Difficult decisions now easier

Phalen-Cross responding with end-of-life planning business

Having dealt with personal loss for the past years, Farragut resident Lorraine Phalen-Cross said she wants to help others make those difficult decisions.

Phalen-Cross, who has started Financial Transitions out of her home to help people with end-of-life planning, now is accepting new clients and will offer group classes in October.

“Due to the nature of my services, I have found people are most comfortable in their homes when it comes to discussing their ‘end of life’ goals and learning about all their disposition options,” she said. “There are many topics covered over the sessions, such as wills, advanced directives, life reviews, that it is more convenient for my clients to not have to carry around paperwork and be in a familiar place that is comforting.”

Phalen-Cross was a GameStop Store manager for 10 years then left retail go into the medical claims field before she decided to open her own business, which she said was inspired by her own experience with grief and making final plans.

“I have had several family members pass away over the past five to six years, and I was witness to how disconnected loved ones were from being able to fully grieve because they had a laundry list of things to do,” she said. “They were never allowed to stop and be present in the moment.

“Instead they had to plan a funeral, call relatives and family, worry about if what they chose was good enough, being pestered by well-intentioned friends and family when all they wanted to do was just be left to mourn.

“Some family members were mentally unable to make decisions while others felt forced to follow a predetermined expectation society has,” Phalen-Cross said. “I witnessed families ripped apart in disagreements — often irrevocably — and I knew there had to be a better way.

“I started researching for my own end-of-life planning after attending a Death Cafe in Nashville. I discovered a whole new world of options and a wonderful movement that is coined ‘death positive.’

“I befriended several morticians, [such as] Caleb Wilde and Melissa Unfred, who openly embrace removing the taboo of talking about our mortality and sought out training to teach this knowledge of the ‘death positive’ movement with everyone,” she said.

Phalen-Cross studied under Laura Saba, founder of Momdoulary Passages, LLC.

“I received my certification after successfully completing my board exam this past June,” she said. “I am well-versed in the legalities of the State of Tennessee, and I stay abreast of laws and regulations for any changes that may occur.

“People should plan their end of life so that they may truly live,” she added. “When you accept your mortality, something beautiful happens, and you see the world for it’s stunning glory.

“Every client I have worked with has said the same thing, planning has lifted a burden they didn’t even know was resting on their shoulders.”

Phalen-Cross offers many services with Final Transitions. Among those services is end-of-life planning, which usually takes three sessions and is for everyone — young, middle-aged, elderly, healthy and terminally ill.

She also offers death doula services, “which are generally for folks who are actively dying,” she said.

“I am present for the death vigil when the time draws near, creating space for the client and their family to be present with each other, being the advocate for both,” Phalen-Cross said. “Mourning doula services, which take place immediately after death has occurred, has me shifting into a support role for family, handling administrative duties that can include but not be limited to contacting the funeral home, friends and family; coordinating where out of town guests will stay; pet care; directing of all the behind-the-scenes chaos, etc, etc.”

Another Final Transitions service is providing a home funeral guide.

“Most people do not know that it is legal in the state of Tennessee to care for your own deceased,” she said. “This service is for families that want to take ownership of their loved one’s passing.

“Natural burials are usually connected with home funerals. I have great connections with Narrow Ridge Natural Burial Preserve, just 40 minutes outside of Knoxville. I also do Home Funerals for pets.

“Our pets are family, and more people are choosing to honor their furry family members with these loving dispositions,” Phalen-Cross said.

With information curation, she assists people having a hard time letting go of material things.

“All my services can intermingle with one another, and each clients’ needs are different,” Phalen-Cross added.

Her services are by appointment, and she offers free consultations “so people can get to know me and what I do before securing any services,” she said.

Phalen-Cross may be reached by calling 865-333-9200 or by e-mail at KnoxDeathDoula@