End-of-life decisions should be made early, mortuary science professor says

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J. Carbajal

Faculty are licensed professionals and willing to talk to students, faculty and staff about their wishes.

By J. Carbajal

While no one wants to think about death, let alone their own, it is important to get one’s affairs in order and to notify loved ones of the decisions.

To plan one’s funeral ahead of time, or pre-need, is to save surviving loved ones the extra stress of trying to do so in a short amount of time while they are grieving, mortuary science Professor Felix B. Gonzales said April 19.

“I think it’s very important because many people, at the time of need, have no idea what the person would want,” he said.

Funerals are a time for the living to grieve openly and provide one another with comfort and support at their time of loss.

To arrange a service at the time of need, forces them to make important financial decisions at a time of high stress and grief, he said.

Pre-planning a funeral can be as informal as creating a checklist and letting a loved one hold onto it or as formal as speaking with a local funeral director and pre-paying for the service.

The first step in pre-planning a funeral is to have a talk with funeral professionals, which students at this college can do easily.

The faculty members in the mortuary science program are licensed professionals and are available to help begin a conversation about end of life wishes, he said.

“When you start to consider, it is a wonderful service to be able to go over to the mortuary science to begin a conversation, and it is underutilized,” Gonzales said.

He said to call in advance to ensure there is someone available to talk at a certain time.

The program can be reached at 210-486-1137.

Decisions on body disposition, ceremony type and possible organ donation should be discussed and determined.

Body disposition is what will be done with the remains, such as burial, cremation or donation of remains.

If burial is chosen, then cemetery plots and caskets must be considered. With cremation, there are also decisions on what to do with the ashes.

Scattering or burying them are two available options.

The only restriction on the scattering of ashes is at sea. Cremated human remains cannot be scattered within 3 nautical miles from land or in water less than 600 feet deep, according to www.cremationsolutions.com.

There is a lot of information to provide to a funeral home in such a short amount of time that any idea — broad or specific — is helpful, Gonzales said.

Pre-planning a funeral also gives one the option to decide if services are held and which type — funeral, graveside or memorial.

Once these decisions have been made, the cost should be tallied and a plan for payment should be made.

There are a few options to pay for funerals, such as a life insurance assignment.

The deceased’s life insurance policy, if they have one, can be used to cover the cost of the funeral, according to US Funerals Online, a website that works as a funeral guide and funeral home directory.


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