Saturday, April 2, 2011

Everything You Need to Know About Funerals That One Will Tell You

Recently I was asked to contribute my list of 5 things families should know about funeral planning. I'm sure it won't surprise you to know I told them a "straight list" wasn't really my style. I submitted the following. Let the comments begin!

The Five Things No One Tells You About Funeral Planning

Ugly Truth #1
This may be the worst shopping imaginable, but you are still a consumer.
Final arrangements can be very expensive. Chances are, you're in no condition to ask many questions, so take someone with you when taking care of business.

Ugly Truth #2
Somebody's About to Say Something Stupid
Whether it's an acquaintance, friend, or even a family member, someone will say a very wrong thing. Considering the awkwardness most of us feel when approaching the grieving family, we shouldn't be surprised when emotional panic comes out in a wild faux pas. The important thing for you to know is the best reaction is no reaction. They'll be replaying the scene in their mind and kicking themselves for years to come, so why bother? Walk away.

Ugly Truth #3
Houses Are Burglarized During Funerals
I know, it's shocking, but it's true. These animals scan the newspaper for funeral announcements, then google the family's address(es) and get to work. The easy fix? Have someone stay behind during the service. Trust me when I tell you there is someone who desperately wants to help you but is freaked out by funerals. Having them house-sit will make you both feel better.

Ugly Truth #4
The Obituary is Not a Report Card
If someone has strong opinions about writing the obituary, let them do it. Make sure the name of the deceased is spelled correctly, then step aside. When it comes to survivors, don't worry about being listed first, last, or not at all. Nothing that is written can change your relationship with the person who has died. Don't let this become a battle. It's not worth fighting.

Ugly Truth #5
Someone Will Let You Down
There will be someone who loves you very much, but will not attend the service, send flowers, a card, or even call. This doesn't mean they don't care about you or the person who died. It usually means they are either paralyzed with fear over saying the wrong thing, or some past experience has made them unable to handle death in general. It's only natural to be hurt by this apparent abandonment, but a forgiving heart will serve you both. Take comfort in those who are able to support you, and know you're not alone.


  1. What a great list you came up with, Alicia! This entire labor of love (the book and blogs)has meant so much to myself and no doubt countless others. Having lost a son, my mother, my brother-law,and numerous friends, I thought I'd seen, heard and experienced it all. HOW VERY NAIVE! Thank you again, my friend, for your constant contribution to a very vital subject! Lynn

  2. Thanks, Lynn. So many of us move through the days after a death in a fog. This is a useful form of protection, but it leaves us vulnerable, too. This list is just a few of the things I wish someone had told me. As I've said before, it's no time for surprises. I see a lot of the book as being what your best friend would tell you. Those little truths no one talks about. Well I say, let's talk about it!


When someone dies, (other than attending the service), I do this for the family-