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Family table topic this holiday season: end-of-life planning

It’s a morbid conversation, but one that needs to be had and probably sooner rather than later: end-of-life planning.

According to Fitzhenry-Wiefels advanced planning manager Ernesto Rosales, most people are not financially ready for it.

“80% of families who walk in here have no idea what things cost,” Rosales said. “$8,000, $10,000 funerals…[are] a surprise to most families that walk through our doors.”

Rosales said cost varies greatly depending on what you would like. Regardless, he says setting up a payment plan now is critical in the planning process to prevent additional stress on family members later.

“Let’s say we would have met this person 20 years ago, and we would have made an arrangement on the cost of 20 years ago. Well, there’s a significant difference in the cost. Not only are you going to pay less if you would have preplanned ahead of time, but you’re going to be also making payments on it over a short amount of time, which will also alleviate the cost,” Rosales said.

As you prepare for your family to come together during the upcoming holidays, Rosales says you may also need to prepare for a necessary conversation with relatives to discuss personal, family and religious traditions that you or they may want to see included in end-of-life planning.

It may also be an opportunity to talk about potential medical plans should an emergency happen; a discussion Dr. James Waddell has daily with his students in his course Perspectives on Death and Dying, offered at College of the Desert.

“When we are born, we are on the path of death, and we don’t know when it is,” Dr. Waddell said. He thinks it’s important to encourage students to confront their own mortality. He works with them to create an advanced medical directive, will and final arrangements. Dr. Waddell hopes his students leave class with a practical understanding of death, along with one important message: “Celebrate life and that death is a part of life, and in doing that, don’t leave things unsaid.”

If you are seeking advice, conversation, and increased knowledge regarding end-of-life planning, the Death Cafe may be for you. Idyllwild’s Death Cafe is held at Spirit Mountain Retreat on the fourth Tuesday of each month. You can register here or by calling (951) 659-2523. Topics of conversation include legal paperwork, grief, organ donation, burial ceremonies and more.

Another Death Cafe is also coming to La Quinta every last Wednesday of the month from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. at the Laguna De La Paz Clubhouse. You can register by calling 760-512-0142.

KESQ News Team

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