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B.C. funerals: ‘Everyone is going to die, and they need to plan for that’

Most people don’t make funeral pre-arrangements, and they should, B.C. funeral directors say

We’re all going to die, but most of us aren’t preparing for it.

And that can mean a difficult time for loved ones, who are left scrambling to figure out what needs to be done when there no pre-arrangements made.

It can be anxiety-producing for many people, observed Shawn Carbonell, family service planner at Bakerview Memorial Cemetery in Aldergrove, who said fear can keep people from making funeral preparations in advance.

“A lot of people feel like if they make the plans, then they’re gonna die faster, right? It’s just not true, but I feel like a lot of people have that idea. It’s either, they fully see the benefits, or they’re terrified to death.”

Jeremy May, owner of Elements Cremation, Pre-planning and Burial in Langley City, described pre-planning as “the one decision that people want to defer the most, either to avoid it, or leave it to others.”

May points to figures showing roughly 8,000 people die every day in North America, with only 2,000 of them having made prearrangements.

“The other 6,000 a day, it’s a mess,” May commented.

Carbonell said it can be overwhelming for survivors if no pre-arrangements have been made.

“When a death occurs, the cemetery and funeral home are going to ask so many questions,” Carbonell warned.

“Like what’s your SIN number? Where’s the deed to the home? How many bank accounts? And they’re all going to ask that on the day of the death. Some people, you know, they can’t think of all of these things. They don’t know where anything is, and it takes a long time.”

May said when overwhelmed survivors “have to start making decisions on the spot at two in the morning, you can make ones that are hasty, that maybe don’t reflect the wishes of the deceased, and they can be costly.”

Prearranging does two things, May explained.

“It allows you to put your wishes down on paper, to let them be known, and it allows you to freeze or lock in the cost.”

The moment you leave a deposit, he said, the prices for both burial plots and funeral services are locked in.

That is not a small concern, he noted, with funeral prices rising, on average, 10 per cent a year.

A cemetery plot that cost about $750 when May started in the industry in 1993, is now going for more like $80,000, he estimates, and funeral prices are rising, on average, 10 per cent a year.

READ ALSO: New cemetery in Aldergrove open for business

Carbonnell said when people make pre-arrangements, they always feel better.

“I’ve never helped a family where they felt bad for making these arrangements,” he said.

“They’ve always obviously been a little bit scared to make the arrangements, but when it’s all said and done, and finalized, there’s just a big sigh of relief and they’re happy.”

“At the end of the day, it’s a very simple concept,” May said.

“Everyone is going to die, and they need to plan for that. It’s 100-per-cent inevitable, you can’t avoid it.”

READ ALSO: Touching photo of dog at Langley funeral goes viral

Dan Ferguson

About the Author: Dan Ferguson

Best recognized for my resemblance to St. Nick, I’m the guy you’ll often see out at community events and happenings around town.
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