DOES YOUR FAMILY KNOW . . . that they are loved, forgiven and blessed with prayer? Are there letters tucked away among your important papers that you have carefully written to your special people? We do have the power to bless people. There are stories that only we know. There are words that only we can speak into the lives of those we love. Relationships can be so very difficult, and then suddenly it is too late to make amends. How wonderful for someone estranged to read a letter of forgiveness and be absolved. Words are so very powerful. Let’s put them on paper, so that we may absolve and/or bless those we love. Or make a video . . . whatever works for you and yours.

DOES YOUR FAMILY KNOW . . . you will eventually be with the Lord and what that means? In our first video, Home Free, Libby Boatwright shares how many of the young adults she’s encountered in bereavement counseling lack a sense of eternity. Consequently, physical death hits them especially hard. Often, they are very open to the gospel following the loss of someone they love deeply. Perhaps, you have dear ones who do not yet know Jesus? Why not prepare something—a letter, a journal, even purchase a book—for them now that will answer their questions later? One friend of ours prepared a video. What a delight to see his smiling face one more time on the big screen and watch him explain his faith to anyone present who might not yet know the Lord Jesus. It was powerful and comforting to see and hear his faith expressed so exuberantly.

DOES YOUR FAMILY KNOW . . . who is the selected guardian of your minor children? Losing one’s parents during childhood is a monumental blow. Having parented three adopted children, we’ve witnessed this devastating loss.  Creating a sense of continuity by openly discussing your fall back plan is both wise and  loving. In the Home Free video, Dave Williams shares how he and his wife included their children in their selection process. Not only did their children have an ongoing relationship with their proposed guardians, they had a say.

DOES YOUR FAMILY KNOW . . . which funeral home to call? Making final arrangements with a funeral home is something most folks resist strongly. Whether you die in an accident, in a hospital, or at home—your people will be immediately asked which funeral home to call. At such an emotional time, rational research and decision-making is unlikely. You can spare them this one crisis by doing the research yourself now. My husband and I realized that completing this task together was a gift we could give each other. Together we investigated local funeral homes, compared, and made our final decisions on a sunny day one February. It is very satisfying to know neither one of us will need to do this while grieving.

If you are a veteran, “Burial benefits available include a grave site in any of our 141 national cemeteries with available space, opening and closing of the grave, perpetual care, a Government headstone or markera burial flag, and a Presidential Memorial Certificate, at no cost to the family.” While Veterans do not need to purchase a burial plot at a national cemetery, they will need the services of a funeral home.  Find one that works closely with the national cemeteries and furnish them a copy of your DD 214 form.

Final arrangements encompass a variety of options as well as a wide range of pricing.  While it is possible to prepay the funeral home’s services, it is not necessary. Do not let the expense keep you from investigating your options. One major decision is whether you wish to be buried in a casket or cremated? Allowing yourself some time to investigate and make your decisions now is a way you can save your family much anguish later.

DOES YOUR FAMILY KNOW . . . That is the crucial question. You may have already made all of these important decisions. If your family does not know your plans and know them well—there will still be confusion, crisis, and conflict. I urge you to hold annual family meetings OR conference calls and discuss these hard things. Consider it somewhat like a fire drill. Whether you actually experience an emergency or a slow decline,  your people will know your exit plan and wishes, who’s in charge of what, as well as their own job and how they may best support you and your people. There are hard things in this life we cannot alleviate, but this is one area in which knowing the plan makes all the difference—it creates a support team.