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According to the National Center for Education Statistics, more than three million high school students will graduate this year. There will be parties, balloons, cakes and speeches. Many of these young people will receive the gift of a wonderful little book written at 87 years of age by Dr. Seuss.
Oh, the Places You’ll Go! was the last book to be published during Seuss’s lifetime. It’s about the journey of life and its challenges. It’s inspiring and makes a terrific graduation gift and is sure to be appreciated by any graduating senior…especially when a check, gift card, or tickets to Europe are stuck inside.
But what about the other end of life. Shouldn’t there be another book… Oh, the Places You Have Been? Why, do people feel diminished as they age? Why are we taking less and less time to wrap up a life and tie it with a pretty ribbon? Why do we say, “No fuss needed for me, no funeral needed.”? Surely six, seven, or even nine decades of life are worth celebrating.
At the end of every life shouldn’t there be a look back? What about the choices that were made, the work that was done, the people encountered, the things that were learned? What about all that? Shouldn’t just sticking with it through all the ups and the downs of life merit a celebration of some kind? As Seuss advises, “With brains in your head and shoes full of feet, you can steer yourself in any direction you choose.”
There have to be stories. This is the generation that began with a party line telephone and is ending up with telephone watches that take pictures and tell you how many steps you’ve taken in a day! There have to be stories. These people served in Vietnam, listened to the Beatles, watched a man land on the moon. They had black and white TV that only sent a signal a few hours a day and they walked to the TV to change channels! There have to be stories.
Now is the time. Capture those stories. Ask your parent(s) about their life before you. Ask the same of grandparents. Ask about their hopes and dreams. What surprised them? What was fun and what was hard? Capture the stories and the life lessons. Prepare to celebrate the grands as well as the grads.
According to a National Funeral Directors Association survey, more than half (62.5%) of us expect to participate in making our own funeral arrangements. And yet, less than a quarter of us have actually acted on that impulse. Not really so surprising since making funeral arrangements can literally be the very last thing we do. We can put it off right up to the end!
So, when do you think you should just go ahead and get it done? How about when you are critically ill? Or, maybe before you go on that cruise? Does when you go into the nursing home seem too late? How about as you are preparing for retirement? Actually, sooner is better than later for several reasons.
First, there is no down side to having your arrangements in place. If something new comes along or you change your mind about what you want you can always make changes to your plan. If you move you just move your plan. Nothing is carved in stone.
Second, there are some real up-sides to getting your funeral plan written and on file at the funeral home. For one thing, you just never know. people do die unexpectedly. And then there is the money. Historically funerals, like almost everything, have gone up in price over the years. The funeral of today will likely almost double in cost in 10 years. Why are you waiting?
Prearranged funerals are often funded in a way that buffers or even eliminates the impact of rising prices. You buy at today’s prices and you are done. When you plan in advance you also have the benefit of being able to pay over a specified period of time (you choose). As you age your choices become more limited. When you make your arrangements while you are in reasonably good health the cost of your funeral can be paid in full should you die before you’ve completed your payment cycle. Again, sooner is better than later.
The early 60’s is a good time to visit your neighborhood funeral home and get your plan written and on file. This is when you will get the most out of the funding options. It is also when you are likely to have a good idea of what you will want in the way of services. At this age you are grounded and you are likely to still be earning income. Making payments for a bit will hardly be noticed. Then when you retire, and take that cruise, you can just enjoy. You’re all set to just enjoy the rest of what life has to offer.
Taps. There is nothing like the sound of those patriotic notes. It grabs your heart, it makes you cry. It honors the service and risk a man or woman took for our safety and the safety of our country.
Public law provides military burial benefits for all who served and were honorably discharged from any of the five branches of the U.S. Military. Your funeral director or advance funeral planner can explain all of the benefits you or your family members are eligible to receive. They will also access those benefits related to the funeral or burial on your behalf. Your funeral director can help you weave the remembrance of your loved one’s military service into the fabric of their full life experience.
Most who have served in any of the branches of our military, whether it be for a few years or as a career, will tell you the experience had a profound impact on their life. Even when the service period was brief and at a tender age and followed by many years of some other vocation, that service should be honored.
The funeral professionals at your local funeral home have the resources and know how to help you get the remembrance just right. In addition to the playing of taps and flag ceremony provided by public law, there are caskets, vaults, and urns that highlight each branch of the armed services to be considered. Photos and music can also be a part of the funeral gathering or ceremony and can add so much to the remembrance.
How much or how little your family wishes to focus on the military service of a loved one is a matter of personal choice. With the assistance of your funeral director, a military service can be planned that finds the perfect balance for your family.
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