Ashton Funeral Home

The Wisdom of Preplanning

A Thoughtful Interview with
Kline Ashton, Sr.

Klein Ashton Sr.

Why do you recommend the practice of preplanning a funeral?

Over the years, we have found it to be a sound and wise practice, a loving gesture to the loved ones you leave behind. It brings peace of mind to you and your family, rather than waiting until the need is unavoidable and life forces you to make stressful choices quickly. It is also a gift to yourself — you have ample time to converse with your family so they can understand your wishes.

It isn’t wise to take away all decision-making responsibilities from your loved ones. You must still leave some thought and decisions to those who survive you.

My family knows me very well. Won’t they be able to make fine decisions?

That is true, and you may indeed prefer to rely on your family to make your final plans. But consider this — they will be called upon to make over fifty important decisions, while suffering loss and intense emotional stress. Just at the time they wish to be most caring, they may run the risk of feeling guilty or unwise if they are unsure of your wishes. It is a kindness to them to make your wishes known in advance.

What is involved in preplanning a funeral?

Preplanning can be as simple as jotting down your song preferences, or as complete as planning and funding your entire funeral and burial. You see, there are two parts to preplanning: the details of your final service, and the financial matters.

You and your family have been in this business for a long time. Do you have some particular insights that you can share with us?

We have learned something about preplanning that you might not expect. Here is the surprising truth: preplanning is good and even necessary, but only up to a certain degree. Interestingly, it isn’t wise to take away all decision-making responsibilities from your loved ones. You must still leave some thought and decisions to those who survive you.

Why is that true?

The grieving process begins with doing something for the one who has died. If you plan every minute detail, what is left for your loved ones to do for you? I remember when my father died. Even though he was a funeral director, my family and I were able to tend to some of his final needs. It gave us an active way of expressing our love and grief. So don’t make every single decision. Leave some to your survivors. It helps them in their grief.

Can you give us some examples of what you mean?

Well, you can make the big decisions, but leave some of the smaller details undecided. For instance, tell your family if you prefer cremation or traditional burial, to save them from having those difficult discussions. But, for casket selection, you could direct them towards wood or metal, rather than a specific casket. Leave that to them.

It also varies from family to family. For one family, it may be suitable to dictate even what hymns should be sung. But therapeutically, for another family, they might appreciate making those decisions themselves. What’s most important is that you not leave so little decision-making to your survivors that they have nothing to do but show up for your funeral.

Does that also apply to the pre-payment of a funeral?

Now that’s a little different. It is good, if you can, to set aside money to help your family pay for your funeral and burial. Over the years, we have accumulated some interesting and even touching stories of people that have gone to great length to save a little bit every month to provide for their final expenses.

Funding your funeral arrangements can also be an important part of your estate planning. We offer a variety of options and payment methods, and we deposit all prepaid funds into a burial reserve fund at a local bank.

What happens to the record of my wishes?

We keep the records of your wishes in complete confidence and safety, ready to be available when they are needed.