Why do we assume that planning for our funeral should be someone else’s responsibility? Too often, we don’t want to deal with thoughts of our own death. We avoid it—putting it off for “some other time.” But, regardless of our reluctance to deal with it, our eventual demise isn’t an “if;” it’s a “when.” And leaving end-of-life planning off our to-do list just leaves a burden on loved ones and family, weighing on them at time already filled with grief and stress.
Answering hard questions and putting planning into understandable terms is just what the counselors at Catholic Cemeteries do. If you’re looking for someone to help you sort out the decisions, these are the people to turn to. Let’s break the considerations into three categories: spiritual, emotional and financial.
Our life is a gift from God. In 1 Corinthians 3:16, St. Paul asks, “Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” The body, the vessel within which the Holy Spirit has dwelled, should be treated properly in death as well as life. When someone we love passes away, our Catholic faith guides us in honoring their body with respect and care. If you want to ensure that your beliefs and values are the top priority at your funeral and burial, pre-planning is the best way to do that. Even with cremation, the Church provides for proper care and respect of the ashes. More thorough instruction regarding treatment of the body when cremation is chosen (as well as insight regarding the choice of burial) can be found in the bulletin Ad Resurgendum cum Christo, released by the Holy See Press Office in October 2016.
When you are planning your funeral and burial, keep in mind that you are giving others an opportunity to remember and celebrate your life. Planning for end-of-life needs can be stressful regardless of whether it is done well in advance or at the time of need. However, when the deceased has pre-planned, grieving family members are spared the pressure of making tough decisions at a stressful time, giving them an added measure of comfort. Mourners also receive the gift of knowing the deceased prepared the funeral and burial with the mourners in mind. When pre-planning, one can give careful thought to their own funeral mass, a celebration which does not simply support the grieving but gives loved ones an opportunity to lift up prayers for the repose of the soul of the departed.
It is wise to first plan the disposition of the body or ashes and then plan the funeral. Why? Sacred ground, the Catholic cemetery, is the destination, the end goal. Expenses associated with disposition, while less extensive than funeral costs, are more concrete. The funeral is the journey. It is the celebration of life, the offering of a mass, the opportunity for mourners to share memories. Because funeral planning has so many variables, the associated expenses are more malleable. Once you know what you will be spending on the cemetery expenses, you have a better idea what you can budget for the funeral.
Additionally, Catholic Cemeteries of Northeast Kansas can offer interest-free payment plans for almost all burial/interment expenses. Paying over time reduces the financial burden and settles an issue that is not a matter of “if” but “when.” Occasionally, families desire to circumvent the cemetery by taking ashes home. The point should be made here again that Catholic Church teaching requires that ashes be properly interred. They may not be separated, scattered, or kept in any location other than a consecrated space in a cemetery. The body is awaiting resurrection in Christ at the second coming, and respect for the remains must be ensured in perpetuity.
Whether the spiritual, emotional or financial benefits of pre-planning appeal most to you, I hope that this blog has given you more clarity on the benefits of pre-planning. Please reach out to me at [email protected] if I can help answer your questions. Or, if you would like more information from one of our experienced counselors, click this link.