Making Funeral Arrangements a Little Easier

Making Funeral Arrangements a Little Easier

Just breathe, passionate help for the PF journey

After I was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis, I began evaluating the best way to spend the precious time and energy I have left. Against a backdrop of grief, I made a list of the things I wanted to complete before I passed. Some goals involved increasing my quality of life, spending time with family and friends, and taking care of business.

Dreading this step

Kim and Joany
(Courtesy of Kim Fredrickson)

One of the things on my list was taking care of funeral arrangements so my family didn’t have to do it when I passed. Honestly, I’ve been putting this off, because I thought it would be so hard to do.

My good friend Joany died four years ago from cancer, and she shared a lot with me about her dying process. She had an awful experience picking out a burial plot, and I couldn’t get it out of my mind. She and her husband went to look at plots, and the caretaker went on and on about all the people he knew who had died of cancer, and how much pain they went through. It was so awful for her. She was so ill that she didn’t have the strength to tell him to stop.

A plan

Through tears, I told my husband that I didn’t want to go through something like that. He’s a great problem solver, so I asked him to help me come up with a plan should that happen to us when looking at plots. He did. He said we should present ourselves as a retired couple who are taking care of concerns such as updating our trust, consolidating our finances, and making funeral arrangements. All true.

He said we shouldn’t share that I have a terminal illness or share anything personal that would invite comments or questions. If someone asked about my oxygen, I’d say I need a little when I move around and leave it at that.

Easier than expected

(Photo by Kim Fredrickson)

I felt a lot better about going to look at burial plots after talking with him. We just got back and it was so much easier than I expected. Whew! Thanks, God!

He took us around in a golf cart and asked questions about whether we want a plot that has a flat marker or a raised headstone, as they were in different areas of the cemetery. He asked about where we’d want the plot to be, such as near the edge of an area, in the middle, or under a tree.

My husband had some definite preferences, so it helped that he was contributing, too, rather than it being focused on me, the one who is dying. We paid for our burial plots, and away we went.

I’m so relieved! It helped to have a plan, and approach it from the perspective that we are taking care of arrangements everyone who’s retired should address. We still have to meet with a funeral home and monument company. We are going to meet with them over the next two weeks, and we have the same plan going in.

Friends, it’s so hard to face our upcoming death. I understand how easy it is to ignore things like this, because I’ve been doing it for over a year. What helped me pull the trigger was that I don’t want to make these arrangements later when I’m feeling even worse. I also don’t want my husband and kids to have to figure all this out after I pass away.

I’d love to hear from you

Have you made funeral arrangements? What was it like for you? Do you have any advice to those who haven’t made these arrangements yet?

Please leave a comment below and share with those who could benefit via email or on social media.

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Note: Pulmonary Fibrosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Pulmonary Fibrosis News, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary fibrosis.

20 comments

  1. Nuzzi says:

    When I got my diagnosis over 5 years ago now, it was a shock. Put on oxygen 24/7. I went out and made my funeral arrangements and my own verse for the cards so my sons would not have to do this. Now I’am out everyday and planning a trip to Texas . Live everyday to the fullest. Thank God for each day I have.

  2. Anita Clos says:

    My mother died last year and already had a plot next to my dad. I talked with the cemetery and since my mom wanted to be cremated, they told us we could use the plot in the future for other family members, as well, if they are cremated. So we had a stone bench placed over both graves with our family name engraved on each side. We will be able to put individual names on the bench or on smaller stones next to it. This is reassuring for me so that my children don’t have to worry about where I want to be, keeping remains, etc. at the same time I haven’t had to pick out plots or headstones. It feels very settled for me.

    • Dear Anita,
      What a wonderful idea to place a stone bench with your family name engraved. I’m so glad you feel reassured and settled by the arrangements you’ve made. Thanks so much for sharing with us.

  3. Russel J Fabre says:

    Done, done, and done! That was one of the first things we did the year I was diagnosed. We wanted to complete it when I was not on oxygen and had plenty of “relaxed” time to complete everything associated with my passing. Wish I could share the view. Nice small town cemetery (my wife’s hometown) overlooking peaceful wheat fields.

    • Russel,
      I love “done, done and done!” You are so great at taking care of business! I can picture the lovely view in a small town cemetary, overlooking wheat fields. Lovely. That does bring comfort and peace.

  4. Susan Grimes says:

    In the 2nd year after diagnosis we have a friend who is an elder attorney. We have no money due to medical bills. He did our wills, POA, MPOA, Physician directives, & everything we would need for just about any situation we could think of. We felt great relief as our prior will didn’t mention our 2nd son who wasn’t born yet. Lol!

    As for services, I have a unique perspective. Before I get inmobile I will invite everyone I know to come & celebrate my life with me! We will sit around & talk of the good times, funny times, & sad times as well. This will alleviate all that service stuff for my family unless they want to. I told hubby to creamate me, take a nice trip or cruise & spread me out among God’s beauty. Works for us!

    • Dear Susan,
      I’m so glad that you found an kind and generous attorney to take care of all the business you needed. That is such a relief to get done! I love your idea of having a party to celebrate your life with you! What a wonderful idea! So glad you could talk all this over with your family and come to a wonderful agreement, together. Thanks so much for sharing…and you’re right, what’s most important is that it “Works for us!”

  5. Larry says:

    As the need to realize we will all pass from his life to the next, it’s better to prepare while under less compelling needs. I recognized this as soon as I was diagnosed IPF, my dad and mom in law and my mom and than father in law all passed in a 5 yr period. In this 5yrs I developed heart problems and diabetes and other health issues and diagnosed with the IPF Feb of 2013. This was just after finishing the final disposition of father-in-laws estate. All the final arrangements were complete and executed as should be.
    We ,wife and I decided to complete the final disposition of our remains to our choosing, as we had the final resting location chosen and paid for we completed the final disposition and the paper work for our daughter to hand over to the powers that be to satisfy the legal requirements. I’d advise anyone in any situation to have as much, if not all of final disposition complete while you have full faculties you and yours will be much relieved and enjoy life fuller not having to worry about what you cannot stop from happening, AMEN.

    • Dear Larry,
      Thanks so much for sharing with us. I’m so sorry you’ve been through so much loss on top of IPF! You know how difficult it is to handle the passing of a loved one when along with their affairs. I feel so relieved as well, knowing that this will all be taken care of ahead of time. Thanks so much for sharing with us.

  6. David Maddox says:

    My wife passed away in February, 2012 from COPD. She wanted to be cremated and I chose a plot and headstone and had my name and birth date added. In May of that year I realized I was running short of breath when walking the golf course, climbing stairs, etc. Saw a cardiologist and got relatively clean bill of health. Returned to him twice over the next few years and each time I was worse but the heart was working fine. Finally they decided to do a pulmonary function test (yah think) and I was running on 80% function. Saw a pulmonologist and received the diagnosis of IPF. Last January we redid the PFT and I was down to 70% at which point I went on Esbriet as well as Losartan. 14 months later no further decline in function and I continue to walk 4-6 miles/day, work out, and plan to play golf this spring. My daughter has instructions to have me cremated and my remains buried with her mother. My son died in June, 2017 and he is buried there too. My minister will perform the service and friends from my barbershop chorus will sing, then a nice party for all. I’ll be there in spirit with them.

    • Dear David,
      Thanks for sharing how you came to being diagnosed with IPF, and how treatment has gone. So glad the Esbriet and Losartan is keeping you stable. Your exercising is probably helping a lot, so good for you!!! I love your memorial service plans and that you’ll be buried with your wife and son. So appreciate you sharing.

  7. Mary Lasowski says:

    I’d like to donate my body to science, started looking into it and found the Milwaukee Medical school accepts them. The only problem is I have to pay to get my body there. Then pay for the cremation when they are done. So I have to call funeral director to find out what it will cost.
    I will check this out some day. Or maybe I’d go to Milwaukee when I get bad. Who knows. Have to work on this.

    • Helen Cave says:

      My mother donated her body to the anatomy department at a nearby university. Not long before she died, I phoned the body donation program and was informed that not all donations are able to be accepted due to certain medical conditions. When Mom died, I called the donation program (on their 24 hour line) and received a callback early the next morning. That person phoned my Mom’s doctor who provided answers to the medical screening questions and I was notified within 20 minutes that Mom’s donation was accepted.

      The estate had to pay for the transportation of Mom’s body but that was the only expense as the program covered the cost of the cremation. Two years later we received an invitation to a group memorial service organized by the program. Several of the medical students participated. It was a very moving time as appreciation was expressed and afterwards we had opportunity to talk with several of the students.

      My parents had both prepaid for their cremation and service arrangements. The funeral place reimbursed us for Mom’s prepayment. The money more than covered transport of her body to the university. I would recommend setting money aside (or prepaying) ahead of time in case a body donation doesn’t meet the medical criteria.

  8. Mrs. M C says:

    As unexpected as my diagnosis was, I immediately set out to make all necessary arrangements, not just funeral. As a migrant in Australia I only have my older, cancer survivor husband and 2 adult children here as my family and I surely did not want them to have the extra stresses when I die! My husband and I went to a few funeral directors, and after the shock of the expense, we discovered what is called an unattended cremation, so we met with my children, told them about my disgnosis, they asked everything they wanted to know which I had not already told them, and we all agreed the unattended cremation is what we would go with, done! Then they will have a memorial service, as we are Christians. I have chosen the music I wish to be played at the service; as well as printed a lovely poem to leave for the children; I wanted a professional photo for them to use and hang on their wall and miraculously a friend took me to a friend of hers who does this as a hobby, a make up expert at our local chemist did my make up for free, and now we have many beautiful pictures they can choose from, what a blessing! I have found it empowering and stress releasing knowing my small family know exactly what to do. I have also had myself assessed for a care facility as I will not want my husband to be caring for me 24/7! I will be spending 10 days there this October, as a trial not just for me but for him( getting used to not having me around, having to become more independent). I know we are so blessed in this land as we have so much government subsidised assistance! Thanks for the chance to share 🙏

    • Dear Mrs. M. C.
      Thanks so much for sharing with us. I love the solutions you’ve come up with. I haven’t thought about the details of my service, so you’ve given me some wonderful ideas. I agree that it is stress releasing knowing everything is handled. What a great idea to do a test run at a care facility for both you and your husband. It will help to work out any problems. Love the way you are taking care of yourself and your family.

  9. dianne frazier says:

    my pulmonologist is insisting i have an open lung biopsy in order for hi to know how to treat me. i have been diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis. do i really need an open biopsy?

    • Hi Dianne,
      I can see why you are nervous about an open lung biopsy. I turned it down and got a bronchoscopy with biopsy under anesthesia instead. It is out patient and was easy. They are able to get a lung sample this way with way less risk. Follow your instincts!

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