4 Planning Stages of Death

Have you ever heard the expression, “I know I’m going to die someday, I just don’t know when?” This statement captures the fact that with death there are time horizons you must consider. While others could break this down even further, there are really four fundamental time horizons for death.

  1. Death has occurred
    In the death care industry, this is known as “at need.” As the name suggests, you need to make arrangements for your deceased loved one immediately.

  2. Imminent Death
    This is when a person is going to pass away within hours or days, to maybe even a couple of weeks. In these cases, the person is unconscious, non-responsive, or only slightly responsive. They may no longer be able to eat or drink and are being feed by IV. They may be in a Hospice situation waiting for their final hours to pass. They may be in a hospital ICU and the doctors have him or her alive only via means of life support, but there is no hope of bringing them back. They may be in a home health situation where family members or health care workers are looking after them until their final breath.

    The body has reached a state of no return and it is in the process of physically shutting down. The person is at a point where friends and relatives are coming to say their final goodbyes.

  3. Consciously Dying
    This is a term that refers mostly to the critically ill. For instance, cancer patients, emphysema, heart failure and a host of other ailments would be considered consciously dying. Death in this case may be weeks or even months away. The body may be in either a slow or rapid decline where major organs will fail over time. In these cases, the person knows their days are numbered, but they do have some time to plan ahead.

    This is an important time to talk with family about your final arrangements for cremation or burial. What kind of service or memorialization do you prefer? Do you even want a service? Do you want to support a charity in lieu of flowers? And, this is also an important time to get your Last Will & Testament and documentation in order for before your passing.

  4. Pre-planning your final arrangements
    In this scenario, the expression used at the beginning of the article applies–“I know I’m going to die someday, I just don’t know when.” Increasingly, and for a variety of reasons, many people are choosing to preplan their final arrangements. Here are some of the most common reasons:
    1. I want to have a final say in my funeral.
    2. I don’t want to burden my family with planning my final arrangements.
    3. I don’t want my family to have to pay for my goodbye.
    4. I don’t want probate courts involved.

    More on this in our article titled “Reasons to preplan you final arrangements.”

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