How to Arrange a Funeral

Simple guidelines to help you through the funeral planning process.

Dealing with the loss of a loved one is an incredibly challenging and emotional experience. It’s very possible that right now, you’re feeling overcome with grief, and the thought of arranging a funeral is overwhelming during this difficult time. You might not know where to even begin the process.

To assist, we’ve put together the following guidelines designed to help you navigate the funeral arrangement process with care and consideration.

Understanding Your Options:
There are many ways to conduct a funeral, so it’s wise to take the time to educate yourself about the different options available. From traditional burials and cremations to green burials and alternative ceremonies, understanding the choices you may encounter will help you to make informed decisions.

Determine Your Budget:
Funerals can be expensive, so having a budget in mind will help guide your decisions and prevent overspending.

It's essential to establish your budget before making any arrangements. Consider the costs associated with:

  • Funeral homes
  • Caskets
  • Urns
  • Burial plots
  • Cremation services
  • Memorial services

Shop Around for a Funeral Home:
It's essential to choose a funeral home that understands your needs and can provide personalized and compassionate care. Spend some time researching funeral homes in your local area, and if you can, even visit their facilities in advance.

It’s essential to compare:

  • Services
  • Prices
  • Facilities
  • Reputation

Preplan or At-Need Planning:
Preplanning a funeral means sparing loved ones from the burden of decision-making during a time of grief. If preplanning has not been done, you will want to discuss your needs and preferences with the funeral director during the ‘at-need’ planning stage. Consider things like burial or cremation, the type of service you’d like to arrange, the location, and any specific requests you or your family and friends might have.

Funeral Packages and Services:
The services and packages offered by funeral homes vary widely. Take time to review each package carefully to ensure it meets your needs and budget. You don't have to sign up for a predetermined package; customize the services based on your requirements rather than feeling obligated to do so.

Casket and Urn Selection:
In the case of a burial or cremation, you will have to choose a casket or urn, and there are usually a variety of options available at varying price points at funeral homes. To ensure you make an informed decision, ask to see catalogs or samples. And, if sustainability is important to you, consider eco-friendly alternatives.

Funeral Service Considerations:
If you can, consult with family members and friends to create a meaningful and respectful service. Do you want a traditional religious service? Is it a personalized celebration of life? Perhaps it’s a combination of both…

Consider the location, music, readings, speakers, and any cultural or religious customs you wish to incorporate.

Gathering Necessary Documents:
Funeral arrangements can involve a fair amount of paperwork. It’s important to gather necessary documents like the deceased's birth and death certificates, social security numbers, insurance policies, military service records (if applicable), and any prearrangement documents. Having these documents ready will expedite the process and assist the funeral home in delivering your needs.

Informing Family and Friends:
When comes time to notify family members, friends, and other individuals who need to know about the funeral arrangements, it’s important to provide clear details. Write down the date, time, location, and any special instructions for attendees before using the various communication channels such as phone calls, emails, social media, or local obituaries.

Aftercare and Grief Support:
Grief doesn't usually end with the funeral. You might wish to seek grief support groups, counseling services, or therapy options to help you and your family through the healing process. Many funeral homes offer aftercare programs to provide ongoing support and resources.

Arranging a funeral can be emotionally and financially challenging. By understanding your options, conducting thorough research, and making informed decisions, you can create a meaningful and respectful farewell for your loved one while considering your own needs and limitations. Remember, you don't have to navigate this process alone. Lean on your support system and the professionals in the funeral industry to guide you through this difficult time.