I rode to a funeral with a friend a few years ago. The funeral was for the mother of her colleague. “We are not going to send flowers,” she said. “We are going to give her a restaurant gift card so that she and her sisters can go out to eat later.” I thought that was the best idea I had ever heard.

The days after a funeral are busy gathering death certificates, any burial /insurance policies, applying for social security benefits, pensions, or closing those accounts. Clothes and personal items have to be dealt with, wills probated, and car titles taken care of. Who has time to cook? No one.

Live flowers are pretty, but they are the biggest waste ever. It would be better to have a gift card oasis on top of the casket where people could add a gift card instead of having a “family spray.” My family spent $500 on the flowers for Mother’s casket and it went right out into the mud and rain.

My mother was not one to be wasteful. We get so caught up in the tradition of burials that we are everything but pragmatic.

My son said that the funeral home there handled his relative’s death like predators. The cheapest cremation was $5,000, and they kept pushing the family until they got it to $7,000. The video was tacky and didn’t include all the pictures they had sent.

My sister works at a funeral home and their motto is, “sell them while they are grieving.” And they do. Funerals and funeral homes are necessary, but extravagant funerals and flowers are not. Give restaurant gift cards instead of flowers. Buy your own urn at Hobby Lobby; one does not have to use the funeral home’s urn.

Prepaying your own funeral is not a bad idea either. It takes the burden off your living loved ones, and YOU can choose the details.

Planning to be pragmatic at a time when it’s easy not to be will save you money that you can live on later.

Joy Willow