A Step by Step Guide

You and your belief system, desires, relationship to the deceased, and the wishes of the deceased determine the process of planning a funeral.  Unfortunately, costs are a factor for many individuals as well.  To help you through the process here is a step-by-step guide of how to plan a funeral.

Step 1:  Choose a Funeral Provider

The deceased may have made stipulations for this.  If not, you need to make some decisions.  If cost is a factor, you will want to call around and compare prices. Getting recommendations from family and friends is a good idea.

Step 2:  Make Decisions Regarding the Deceased’s Physical Remains

Again, your loved one may have previously made stipulations regarding this, or talked about it with close family or friends.  There are three typical options:

Option 1:  Traditional Burial:  Typically includes a viewing, a formal funeral service, renting a hearse, and burial or cremation of the body.

Option 2:  Direct Burial:  The body is not viewed before the funeral, but is laid in a simple casket with the option of holding a graveside memorial service.

Option 3:  Cremation: The body is cremated shortly after death and transferred to an urn.

Step 3:  Make Decisions Regarding the Service

There are three typical types of services:

Option 1:  Traditional service.  Many people, especially those with certain beliefs, prefer the traditional service. These are typically handled by a religious ‘officiate’ with a set order of service.

Option 2:  A more personalized service.  This type of service continues to become more prevalent over time.  These services do not follow a strict order of service, but rather focus on your loved one’s personality and interests.  Often referred to as a memorial service, this option focuses on remembering and honoring your loved one’s life, rather than focussing on their death.

Option 3:  Combination. This includes any type of combination between a traditional and personalized service.

Step 4:  Determine Specific Details of the Service

After deciding on the type of service, other decisions need to be made, especially for a personalized or combination service.  These details include:

  • Who will conduct the service;
  • Will there be any readings and if so, which ones and who will read them;
  • Who will give the eulogy;
  • Pallbearers – actual pallbearers for a traditional service and honorary ones for other types of services;
  • Music;
  • Flowers;
  • Guest book;
  • Personal touches such as video montage, picture(s) of the deceased, memorabilia, etc; and
  • Whether to have a reception following the service and what food or beverages will be served.

Your Time to Grieve and Remember

In the midst of the seeming chaos happening around you and the planning of the funeral, remember that this is your time to grieve, to remember the loved one you have to lost, and spend time with family and friends honoring your loved one’s memory.