'Future planning' a growing trend in funeral services

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INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) - We plan for all sorts of life events from having a baby to getting married. But experts say few people are talking about the one thing that will happen to everyone: dying.

It's hard to talk about it, but "future planning" for death is a growing trend. I spoke with a local leader in the industry for the past 136 years about how you can control your final moments.

The Community Life Center at Flanner Buchanan is the only business in the country that works with families from the beginning of life, through it and to the end.

It may sound morbid, but it gives families peace of mind.

"You're making the choices on your own," explained D.W. Kelley, a family service advisor at Flanner Buchanan. "You're determining what you want to spend or how much you don't want to spend; you're not leaving that burden for someone else to have to take care of."

And the cost is a major consideration. One "future plan" lets you put in place your ideas from the funeral service to the casket and cemetery selection - or cremation - to become a roadmap for your family.

Pay $20 a month, and they'll lock in the price so it doesn't inflate even if your final services aren't for another 20-30 years.

"It allows you to put your own wishes down on paper so, whereas people may think or assume that they know what you want, they can see it on paper," Kelley said.

"What if people change their minds along the way?" he added. "It can be changed and we tell people the benefit of doing this in advance is that any of it can be changed. So we have a lot of folks that have made plans years ago more traditional plans and now they've decided to do something a little different."

A place that is traditionally connected to pain becomes a refuge.

"I didn't know this gentleman, I didn't know their family. But they did a Sunday afternoon service, they had a bar, they had food, he was present. They played his music and by the end of the two- or three hour time frame, you got to know who he was."

They believe giving yourselves and your families the gift of life in death not only eases the financial burden, but gives you more time to celebrate life instead of mourning it.

"I think there's a lot of closure in that, to be able to celebrate someone's life as they lived it," Kelley said.

The Community Life Center opened in 2001 as a gift to east side residents.

Flanner Buchanan writes over 1,000 funeral pre-arrangements every year, and more than one-third of their funerals are now pre-arranged.

Get more on smart funeral planning.