Planning your funeral now means your loved ones won’t have to and can properly grieve when your time comes. Photo by Michael Swan

Pre-planning for inevitable makes sense

By 
  • November 4, 2021

With COVID-19 death tolls and hospitalization numbers a staple on the news daily, the past two years have forced many to consider the inevitable.

The reality is that for everyone life on this Earth will one day come to an end and many are ready to face that reality, says Amy Profenna, director of marketing and public relations for Catholic Cemeteries of the Archdiocese of Toronto. Throughout the months of the pandemic, Profenna says there has been an uptick in individuals and families making their burial and funeral prearrangements.

“People I think are feeling more and more vulnerable and they are thinking about their own mortality,” said Profenna. “In addition to making cemetery plans, they’re also making plans to finalize or review their Wills and looking at things like power of attorney. Naturally they give us a call and have a lot of questions about estate planning and making their funeral and cemetery arrangements.”

Generally speaking people age 55-plus are most concerned with making their prearrangements but Profenna has been seeing people in their 30s come in. One of the reasons younger people are making end-of-life arrangements sometimes comes as a result of experiencing the heartache of losing a loved one themselves. Having endured the additional trauma of making decisions when none have been made gives them the desire to alleviate others of the overwhelming responsibility of making absolutely sure their requests are fulfilled upon death. 

“It can often be a lot of decisions and hardship for a family to make when no prearrangements have been made,” said Profenna. “They’ve just lost a loved one and then they have to make all of these decisions. It really is a gift to take care of these arrangements so that the family doesn’t have to at the time of grief.”

How much detail people desire to preselect for their funerals varies from family to family based on their particular needs, says Profenna. Some looking for a traditional funeral might plan every element including the selection of burial spot or mausoleum. Others may just choose to plan their funeral. 

Selecting the burial space is generally the first decision before making funeral arrangements. The most important decision when choosing their burial space is whether or not they are interested in cremation. Catholic tradition teaches it is the respectful and right thing to bury the cremated remains as opposed to scattering or keeping them in an urn at home. From there, the decision is made whether to bury in the ground or a mausoleum.

With COVID-19 protocols in place the cemetery and funeral home offices have remained open by appointment, and there are virtual appointments. While some might come in feeling a bit nervous or overwhelmed at the idea of making prearrangements, when it’s all said and done, they are always grateful that they did, says Profenna. Taking care of their final wishes gives comfort and the mental freedom to know that their final wishes will be met in keeping with the traditions of their Catholic faith.

“The idea that they’ve purchased in sacred ground makes them feel good,” said Profenna. “Knowing that they’ve relieved their family members of having to make really difficult emotional decisions at the time of death makes them feel really good. I think maybe they do come in a bit nervous or feeling overwhelmed but at the end you know I think it’s all that sense of relief and peace of mind.”

Advanced planning makes good sense financially as it allows individuals and families to work within a budget. With the added benefit of being able to pay today’s prices, Catholic Cemeteries also offers zero-per-cent interest financing and flexible payment terms. At the funeral home, they do have a showroom with many options of caskets and monuments and urns to suit all tastes and budgets. 

“You can see why in advance it’s much better to make these informed decisions,” said Profenna. “When you have the time (to decide for yourself), there’s no spur of the moment emotional overspending.”

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