Understanding differences between pre-paid funerals and life insurance

There are important differences to understand between pre-paid funerals and life insurance.

Make no mistake.  Life insurance is important.  Should you die suddenly and unexpectedly, a life insurance policy could save your survivors from all kinds of financial hardships such as mortgage payments, car payments, living expenses, and even your funeral.

So, you might think, “I have life insurance.  I am all set.”  Here are some good reasons to consider adding a prepaid funeral to your family financial safeguards.

  1. Not all life insurance policies are the same. A term life insurance plan only provides coverage during a specific period of time and then expires at the end of the term.  These are common with young families that want to be insured until the kids have completed college, etc. If the term expires, you are no longer insured.

Whole life insurance does not expire like term insurance does.  As long as you pay your premiums on time and/or complete the payment plan of the policy, your survivors will receive a payout upon death.  This makes whole life policies are more expensive.  They can also become even more expensive or impossible for some people to obtain if they have health issues that are discovered during a mandatory health screening that takes place before the policy begins.

  1. Life insurance beneficiary considerations. Sometimes life insurance policies don’t have beneficiaries named.  If that is the case, the policy payout becomes part of a decedent’s estate and could wind up in probate.  If this occurs, there can be significant delays in accessing the funds.  The same thing can occur if the named beneficiary is now deceased and was never updated.
  2. Inflation considerations. Sometimes families discover that a policy that seemed like a lot of money when the policy originated, has not kept pace with inflation.  Depending on the choices one makes for a funeral service, a $5,000 or $10,000 policy might not cover the full cost of a funeral and all the cemetery fees even if there are no issues with probate or beneficiaries.  This could cause undue stress on a survivor’s finances if this was the case.
  3. Emotional variables. Let’s go ahead and assume that the first three considerations do not apply to your situation.  You have a large, whole life policy, paid in full, and all the beneficiaries are reviewed and updated annually.  Nothing to worry about!  Well, your family will still have to make decisions about a service type, choose a casket or urn, find a cemetery, and work through numerous details with a funeral director.  This is not only an emotional hardship.  It can cause a family to overspend because of their emotions.  The money is there. Let’s get dad the nice casket. Multiply numerous decisions like these, in a short period of time, without the benefit of mental clarity and it’s easy for a family to make expensive choices they later regret.  It is also not uncommon for families to quarrel over some of these decisions which adds even more stress to their grief.
  4. Why Pre-paid funerals make sense. Having life insurance and a pre-paid funeral is the best plan.  A prepaid funeral usually has all the decisions made for the survivors.  These can be changed, but the work and decision making is mostly done.  Pre-paid funerals often had choices made like casket color, scripture selections, and music.  Emotional overspending and quarrels are gone.

Pre-paid funerals have a named beneficiary.  The beneficiary is usually the funeral home where the selections were made and where the funeral will take place.  Money put into a pre-paid funeral remains yours until the death occurs.  The beneficiary can be changed by you at any time.

Another valuable benefit of a pre-paid funeral compared to any kind of life insurance is that inflation is eliminated.  When you pre-arrange your funeral and pay for it in advance you pay for everything at today’s price and that’s it.  The price of your funeral will be guaranteed.  There are no health checkups or medical clearances needed in order to pre-pay a funeral either.

As you can see, adding a pre-paid funeral to your family financial plan makes a lot of sense.  A prepaid funeral can be put on an installment plan just like life insurance so that it will fit comfortably within your budget.

Schedule an appointment today to see your choices and have your questions answered by our friendly helpful staff.

Five Ways to Have a Positive Impact on a Grieving Person

Grief is often a lonely experience.  Those grieving a loss often withdraw because they do not want to impose on others.  As a friend or family member of a person stricken with grief, it is normal to have the desire to help, but also challenged about how to be helpful.

Here are 5 ways you can make a positive impact on a person who is grieving a loss.

  1. Understand How Grief Works

Grief is not just sadness and withdrawal.  It can manifest as anger, fear, and other emotions.  It can also begin causing irregular sleep patterns, hygiene neglect, and poor eating habits.  When you understand some of the less obvious ways grief manifests, you may be able to find more ways to be helpful.

  1. Offer Help with Errands and Chores

Grief causes exhaustion.  Sometimes doing even the simplest things can feel overwhelming.  Keeping a grieving friend or loved one engaged and moving forward is important.  Offering to do simple things like helping with shopping, cleaning, or laundry, asking if they need help sorting and paying bills, or going with them on errands and appointments.

  1. Do Frequent “Thinking of You” Check-ins

Regular check-in with a phone call, text, or email can mean a lot.  Simple invitations like “I am at a drive-thru. Would you like a cup of coffee?” can mean a lot to someone who has isolated themselves in grief.  You can even just share fresh baked goods or a meal you made.

  1. Be Comfortable Just Listening

Healing from grief is a process.  Healthy grief involves expressing sadness, not avoiding it.  Let them cry and express their feelings.  It is tempting to jump in and try to diffuse or discourage their grief expressions.  While you may feel like you are trying to help them avoid discomfort, what that does is minimize very real feelings they have.  If they feel you are trying to diminish their grief or are telling them they should not feel they way they do, you will likely compound their grief.  They will feel like they are difficult to be around or that they cannot trust you with their feelings.  Just listen and acknowledge the best you can.  It will not be easy, but it is often what they need.

  1. Help Them Pace

Grief does not have a set timeline.  Encourage taking one day at a time.  A person grieving a loss needs to have realistic expectations about understanding that grief will not always feel as intense as it does at the beginning.   Include them with a few of your routine activities like shopping.  Getting them back into normal routines slowly can be helpful.

These are simple ways you can help a friend or loved one who has suffered a loss.  Grief is much better understood than it was even just a generation ago.  There are now many helpful publications, professional resources, and even group settings that can help people move forward through their grief.

Feel free to contact us if you need help finding more resources.

Things you can do to make your funeral more green.

Have you ever thought about your carbon footprint after you are gone?

Many people strive to make choices that reduce the impact their life has on the environment.  These choices include being mindful about energy use, water conservation, dietary choices, and reusable or recyclable packaging.

Here are 5 ways you can make your funeral more green, whether you choose cremation or burial.

  1. Consider Green Burial – If there is a cemetery in your area that offers Green Burial that means there will not be any inground vaults, there will be no casket, and no embalming. This is not for everyone.  Despite its lack of materials, Green burial can be more expensive than you think.  This is partly because it requires a larger grave site than a traditional burial space.  Another consideration is that because there is no embalming, it may reduce options for the type of service you would prefer to have.  For large visitations and extended hours, embalming is usually required for health reasons.
  2. Consider a Mausoleum – Earth burial requires perpetual maintenance which means weekly mowing and trimming around thousands of headstones. An above-ground structure can reduce the amount of space that needs mowing and maintenance.
  3. Consider Cremation – Cremation is becoming more popular for many reasons. One of them includes being “green.”  While the initial emissions of a cremation may seem not so green, longer term, there can be an extraordinary difference compared to a perpetually maintained grave site. You can also choose to place cremated remains in benches, boulders, and ossuaries at some cemeteries rather than in ground burial.
  4. Consider Scattering – Scattering is allowed in many places with the correct permission. Some cemeteries even have dedicated scattering areas that are not maintained with mowers and grounds equipment.
  5. Consider Whole Body Donation – Many people like the idea that their earthly remains can have a purpose and benefit the lives of others.Your donation supports many educational opportunities, including teaching students, medical residents, physicians and other medical trainees. Most body donations end with cremation.

There are many other ways you can consider making greener choices if you have lived your life sensitive to environmental concerns.  Our helpful staff can answer any questions you have and show you ways you can have a greener funeral.

What to Say to Someone Who Has Lost a Loved One to Suicide

After someone has lost a loved one, it can be difficult to know what to say to them. This is especially true when their loved one hasdied from completing suicide. Here are 9 ways to being a conversation when someone has lost their loved one.

  1. Tell me a good memory you have of your loved one.

2. I can’t imagine how much pain you are in. We hurt too, because we loved him/her.

3. I love you, and my prayers are with you.

4. He/She will be missed,

5. He/she was a good person. -Focus on the way they lived and loved, not the way they died.

6. How can I help you today? (Follow-through with errands, grocery shopping, cleaning, going to church with them, etc.) or Tell me what I can do for you.

7. I am so sorry for your loss.

8. I’m here

9.I’m not sure what to say, but I want you to know I care.

One way you can remind that person that they are not alone is my remembering the tough dates. The “month markers” are the first that come to mind in a suicide. The first 6 months to a year are difficult to get through (and sometimes even longer), and a call or a note on those month marks will do more than you can imagine to communicate to the person that you truly care for. Other dates such as birthdays and anniversaries are also difficult dates. Remember, the greater the joy previously associated with a date, the greater is the potential for sorrow. These tough dates are also a time for you to do something personal for a friend or loved one. Make sure they are eating well, offer to attend special events with them, put together a CD of music specifically chose for lyrics that offer hope.

A Survivor of Suicide is a Family Member or Friend of a Person Who Died by Suicide

Losing someone to suicide is shocking, painful and unexpected. Part of being a survivor is to aim to adjust to life without your loved one. Grief work is often complex, intense and long term. There is healing and survivors will begin to enjoy life once again.

10 Ways to Honor Your Loved Ones

1. Plant a tree or garden in their memory either at your home or in a park.

2. Some parks have a memorial program where you can plant a tree or bench with a plaque in their name.

3. Journal about your loved one. Ask your loved one’s relatives, friends, or co-workers to contribute their favorite memories or photos, and use them to make a scrapbook or memory box. Memories of your loved ones can be written down as thoughts, song lyrics, or through a poem.

4. Cook your loved one’s favorite meal, participate in activities they liked, listen to music they enjoyed, or read a book that reminds you of them.

5. Become involved in a support group or cause.

6.You can also further their memory and create awareness by establishing a scholarship in their name.

7. Light a candle in honor of your loved one.

8. Turn digital photos into a photo album onprograms such asShutterfly or Snapfish.

9. Watch your loved one’s favorite movie with their favorite snack. Invite others that were a part of his/her life.

10. Have a balloon release with close family members.

10 Ways to Help Someone that is Threatening Suicide

Showing care and concern towards someone who is contemplating or threatening suicide could ultimately change the outcome of their decision. Many times, their threats are an outcry for help or an attempt to voice their feelings in the only way they know how. Ask if they are OK. Though this seems like a logical question to ask, it is many times a question that is overlooked because of its simplicity. Asking is some one is OK can open the door for them to express their feelings in a safe non-judgemental environment. Letting someone who is feeling disconnected to the rest of the world know you are there to talk, and that you care for them could save a life.

10 Ways to Help Someone that is Threatening Suicide:

  1. Be aware, and know the warning signs
  2. Get involved. Become available. Show interest and support in them and their life.
  3. Be direct, and talk open and freely. Ask if he/she is thinking about suicide.
  4. Be willing to listen. Allow for expression of feelings. Accept the feelings.Be non-judgmental. Don’t’ debate whether suicide is right or wrong, or feelings are good or bad. Don’t lecture on the value of life.
  5. Don’t dare him/her to do it.
  6. Don’t give advice by making decisions for someone else to tell them to behave differently.
  7. Don’t ask ‘why’. This encourages defensiveness.
  8. Offer empathy, not sympathy.
  9. Don’t act shocked. This creates distance.
  10. Seek Support. 800-273-8255. Don’t’ be sworn to secrecy. Instead, offer hope that alternatives are available

Warning Signs of Suicide

The warning signs of suicide can sometimes go undetected. IS PATH WARM? Is a way to help remember the signs of threat.

I Ideation: Threatening or talking about wanting to hurt/kill him/herself; looking for ways to kill him/herself; talking or writing about death, dying or suicide, when these actions are out of the ordinary

S Substance Abuse: Increase in alcohol or drug use

P Purposelessness: No reason for living; no sense of purpose in life

A Anxiety: agitation, unable to sleep or sleeping all the time

T Trapped: Feeling there is no way out; can’t see possibility of change

H Hopelessness: doesn’t feel there is a solution; don’t see themselves as worthwhile

W Withdrawal: from friends, family and society

A Anger: rage, seeking revenge, irritation, frustration

R Recklessness: Acting reckless or engaging in risky activities, seemingly without thinking

M Mood changes: Dramatic mood swings, restlessness, hand-wringing, pacing, inability to meet deadlines, some experience physical pain

If you or someone you know is threatening suicide, please call the Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

World Suicide Prevention Day

As September 10th, otherwise known as World Suicide Prevention Day approaches it is our goal to spread awareness about suicide and how to prevent it from occurring.

6 Statistics of Suicide:

  1.  Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among 15-24 year olds,
  2.  4th leading cause of death among 35-54 year olds, and
  3.  8th leading cause of death among 55-64 year olds.
  4.  One person dies by suicide every 9 hours.
  5.  For every suicide, there are at least 6 survivors affected by their death.
  6.  4 times more men than women die by suicide; but 3 times more women attempt suicide.