A heartbreaking story in Kentucky of a mom and her 12-year-old daughter killed in a car crash.

And buried together in the same casket.

It doesn’t make the tragedy easier to bear, but it provides just a tad bit of relief from the darkness.

It’s another reminder of how very much the way we say goodbye can impact our healing. And especially in extreme cases of sudden and young, when survivors’ lives are forever impacted.

Like the story of Aaron Collins, whose family did one act of random kindness that turned into a sensation of surprise $500 tips for pizza servers all across the country.

Or the story of Josh Edmonds, a 22-year-old in England who died in a accident while traveling in Vietnam. His family decided to have a home funeral, building the coffin themselves, holding their own day-long, self-designed ceremony, and not hiring professionals for any aspect except the cremation itself.

Crusader as I am for personal benefits of planning ahead for oneself… at the end of the day, it’s the living who benefit from whatever steps are taken to personalize and be involved with the funeral. Whatever touches can be made to bring peace to the survivors — this is what makes the forever difference.

 We generally assume that laws are behind the way things are done, when often it’s just convention. Two people in one casket? Legal. But you might not learn that if you don’t ask.

Know that there are more options, and you have more rights, for out-of-the-ordinary ways of handling funerals than you might imagine. Always ask for what you want. And if you’re not sure what you want but know what you don’t want, ask for alternatives.

Think about what would bring you more comfort when saying goodbye to someone you love. If you have a idea or a question, or just want to know if there’s more options, please please please just suggest or ask someone, be it a funeral director, crematory owner, clergy, whoever. And then get a second opinion if you’re given a no, because assumption of laws is more prevalent than expertise of laws. Especially in the end-of-life arena. Our culture has been built on not talking about death, so we don’t even know what’s legal or not — even some professionals.

Two people in one casket. Mother and daughter, robbed of life way too young, but arranging just a small bit of consolation for their survivors. We can’t underestimate the power of this stuff. We miss and mourn our loved ones the whole of our lives; it’s worth it to do everything in our power to being a measure of healing to how we say goodbye.

And that often means bucking the norm. Go for it.

Doing what’s always been done may be the path of least resistance, but doing what’s right for each of us is the path of peace.