Talking with your spouse about burial options, cremation, and choice of final resting place can be extremely uncomfortable. Unfortunately, many husbands and wives become annoyed, or even suspicious, when their partner broaches the subject. However, there are very legitimate reasons to ask your spouse these difficult questions. If you don't, you will likely have serious regrets later.
A hundred years ago, the options for burial locations and types of funeral services were much more limited. Today, the surviving spouse faces an endless array of difficult decisions. Should the deceased spouse be cremated or buried, or cremated and then buried? What about a viewing? If there is a viewing, should it be public or private?
Perhaps the most difficult choice is regarding final resting place. Should it be a place near where you live, near the deceased spouse's place of birth, or at a favorite vacation spot? Should the deceased spouse be buried near parents and siblings in a family plot or in a place where the two of you can be buried together? Should you choose a mausoleum or a less expensive option? These are just a few of the decisions a surviving spouse often has to make.If your spouse has given no indication what he or she wants with regard to last wishes, you should try to get some input about what to do if you are the surviving spouse. If possible, get your spouse to complete a last wishes form. A common cause of family disputes is when a deceased spouse's siblings or parents disagree with the surviving spouse about where the deceased should be buried. Family members can become downright vicious if their loved one is not buried in a family plot or near their home. Also, if you are a stepparent, you could get in a dispute with your spouse's children from a prior relationship. Disputes over final arrangements are often used as a way for family members to act on bitter feelings of resentment.
Should You Write Your Last Wishes?
You may be asking yourself why bother to leave instructions about your last wishes. After all, you would probably rather think about anything else than planning your own funeral. You may also be totally apathetic about what happens to your remains. You won't be around to deal with it, so why waste precious time thinking such morose thoughts?
In fact, there are several reasons to leave instructions about your memorial preferences and last wishes. The most important are:1. To spare your loved ones the burden of making difficult decisions during a time of tragedy or loss.2. To prevent your surviving family members from going in debt or incurring unnecessary funeral and burial expenses for arrangements you may not want.3. To ensure your last wishes to help others are honored, such as being an organ donor or having memorial donations made to charity on your behalf.4. To ensure your burial or cremation preferences are honored, such as being buried in accordance with certain religious traditions, being buried next to a partner, having your ashes scattered in a specific location or being buried with the remains of your deceased pets.5. To let others know you want your remains returned to your country of birth if you were born in another country and don't wish to be buried in the United States. For information on how to ship remains to another country, visit The National Funeral Directors Association website.
6. To ensure those charged with handling the disposition of remains know your memorial preferences if you do not have any close family members or surviving heirs.
7. To protect your privacy if you do not want a public viewing or want to prevent certain people from attending your funeral.To view forms and planners you can use to leave instructions about your final arrangements, see last wishes planners.
Free Last Wishes Planner
Even if you do not anticipate any problems regarding planning a funeral and making other final arrangements for your spouse or partner, it is recommended you get some information about his or her memorial preferences. A surviving spouse can be plagued with indecision for years wondering what to do with cremated remains or second guessing decisions made during a time of overwhelming grief. To download a free last wishes planner from Pennyborn.com that both you and your spouse can complete, see free estate planning forms.