stressful_funeral.jpg As a funeral director for nearly three decades I have assisted thousands of families in planning funerals for loved ones during their time of need. I have also assisted countless families through the years in preplanning funeral services. It has been my experience that those families who preplanned seemed far less stressed when a death occurs than those who did not.

When you think about it, when is preplanning for anything inevitable a bad idea? The same theory applies to funeral planning in my opinion. Unfortunately, many people put off planning for this final event in their lives, choosing by default to let others handle these details for them when that time comes. More times than not, those forced to complete these final planning arrangements for others are doing so on one of the worst days of their life.

Unlike at need funeral planning, pre-need funeral planning allows an opportunity to make important decisions in a much less stressful environment. Preplanning funeral services can also lead to lower funeral costs as emotional overspending is generally not a factor.

Today, most funeral homes offer multiple options for those desiring to meet with a funeral director to make preplans for themselves or other loved ones. It is no longer necessary in most areas to visit a firm to prearrange services. Many firms will now come to your residence if desired to make these most important plans. Many families have commented to me through the years about how much less stressful it was to make these plans away from the funeral home. I learned long ago that many people's reluctance to do advance planning was actually based on coming to the funeral home for fear of awakening sad and depressing memories of loved ones' past funerals held at the facility.

Preplanning funeral services also offers other opportunities that will lower stress when the death occurs. Many facilities offer "price freeze" and discount offerings on merchandise and services for those who choose to make formal preneed arrangements. Much misinformation regarding this particular aspect of preplanning is being written by those claiming to be experts, usually touting only one particular "funeral methodology" that limits a person's choices. This results in only adding to a family's funeral planning stress in my opinion. Unfortunately and sadly, many fall prey to this novice and shortsighted advice, which ultimately only harms those who need these savings benefits the most as funeral costs continue to rise.

I can honestly say that in my nearly thirty years of funeral service experience, I have never had a family tell me they were sorry they preplanned or, for that matter, prefunded a funeral or cremation. On the other hand, I have had many families tell me that they wish they had.

As a funeral director, I would urge anyone to consider preneed funeral planning. Don't just take my advice, talk with friends and family you trust who have done this. I'm convinced that when you do, they will give you the same advice I have. This is the best way to guarantee yourself and your family a truly less stressful funeral.

Jerry R. Guy is an active licensed funeral director and author. More information on how to preplan funeral services can be found at his sites: or