How to Plan a Funeral or Memorial Service

How to Plan a Funeral or Memorial Service

Funerals and memorial companies present a possibility for relations, buddies, and others who cared concerning the deceased to honor and keep in mind the one that died whereas providing consolation and help to these closest to them, and to one another.

Whether or not it is deliberate after dying happens (an “at-need” scenario) or beforehand (a “preneed” scenario), arranging a funeral or memorial service is usually an emotional, and generally exhausting, course of.

This text presents an outline of the steps it is best to comply with to plan a funeral or memorial service, whether or not for your self or for a liked one.

Peter Dazeley / Photographer’s Alternative / Getty Pictures

Planning a Service

Planning a funeral or memorial service is a extremely private course of. Your choices shall be formed by your life experiences, relationship to the deceased, what the deceased needed, what you need for your self after you die, what you possibly can afford, and myriad different elements.

Many individuals mistakenly assume {that a} funeral and cemetery burial are the identical factor, or that selecting cremation means you possibly can’t additionally maintain a funeral service with the deceased’s embalmed physique current beforehand.

Due to this fact, it is necessary to grasp {that a} “funeral” as we typically consider it really entails two necessary capabilities:

  • What to do with the deceased’s bodily stays (the type of last disposition)
  • Methods to honor, keep in mind, even have fun the life and reminiscence of the one that died (the type of the funeral or memorial service)

Select the Type of Disposition

When planning a funeral or memorial service, it would show simpler to first choose the type of last physique disposition you need.

Conventional Burial

Whether or not under floor in a cemetery plot/gravesite, or above floor in a mausoleum or sepulcher (generally known as “entombment”), conventional burial typically entails buying:

  • A casket
  • A cemetery plot or mausoleum area
  • A grave liner or burial vault
  • A gravestone, grave marker, monument or plaque

Pure or “Inexperienced” Burial

A rising variety of traditional-burial cemeteries and websites particularly created for this type of last disposition now supply pure or “inexperienced burial” alternatives.

Basically, individuals who choose pure burial search to reduce their influence on the atmosphere after dying.


The cremation course of makes use of warmth/flame to cut back a physique to bone fragments or “ashes.”

These cremated stays supply survivors varied choices afterward, equivalent to protecting or scattering the stays, burial under floor in an urn, putting the inurned cremated stays in a columbarium, and so on.

Alkaline Hydrolysis

This type of last disposition is comparatively new and may not but be out there in your space.

The alkaline hydrolysis course of, generally known as “flameless cremation,” makes use of strain and comparatively low warmth (versus cremation) to cut back a physique to an inert liquid and skeletal bone fragments.

Parts of a Service

Up to now few a long time, funeral companies have grown more and more personalised, though many individuals nonetheless consider the “conventional funeral” because the norm.

A personalised funeral or memorial service displays the distinctive life and character of the deceased particular person, as considered by the deceased and/or his or her surviving family members, and whatever the kind such companies take.

Many households lately favor to plan a funeral or memorial service targeted on remembering the deceased as she or he was in life, a service targeted on the deceased’s physique/stays, or a mixture of each.

Due to this fact, it is best to think about and plan the funeral or memorial service that you simply and/or the one that died contemplate essentially the most significant approach to say goodbye—one thing that:

  • Captures the distinctive qualities of the deceased
  • Displays their and/or your non secular or non secular beliefs
  • Offers a memorable, significant alternative for mourners to precise their grief whereas comforting and supporting one another

Some households favor funeral companies in a spot of worship or a funeral house chapel, incorporating non secular readings and music. Others favor secular (non-religious) companies in a public or non-public location. Nonetheless others go for a non-public funeral and interment for quick household, then a memorial service later for others.

To personalize the service, you also needs to contemplate the next, as relevant:

  • Officiant(s) who will lead the service, equivalent to a clergy member, celebrant, funeral director, and so on.
  • Readings, equivalent to poems, prayers, non secular or secular passages, and so on., and who will ship them
  • Eulogist(s), who will write and ship a eulogy concerning the deceased
  • Music, whether or not up to date, non secular hymns, or each, and whether or not they’re dwell or recorded
  • Meals/drinks, whether or not professionally catered, supplied “potluck” by attendees, or organized by the funeral house or supplier
  • Pallbearers, if the ultimate disposition entails a graveside service
  • Webcasting the funeral, or making a recording of the service out there later
  • Private touches, equivalent to a reminiscence board, memorial video, private memorabilia, and so on.

Having the Physique Current

One other necessary resolution you will have to make considerations the bodily presence of the deceased. As famous above, burial and cremation are merely types of last physique disposition, and neither requires nor precludes funeral companies with the physique current.

For instance, you possibly can prepare a “conventional” funeral service that features a wake/visitation beforehand with the embalmed physique in an open casket even for those who need cremation of the deceased because the type of last disposition.

Likewise, some households select to cremate the unembalmed deceased and not using a service beforehand however maintain a memorial service afterward with or with out the inurned stays current.

Flowers, Donations, or Each?

Historically, folks ship funeral flowers or sympathy flowers as an indication of help and to precise their condolences.

For the previous a number of a long time, nonetheless, households have additionally used the phrase “In lieu of flowers…” in dying notices and obituaries to recommend their choice for funeral memorial donations as an alternative of, or along with, flowers.

Thus, it is best to determine if attendees could ship flowers, for those who’d reasonably they donate to a selected charitable group or trigger in reminiscence of the deceased, or if both type of expression is suitable.

Whether or not requested within the dying discover or obituary, social media or by phrase of mouth, it is best to clearly talk how/the place to ship donations. Examples of worthy causes or organizations you may choose embrace:

  • The hospice that cared for your beloved
  • A trigger looking for to discover a remedy for the sickness or illness that triggered your beloved’s dying, equivalent to most cancers, coronary heart illness, Alzheimer’s, and so on.
  • A charity, group or enterprise representing a trigger or goal reflecting a private ardour or perception of the deceased, or one which she or he supported

Contact and Analysis Service Supplier(s)

The following step is to analysis your service and supplier choices.

If dying has already occurred, you possibly can contact an area funeral house, cremation supplier, or cemetery. Your chosen supplier will help you:

  • Prepare the funeral, memorial, and/or interment service you need
  • Present details about varied services
  • Clarify the prices concerned for merchandise, companies, and different skilled charges
  • Make it easier to create an obituary or dying discover
  • Get hold of official dying certificates

You also needs to focus on together with your supplier any non secular or cultural preferences that you desire to honored.

For instance, for those who need a secular funeral or memorial service, you may wish to have a funeral celebrant, which some funeral houses now have on workers. Many funeral houses even have expertise serving households from various cultural backgrounds with their very own funeral rites and customs.

When you’re planning a funeral or memorial service prematurely, it is best to analysis your product and repair choices of varied funeral houses, cremation suppliers, and/or cemeteries in your space.

Most companies present handy product and repair data, costs, and even put up their normal value listing on-line. This makes it simpler to check costs and repair/merchandise choices out there regionally.

The Federal Commerce Fee requires suppliers to provide clients correct and itemized value data and disclosures about different companies, whether or not the client asks in individual or over the telephone.

Lastly, whether or not you’re planning a funeral earlier than or after a dying has occurred, you could have a number of fundamental rights below the FTC “Funeral Rule” that you simply also needs to evaluate and perceive.

Think about Your Cost Choices

The prices will range relying upon the type of last disposition and the kind of funeral or memorial service you need however it is best to contemplate how you’ll pay for these companies. There are numerous cost choices out there immediately, equivalent to:

  • Private financial savings
  • Insurance coverage
  • Financing, usually by way of your funeral supplier
  • Bank cards
  • Totten belief/Payable-on-Loss of life (POD) account at a monetary establishment, which particularly units apart funds for last bills that cross to a chosen beneficiary and keep away from probate

As well as, it’s potential to formally prepare your companies prematurely with a supplier after which pay prematurely, whether or not abruptly or by way of installments.

Individuals enter into these “preneed” preparations for a lot of causes, together with eradicating the burden of constructing tough choices as soon as dying happens, to stop monetary hardship on survivors, or to spend down their belongings with a purpose to qualify for sure federal advantages.

Make Your Needs Identified

Lastly, for those who’re planning your personal funeral or memorial service prematurely, it is best to inform your loved ones about your end-of-life needs to ensure they know what you need.

Ideally, it is best to present a written document reasonably than relying upon a member of the family’s reminiscence or protecting your plans in your laptop, however even a single verbal dialog together with your partner or companion, little one, sibling, or father or mother can show higher than nothing.

When you’ve formally prearranged your funeral or memorial service with a supplier, then it is best to maintain these paperwork together with your different necessary papers at house—and let your family members know of their existence and their location—so that they have well timed entry to them when obligatory.

When you maintain your authorized paperwork in a secure, or offsite in a safety-deposit field, then it is best to be sure that your beloved(s) additionally know the secure’s mixture or can entry the important thing.

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