End-of-life planning is the kindest gift you can leave your loved ones

Losing a loved one is difficult enough, but dealing with funeral arrangements can add an entire layer of stress on top of the grieving process.

To give their families peace of mind, more and more people are opting to prepay their funerals so those left behind can focus on remembering and healing instead of worrying about whether or not they’re getting the details right.

“The thing that people don’t realize is that when you come to a funeral home, there are over 80 questions you have to answer about arrangement. When you’re grieving, your body has taken a massive hit and it’s very stressful and difficult to figure these things out,” says Nicole Cameron, sales director for Service Corporation International - Dignity Memorial, which has 2,800 locations across North America, including  Forest Lawn Cemetery & Funeral Home and Ocean View Burial Park & Funeral Home in Burnaby.

“The most important part of pre-arranged funerals is that you’re choosing the details at your own pace and taking the guesswork out of what you would have wanted. Just that alone is so precious and such a gift to your family.”

For families who are left to make funeral arrangements on their own, they have to ask themselves difficult questions about what their loved one would have wanted and how they will pay for it all.

“When we’re meeting with families on the worst days of their lives and no plans have been made, you can cut the tension,” Cameron says.

“But when you go into an arrangement when pre-plans have been made, the air is lighter, they’re sharing stories of their loved ones and get to just celebrate their lives instead of making quick decisions about what they may have wanted.”

Cameron speaks from her own personal experience when it comes to pre-planning funerals. When her mother passed away, she had pre-planned her own celebration of life, even leaving behind a letter to be read at the ceremony that had special messages in it for guests including Cameron and her sister.

“The message was so powerful and moving because it was her words,” Cameron says.

“I was extremely grateful for that. She took it upon herself to make the plans so we could just come together to remember and celebrate her.”

Dignity Memorial prides itself on honouring your loved ones by getting every detail right on its memorial services.

“When you choose us, we want to make sure we get every detail right every time. Our goal is to provide 100 per cent satisfaction with our services. We are administered by J.D. Power and are fully committed to service beyond expectation,” Cameron says.

Pre-arrangement also eases the financial burden on families during a difficult time. There is no need to worry about how the arrangements will be paid for. Pre-paying has the advantage of inflation-proofing the service. Dignity Memorial also offers flexible payment options that will fit any budget.

Twice annually, Dignity Memorial offers a discounted rate for its prepaid services.

“Two times a year we have a great opportunity for families to make arrangements at a reduced price in March and October,” Cameron says.

The company also works to support family members in their grief, offering compassion helplines that provide access to professional grief counsellors for 13 months following the death of a loved one.

“We’re here to support families on the worst day of their lives,” Cameron says.

The Forest Lawn Cemetery & Funeral Home and Ocean View Burial Park & Funeral Home have both been recently renovated to be modern and beautiful locations. But prepaid plans can easily be transferred to any one of the many Dignity locations throughout North America.

“It’s a huge benefit to pre-arrange with a Dignity provider,” Cameron says.

“If you move to New York, Atlanta, Hawaii or any of our locations across North America, your funeral or cemetery arrangements will follow you.”

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