacon, so he will lead the service and get a payment.

At the time my dad died, church just asked for a donation. Now $ 300.00 fee plus

Also at the time of my dad's death & mom's pre-need, obituaries were basically done for fee by the newspapers (yeah, newspaperS). Well those days are gone (fewer newspapers) and there is a fee for obit's and extra charges for photos. A couple of hundred $$ on this.

Floral was not included and will run about $ 500.00 for a casket topper. The FH has a book to select from but you can select an outside vendor too. They are getting back to me regarding family bringing in florals. Some states (LA) are pretty strict in non-registered florists but my mom is in TX so we'll see.

Also when my dad died, the police escort was provided as a city service. Not so now and based on a 4 hour minimum 3 motorcycle. Billed to the FH and then to us.
About 300- 400. Back to the pallbearers, the FH can provide them @ $ 50 a pop if scheduled in advance. But if the day of the funeral, there are pallbearers who cannot carry and the FH has to substitute one, it's $ 75 per. So between the church costs, pallbearer and cop costs, we are not doing anything at the church or at the cemetery. Just the visitation at the FH on a Friday night and FH will transport the body to the cemetery the following week once it's been opened & the cemetery will do the casket insertion & closing ($ 900.00) Lettering prepaid!

Nothing extra bought or done. Instead I'll spend the $ & do a big brunch on Saturday with a full bar at my mom's house and set up a slide show & do a dump table of all the boxes of photos & slides for anyone to take.

Dealing with this has given me & my DH the decision to do a cremation. I'll get the urns @ Costco too. Family is well aware of what we want done with ashes too.

BTW if you are about to qualify for Medicare (turning 66), you will start to get in the mail all sorts of pre-need funeral & burial forms along with the multitude of Medicare secondary policy programs. Read carefully!
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This is so interesting. I literally just made the same arrangements for my 90 year old mother who is still doing reasonably well but wanted this to be in place before my husband and I are out of the country traveling toward the end of the year. Did it for the exact same reasons as you state, crispycritter....to eliminate one additional stressor, to know everything is in place and so that the burden (especially if it were to occur while we are away) would not fall to our local daughter or sister who lives an hour away. My husband and I are going to do the same for ourselves in the near term....how's that for thinking ahead?
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I have told my daughter that when I go, I want to be cremated (all of us do, actually). Here's the big part, actually. I'm leaving a life insurance policy who's sole purpose is for the second part of my wishes. I want my family to take my cremated remains to Hawaii and sprinkle the ashes where I swam with the dolphins. While they're there, they are to go to luaus, swim with dolphins, snorkel and have fun. All on me. I may not be able to afford to do it while I'm alive, but heck, I can give them one hell of a party when I die!
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Dad was very specific on what he wanted, he always said he wanted to be buried with my mom, not beside her but with her. His plan was that whomever passed away first would be cremated and the cremated remains kept until the other passed away and since the funeral home director is a close family friend we felt safe leaving Dad's remains with him. The only problem with his plan was, because he wasn't being buried we had no grave to visit, we had bought the plots for the family but he wasn't going to be buried until mom passed away so we asked him before he died if we could bury a small portion of his cremated remains so we and especially mom would have a place to visit him. Dad passed away 2 years ago so per his wishes after his funeral his remains were cremated and we buried a small urn that we visit often. I think it is a beautiful tribute to both my mom and dad that we were able to carry out their wishes. They spent 65 + years together and they wanted to hold hands forever. I would advise anyone who can to either prearrange your funeral or to write down what you want and give it to your family, it helps so much at such a sad time and it is very comforting to know you are doing what your loved one wanted.
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Mom & Dad both wanted to be cremated, so they signed up with the Neptune Society. When Dad died they came and got him and he was cremated for $300. We upgraded the urn, which sits on Mom's dresser, for an additional $90, and ordered the additional death certificates through them. They were extremely helpful. Mom told me when she goes, she wants a double size urn, so she and Dad can be put in the same one, then "give it a good shake, like a martini - after that I don't care what you do" LOL. I figure after she and Dad have been returned together, we'll get them a spot somewhere with a stone, so the family can have a place to put flowers, but it's nothing immediate that has to be done.
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I did this just yesterday for my mother and I feel I handled it alot better since she is still with us,it is still hard but I did it and feel relieved. I think that I will make my own prearrangements soon I think my family would appreciate it.
My advice is to go ahead and do it and if you want or need to make changes
when the time comes you can Good Luck
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My parents both bought prearrangement cremation services. Mom died and it was so nice to just call the funeral home and all was taken care of. It will be different for dad though. He then moved back to his hometown 4 states away, so when he dies, there's no way to take advantage of his prepaid services. What we will have to do is find a funeral home where he is now to have him cremated at, and then we will have to request a refund from the insurance company who covered the original prepaid plan..this according to the funeral home where he purchased the plan.

So if you're thinking plan, be sure your loved one is going to be staying put until death.
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There was an article in the newspaper here in California recently that Forest Lawn has now opened stores in several malls. It is the first that I have personally ever heard doing such a thing but it may work.

I think we each should make arrangements for our own demise and burial or cremation. We put it off for so long that it becomes the problem of our children. I am speaking to myself here as well. I think we are afraid that we may need that money for some emergency or something. I do have to say that when a new section of the cemetery opened up after my father's death, many people were actually "investing" their money by purchasing these plots to sell for a profit in the future.

When my sisters and I go to make arrangements for my mother this summer, I do not plan on mentioning it to her. It could prove to be upsetting and I do not want that to happen. She has already set aside money for it but we will just pre purchase it for her. With my father we asked for a bit more expensive vault for his casket to rest in when buried and I have to say it was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen!
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My Dad did this, the funeral was paid for and he left us a folder with his passwords and military forms. My father had a bad heart and i suppose he knew it would be needed. Still need to do this with Mom hope to get it done this summer sometime, i will say it helped us a great deal we were able to concentrate on his life and what that meant instead of trying to make those choices.
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Nan, it really is not emotional plannig your own funeral as those of loved ones but still much easier than at the time of demise. Then it is so emotional and the FH plays on the emotions and will try to sell you much more than you need. When my dad died in 1976, I was young and did not know where to begin. He has very little money and no Life Insurance, which was cancelled after his stoke. The funeral home told showed me models of the higher priced caskets and and vault. They said I needed one with life time warranty, duh... and the best seal?? How would I know. I only saw caskets and prices and had to go where we could afford My Dad was laid to rest as good as we could afford and not one person aksed about the Life time warranties... haha whose lifetime did they mean?? His met the state standard and codes which was all I was concerned about. They did not require vaults back then. He was a veteran but we put him in our family cemetery had to pay for his plot. So back then $5,000 to bury him was a lot. But he had enough money to cover the expenses. And I did the best I could with what we have and never felt bad about our decision. But, cost are much more today and the price of a prepaid funeral is now transferable and I would imagine your largest expense will be to transport the body if you live far from the cometary. But, it really is not hard to do our own. Just having that burned at the time of death is overwhelming and we are not thinking straight and in shock and the funeral homes will try and take advantage of you at that time. That is why pre-paid is the only way to go now. Plrease keep after your husband to get this done now. This is what we are in the process of doing. It is much more realistic and less expensive. They funeral homes cannot take advantage of your emotions like they can at the time some one passes away and you are trying to do it all and not feel guilty for cutting cost. The entire Funeral Home is a racket anyway so don't allow them to work on your emotions. This is the time to use your good financial ability, and not rely on emotions.

Best wishes,

Sunny:)
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Igloo, you may consider using pallbears from your mothers church if her service will be there or sons and grandson's of friends. You may also be able to get an off duty police to do the funeral possession but we did not pay for our last two family funerals. We just had everyone follow and had no problem with our lights on behind the hust. You may be able to update with a rider and add the additional charges at today's cost now and that should help?? I hope it all works out for you. My mother bought her casket, vault, plot and grave marker. We will just have the opeing and closing and the FH expense to prepare the body. She has enough Life Insurance for this so it will not be a problem for us but the more we can do now the easier it is on the family.

God Bless,

Sunny:)
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@Stewardmmj - Contact a couple of funeral homes and ask to speak to them about pre-need arrangements and to gather information. With any other purchase, get a couple of quotes, as prices can vary widely between facilities.
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My uncle died at 29 building Dodgers Stadium in LA, so the rest of the adults all purchased plots around him in 1960 which was smart since the plots now sell for $25,000 each!!!!! No one purchased a prepaid funeral package until my aunt who passed in 2004. I have to say that it made everything so easy, Forest Lawn knew exactly what they were doing and all we had to do was take in her clothes. When my father passed in 2006 we had to go and make arrangements and they were still wonderful but it is really a bad time to have to make these decisions. We had a option of them putting up a slide show about his life but there could only be 8-10 photos and that just could not do him justice, so we put together the slide show and it was wonderful showing all aspects of his life. When my brother in law passed at an early age, my sister was unable to handle anything and her in laws stepped in and did a wonderful job!

I think making arrangements ahead of time is the absolute best thing a person could ever do. My sisters and I are going out to take care of Mom's arrangements this summer so when the time comes it will be taken care of and we can grieve our loss and celebrate her life.
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My mother had lung cancer and therefore knew that planning for her funeral was probably going to be needed sooner rather than later. She put her wishes for the funeral in writing and gave me money for the funeral in advance (which she euphemistically referred to as "the fund") so that I would have the money that would be needed when the time came. The first call I made after she died was to the priest at her church. Since I am not a religious person, I was not part of that church's congregation but the priest met with me immediately and was very helpful. He referred me to a funeral home which he knew to be an honest, decent place. His help was invaluable in planning the service.
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