By Rachel Zeldin, Founder of Funerals360
As a widower, you’ve most certainly dealt with an enormous amount of stress and grief at the time of your partner’s passing. During that excruciating time, spouses often have the added burden of making plans for final wishes and funeral services of their loved one. This is an incredibly trying time for everyone who’s ever been there.
If you have already gone through the funeral-planning process for your loved one, you may have some ideas of your own final wishes, and you might have thought about ways to lessen the burden on your surviving family members when your time eventually comes.
Whether it’s buying family plots or discussing wishes with loved ones, pre-planning a funeral can have several advantages.
Remove Additional Stress For Yourself and Your Loved Ones
As you already know, loved ones are often caught in the midst of processing the grief and shock of a passing as they plan the end-of-life arrangements. This creates a stressful situation in an already emotional time.
By pre-planning a funeral or end-of-life ceremony, you can reduce the burden for your loved ones to plan a funeral later. Of course, mortality can be an uncomfortable subject to discuss with your family, however, planning ahead can take away some of the sting of “the unknown,” and can help you and your family prepare mentally and emotionally for what’s to come.
Make Informed, Thoughtful Decisions
Planning ahead helps you make strategic decisions about your end-of-life proceeding. You can identify your wants and needs, and even compare prices with a number of providers. By making funeral arrangements in advance, you spare your family the pressure of making fast decisions at a time of duress.
One of the most important considerations in planning a funeral is what will happen with the decedent’s remains – where they will be buried, scattered, entombed, or something else. A short period of time generally exists between a person’s death and his or her burial, which means, for example, surviving family members might be rushing to buy a plot without foresight or personally visiting the site. It’s in the best interest of an entire family to think out and make these important decisions before the time comes.
Consider Financial Responsibility for the Funeral
Pre-arranging a funeral can also allow you to remove a financial burden–and the stress that goes along with it–from your loved ones by making sure your affairs are in order when the time comes.
Start to plan ahead now for the costs involved in the funeral arrangements for your own wishes. First, you’ll need to map out each step of the process, so you can associate an approximate cost with each piece. Then, you can determine how the financial aspect will be handled. For example, options like funeral insurance and funeral trusts can help you secure your final wishes without passing the financial burden on to your surviving family.
Where to Start
Planning a funeral ahead of time is now easier than it has ever been. An online resource like Funerals360 can help you effectively plan for the future and compare the costs of services.
The Funerals360 website is full of resources to help you organize all of your wishes and plans. You can use the My Funeral Wishesfeature to outline your final wishes, and it’s easy to print and share electronically so you can have a conversation with your family and/or next of kin.
The interactive funeral planning checklist is an invaluable tool that can help ensure you have all your bases covered so nothing gets missed. It lets you know everything that needs to be done–from information needed to obtain death certificates to utilities and accounts that would need to be closed–and keeps your information organized in a central and shareable place.
By pre-planning or pre-arranging a funeral, you can effectively relieve the stress later and ensure the fulfillment of your final wishes. You’ll also have the benefit of comparing prices and ensuring the best outcome possible.
Life as a widower is full of enough stress and grief, and for many, even the thought of planning out arrangements for a funeral in advance can be too much to think about while already dealing with the loss of a spouse. However, the act of pre-planning your own funeral can provide a sense of relief in having one less thing to worry about – for you, and your family.
About the Author
Rachel Zeldin is the Founder of Funerals360, an online resource that helps families find local product and service providers for their funeral or memorial. Her inspiration came from the frustration she experienced trying to find reliable funeral planning information online when her uncle passed away unexpectedly without any prior arrangements in place. A passionate consumer advocate, Rachel is also the Founder of Funeral Consumer Alliance of Greater Philadelphia , a non-profit advocacy group that is a chapter of the Funeral Consumers Alliance.
The quality I admire most in writers is their passion for their work and their causes. We’re all Don Quixote fighting huge windmills, doing our bit to make the world a little better and inspire others. Herb Knoll is a great example, devoting much of his life to a cause few think about, even though it is too close to us. For some of us ‘he-men’, (ha ha!), it is our greatest fear. Herb Knoll offers help and hope.
There are 2.7 million widowers in America, 420,000 new widowers each year. One in five men will be widowed and 65% of widowed men will experience a life-threatening illness within twelve months. As Herb explains, widowers experience a wide variety of challenges: health problems, loss of faith, financial set-backs, problems with relationships, careers, raising children, dating, and more, “not to mention, grief.” It is eye-opening to realize that the suicide rate among widowers is 3-4 times higher than that of married men. It is to help these vulnerable men that Herb runs the Widowers Support Network, which provides free services to widowers, and has written The Widowers Journey. As Herb says, “America’s widowers need help. Unfortunately, few resources are available to them.”
We tend to think of men as strong and independent, the truth is we’re far more vulnerable than we appear. So, what inspired Herb to accept this mission?
Following the passing of my bride, Michelle, at age 52, from pancreatic cancer, in 2008, I needed help in dealing with my grief. Among those I sought assistance from was my local Barnes & Noble bookstore. When I asked a clerk what he had for a new widower, he typed “widower” into his computer’s search engine. He then looked up at me and said, “Mister, I don’t have a thing for you.”
NOT AN ACCEPTABLE ANSWER
Many would have accepted that response, but not Herb. He asked himself, “How could this be? Nothing?” As he explains it, “Having been published in the past, it occurred to me that someone needed to write a book for America’s widowers, and that person was me.” But would he stick with such a daunting challenge. “Within a year, I resigned my position as a senior bank executive and dedicated my life to serving America’s widowers.” And from a terrible life-changing event, a mission was born, but what gave him the strength and ‘stick-to-it-iveness’ to accomplish his dream?
Herb was born the ninth of eleven children in Buffalo, New York. Before he was able to graduate high school, he was activated in the army reserves and served as a Drill Sergeant from 1967 to 1973. His determination compelled him to later attend college courses at night, “and with the support of several wonderful superiors”, he was able to rise from the ‘bottom’, to the presidency of a bank in central Florida.
Herb has a history of overcoming hurdles. He says as a youth, he stuttered, yet became a professional speaker (my professional hobby,), who frequently addressed conventions, corporate meetings and university audiences.” His book, The Total Executive, (1986), became a three-part series produced by PBS affiliate WNED-TV entitled, Today’s Executive, and he was featured as the sole on-air personality speaking before a live audience. He was also the spokesman in Marketplace Bank television commercials when he served as its president. In 1991, he was inducted into the Buffalo/Niagara Sales & Marketing Executives International Hall of Fame. World-class designer Piero Di Mitri presented him with the first ever Di Mitri Executive Image Award, presented by supermodel/actress Jennifer O’Neill and multi-Grammy Award winner, Wynton Marsalis.” I think his greatest reward is knowing he has helped countless men who share his loss:
“My life’s work is more than the nine years I spent researching the world widowed men inherit, or the 102,000 words I wrote, or the 59,000 words I chose for my book. My calling is one of having developed a deep compassion for the men who suffer in the shadows of a society that has failed them. Whether you speak of our houses of worship, our Federal, State and local governments or the neighbors next door, widowed men have been left to their own resources.”
WORKING FOR CHANGE
Herb believes our view of men has to change. “They just don’t believe they have permission to grieve. The trauma imposed unto men will continue as long as we keep teaching our young male children that “Boys don’t cry.” The injustice imposed on widowed men will continue to manifest itself as long as we hold men to a different standard.”
THE WIDOWER’S JOURNEY
Once he recognized his calling, Herb wanted to write a practical book: “Widowed men aren’t interested in a lot of theory. They want actionable steps they can call upon to accelerate their recovery.” He believes men learn best from those who’ve experienced this loss. “With forty+ widowed men (three of them double widowers) volunteering their insights and best practices to the pages of The Widower’s Journey, widowers are sure to find answers to the questions that keep them up at night.” He also presents experts in the field: “The Widower’s Journey validates the words offered by its contributing widowers with contributions from fifteen subject matter experts from the fields of psychology, sociology, personal finance, law, religion and more.”
Herb invites you to learn more at WidowersSupportNetwork.com, his Facebook site, Widowers Support Network, and a second Facebook site exclusively for widowed men and those men with seriously ill spouses, Widowers Support Network – Members Only. His book, The Widower’s Journey is available on Amazon.com in paperback and digital formats. And he invites men in The Villages to attend his free monthly meetings with fellow widowers, September thru May, right here in The Villages. Contact him at herb@WidowersSupportNetwork.com or by calling 615.579.8136.
As a widower, Herb was able to rediscover love when he met Maria a few years after Michelle passed away. Maria and Herb were married in 2011. “I have been blessed in so many ways. While I enjoyed a remarkable life and career for which I am grateful, serving widowers and those who love them is by far the most rewarding thing I have ever done.”
At the beginning of this article I stated the thing I admire most about writers is their ‘passion’…I was wrong, it’s their ‘compassion’, how much they care. If you want to learn more about our compassionate Villager writers, please visit www.wlov.org for a directory of our authors and their books, as well as a list of local writing clubs that will help you express your passion in writing. If you know a middle or high school student that loves writing, tell them about the Florida Writers Association Youth program (www.floridayouthwriters.org) where compassionate authors help them achieve success.
Mark H. Newhouse authored the award-winning comical mysteries, Welcome to Monstrovia; The Case of the Disastrous Dragon; and the new, Case of the Crazy Chickenscratches. Founding president of Writers League of The Villages, and the Central Florida Book & Author Expo, December 8, 2018, at the Eisenhower Recreation Center, he invites you to share suggestions and questions by contacting him at www.aimhipress.com.
Reprinted with permission of Village Neighbors Magazine – August 2018
Attention Central Florida residents. Herb Knoll is scheduled to appear at Annunciation Catholic Church, in Altamonte Springs, Florida on Saturday, October 27, 2018, between the hours of 2-4 PM.
Join us when Herb presents his gender-neutral message of Hope, Healing & Inspiration featuring his 15 Grief Recovery Guidelines, derived from his nine years of research into the world of sorrow from grief. Those who have experienced a loss of a loved one have questions, and they’re looking for answers, preferably from someone who has personal experience in dealing with grief. Once widowed himself, Herb will present an in-depth exploration of the challenges facing America’s widows and widowers, their families, friends, colleagues, and society as a whole. Herb will share insights he learned which was published in his breakout book, The Widower’s Journey. Join us when Herb takes to the stage in his own fresh – at times humorous – yet compassionate style, and shares content that can be used to accelerate the healing of those who grieve.
Location: Annunciation Catholic Church Nazareth Center located at 1020 Montgomery Rd., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714. Attendees are asked to RSVP by October 24th, 2018 at the Church or by calling 407.869.8472
On this show, Dr. Gloria Horsley and Dr. Heidi Horsley interview Herb Knoll and Annah Elizabeth about Active Grieving: Writing Through Grief. Herb Knoll, the author of The Widower’s Journey, lost his wife, Michelle to cancer. He is the founder of the Widowers Support NEtwork, and advocate, and speaker on spouse loss. Annah Elizabeth, lost her son, following unexpected complications during delivery. She is the author of Digging for the Light, a contributor to Grief Diaries, and developer of The Five Facets Philosophy on Healing, a groundbreaking guide that helps us live our best lives.
After a successful performance during Bereavement Cruise 2018, Herb Knoll will again be joining the distinguished faculty that will comfort and assist both widowed men and women as well as those who have experienced a significant loss when he addresses those attending Bereavement Cruise 2019. Onboard Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of The Sea, participants will set sail on March 3-10, 2019 for a journey of Hope, Healing, and Health. To learn more see http://www.j3hhh.com. Book early for best pricing. And be sure to mention you learned about this opportunity from the Widowers Support Network. Hope to see you then.
Widowers belonging to the North Lake Presbyterian Church, Lady Lake, Florida heard Herb Knoll outline his fifteen steps in dealing with a widower’s grief on April 26, 2018. Commenting on the appearance, organizer Paul Greene stated, “The men who were present were helped in their struggle and were very moved by how targeted and well structured your (Herb’s) comments were.”
A Facebook page for Men only.
Sometimes – men need to share some “guy talk.” You know… sports, cars, tips about home repair, how to meet women, how to boil an egg, and of course, how to overcome grief. No topic is off limits. This need was the genesis of WSN creating, Widowers Support Network – Members Only, a Facebook page for widowed men and those men with seriously ill spouses.
Men who subscribe to this free service will find how the Widowers Support Network – Members Only will enable them to make new friends across America and beyond. Subscribing will also allow men to feel more open to sharing their thoughts and challenges, no matter what they are. Membership is like having a personal advisory board that is committed to assisting you during your grief journey.
Also eligible to apply are subject matter experts (sorry ladies but male experts only) who are willing to share their advice with members of Widowers Support Network – Members Only and do so free of charge. Experts from a wide variety of fields (law, medicine, personal finance, psychology, sociology, theology, auto mechanics, culinary arts, agriculture, horticulture, etc.) are encouraged to apply.
To join in on the fun, go to Widowers Support Network – Members Only on Facebook. Did I mention this service is open to men living anywhere in the world? Apply today.
The lessons and best practices featured in Herb Knoll’s breakout book, The Widower’s Journey were the topics of discussion during Channel 45 favorite show, Welcome Home with Barbara Beck. The program aired four times every other day for two weeks in January 2018.
Herb Knoll has joined the distinguished faculty that will comfort and assist widowed men and women of all ages during the 2018 Bereavement Cruise, February 12-17, 2018. What a great way to share one’s grief with those who grieve the significant loss of a loved one. To learn more, see http://www.j3hhh.com.