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My elderly mother has little interest in discussing details that might help us plan a meaningful funeral service. Any suggestions?

It’s always best if a family member can share their end-of-life and funeral preferences, but not everyone is comfortable with having those conversations. Perhaps they are simply unwilling to face their mortality or are unwilling to appear vulnerable in front of family members. Perhaps they have anxiety about death or questions about salvation. We can have assurance of our salvation in Jesus so we don’t face death with fear (Rom. 10:9-10).

If your family member is uncomfortable planning their own funeral, don’t force the issue. If they won’t share answers now, you could simply ask that they leave instructions for when the time comes. Enjoy today with your family and focus on delighting in the time you have together.

Even without direct instructions, you might yet indirectly discern choices your family member would value. A conversation about favorite hymns or Bible verses or paging through their Bible could reveal cherished passages. Tune in to worship practices that evoke a reaction or stories that make them laugh.

Remember, funerals are for the living. While funerals recall and honor the life of the deceased, they serve the family and community as they grieve together in light of the gospel. You may host a service or sing a hymn even if it is not what the deceased would have chosen. The funeral home can help your family honor a loved one in a variety of ways, including sharing photos, memory books, or videos.

So, while direct instruction is helpful, it’s not necessary. You can control only you, so preplanning your own funeral—from leaving a formal will to paying for the grave plot and casket to picking out favorite songs and a sermon text—is a gracious gift you can give your family. When hearts are heavy with grief, it is a blessing to not have to make so many decisions.

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