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Grave Expectations: There’s More to Funeral Planning Than Sourcing Free Funeral Program Templates Online. Have You Already Begun Planning Your Own Unique Memorial Service?

January 21, 2010 by  
Filed under Anne Holmes, Blog, Living, Spirit & Faith

Grave Expectations: There's More to Funeral Planning Than Sourcing Free Funeral Program Templates Online. Have You Already Begun Planning Your Own Unique Memorial Service?

NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 20:  Funeral director Pete...
Image by Getty Images via Daylife

A recent article in the AARP Bulletin, titled “The High Cost of Dying,” discussed how easily funeral costs can spin out of control. The article noted that this happens primarily because your surviving relatives — faced with unexpectedly having to quickly put together a funeral while simultaneously grieving your demise  — just don’t have the time or energy to price shop or bargain.

Hey, you can understand: They’re grieving for you, right?

Besides which, it’s human nature to want to provide a loved one with the best funeral possible, as a show of respect, right? This classic skit by Nichols and May really exemplifies the dilemmas grieving relatives experience. You’ll find yourself laughing out loud as you squirm at the man’s discomfort with the sales pitch he’s receiving. After all, she’s not even offering him the option of free funeral program templates!

Sadly, if you’ve recently found yourself planning a funeral, you may believe that not much has changed in the years since they first created it:

The AARP article also points out many people have the impression that the magnitude of the casket is an indicator of socioeconomic status. No doubt that accounts for all those solid bronze caskets still offered in most funeral homes.  (After all, who wouldn’t want to be packaged for death like an ancient Egyptian pharoah, right?)

How about you?

Do you want to exit the world in a solid bronze casket? Or would you rather have a deeply meaningful service that you’ve planned in advance — and the opportunity to leave the money that could have gone for that fancy casket to your grandchildren or a worthy cause?

If you’re more into benefiting family or charitable causes with your worldly goods, they now is the time for you to take action to assure your wishes are met. Why not plan your funeral now — or at least discuss it with your family?

Think of funeral planning as being just as important as the plans families make for a birth, a wedding or a graduation. That you can both enjoy the funeral you’d really like, as well as save your family a lot of future pain. (After all, you’ll be there, both in body and spirit.)

  • Don’t you agree that now — when you’re still hale, healthy and able to speak your mind — is really the best time for you to give some thought to what you’d like to have transpire at your personal memorial service?
  • That way your surviving family members will be saved from the pressure tactics and indecision many currently encounter when talking to a funeral director while trying to give you the send-off they think you’d prefer.
  • After all, you hate to waste money, and you’re well aware that the “traditional funeral” — complete with embalming, viewing in that expensive casket, funeral ceremony and graveside service — is not the only option.

If You Just Want to “Dip Your Toe” Into the Concept of Personalized Funeral Planning, Here Are Some Small – But Extremely Helpful – Things You Can Do:

For starters, how about writing up your obituary now – except for the specifics of when, where and how?

After all,  if you can provide all the “nitty gritty” specifics – such as what high school you attended, or the names of all relevant survivors, this is a real help for whoever is managing your final arrangements.  If you’re famous, the newspapers already have an obit on file for you. Thankfully, for the rest of us, there are readily available fill-in-the blank forms, which will help get you started.

Here are a few you can review. Keep in mind that in addition to the specifics of your death –  which you obviously don’t know at this time – the obituary gives you a chance to tell your story, to create your legacy statement, and get it out there the way you’d like it told:

OK, That Was Easy:

So Why Not Take a Figurative Deep Breath and Jump Into the Deep End of the Memorial Pool? You Know, Spend a Little Time to Plan Your Funeral – EXACTLY the Way You’d Like It?

After all, unless you take the time to write up your plans – and keep them somewhere where they can be found in time – only you know that you’d always secretly wanted something special and personally meaningful, like:

  • To have your funeral procession led by your high school’s marching band
  • A real Irish wake
  • A Viking funeral, complete with a burning pyre floating off to sea
  • A huge send-off party at your country club, with all your friends toasting your life – and maybe you’d like to sign off by treating them to a “hootenanny” and a hot air balloon ride
  • A quiet memorial service after you’ve donated your body to science
  • A service with full military honors. Perhaps you’ve even wondered whether – since you are a war veteran —  you might even qualify to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery?
  • Then again, maybe your dream is to have your ashes scattered over place that holds special meaning for you. Perhaps your dream is to be:

Now’s the time to think about what really appeals to you.

Assuming you’ll want some sort of memorial service involved, you can even pre-determine the specifics including:

  • What sort of coffin you desire. After all, not all coffins are made of solid wood anymore.
    • There are “green” coffins made of cardboard, for example, which can be decorated to suit your personal style.
    • Or you may prefer something natural and recyclable, such as bamboo or wicker.
    • Or – can you imagine – there’s an “ecopod,” that’s actually made of recycled newspaper?
    • And, then there are all sorts of caskets, urns, body bags and shrouds. You could have a unique clay pot specially commissioned, for example. Eco Urns are made from completely natural materials and are fully bio-degradable and are suitable for either burial or cremation.
  • Your funeral budget. Funeral expenses can quickly add up.
    • Few relatives want to worry that they didn’t provide you with the send-off you deserve, so they often spend money on things which might mean nothing to you.
    • Currently you’d need to budget $10,000 for an average funeral in the United States. More if you’re really intrigued with the special events and party planners…
    • If you’re determined to have your money go elsewhere, you may want to join the Funeral Consumers Alliance in your area.
  • Any special poems or readings you’d like shared with your friends and family
  • Your preferred music and songs so that you can set the tone for the ceremony.For example:
    • Do you want your favorite rock music blasting out triumphantly as people enter the service?
    • Or would you prefer a simple flute – or maybe a throbbing drumbeat?
    • Or maybe some Cajun zydeco that merrily sets everyone’s feet a-tapping?
  • Your preferred pallbearers – and you’d like to have offer your eulogy?
  • The funeral venue is important too.
    • Do you feel that a traditional church or funeral home chapel is where you’d like people to assemble?
    • Or maybe you’re an outdoors-y kind of gal, and you’d rather people gather in a lovely bower in the woods.
    • Then again, perhaps you feel drawn to the sea, and you’d like your service to be held on the water, or overlooking your favorite beach.
  • You’ll even have the opportunity to dictate what sort of catering and transport you’d prefer. Here’s where you can let your family know that you’d love it if everyone:
    • Finished off the ceremony by feasting on BBQ ribs and toasting your memory with your favorite micro-brew beer
    • Enjoyed a campfire meal at your favorite national park, complete with hot dogs roasted on a stick and s’mores, or
    • Toasted your memory with your favorite vintage champagne before riding off to the opera in a fleet of white limos
    • Hey, it’s your funeral, as they say… And it’s your last chance to tell your loved ones where you’d like them to go!

One easy way to assemble this information for posterity would be to plan your service and even create the program for it now. Again, there are planning forms available online – and even free funeral program templates.

Heck, you can even order the stock for the funeral programs in advance, selecting your photo, the cover image, etc.

Alternately, you can create a video of your life story, and make it permanently available online or on your headstone. Or, perhaps hand out  CD copies of your video as funeral keepsakes.

Recently Carmen Flowers and Sue Bailey, authors of the recently published book, “Grave Expectations,”  Were Featured on NBC’s “Today” show.

Here’s their take on funeral planning:

Need Even More Help and Ideas? Here’s a Handful of Additional Sources For Funeral Planning  Services:

And Here Are Several Other Great Funeral and Memorial Resources:

Final thoughts on Pre-Planning Your Funeral

As the cliche points out, no one can escape death or taxes. So why not take some time when you are healthy and pre-plan your own funeral? It is a surprisingly simple thing to do and really don’t cost much.

  • If you’re at a loss for ideas, not really sure how you want to be memorialized, the links are great starting points. The book “Grave Expectations” is actually subtitled “Planning The End Like There’s No Tomorrow,” and it’s a fantastic resource for idea starters.
  • Or if you’re not into reading, you can start your planning efforts by contacting a funeral home in your community and ask them to come to your home and discuss what you’d prefer. Once you’ve decided on your arrangements, the company will provide you with a quote, and you can choose to pay for it in monthly installments.
  • As you can see, pre-planning allows you to the peace of mind of knowing that your funeral will be exactly what you want — and the price will be locked in and will not change – no matter how long you live.
  • Given that, you have to agree that pre-planning your funeral is not a bit morbid – especially since it means that when your time comes, your family will be freed from having to make arrangements in the midst of their grief.

Based on personal experience, you know they’ll appreciate the fact that they can focus completely on celebrating your life with friends and family – and of course, their grief! Given that we all have to go eventually, isn’t that really the way you’d like to leave this world?

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The World’s Beaches and Sideroads Await You: Can Simply Learning How to Write a Book Actually Allow You to Retire Before Age 90, AND Give You More Play Time Now?

Can Learning How To Write A Book Finally Allow You To Retire?

Remember how frustrated you got as a kid when you found yourself stuck in the classroom on a beautiful spring day? All you wanted was to get outside so you could play…

But you couldn’t. Because until that end of day school bell rang, you were tied to your desk, with work to do. You know;  math, and reading and penmanship… The stuff they said you had to master in order to get a good job when you grew up…

Fast forward to the present.

You’re grown up now and toiling away at that job you worked so hard to get.  The job you now can’t afford to leave. Outside, it’s a balmy, breezy summer day, the kind of day that we all dream about – perfect weather for all good Baby Boomers who would still prefer to be playing outdoors, except now you want to be:

  • Sailing
  • Golfing
  • Enjoying a long walk in the country with your sweetie at your side
  • Taking your Harley out for a spin, or
  • (Insert your favorite outside activity here)

As You Steal Another Wistful Glace Out the Window, You Suddenly Realize:

  • It’s taking every ounce of self-control you’ve got to keep you in your office and at your desk
  • You’d love to throw responsibility to the wind and answer your siren’s call
  • But you don’t blow down the door, because — hey, you’re a responsible employed adult and you have work to do

So Is Today’s Scenario REALLY Any Different? Has Your Life Actually Changed?

It’s Times Like These When You Start to Daydream, Just Like You Did When You Were a Kid.

Except Now Instead of Dreaming of Hitting Grand Slam Home Runs,You Find Yourself Fantacising About What Your Life Would Be Like If You’d Paid More Attention to Your Composition Classes, And Felt More At Ease With a Pen…

You Wish You Knew How to Write a Book

You want to be able to put your name on something – like book or movie rights – that both generates a passive income stream and gives you credibility.

You know that owning a piece of intellectual property which opens doors for you while simultaneously churning out income while you sleep is something that gives you the same credibility as a bases-loaded home run provided you back when you were in Little League. Yep. It says you’re “The One.”

The Next Part of Your Summer Daydream Probably Goes Like This:

“Wouldn’t it be great if I had a way to make money while I sleep — Even better if I could also crank out big bucks while I play! Then I might actually be able to afford to retire… And I’d be able to leave a legacy for my family.”

You start to fantasize about how different your life would be TODAY, if you had started writing books A FEW YEARS AGO…

You realize that if you could figure out how to write a book, it would probably vastly change your life, your income and your business. Your change in fortune could even happen practically overnight, as it has for so many people you’ve watched brand themselves with a book and become household names. Among them:

  • Donald Trump
  • Loral Langemeir
  • Robert Kiyosaki
  • Warren Buffet
  • Robert Allen
  • Zig Ziglar
  • Brian Tracy
  • John Maxwell
  • Barack Obama

They’ve All Used Books to Launch Their Current Lives and Lifestyles, Right?

Perhaps no one more successfully than the current President of the United States of America. Think about it: Hardly anyone from outside of the Prairie State had  even heard of the junior senator from Illinois before he wrote “Dreams from My Father,” right?

Before he published that book, he was as inconsequential and invisible to the world at large as are these current junior senators, undoubtedly all good people, but whose names are unknown outside their state:

  • John Kyl (AZ)
  • Jim Bunning (KY)
  • Ben Cardin (MD)
  • Jon Tester (MT)
  • Kirsten E. Gillibrand (NY)

Authoring helped Obama gain the notice that got him invited to address the Democratic National Convention in 2004.  You’ve probably heard that he’d attended the same convention four years earlier, but he had to drive and he didn’t even had enough money to rent a hotel room! No one was asking to hear him speak then!

The rest is a matter of history: he used the phrase “the audacity of hope” in his electrifying speech which gave him visibility. He then expanded on his views in his next book, “The Audacity of Hope,” which doubtless helped propel him to the White House just four years later…

Beyond that, Obama made $2.5 million in book royalties on those two books just last year. And he currently has an authoring contract in place guaranteeing him another half million for a third book.

Talk about profiting from learning how to write a book! When you wonder if authoring really can be a life changing event that can provide you with long-term, ongoing financial security, his story has to come to mind!

But You Already Know This

Perhaps I’m preaching to the choir when I remind you that properly branding yourself and using a book as your business card, gives you:

  • Instant credibility, since authors  are perceived as expert on their  subjects
  • An opportunity to change your life, income, and business overnight
  • A proven way to grow your business and income faster and bigger
  • An opportunity to retire from the workforce, while continuing to generate income via your books as well as a few complementary products or services with bigger price tags

These Days, If You Want to be Able to Afford to Retire, One Great Way to Do It is to Take Action to Become an Author

If you don’t finally figure out how to write a book, you’re always gonna be stuck in the office, with no chance to get outside and do something you love on a beautiful day.  No “hall pass” that gives you the option to go out and play when you want to,  “just because you can”

Don’t Throw Your Hands Up in Despair! You Have it In You to Write a Book Which Can Become the Keystone to Your Abundant Retirement Income!

According to my good friend and writing coach, Ronda Del Boccio, the good news is, you don’t have to be “good at writing” in order to write a book.

Amazed?

Ronda, who’s not only written her own best sellers, but has also personally coached hundreds of people to write successful books,  spells it out simply:

  • You don’t have to be a former “A” student in your native language.
  • You don’t have to be a prolific writer.
  • You don’t even have to be an avid article writer.
  • And you don’t have to hire a ghostwriter or outsource everything, either.

Ronda teaches her authoring students that your book will actually be more successful if it’s crafted in a conversational tone. You know, written as though the reader is a good friend, conversing with you over a coffee.

(Don’t drink coffee?  No problem. “Picture yourself sharing tea, or even a beer with your friends, as you write,” she says.)

Not sure you have a problem-solving book in you? Again, Ronda has an answer to help you get started. She suggests you ask yourself:

  • What “problems” do you solve over and over again for  friends, neighbors, clients, customers or others in your life?
  • What kinds of people do you feel you are best equipped to serve or assist?
  • What are you known for?

Keep in mind that your answer might not be related to your career expertise. It might be that you’re known for helping friends with problems that are hobby-related.

Glowing Sailboat
Image by Extra Medium via Flickr
  • For example, if your hobby is sailing, and you’ve successfully navigated some major water — you’ve crossed the Atlantic, you’ve “bare-boated” in the BVIs, or you’ve  circumnavigated the “Great Loop” — perhaps your authoring forte might come from telling others how you did this, and how they can prepare to succeed in the same endeavor.
  • Likewise, if you’ve trained for and run the Boston Marathon as my friend Scott Sharp Armstrong has, you might write a book, “Boston Marathon or Bust,” to share your knowledge about how to prepare.
  • And don’t despair if the thing you do best is bake. After all, who would have guessed that anyone would choose to write about preparing all 524 recipes in Julia Child’s famous cookbook. And yet Julie Powell did that – and her book, “Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen,” was so successful it’s now a movie.

Ready to Start Implementing Your Book-authoring Retirement Plan?

You don’t need to work in a vacuum. Help is at hand. Check out Ronda’s main website, Profitable Storytelling. She’s packed it with tons of articles, videos, tips, templates and other resources.

Or, if you want more help, faster, get her book, “Instant Credibility.”

I’m personally working through her “Instant Credibility” book — which comes with a workbook — right now, and I can honestly promise you that it’s working better for me than  all the one-on-one coaching I’d previously received on the topic of how to write a book.

In it, Ronda Covers Hugely Important, Success-generating Topics Like:

  • Why writing your own book is so important for your credibility – AND the growth of your business. This works whether you’re creating a retirement business, or you’re not ready for that yet…
  • A structure for your book that makes it EASY to write. This is a specific plan that you can follow, with action steps in every chapter so you know EXACTLY what to do in each chapter as well as for the book overall.
  • The sad truth about how much of your book people read and how to overcome it. Read this and you’ll understand that even when a reader doesn’t finish your book, you CAN still grow your business.
  • 3 things you must have on your website before you put your book up for sale. Ronda covers the steps a reader takes to decide whether or not to purchase your book. Yes,  there’s actually a specific process.
  • 3 factors that determine whether your prospect is a likely customer.
  • 3 things you can do on the book COVER that will compel your prospect to open your book. One of them will surprise you. Many book authors get the first two right, but don’t do the last.
  • 7 essential elements of every single chapter. Yes, the title is the first! (well DUH of course!)  But the 6th makes you a magnet. And the 7th makes the reader want more.
  • The single most compelling element of any book. You’ll be surprised – and it’s not about the training/content either.
  • The  specific formula that makes writing your book simple. When you have the recipe, it’s easy to fill in the elements of your book in short bursts.

What? Are you still reading this blog? Hey, the sun’s shining somewhere in the world, and you still want to be able to afford to retire, right?

So go get Ronda’s book already! I promise it’ll be the best investment in yourself you’ve ever made!

Besides, it costs less than a nice steak dinner. So as a safeguard against your future and an opportunity to generate passive income so you can finally get out of the office and play — it’s certainly very affordable…

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