At an early age, I decided that funeral service was my calling. The mysteries that surrounded the care of the deceased and those that care for the dead were compelling to me. After attaining the necessary education, my life-long work began. What was to follow over the next 33 years has been a fulfilling profession that helps the living to mourn and move forward with hope and promise of the Resurrection. In the Catholic faith, we have the Sacraments to help fulfill these promises. We also have days of commemoration that bring special attention to those who have died – the feasts of saints and all faithful departed – All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day. We pray for those who have left us, honor them and remember them. In doing so, their memory is kept safe and the prayers help bring them to the fullness of heaven. We have these special liturgical days to help us commemorate our dead, yet we often find it awkward to talk about death in our own lives. Not having this difficult conversation can unnecessarily burden our families when we pass. Many families have had to deal with unexpected loss and find themselves not financially prepared. Maybe the funds were available. Maybe not. We plan in advance for the things we look forward to, such as that once-in-a-lifetime vacation, the kitchen remodel or sending the young ones to college. It takes responsibility and planning to set aside for those expenditures we know will happen. We know that one day we will not be here with our loved ones. Planning for when we’re gone requires as much responsibility as planning for the events that we look forward to. Taking responsibility for such an important decision shows that you are looking out for your family’s future. So many times, when unexpected death occurs, the survivors are left to scramble for the necessary funds for final arrangements. In some situations, a proper funeral may be jeopardized or not held because funds are not available. Yes, the cost of funerals and graves can be costly. Could the funds be available, even when the unexpected occurs? Of course. Having a life insurance or final expense plan can significantly lessen the financial burden placed on our families. When is a good time to talk to your spouse or children about the subject of dying? The best time to have that discussion is not when you need it – it is before it’s necessary. Even when death is unexpected, making final arrangements in advance, whether they be life insurance or final expense plans, provides peace of mind and creates fewer financial worries for loved ones during an already difficult time. Have the discussion that no one wants to have. Life may be smooth and anxiety-free now. That is the perfect time to prepare your family for when life does change.

Leonard Zieliński, Funeral Director (Chicago, IL)

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