How To: Plan a Loved One’s Funeral

Planning a funeral of the person you loved will probably be the most draining experience of your life. Not only do you have to deal with the practicalities, but you are going through the deepest emotions possible at the same time. It helps during this period to have as much support as you can, so the first piece of advice we would offer is to not attempt to do it all yourself. Finding family members or friends that can help you with the different parts of the funeral you feel you are not able to deal with, will lighten the burden. Secondly, although it is difficult, but if you see the funeral as a celebration of the person’s life, it will make planning the funeral a tiny bit easier. For instance, what was their favourite music? Were they religious? Did they love a certain kind of flower? Are there any poems or readings that would sum their life up or that they particularly loved? Did humour play a big part of their lives? See the funeral as a way of encapsulating the loved one’s life so that everyone that knew them can say their good-byes properly and with respect. So how do you plan one? In this difficult situation, follow our tips and hopefully it will ease the task you have ahead and you can concentrate on remembering your loved one and dealing with your grief.

1. Have a meeting with other members of your family to discuss their wishes and see if the deceased left any instructions regarding the funeral, for instance payment, did they have a funeral plan set up? Talk about religious preferences, whether you want a church ceremony or not and if there is no plan for expenses, how much money the family is willing to spend.

2. The next step is to talk to religious leader or the funeral directors who have charge of the deceased, as you will need to arrange whether you want a burial or cremation. You will then have to choose the casket or cremation container, transportation to and from the service, and outstanding legal issues, and sort out the flowers and music.

3. Now you need to choose where you want the funeral will take place. Most often this is a church or temple, but it could also be at the crematorium. You could also decide on a more informal memorial service or even a green funeral.

4. Select someone to conduct the service for you. You can choose anyone, a religious leader, the crematorium official or even a family member.

5. If you decide that you want a formal funeral you will have to arrange who you want to be the pallbearers. Pallbearers can be special friends, members of the family or even business associates of the deceased. If you do not have enough people to fulfil this task the funeral home can usually provide them.

6. Time now to choose who will give the eulogy. This is an important task as it will be the culmination of the ceremony. Concentrate on what you want to say and make it an uplifting celebration of the deceased. Typically, it is the family who will choose a family member, religious leader or close friend to give the eulogy so contact the person and go over any feelings and thoughts you want to be said.

7. Music is also an important part of the ceremony and at this stage you may have already picked out something to include in the service. Choose a musical piece that has a special meaning for the family, to played during the time people walk into the service and as they leave.

8. Many people these days choose either flowers or donations to a certain charity. Make sure the people you have invited know what your wishes are, you can always opt to have flowers from the family only. A good way to let people know is in the obituary which is the next step.

9. Place an obituary in the local newspaper announcing the date, time and place of the funeral and any suggestions about flowers etc You can use a photograph to go with the notice.

10. Time to get back to the funeral home and have the order of service with the readings you have chosen and any music that will be played printed up. They will have companies that they use but you can discuss design with your immediate family as well as getting their professional advice.

11. It is a nice touch to have a guest book for guests to sign as they arrive, if one is not provided. Make sure you know which family member will get to keep it afterwards.

12. Lastly, get in touch with the funeral home to make sure they know of all the arrangements so they can co-ordinate times for transporting the coffin to the funeral, removal of the coffin to the burial site, and any last-minute outstanding details.

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