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What Is Your Motivation – Making Funeral Arrangements Out Of Love And Not Fear

What is motivation?  Motivation is used to describe WHY someone does something. Of course, there are a mountain of studies and theories, but simply stated, there are many different forces that guide and direct us.  If you look towards literature and the arts, you can simplify it even further.  From the bible to John Lennon, it appears as if “there are two basic motivating forces: fear and love.”

Let’s put this into perspective and think about weight loss.  Many people start their weight loss journey at their doctor or loved one’s urging to cure or improve a medical condition, thus potentially saving their life.  They are motivated by fear – fear of dying, fear of winding up in the hospital, fear of something that only loosing weight will solve.  However, once they reach their weight loss goal or receive a clean bill of health from their doctor, their motivation to lose weight and stay healthy is removed and many times, they revert to their unhealthy habits and regain the weight.  What has been found is that although fear can be an excellent motivator, especially following a life-threatening event, it is too uncomfortable and emotionally draining for us to stay in that mindset for very long.

In other words, fear is not sustainable.

But what happens when, while during their weight loss journey, people discover things that they love? Perhaps they can run and play with their kids without gasping for breath or without pain.  Perhaps their skin clears up.  Perhaps they like how they look in the mirror. What happens when they fall in love with the results of their weight loss and improved health?  When people replace their fear driven motivation with love driven motivation, then they are better able to sustain their weight loss and health.

In my role as a funeral director, I have seen a world of difference when someone makes funeral arrangements out of love rather than fear.  Typically, those who are motivated by love plan in advance, include their family or even their friends in their decisions, and think globally instead of selfishly.  On the other hand, I have seen those motivated by fear regret their decisions or make decisions based on prior negative experiences without understanding that funerals have changed and that their loved ones need some sort of ritual to build that positive foundation for grief.

So how can you approach death with love? At its simplest, by being prepared.  By writing down your wishes.  By securing payment for your funeral by purchasing life insurance, prepaying your funeral, or setting aside assets designated for funeral expenses.

You can also approach death with love by understanding that you do not know what you do not know and seeking out knowledge to make informed decisions. Knowledge is power and sharing knowledge is empowering. Did you know that in the state of Texas you can be buried within 24 hours, but it can take 2-10 days to have the legal authority to perform a cremation?  Or that some cemeteries will allow you to be buried without a casket? Or that a power of attorney expires upon death so if you do not have an authorized agent of disposition and your spouse has dementia or your biological children do not get along that your disposition might be determined in court? Or that you can have a meaningful service that does not include a church or a funeral home or a major expense?  Or that cremated remains can be made into bullets, tattoos, jewelry, coral reefs, paintings, or go into outer space?  Incomplete information creates false expectations and negative experiences.  Understanding the ins and outs of what happens when someone dies will enable and empower you to make the right decisions at the right time.

Finally, you can also approach death with love by being creative in ones preplanning approach and utilizing me as a resource and guide in helping you plan your final moments with love, so that your loved ones won’t have too.

So, what is your motivation?  When it comes losing weight, finding a new job, getting married, having a medical procedure, or even planning for life’s eventualities – what is motivating you to make the choices you made or are about to make?  Without motivation you simply cannot achieve anything.  The next time you admire someone’s accomplishment, including your own, it makes more sense to ask WHY they did what they did instead of HOW because, when the why is clear, the how is easy.

Modified from a speech given by Jessamyn Putnam at the Women Empowering Women event at the Vineyard B&B at Lost Creek Ranch on November 5, 2019.  Copyright 2019 Jessamyn Putnam.

Jessamyn Putnam at the Women Empowering Women event, pictured bottom row, second from the right.

The Race to the Bottom: Is Price the Only Consideration When Choosing a Funeral Home or Cremation Provider?

Knowledge, quality, service, personalization, legally compliant, going above and beyond, time spent with the family – these are the qualities that people take for granted that they will receive when choosing a funeral home or crematory.  However, there appears to be a race to the bottom in the funeral industry that is negatively impacting the ability of funeral homes and crematories or cremation providers to meet these expectations and many families are walking away from the burial or cremation of a loved one – disappointed.

With on-line options touting cheap cremations and some funeral homes BOLDLY UNDERLINING IN ITALICIZED CAPS THAT THEY WILL PRICE MATCH,  it is clear that the funeral industry incorrectly believes that the number one priority to someone shopping for a funeral home or crematory is price.   And by trying to be the cheapest, many in the funeral industry have initiated a race to the bottom by cutting corners.  Some families tell stories of illegal solicitation efforts, of being offered “Factory Second” urns, being rushed through their initial meeting, receiving the cremated remains of their loved one in the mail, or not being provided options for a service or help with insurance or the option to purchase death certificates, just to name a few.

The final disposition following a death is just that – final.  Families only have one opportunity to have it done right.  There are no do-overs.  So while consumers and funeral homes have been trained to buy and sell solely on price, the race to the bottom, to be the cheapest, has the potential to leave a family bereft and unhappy with how the final disposition of their loved one has been handled.

What can you do to ensure that your expectations are met?  When shopping for a funeral home, crematory, or cremation provider, look beyond the price.  Ask yourself, what am I giving up by going with the cheapest option?  Am I missing out on using a local business who hires locals and volunteers time and money to the community?  Am I missing out on knowledge, or quality, or service?  Am I using a funeral home that engages in shady or illegal practices or finds other ways to cut corners?  And if a funeral home is visibly cutting corners, how might they be cutting corners with my loved one when I am not in the room?  Am I missing out by using a funeral home or cremation provider that really cares and is going to take time with me and help me build a positive foundation for grief?  Am I using a middleman who is going to ship my loved one hours away to be cremated?

In other words, look beyond price and ask questions about what makes a funeral home or crematory or cremation provider different and ask questions about things that are important to you.

You can no longer expect a certain level of service when contracting a funeral or cremation – the race to the bottom, to be the cheapest, has created an environment in which funeral homes and cremation providers are doing whatever they can to cut costs, doing whatever they can to provide a consumer with the cheapest funeral or cremation out there, when maybe what the consumer really wants is for their loved one’s funeral or cremation done well and done right.