Death is a tough topic to talk about let alone plan for in advance. Coming to terms with the reality of life’s end is usually something we put off until the need is imminent.  Anyone who has experienced the loss of a loved one knows how emotional those next few days are. During that time, family members must make a series of difficult decisions, which can be emotionally stressful if the deceased’s final wishes are not known.

Advanced planning can ensure your requests are respected while alleviating the burden to family and loved ones left to make arrangements. Options from burial or cremation to flowers or donations can be overwhelming to say the least. Let us help guide you through components of a Christian funeral so you can make personal selections for when the time comes.

Choose a funeral home and funeral director – A funeral director will take care of remains appropriately as well as provide transportation, gather flowers, assist with the wake, and coordinate important details with the church.

Select your church for the funeral – Choose a church you are a member of or one that has a special significance to you or your family. At the time of need, your loved ones will work with the church’s staff to choose music and scripture readings. The church may have guidelines, but you can make personal selections known ahead of time. If Catholic, tell your loved ones whether you want a Catholic Funeral Mass, or a funeral without a Mass.

Decide on burial or cremation – Though the Catholic Church has traditionally preferred burial, cremation is allowed. Trappist Caskets offers both handcrafted wooden caskets and urns as preference or faith permits. Please note, if Catholic and cremation is chosen, the Church would prefer the body to be present at the funeral and cremated afterwards.

Discuss caskets or urns – One of the larger costs associated with funerals is the casket or urn. To help ease that financial burden, consider making an advanced purchase. If you buy a Trappist casket, we can make, store, and ship it to you at the time of need. Urns will be shipped directly to you at the time of purchase since they are smaller and easily stored.  Please note, if Catholic and cremation is chosen, you may rent a casket for the funeral and use an urn after cremation for burial.

Pick a burial place – Choose a cemetery, maybe one associated with your church, for burial. Consider where you live – is it a permanent residence or are you thinking of relocating? If you aren’t planning to move, you may choose to purchase a burial plot (and headstone/plaque) or columbarium in advance. If a move is possible, you’ll need to decide where your final earthly home will be and plan accordingly. Choosing cremation may make this easier, as ashes in an urn are simple to transport. Please note, if Catholic and cremation is chosen, it is advised that the ashes be contained in an urn and buried in a sacred place during the rite of committal.

After reflecting on these funeral components, you may find you have strong opinions to share with family members. With everything that happens in such a short time after a death, it will be a relief to have big decisions made in advance. It’s not easy to think about, but the Trappist monks at New Melleray Abbey have a peaceful view of death that can be consoling. In harmony with the cycles of the created world, death is a natural part of life. It is a step closer on the journey to God. Your journey should be honored and celebrated; ensure it is done so according to your beliefs.