After you pass, having planned your own services saves your grieving family time and removes a host of weighty decisions they would otherwise have to make in a time of stress. It allows you to think carefully about what you want and convey your wishes to those left behind.
No one wants to think about death, but it is inevitable. Planning for certainty makes even more sense than planning for your children’s education or retirement.
“Planning your funeral is a gift to your family. It means your loved ones don’t have to make these decisions on their worst day,” says Brian Calhoun, a funeral director at Stuhr Funeral Home, with four locations around the Lowcountry.
Calhoun often helps clients with the funeral planning considerations:
1. Burial or Cremation?
Once you contact Stuhr, you can begin discussing your options. The two most popular choices are burial and cremation. This information should be included in a will or written in a notarized letter to your family. The funeral director can help you with that.
Stuhr offers many types of burials such as traditional, direct and natural. When choosing a traditional burial, family and friends usually gather at a place of worship or funeral chapel for a service with the burial to follow in a cemetery. However, some may opt to having a traditional service with cremation. In that, the family has more opportunity to create their own special celebration of life for their loved one. You may choose this service with a traditional viewing and visitation with the casket at the funeral. After the funeral services, the cremation process begins, which can involve cremation in the casket or a different container. Stuhr also assists with the shipping of ashes. If this is an option you are considering, speak with the funeral director about where your remains will be placed.
Direct burials are held at the graveside of the departed. You may even decide on a green burial also known as a natural burial with respect to the environment. This service entails a burial without embalming fluids, metal caskets or concrete vaults. The deceased is buried in a bio-degradable casket, so the body is returned to earth to be naturally recycled. Stuhr also helps with church funerals and graveside services along with a natural burial.
A funeral can precede burial or cremation, but it doesn’t have to. Some choose a memorial service to follow the burial or a scattering ceremony following cremation. Stuhr offers the option of hosting a memorial service at one of five of their chapels. However, if you are thinking of going a not-so-traditional route, Stuhr has composed a list of five places for a memorial. The first is the Cooper River Room in Mount Pleasant with indoor and outdoor space; Founders Hall in West Ashley which features screened-in porches, spacious rooms and large screens for sharing media of the departed; the South Carolina Aquarium in Charleston; The Lake House at Bulow in West Ashley features one large ballroom, a full service kitchen and more, and the Legare Waring House in West Ashley.
Stuhr offers assistance to families for veteran burial services. The services are done with military honors and benefits. Veteran Affairs pays up to $2,000 as a burial allowance if the veteran’s death is connected to service. The VA also pays for transporting the body of a vet to the national cemetery closest to their home and will also give a $300 burial and funeral expense to those who meet the recipient requirements.
Stuhr provides the option of burial in a national cemetery or a private cemetery. The benefits of being buried in a national cemetery include a gravesite at any of the national cemeteries with availability, a government headstone, a burial flag, a Presidential Memorial Certificate, and more, all free to the family. If the veteran is cremated, the remains would be buried with the same honors as a casket burial. Spouses and dependents of the veteran also get burial benefits including burial with the veteran, perpetual care and the spouse or dependents’ name and birthday and date of death would be added to the veteran’s headstone.
Burial benefits for veterans in a private cemetery include a government headstone, a burial flag and a Presidential Memorial Certificate, at no cost. With a veteran burial in a private cemetery for burial, there are currently no benefits available to spouses or dependents.
2. How Will You Pay for It?
It is common for those planning their own funerals to arrange a payment plan for some or all of the elements, such as the casket, the cemetery plot and the funeral service itself. There are several types of contracts that you can purchase, and the costs depend on the number of services and items you want to include in the plan. The contracts spell out what is covered, and what will be due when the time comes for the burial. The contracts generally don’t include some portions or certain costs like cemetery fees and raising and lowering the casket. Since funeral costs can range from several thousand dollars for a simple cremation to upwards of $7,000 or more for a full casket with service and burial, pre-planning and a burial contract is a gift you can give your relatives. You can insure that the money for a burial is already set aside and that your family doesn’t have to guess about what the deceased wishes might be. The contracts can be transferred to another funeral home under state law. “That provides peace of mind for you today and for your family in the future,” says Calhoun.
3. Where Will You Be Buried or What Will Happen to Your Ashes?
Planning means deciding in advance the cemetery or graveyard in which you will be buried. Location, religion and family history all help determine the gravesite that meets your needs. A knowledgeable funeral director can help identify the appropriate choices and offer some items for consideration, such as securing nearby spots for family members.
There’s also the topic of where your remains will be scattered if you choose cremation. Maybe you’d want your ashes to be scattered at your favorite park, lake, beach or a place that is special to you. Perhaps you’re considering letting someone you’re close to keep your ashes in an urn.
If you are religious, scattering ashes may have a significant meaning to you. It is something to consider and discuss with your family and loved ones. Be aware, however, of the laws and regulations for scattering in your area or the area you would like your remains to be placed.
4. Will Life Insurance Cover All or Some of the Costs?
Often life insurance policies are designated by a loved one to cover funeral costs. A funeral director can help you determine whether your plan does and instruct you on what arrangements you will need to make in advance.
5. What About All Other Details?
Is there a song you want to be played or a poem or Biblical passage you want read at your funeral? Is there someone you particularly want to speak? Do you want to be buried in a specific set of clothes? All these small decisions can be made in advance, to your specifications, removing that burden from your family. If you’re uncomfortable with visiting a funeral home during a pandemic, all these arrangements can be made virtually.
Stuhr Funeral Home, a trusted name in funeral service for more than 150 years, cares for families of those whose lives have ended. Stuhr Funeral Home is committed to providing quality arrangements to honor loved ones and family traditions. To begin your preplanning journey, visit preplanafuneral.com/stuhr. For more information about available funeral services, visit JHenryStuhr.com or call (843) 723-2524.