Monday, April 5, 2010

Facts on Funerals

Funerals are like weddings. They last a few hours, yet you can end up still paying for them a decade later.

I honestly don’t get the expensive funeral thing. A while back a high school acquaintance with one child and another on its way told me how financially difficult it was to bury his mother. “There was hardly any money left.” I couldn’t scream at him, “You have kids and you put all your money in the ground! Are you nuts?” Instead I settled for, “Sorry about your loss. I have a coupon for a #7, no mayo, diet Pepsi.”

Seriously, I don’t agree with the costly funeral = love equation. I feel your loved ones wouldn’t want you to become a ramen noodle eating studio apartment dweller because you picked the metal casket over direct cremation. Or, better yet, they’d rather you’d have spent the money on them when they were alive to enjoy it. Imagine if you gave everyone a choice between the following:

a) 10 seven-day cruises
b) Trips to the Super Bowl, Final Four, NBA championship and World Series
c) 100 “Kat’s Meows” specials---foot and hand rescues with a full body massage
d) Enjoying a bathroom makeover for 2 years+
e) A $10,000 funeral

Can you really see anyone saying, “Forget cruising to Greece, I’d much rather have a pricy funeral!” Of course not. So why do we often get caught in the expensive funeral trap?

Sure, it’s hard to digest that few of us will have the Michael Jackson service complete with a gold casket in the Staples Center, Jennifer Hudson singing, and the productivity level in California dropping to negative 3 because everyone views your memorial as a free concert in the middle of the work week. (Planners, why didn’t you put it on Furlough Friday?) But spending a huge chunk of your savings on someone’s funeral doesn’t tell the world, “I really loved this person.” Instead, it says, “Guess the kids won’t be going to college after all.”

If you really love your family, show them by fully planning your funeral and estate. Yes, it sounds horrible. Not quite as horrible as having the DMV place our real weight on our licenses, but horrible none the less. Still, the alternative is your family being forced to sell the house because the funeral director convinced your spouse a marble headstone is, “What Casey would have really wanted,” and shushing the person who says, “I think Casey would have really wanted to still be alive!”

For information on how to plan a funeral, come to Central’s Facts on Funerals program on Wednesday, April 7th at 12 noon.

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