End-of-Life Arrangements:

Taking Care of a Loved One's Wishes

Photo credit: Terri Hammerbeck

Talking about end-of-life arrangements is just about the last thing anyone who doesn't work in the funeral business wants to do. But like so many things in life, just because it's unpleasant doesn't make it any less necessary. If you have a loved one who is either terminally ill or reaching their twilight years, talking about their long-term care options and memorial service requests can prevent a lot of pain and confusion down the road. Here's how to get started:

Talking about End-of-Life Care

Hospice of end-of-life care ensures the patient is comfortable and surrounded by loved ones during their final days. However, by the time they get to this point, many people are not quite able to communicate their wishes to doctors or hospice staff. Having a conversation about life support beforehand will make certain your loved one is treated with dignity and respect. Talk with them about the legal ways they can grant you or another person the authority to act on their behalf. You have a few options including being granted power of attorney, establishing a living will, or appointing a social security representative that sees to their interests.

Funeral or Memorial Options

While traditional funerals are always an option, your loved one may not want a procession/casket. Nowadays there are many other memorial and burial options that are affordable and can reflect your loved one's values and personality. When talking about the funeral option, go over the many aspects that go into planning. They need to have a cemetery plot or a private piece of land on which they wish to be buried. It needs to be decided if services will be held at a funeral home, a house of worship, or graveside. They could want additional services such as a wake, viewing or visitation. Go over what personal touches they may want such as songs, scripture readings or specific people they want as pallbearers.

A memorial ceremony is a less formal way to celebrate your loved one's life. Rather than rushing to make an event happen days after the death, a memorial service can be put off after the burial or cremation. This gives friends and family more time to make plans for attendance. You can also hold a memorial ceremony anywhere that may be meaningful to your loved one be it their home, a house of worship, clubhouse, somewhere outdoors, or even their favorite restaurant.

Paying for it All

Everyone dies. It is an inevitable event that you and your loved ones should plan for financially. Figuring out how to cover your loved one's final expenses beforehand gives you the freedom to focus on your grief when the time comes. Adding a death benefit to their life insurance is an easy way to ensure you have the funds ready and waiting. A death benefit (also known as "burial insurance" or "funeral insurance") provides tax-free funds that can cover the costs of end-of-life care and/or memorial expenses. Rather than being its own policy, a death benefit is a type of supplemental coverage one can opt for when choosing whole life insurance coverage.


As difficult as it is to talk about, making end-of-life arrangements with a loved one can help prepare you for what comes after they pass away. It's not all about funerals and burials - you need to talk about their end-of-life care wishes, as well. Make plans together for a memorial service that honors their life and gives loved ones a chance to grieve together. Finally, figure out how to pay beforehand so you don't end up suffering from financial stress along with your grief.

Article credit: Lucille Rosetti : http://thebereaved.org/

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