Sunday, July 21, 2024

Funeral pre-planning aims to reduce stress

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Every life that begins also has an end, and taking some of the stress out of funeral options is the aim of pre-planning services.

Nathan Gohlke with Scott Funeral Home in Gatesville talked about the benefits of advance planning during a Dec. 1 meeting of the Gatesville Exchange Club.

"People plan for weddings, for children, for buying a home, for education, retirement and vacations, and it's also important to make plans in advance for funerals," Gohlke said.

"You can help reduce stress of family members at a time when they may be dealing with worry, grief, pain, confusion and anger. You can also plan for the way you want things to be done. 

"Planning ahead eases the emotional and financial burden. It can also give you peace of mind knowing that things will be done the way you want. A relative may not know what you want."

The goal is to "create a meaningful tribute to your life," Gohlke said. "Funerals are for the living but they should be focused on what you want — which Bible verses, songs or preachers. Planning also helps reduce worries and lets people attending your funeral to just grieve."

A number of options are available to pay in advance and reduce the future cost of funerals, burials or cremations. Options can include monthly payments for up to seven years, full payment at one time or a partial payment.

Pre-planning can avoid future complications or resolve arguments over what other relatives may want to do, Gohlke said.

"I can tell you from experience, a lot of brothers and sisters do not get along and when a parent passes away it can escalate hard feelings," he said. "Sometimes police have to respond because of a fight outside a funeral home."

Pre-planning also helps ease what could otherwise be a financial burden for survivors, and it "locks in prices at today's rates," Gohlke said. 

The most costly items are usually covered in advance, with only a few other items such as obituaries, death certificates and payments to officiating clergy determined at the time of the funeral.

Scott Funeral Home works with Funeral Directors Life Insurance Company so that if someone moves away or decides to have the funeral in a different location, payments made can be transferred to another participating funeral home.

With a variety of choices available, costs can vary significantly. Gohlke said a basic burial with a casket would start at $5,400 and a basic cremation (not including the memorial services) would cost about $3,000. He said most funerals cost between $7,000 and $10,000, but depending on the services and options selected, people can spend significantly more if they choose to do so.

For some people who want it, there are also green burial options in which the casket is made of vines.

"Believe it or not in Gatesville you can be buried in a green funeral," Gohlke said. "There is also a cemetery in Austin that specializes in green burials. A lot of people are leaning that way now."

The cost of the funeral through Scott's does not include the burial plot. The city of Gatesville owns two cemeteries and offers the plots, and there are many other options outside the city, as well.

City Manager Bill Parry said the city cemetery does not have any available space — all plots have either been filled or reserved for future use — but there is still space available at Restland.

Scott's Funeral Home also offers live streaming options for those who might not be able to attend services in person.

For those who choose cremation, different urn and accessory options are available.

One of the more unusual things Gohlke said he has seen is that a woman had some of her son's cremation remains mixed into ink for a tattoo.

"I had heard of that, but this is the first time someone I worked with asked for that," he said.