By Caroline Wright
Arranging a loved one’s funeral can be a complex and confusing process. Often, grieving family members don’t know where to begin.
“When there’s nothing planned, the family has to make all these difficult decisions within a few days,” says Sharmaine Mayo, regional location manager at the Valley of the Temples (VOT) Mortuary in Kaneohe. “Sometimes they don’t have the opportunity to mourn.”
In her long career at Valley of the Temples, Mayo has observed that funeral prearrangements almost always make things easier for grieving families. “They go through the [difficult time] in a much better state of mind,” Mayo says. “It doesn’t mean they aren’t mourning, but the decisions have been made, so it’s a lot easier on the living.”
Most of us haven’t thought much beyond a vague preference for cremation or burial, but planning ahead is one of the kindest things we can do for the loved ones we leave behind. Here are some tips for removing the guesswork for your own family:
Visit Valley of the Temples in person for a tour of options for memorials and final resting places. During your visit, pick up a free Pre-Planning Guide, which enables you to leave a clear vision of every aspect of your memorial for your loved ones. (It’s also available at valley-of-the-temples.com.) Simply complete the booklet and put it in a safe place where it’ll be accessible at the time of your passing.
If you’d like your final resting place to be on the mainland, in another country, or on a neighbor island, special arrangements must be made for transport. “We often help families of people who moved or retired here and want to be buried elsewhere. We coordinate everything,” says Dennis Boser, VOT’s area operations director, adding that VOT has staff available to serve all of the islands.
Are you a veteran? Many Americans believe – erroneously — that the Veterans’ Administration covers all veterans’ funeral-related expenses. Though it may vary slightly, the burial allowance for non-service-related deaths is generally only $300, or $2,000 for deaths connected to military service. VOT offers, at minimum, a 20-percent discount for all veterans. “No matter what, we serve every one, regardless of financial situation,” says Boser. Compassionate consideration is also extended to civilian families in need. “We don’t ever want anyone to walk away because of cost,” adds Mayo.
The ultimate kindness to your loved ones is a funeral that is preplanned and prepaid. “People tend to think funerals are expensive, but they’re really not, especially if you plan ahead,” says Boser. “We have cremation packages as low as $27/month.”
For a limited time, VOT is offering a 20-percent discount on pre-arranged funeral and cremation packages, plus 25 percent on cemetery property. (Offer expires Dec. 31, 2019. Some conditions apply; visit VOT for complete details.)
Serenely nestled against the magnificent foothills of the Koolaus, the 240-acre Valley of the Temples Memorial Park is home to the Byodo-In Temple, a replica of a 900-year-old Buddhist temple in Kyoto, Japan. Among Zen gardens, wild peacocks, a meditation pavilion, and a Shinji-ike reflection pond teeming with colorful Japanese koi, the park provides a serene final resting place.
VOT Mortuary provides a full range of on-site funeral, cremation, and memorialization options and services. VOT’s new 10,000 square-foot facility, which will open early next year, offers a chapel with seating for 225 inside and another 150 on its covered lanai; a full kitchen area; and a state-of-the-art A/V system, including live-streaming video. With a multicultural staff of 150, VOT serves families of every faith and heritage with compassion and aloha.