Welcome, and thank you for coming to our “Your Life. Your Legacy” group discussion. I’m ___ , and I represent ____ and ____ . We’ve been a member of this community for ____ years. [Speaker to insert a personal story here as an opportunity to make a personal connection with the audience. Suggested statements – how long you have been in this industry, why you went into this field, why you love your job, what makes it all worth it, etc.] We’re honored to be part of the Dignity Memorial network, sponsor of (today’s/tonight’s) event. We’re the nation’s leading network of funeral, cemetery and cremation providers, and all of our establishments are operated by people who live, work and raise our families in your community. Some of the local providers you may be familiar with include _____, _____ and _____. (Today/Tonight), we’d like to share some information about a subject that we all think about from time to time but rarely discuss – planning ahead for funeral and cemetery arrangements. Choosing how you want to be remembered is very personal, and there are about as many options available as the number of guests we have with us. We feel strongly that no one should have to come through our doors unprepared and uninformed on the day they have lost a loved one. Unfortunately, many families face a death just that way – making decisions during a very difficult time, arguing over details and choices, and scrambling to gather money for the expenses. Ask yourself: when family and friends gather and reflect about you, what will they say about your life? How will you be remembered? What will be your legacy? Everyone has their own take on the subject of pre-planning. Listen to what these folks have to say. [Gesture toward the screen.] Let’s watch….
OK, has everyone finished their rankings? Well, here are the results of the University of Washington survey. (Read results of Survey, from top to bottom.) How many of you ranked the Death of a Spouse as your #1 most stressful life event? You see that the respondents in the original survey felt overwhelmingly that losing their spouse would be the most stressful event in their lives. The results also indicated that, other than divorce or marital separation, the next most stressful event is the death of a family member. How many of you also ranked the death of a family member near the top? The thing to think about here is, which of these six events are we certain to experience? Unfortunately, we will all eventually face the loss of a family member.
Let me ask you all a question. If you were faced with the death of a spouse or a family member, what would you and your family do? Would you know who to call for help? Do you know how your loved one would want to be remembered? How would your loss impact the one’s you love the most both emotionally and financially?
When you die, your loved ones will be overwhelmed by grief and emotion. In most cases, they will be at a funeral home or cemetery mulling over paperwork, pondering over questions they may not know the answers to and stressing over the details of your memorial – or wondering how they are going to pay for it all. By now, you have had a chance to meet your table host. A little later, they will be showing you a sensible way to start making some decisions as part of our time together (today/tonight). Most of us put a lot of effort into planning important life events such as weddings, college educations for our kids or retirement. Beyond that, most of us, year after year, will spend thousands of dollars for home, health and auto insurance premiums, but never discuss funeral and cemetery planning. Why? Doesn’t it make sense to plan for the inevitable?
Many of the families we speak with each year make their arrangements in advance. The reasons they give for doing so make good sense! [Give examples of each of the below, as you can.] Planning together avoids painful guesswork when death occurs suddenly and your mind is clouded with confusion and grief. Purchasing your funeral at today’s prices can also protect your family from inflation in the future. People prearrange to give themselves and the people they love peace of mind. Now, doesn’t that make sense? I can tell you from personal experience – the families of those who have planned and recorded their wishes are thankful they are able to carry out the expressed wishes of their loved ones. Knowing this helps the healing process to begin.
Getting started is simple. We’ve broken the process down into 4 steps – Reflect, Record, Support and Share.
The first step is to spend some time reflecting on what is important to you. How do you want to be remembered? When your family and friends share their memories of you, what are some of the things that they’ll say? How might your cemetery memorialization reflect your hobbies and interests? What are your family traditions and customs, and how night they influence the type of service that you would like to have for yourself or your loved one? What type of meaningful memories can we capture to help tell your story for future generations?
If you choose burial, will you be buried in the ground or entombed in a mausoleum crypt? Next to your spouse or maybe in a private family estate? Or do you prefer cremation? Options include cremation gardens and scattering areas, as well as burial or inurnment using a niche. The memorial takes place in a matter of days, but the place of final rest is a permanent remembrance of the life you lived. It also provides a place for family and friends to return where they can remember and reflect.
After you’ve made some decisions about your service, the next step is to Record your information. Our nationwide network serves nearly 300,000 families each year. To help the families we serve, we have created a Personal Planning Guide [Hold one up] that can help you record your wishes and make them known to your loved ones. Your table hosts will give each of you one of these and walk you through it in detail. Are there any Veterans in the audience? (Show of hands) First, I want to thank you for your service. We also have our Veterans Planning Guide, a valuable resource to help you with VA benefits and other facets of planning your military honors. [Hold one up]. There is a section in the Personal Planning Guide where you list your preferences and instructions. Filling it out will ensure your family knows your precise wishes. Once you’ve completed this section, we invite you to bring it to one of our funeral homes or cemeteries. We will make copies of information that pertains to your service and file it for safekeeping so that your family will have the information when they need it. [Share a personal story or example of how the Personal Planning Guide or Veterans Planning Guide has helped a family served.] Planning your final arrangements in advance is a gift to those you love. Don’t you owe it to them?
Step 3 is Support. By “Support”, we mean that we can work with you to provide options for covering the financial aspects of your arrangements. Like all costs, funeral and cemetery costs continue to increase over time. Coming up with cash quickly when a loved one dies can place a burden on loved ones and add to the stress of loss. By supporting your plan, you will lock in today’s prices, potentially saving your loved ones thousands of dollars. And planning doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot of money – or any money at all. Some choose to fund their entire arrangements through savings. Funding through specialized funeral insurance allows you to select an affordable monthly payment and receive coverage for the full amount of your plan, even if death takes place while you are still paying. [If applicable in your market] Registered unfunded plans guarantee the price of your arrangement for a full year. This gives you additional time to consider funding options while knowing that your plan is recorded and on file. There are many options to consider with the help of licensed and trained advisors. In the process, some consider their existing life insurance policies…. But keep in mind, the initial purpose of life insurance was likely to cover expenses left behind, as well as provide funds for the living. Life insurance proceeds also takes time to collect. Most funeral and cemetery providers require payment at the time that services are provided.
Step 4 is Share. Talking to your loved ones about funeral and cemetery planning can be difficult, but it’s important to discuss the plans you’ve made. Keep copies of your prearrangement documents in a safe but accessible place. Make sure others who may have assisted you in your planning, like family members or religious, legal or healthcare advisors, know where your documents are filed. [Share a testimonial about a family served who shared their plans with family after they were made, and minimized disagreements later.]
Can anyone here give me a good reason to put off making their final arrangements? There are so many advantages to planning now: [give personal examples of the items below, as you can.] Alleviates some of the stress of loss and grieving Eases the financial burden Provides you with peace of mind Lets your family and friends celebrate the life you lived!
Choosing to prearrange your funeral service is the right thing to do, and we hope you will consider choosing a Dignity Memorial provider. Some of the benefits that we offer the families we serve include [Give personal examples if possible]: Compassionate care Located in your community Guaranteed satisfaction Overall peace of mind, knowing that your wishes will be fulfilled and your family will not be burdened. National transferability if you relocate Bereavement travel arrangements for your friends and family Grief support through our online library and 24-Hour Compassion Helpline A variety of other programs to help your family after your loss
Benefits such as these, combined with our caring professionals and expertise in funerals, burials, cremations and veteran burial benefits make our funeral homes, cremation services and cemeteries a wise choice for you and your family. Our funeral and cemetery professionals are committed to helping those struggling with loss. We take our role seriously, and are fortunate to have JD Power, a leading marketing research organization, help us monitor our service to be of the highest quality. For us, there is no greater responsibility than helping families honor and celebrate their loved one’s life. We are proud to support the communities where we live, work and raise our families. Our community outreach programs help thousands of families, veterans and public servants each year. And we are here to help you secure peace of mind that comes from knowing you did the right thing for your family.
To help you take the first step, we developed our Caring Choices Planning form, which you are receiving now. The form has two parts, and the yellow, or bottom copy [show them], is for you to take home with you today. This will document important family decisions. By being with us here today, and selecting a provider, you are eligible for a 10% discount off the cost of your funeral, cremation or cemetery arrangements when they are made in advance. In our area, this would represents a $______ savings. Keep in mind, both you and your spouse are eligible for these savings, so the savings could amount to $__(multiply the savings X2)___. Start at the top of the page in the upper left corner. Please write today’s date, _____, and (“AM” for our morning session, or “PM” for our afternoon/evening session). This will help us get your Guide(s) to you as soon as possible. The gray shaded box at the top is very important. You can help your family greatly by making your choice of funeral or cemetery provider known. Earlier, we looked at what you can expect from a Dignity Memorial provider. You should have the confidence that whomever you select will take care of your family before, during and after their loss. Inside your folder, you will see a list of the local Dignity Memorial providers in the _________ area. [ Make sure the state required disclosures are included on the list.] Look the list over and select the provider closest to your home, or perhaps one that has served your family in the past. Place your selection on the blank line, which says just below it, “My Dignity Memorial Provider of Choice is:” This is important – if you record nothing else today, at least your family will know who to call on the worst day of their lives, rather than frantically searching the Yellow Pages or internet. This form goes on to allow you to make some simple funeral and cemetery planning decisions – by “reflecting”. We meet people who have been married for 40 or 50 years or more and have yet to ask each other what they would want. This form will also help you begin the step of “recording” your wishes. There are actually many more decisions to make than what is on this form, depending on your circumstances, but this is a very good start! Even if you have made some decisions already, this is an opportunity to update your preferences, especially after our discussion today. Our wishes can change as we go through our lives….we consider new and different options. So let’s review some of the choices that can be made. If you are not sure of any of these, write a question mark and one of our representatives can provide you with additional information later. Page 1 of 3
1. Death of a spouse2. Divorce3. Death of a family member4. Personal injury or illness5. Marriage6. Loss of a job
Permanent memorials provide:• A place for loved ones to reflect and heal• A lasting tribute to your life• A place for future generations to connect with their heritage