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For those with a terminal diagnosis, control is often in short supply. The feelings of powerlessness can be overwhelming and debilitating, so it is important to seize opportunities of control where you can. Planning a funeral is one of those areas, and it offers surprising comfort and empowerment says White Lady Funerals Sutherland Location Manager, Sheridan Walder.
"I have looked after numerous people who have planned their own funeral," Sheridan says. "It is a deeply personal, often very emotional process, but one which brings a sense of empowerment. "It allows a person to take control during a time where their circumstances have taken control over so many aspects of their life."
Families also benefit from the process.
"For family and friends, it is very comforting to know that the funeral is exactly what the person wanted. Every detail is a reflection of the person and their wishes. It is like a very personalised final goodbye, and it is very meaningful and often very comforting."
A person planning their own funeral also eliminates much of the angst, anxiety and tension that can come with planning a funeral for a loved one.
"It is obviously a very difficult time for the family, and it is a great comfort knowing their wishes have been carried out."
Sheridan says every funeral, whether it is pre-planned or not, is a deeply personal event and there are many ways in which a person's individuality and personality can be expressed.
"Our clients can work with our graphic designers to design their casket to their exact specifications," Sheridan says. "They may choose a collage of pictures, images of their favourite band, their own artwork… the options are limitless.
"Sometimes a person will record their own eulogy, and choose every detail, from the flowers to the order of service. "It can be very emotional at times, but that is to be expected. My job is to support them and help ensure their wishes are carried out."
Sheridan says the relationships she develops with her clients are ones which she cherishes.
"It is a great honour and privilege to be part of this process," she says. "I come into people's lives at such an important time, and it is incredibly satisfying to be able to help ensure a person's final wishes are carried out, in the way they wanted."
She says choosing a funeral provider with whom you have a good rapport is essential.
"A lot of what I do is about listening," Sheridan says. "Listening and really understanding what a person wants and needs, then making sure that is carried out.
"I would say that is the most important thing to look for when planning a funeral - whether it is for yourself or a loved one - find someone who you can build a good relationship with, someone who will listen and help honour your wishes."
For more information on pre-planning a funeral, go to www.whiteladyfunerals.com.au