We plan and direct almost every event in our lives, yet typically ignore the culminating event - our dying and the preparation for it. By planning in advance, and discussing with loved ones what is truly wanted after death, we make our religious, cultural and emotional wishes known in a thoughtful manner. This creates peace of mind, and may ease the trauma for others deciding potentially expensive issues at a time of emotional crises.
In Washington State you have the authority under RCW 68.50.160 to determine the disposition of your own remains, and HMW encourages all adults to answer the fundamental question of whether or not they want their body cremated, buried (interred) or donated to medical science. The form in the sheet protector controls being cremated or buried.
• Complete and sign the Body Disposition Authorization Prior to Death form in the sheet protector at the end of this section. If choosing cremation, file the original with the crematory or funeral home of your choice, and make copies for yourself, spouse and/or children.
Your survivors should have the information necessary for a Death Certificate, which must be submitted within 72 hours of death. The Vital Information for a Death Certificate on the initial pages, once answered, may easily be removed from the HMW guidebook and provided to the crematory, funeral home or person completing the Death Certificate. It is possible for next of kin, with a physician’s determination of death, to obtain a Death Certificate on their own.
Pre-Planning for your Funeral and/or Memorial Service:
It will be important for family and friends to add their own touches to create a meaningful and appropriate ceremony celebrating your life, but your input in advance will likely make many decisions easier. Oftentimes with the emotional issues surrounding death, it is difficult to be wise consumers, to check different options or to weigh the value of services versus cost. Giving thought to your different options in advance, checking prices and comparing the services of various crematories and/or funeral homes can provide your loved ones with very helpful information. At the time of printing, prices in western Washington begin at $450 for cremation and $950 for body burial, depending on crematory and/or funeral home chosen, services and choice of containers. Charges for plots and services for churches, halls and/or cemeteries are separate, and vary considerably between public, private or religious facilities.
In 2008, my husband became critically ill following surgeries. After 4 long unresponsive months on a ventilator, I was faced with the very real and difficult decision of whether to continue life support. Luckily for me, having been active in Honor My Wishes for several years, we had talked about end of life issues. Several years earlier we both had our Advance Directives filled out, signed and witnessed. Quality of life, not quantity, was important to him. Though the decision was difficult and painful, discontinuing life support was the right decision.
Nancy (McCormack) Wik