If you have just lost a loved one, that last thing you may want to do is to start planning their funeral. However, careful planning is necessary if you want to give your loved one the kind of funeral and burial service they deserve. Understanding all the steps involved in planning a funeral can help to make this process easier, and it will ensure you do not forget anything. Below is a list of 10 steps needed to plan a funeral or burial service.
1. Find a Funeral Home
The first step is to find a funeral home to work with. You will want to find a funeral home in the same location where you plan to hold the funeral or burial service. A quick online search should provide you with a list of funeral homes in your area, or you can ask for recommendations from your friends or family. Once you have selected a funeral home you want to work with, contact the funeral director to schedule a meeting to plan the service.
2. Know Your Options
It is important that you understand from the beginning that you have many different options when it comes to planning a funeral. There really is no set way that a funeral has to happen. You will be able to determine the type of disposition, where the services is held, what type of service is held, to have a private or open service, and many more options. When you meet with your funeral director, be sure to ask exactly what your different options are and what the costs are for each option.
3. Know Your Budget
Before you meet with the funeral director, you want to look over your finances and set a budget for the funeral. If your loved one had a life insurance policy, these funds can help cover the expenses of the funeral. If not, check with other family members to see who is willing to help with some of the expenses. When you are meeting with the funeral director, make sure they know your budget. This will help them ensure that you select options that are within the budget you have set.
4. Incorporate Your Loved One’s Wishes
If possible, it is always best to incorporate as many of your loved one’s wishes into the funeral, as possible. Check to see if they left any documents behind that described how they wanted their funeral to happen. Also, check with other family members and see if they ever discussed their wishes with them. If your loved one did not discuss any plans before they passed, do your best to plan a funeral you think they would have liked.
5. Decide on the Disposition
One of the first decisions the funeral director will ask you to make is if you want to have a standard funeral or cremation. This is often a very personal decision and one best decided only by the family. If known, it is always advisable to follow the wishes of your loved one. You may want to bear in mind that a standard funeral is usually substantially more expensive than cremation services.
6. Plan the Service
You will also need to plan the burial service or funeral. You want to determine where you are going to hold the memorial service, such as at the funeral home, in a place of worship, or at another location. You will need to decide who will speak at the funeral, what type of music you will play, and if you want to have a graveside service in addition to the memorial service. Your funeral director can help you through this process.
7. Choose the Funeral Products
When you meet the funeral director, they will help you select the various items needed for the funeral, such as the casket or urn, plaques, guest book, and type of stationary. You will also need to select the type of flowers, if any, that you want to be include in the funeral. While this does not necessarily need done prior to the funeral, you may also need to order a headstone to place at the cemetery that includes your loved one’s name.
8. Collect Personal Items
Many family members bring some of their loved one’s personal items to display at the funeral, such as pictures, awards, and memorabilia. Get together with some of your family members to go through old pictures and pick some of your favorite pictures to display at the funeral. Many funeral homes offer display boards for you to place your pictures on. In addition, some families make a PowerPoint presentation of pictures from their loved one’s life to show at the funeral
9. Take Care of Paperwork
Unfortunately, there is also a lot of paperwork that needs to be taken care of after your loved one’s death. Your funeral director should be able to help you register for a death certificate for your loved one. You will need this death certificate in order to submit a claim for any life insurance policy. In addition, you should contact your loved one’s attorney to see if there is a will and what the contents of that will are.
10. Notify Friends and Family
Finally, you need to notify friends and family members about the time and location of the service. You should be sure to have an obituary form completed and submitted to your local newspaper. Your funeral director may provide this service for you. Some families are also turning to various social media sites, such as Facebook, to notify people about the service.
Following the ten steps listed above will help you plan your loved one’s funeral. If this process is too stressful, be sure to reach out to other family members, friends or your clergyman for additional support. You should also feel free to ask the funeral director any additional question you may have about the funeral process. In the end, you will be happy you took the time to plan a service that honors your loved one’s life.
Updated: March 31, 2014