It happens every Friday afternoon. It begins around 2:00 p.m. Just when most of us are counting down the hours at the end of the work week. The call comes in to the funeral home from a relative who has suddenly realized that their loved one may not make it through the weekend. They may even walk in to the funeral home hoping to meet with someone.
Most weeks from 2000-2013, I met with 2 or 3 of these families a week. These “near death” appointments are not easy for anyone. The family is struggling to accept the inevitable and are many times unsure about how they will feel when it happens.
Some funeral homes have these families meet with a prearrangement counselor prior to the death, and then again with a funeral director after the death occurs. A few times the death happened while the family was meeting with me. Heartbreaking. Just think, they could have been with their loved one, holding their hand as the last breaths were taken, but instead were sitting at the funeral home…with me.
Other funeral homes believe that these “near death” families should meet with a funeral director, once. All can be decided except for service times. Some families actually attempt to schedule services before the death has occurred. They seem certain that the death will happen on a certain day. But death is inconvenient. I often say: “Man plans and God laughs.” These families are just trying to do something, because they feel powerless. No one likes to feel powerless.
Most of my waking hours are spent trying to coax, cajole, encourage or beg families to make these plans in advance. I acknowledge fully that it doesn’t sound like any fun at all. I can say with complete honesty, that the discomfort you may have in planning for yourself pales in comparison to what your family will go through if you don’t do it.
The “near death” appointments take 2 to 3 times as long as one planning for themselves. One of my favorite things to say to a person reluctant to set an appointment is: “We only need about an hour.” You can do anything for an hour. Especially if it saves your family 2-3 difficult hours with a funeral director.
Please consider Advance Planning for yourself. Feel free to call me at 260-466-3465 with questions. I’m here to help!