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At The Death: When no prearrangment for funeral has been made.

Continued

Decisions! Decisions! Decisions!

As I said previously, everyone involved may not be able to agree on the care to be given to the body, and they may not be able to agree on the final disposition of the remains.

An example: A retired couple is killed in an accident. Their adult children are then able to agree that they want to have a traditional service with embalming, viewing/calling hours, a funeral service, and earth burial. They may not be able to agree immediately on the location of the grave sites. Should the bodies be buried:

    1) in the city where they spent their retirement?

    2) in the city where they spent most of their adult life?

    3) in the town in which they grew up?

    4) in the home church cemetery with the wife's parents?

    5) in the local city cemetery with the husband's parents, back in the old home town?

If there are four adult children, you may have four different answers to the above questions.

These are basic decisions that must be made in an At-Need Arrangement... usually within a few hours. Had this couple pre-arranged, they would have had time to think through what each one wanted, talked with their children to discuss the pros and cons of each, and made their own decisions...maybe over the course of several years. Do a lot of families fight? By far, most do not, at least in front of the funeral directors. We see hurt feelings among siblings sometimes. Funeral directors see the very best in people and the very worst in people. Very few families have no disfunction. And disfunction at a time like this is understandable!

Many people are caught "off-guard" at the death of a loved one. But, even if the death is expected, various emotions are experienced by each of the family members at different times:

  • Shock and disbelief;
  • Denial;
  • Anger and rage;
  • Guilt and regrets;
  • Depression;
  • Physical illness;
  • Acceptance.

One family member may be experiencing a certain emotion at a given time and, a moment later, might well be moving to another emotion; so it is understandable that disagreements might arise on decisions to be made.

There may be as many as 100 different decisions to make when a death occurs. Some decisions depend on other decisions. The bottom line is this: To save much heartache, talk to your family members. Tell them what you want and find out what they want, for you and for them!


Susan Mitchell Cox has served as the managing funeral director of Alexander Funeral Service in Taylorsville since it's opening in 1996. She was the first woman in a ten-count area of northwestern North Carolina to be a licensed as a funeral director and embalmer. She was recently elected as the District 10 Director for NCFDA.

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