How to Plan Funeral and Memorial Services
Many people are reluctant to discuss funeral and memorial services. While it can be difficult to talk about death, this topic affects everyone. Whether planning your future funeral or making arrangements for a loved one, you should keep these things in mind.
Research Your Options
Funerals are complex, and many people don’t realize how much work they entail until they have to plan one themselves. That’s why it can be helpful to learn more about available options. While many people hold traditional funeral services, others choose to say goodbye to a loved one in other ways.
You may find it helpful to read about common funeral customs, such as the viewing of the deceased, funeral processions, and graveside services. Research modern customs as well, like memorial services and celebrations of life. Talk to friends and family members that have planned funerals before and ask them for advice.
As you research these topics, you may discover options you hadn’t considered, such as green funeral services. You may also discover traditions that resonate with you, like memorial scrapbooks or displays of personal belongings. Exploring different options and educating yourself about various options can help you plan a funeral that feels genuinely meaningful.
Consider Interment Options
Making funeral decisions is never easy, but deciding what will happen to a person’s final remains can be particularly difficult. Some people work with an estate lawyer and make decisions about internment before they pass away. If you’re planning the funeral and memorial services for a loved one, reach out to their attorney to see if their estate plan includes a Disposition of Final Remains document.
The two most common options for internment are burial and cremation. However, other options are available, such as a green burial or a crypt in a mausoleum. If you opt for a traditional burial, you’ll need to purchase a funeral plot and a coffin. The funeral home should be able to help you arrange this.
For cremation, you’ll need to choose a crematory. Some crematories may allow you to hold a memorial service for the deceased at their facilities or view the cremation. You’ll also need to decide what to do with the cremated remains. Some people choose to scatter their loved one’s ashes, while others store the ashes in a container, like an urn.
Find a Venue
Before you can plan the funeral and memorial services, you’ll need to determine where these services will be held. When choosing a location, you should consider the people likely to attend the service. Make sure the venue decide on is in a place that’s accessible for most guests. You may want to check in with close friends and family members to see if they have any location preferences.
It’s also crucial to estimate the number of guests likely to attend. Not all funeral homes have the same capacity, and you should ensure that your chosen venue can accommodate your anticipated number of guests comfortably. It can also be helpful to look at the venue’s parking lot or street parking near the venue to ensure there’s ample space for attendees.
When choosing a venue, you should confirm that the venue is reputable and well-established. If possible, you should read online reviews and testimonials for the funeral home. It would help if you also looked at the amenities offered by the venue. If you want to utilize specific amenities, like audio-visual equipment, make sure this is something that the venue provides.
You should also consider any religious or cultural requirements you have for the service. Are these requirements something that the venue will be able to accommodate? Focus on finding a trustworthy venue well-suited to the type of service you’re planning.
Plan the Service
One of the most important aspects of planning funeral and memorial services is planning the funerary service itself. Most facilities have a funeral director who will assist you with this process. You’ll need to decide on a service date and time and make choices about who you want to invite. These decisions should be made as soon as possible so that you’ll have time to invite people the the funeral.
How long will the service be? What type of music do you plan to play? Is there anything you’d like to have read during the service? These are the questions you’ll want to ask yourself during the planning process. You’ll also need to decide if you want to hold a religious or non-religious service.
If the prospect of putting together a service feels overwhelming, you may want to use a checklist or look at programs from other funeral services. The funeral director may be able to show you a sample program or provide additional advice. Talk to family members and get their input so that they feel included in the process.
Gather Information for the Obituary
It isn’t always possible for people to attend a loved one’s funeral and memorial services, but anyone can read an obituary. While an obituary is an effective way to acknowledge a loss and commemorate a loved one, it can be difficult to write, especially when grieving. Give yourself a break and collect the information you need for the obituary before you start writing.
In addition to the name and age of the deceased, an obituary should mention surviving family members as well as significant dates and events in the person’s life. It should include major milestones like military service, marriage, and education. You may also want to include stories from the deceased’s life to give the obituary a personal touch.
Once you’ve written the obituary, you’ll need to decide where it will be published. Some funeral homes have memorial pages where family members can post obituaries for their lost loved ones. These pages often allow people to leave comments and express their sympathies. An obituary can also be published in the newspaper.
Share the obituary with family and friends and encourage them to share stories about the deceased. When you share the obituary, let people know where and when the funeral or memorial service will be held. A thoughtful, well-written obituary can bring people together and help them process their loss.
Consider Burial Insurance
Funeral expenses usually aren’t included in a homeowners insurance policy, so you may want to obtain a burial insurance policy. Also known as funeral insurance policies, these policies provide death benefits to your surviving family members. They can help cover the cost of a burial and other expenses, such as costs related to funeral and memorial services.
There are several different types of burial insurance to consider. A simplified issue policy requires you to answer questions about your medical history, but a guaranteed issue policy can be obtained without providing medical information. Other options are also available, like pre-need insurance policies from funeral service providers.
Burial insurance isn’t always necessary, but obtaining this type of coverage can make it easier for your surviving family members to cover funeral expenses. Set aside time to discuss this topic with your loved ones and talk to them about your plans. Informing them of your coverage will make it easier for them to use these benefits after you’ve passed away.
Create an Estate Plan
If you’re comfortable planning your own funeral and memorial services, you’ll want to include these details in your estate plan. Estate planning involves working with lawyers to decide what you want to happen to your estate after you’re gone. Many estate plans include funeral planning documents.
Work with estate attorneys to create documents that outline your preferences. In addition to funeral plans, your estate plan should include a Last Will and Testament that specifies how you want your assets to be distributed. If you have dependents, you should also set up guardianship documents.
Without an estate plan, your assets could get stuck in probate, making it difficult for your surviving family members to pay for funeral expenses. A clear estate plan can minimize delays and make things simpler for your grieving loved ones. Even if you don’t have many assets, working with lawyers to put together an estate plan is worthwhile.
Update Your Will
Your preferences regarding the funeral and memorial services could change with time. Your assets may also change, so you should periodically update your will and estate plan once you’ve created it. Periodic updates can help prevent future problems.
Whether you’re made a commercial real estate purchase or welcomed a new member into your family, your estate plan should be as current as possible at the time of your death. Regular updates are also the best way to ensure that your preferences and needs are met. Include your family in this process and let them know when you’ve updated your will.
If your estate plan is out of date at the time of your death, your beneficiaries could be stuck resolving these issues with probate attorneys. Making sure all your estate plan documents are up to date can protect your loved ones from future stress. It’s wise to update your estate plan after major life changes, and you should also go over your plan with an attorney every few years.
Flowers are frequently used as decorations for funeral and memorial services and can also be used to express condolences for a loss. Ensure your friends and family know where they should send flower deliveries. Some people have flowers sent directly to the funeral home, while others prefer to have flowers shipped to their home.
You may also want to order specific arrangements for the funeral. A casket spray is a floral arrangement designed to cover or sit inside a casket. Standing sprays are standing floral arrangements typically displayed alongside a casket or at the entrance to a funeral service.
While you’re free to use any flower in arrangements, certain flowers are associated with funerals, sympathy, and loss. Lilies, roses, carnations, and chrysanthemums are all popular funeral flowers. These flowers are known for being long-lasting and are traditionally used as a symbol of remembrance.
When ordering flowers, you may also want to choose arrangements for your loved one’s gravesite. It’s common for graveside flowers to be placed in vases to keep them secure. Many people find it helpful to place flowers on a grave when saying goodbye to a loved one.
Planning funeral and memorial services can be a major undertaking, but you should still give yourself a chance to grieve your loved one. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to ask other family members for help. Many families find it helpful to divide up funeral-related tasks. That way, one person isn’t left making all the important decisions.
You may find it helpful to use digital planning tools to set reminders for important tasks. Using these tools can help you keep track of everything you need to do, and they can also reduce stress. When you’re using reminder tools, you won’t have to spend time worrying about what you have or haven’t forgotten.
While staying busy is okay, you should ensure you sleep, eat, and care for your basic needs. If you notice that you’re feeling tired or hungry, it’s okay to give yourself a break from planning so that you can take a nap or grab a snack. Set healthy boundaries with loved ones and make space for yourself.
After the funeral, you may find it helpful to join a support group. Being a part of a support group will allow you to share your feelings with others who have gone through a loss. You may also want to consider individual grief counseling. Expressing your feelings will help you to process your loss and say goodbye to your loved one.
It can be tough to think about your own death or make major plans when dealing with grief. These guidelines can help you stay focused when planning funeral and memorial services. While nothing can make funeral planning easy, these suggestions can make the burden easier to bear.