We said goodbye to my remarkable Dad this week. You may remember my pride in declaring him my first subject for the life insurance blog I started last June. He lived decades beyond what could be expected with diabetes, CAD, multiple heart attacks and strokes. He kept to the end that same outlook on life of faith, love for family, and joy in telling a story or joke.

Saying Goodbye to Dad

Hundreds of relatives and friends came to honor this simple, hard working dairyman who had cared about each and every one of them. Facebook is aglow with memories and photos, a huge family mourning one less hero to talk to and touch. I have noticed that I am now part of a club, where anyone who has been through this, truly understands. So I am not going to belabor sentimentality here; indeed, I doubt the real loss has yet hit me.

What I want to share is the need for pre-planning for final expenses. I was a Certified Preplanning Consultant for for a funeral home about 15 years ago, so I know the value of making wishes known in advance. But while I have sold final expense life insurance policies for some 15 years now, I thankfully had never had to personally help calculate the financial costs associated with this inevitable event.

For starters, three grandchildren lived over 1000 miles away and only one of them found an airline that would give her even a small “bereavement discount”. You can imagine what flights booked two days in advance cost! But none of us wanted those three to miss it, and they are all so glad they were able to be there for that closure and sharing of grief among family.

I won’t share the cost of the funeral, but from now on when people ask me how much final expense coverage to get, I am going to advise that if a visitation and burial are involved, take the average funeral cost for their state and double it. If there is a thousand or two left over to pay other bills, no one is going to complain about that.

How do funeral costs weigh on the bereaved? I know this is not true for everyone, but my mom had a hard time getting them off her mind until she knew the funds were available. Savings are nice, but savings can be spent before the time of need, especially if there are prior medical bills. Life insurance, final expense policies, burial policies …. call them what you will…. are sure to be there when the unthinkable happens.

My dad has left his earthly home but he did not leave unprepared. Our family is free to grieve his loss rather than anguish over how to pay his final expenses. For that, and for the man he was, we are immensely grateful.