When you’re overcome with grief, every task seems overwhelming. To ease your strain, we’ve compiled this list to walk you through planning a funeral, step-by-step. We’ve also created a checklist that you can download for free to keep track of where you are in the process so you’ll be well prepared.
When you contact the legal representative of the deceased, you will learn whether he or she has a prearranged funeral plan. If a plan exists, it will give direction on how to proceed with funeral arrangements.
If the deceased didn’t have a Preneed Funeral insurance policy, select a funeral home, and schedule time with a funeral director. A funeral director helps families plan and carry out funeral services.
Disposition is the manner that human remains are handled, such as burial or cremation. You'll also need to decide whether other preparations of the deceased are needed, such as embalming or type of cremation.
Types of services include:
You may hold the service at a religious location, like a church, or you may select a place that held special meaning for the deceased.
Clergy are ordained with a religious organization or church and perform pastoral services, while an officiant has no religious ties but is able to lead funerals.
If burial was chosen, select a casket, which is a specially made box used to contain a deceased person’s body, and decide whether it will be open or closed at the funeral.
A burial container or vault is typically made of concrete and encloses a coffin to assist in preventing it from sinking.
Choose clothing, jewelry, and glasses for the deceased.
Discuss cosmetology and hairdressing for the deceased with the funeral director.
If cremation was chosen, select an urn or niche space and a cremation container.
Arrange for opening and closing of the grave at the cemetery.
Endowment care is the general maintenance of an individual’s gravesite in a cemetery.
This service is a funeral ceremony held at the gravesite at a cemetery.
Secure use of the cemetery chapel for committal prayers, which are said at the graveside committal service, if applicable.
Better known as a gravestone, a marker is placed over the grave to mark where the deceased was placed.
Choose a time and place for the visitation service, which is a time when the family of the deceased makes itself available to friends and extended family members who want to express their sympathy.
Provide information about deceased to the newspaper to have an obituary created. An obituary is an article that announces a person has died and offers detailed biographical information. (For a complete list of details to provide, download the What to do when someone dies checklist.")
Decide who will deliver the eulogy, which is a speech or piece of writing that praises the life of a deceased person.
Choose text that has special meaning to the deceased or tells a story about him or her.
It’s an opportunity to display personal possessions or photographs of the deceased to show others a glimpse of his or her life.
Decide on memorial video production, pictures, music, etc.
Select charitable contributions for memorials in memory of the deceased, if desired.
If you want to collect more than guests' signatures, you may also use memorial prayer cards, if desired.
Family or friends can assist in carrying the coffin at a funeral.
Schedule instrumentalists and vocalists and choose music.
Find a florist, select floral arrangements, and designate transportation to funeral service.
Photo credit: iStock
Search for grief support resources, such as in-person groups, online forums, and phone hotlines, available in your area.
Wellabe offers life and supplemental health insurance plans to help you prepare for good days and bad. We’ll always be here to empower you to be well — well prepared, well protected, and well loved.
Kelly Rayburn, AVP national sales and distribution at Wellabe, and Olga Villaverde, from Lifetime TV’s The Balancing Act, explain the importance of preplanning your funeral. While a difficult subject, advance planning can alleviate financial and emotional burdens for your family members.
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