PINELLAS COUNTY, FLORIDA — “Last Things First,” a workshop by Debra L. Cannell discussing the importance of planning your own funeral arrangements, is offered to area churches free of charge, and is accompanied by a donation to help participating churches extend their own work in their communities.
“I experienced the shock and loss of four deaths in my family within three months in 2010,” says Cannell, “and because none of those family members had planned to die when they did, none of them had made their final wishes known. I was faced not only with the weight of my grief, but also with partial responsibility for making arrangements without the guidance of my loved ones’ wishes. It was devastating.”
Worse, she says, her family was pressured into making financial choices about caskets, urns, and funeral services that took advantage of their vulnerability.
In 2012, says Cannell, “I decided to help people spare their own families the heartache that mine experienced. I realized that pre-need funeral plans made it possible for people to remove the burden of funeral planning and expense from their families. Such plans put control in the hands of the one person whose desires should be paramount, the one whose life would be celebrated. And these plans allowed someone to make sure that important last messages were preserved for their loved ones.”
Cannell is a licensed pre-need counselor with the nation’s oldest and largest cremation service provider. She says that she prefers to work with church congregations because she views her work as a ministry to people who want to spare their loved ones the added burden of planning a funeral at a time when they should be drawing comfort from their memories.
“Last Things First” workshops can run from 45 minutes to two hours, depending on her interactions with participants, and the number of questions they have on all aspects of pre-need planning.
She invites pastors or church outreach ministers to contact her at 727-254-0795 if they feel their congregations might benefit from the information she offers in her workshops.