Centennial Park, South Australia’s largest cemetery, commissioned research that indicates that the number one thing that people find most difficult in planning a funeral is knowing where to start. Information on the requirements and services available that is transparent and easy to navigate is critical for families at the very difficult time of planning a fitting farewell to a loved one.
It’s been said before, but death is one of the sure things about life. It is also one of the things we are least prepared for – for ourselves as well as our loved ones.
How we handle or even talk about death can be very different for different people, depending on our family background, culture, religion, beliefs and experiences. While planning can be difficult or even taboo for some, there is no doubt that planning can provide peace of mind for ourselves and our families if they know they are carrying out our wishes.
The research we commissioned also revealed that people experience real difficulty with planning the actual funeral service. They also want transparency around the costs involved, may need help choosing a funeral director, and want to know where to go for reliable information.
Many assume that cost is the number one factor for families making decisions about end-of-life arrangements, but our research showed that before cost, 90 per cent of those surveyed said that the final wishes of their loved one is the most important factor in planning their funeral. People want to feel listened to regarding their unique wishes so they can be carried out.
Interestingly, according to the research, only 37 per cent of people have decided on their final wishes and communicated them to others and 30 per cent who have decided on their wishes have not shared them with anyone.
We receive several calls and some visits every week from people who are faced with a recent death in their family and need help to navigate what they need to do, and when. Many are quite overwhelmed about where to start with all the decisions they need to make.
Some people and families plan well in advance of a death to have some things in place. Almost everything can be arranged in advance, including pre-purchasing burial and cremation services as well as chapels and lounges for the funeral service and after-service events with Centennial Park.
We are seeing more and more people who like to plan and pre-purchase to take some of the stress of decisions away from family members at the time of a death. Centennial Park offers Planning Ahead seminars as well as tours of our facilities so that people can see the range of options available. We also have a lawyer join us at our Planning Ahead seminars to provide advice on wills, estates, powers of attorney and advanced care directives.
Janet Miller is chief executive officer of Centennial Park.