Planning your own funeral

Planning your own funeral
By: CJ Cassidy
People plan ahead when it comes to graduations and weddings.
So why not funerals?
It's a trend funeral directors say is gaining in popularity.
Some people might think it's morbid. Others say it's simply a matter of being practical.
They say death is a part of life, whether you choose to be buried in a cemetery or cremated. Folks who pre-plan their funerals say they just want to be ready, ahead of time.
"I've written up just a few of my wishes in case anything should happen," Melissa Graham says.
When she dies, the 55-year-old knows what will happen next.
"I have music, I know the casket I want, a vault, I want my funeral service to be held at church," she says.
Graham's gone out of her way to plan her own funeral, even jotting down notes in her bible, specifying an outfit she'd like to be buried in.
"Hopefully, it will make it easier on ones left behind to carry it out," she says.
Graham says planning ahead now will leave her sons with less to deal with later. She knows how tough it can be, having handled her mother's final arrangements years ago.
"there's a lot to be done. A lot to think about, when you've had a sudden death if you're not prepared," she remembers.
That's why Graham's already been by the McMikle Funeral Home in Charleston, to talk with Director Mary Katherine Branum.
"You've got your more feminine caskets and you've got those you'd consider more masculine," Branum points out.
Besides showing customers the latest in caskets, Branum also advises them on the benefits of choosing vaults, and suggests keeping their final wishes close at hand.
"To deal with the fact that you're going to die someday requires a lot of inner strength and inner peace. That's the kind of people we see coming in," she says.
"It's not morbid to us. Death is inevitable and it's a thing you need to talk about," Graham adds.
Customers like Graham also believe they're beating the high cost of dying.
And Branum agrees.
"We are able to guarantee some of the cost that's involved, and the service charge.. the casket the vault," Branum points out.
She also says she's had people as young as forty come in to start planning for their final departure, and only a few of them are terminally ill.
On a side note, in case you're wondering, the average cost of a funeral these days runs about $6,000.