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How to Plan a Funeral

How to Plan a Funeral of Memorial Service for Yourself or a Loved One.

Jasper L. Edwards


If you're reading this, obviously you want to know how to plan a funeral. You'll find a lot of information about how to plan a funeral online. The funeral process is not easy to arrange. You need to understand the steps involved to make the process a smooth one. In this article, we try to cover everything you need to know to enable you to decide take the right steps at the right time.

Planning a Funeral or Memorial Service

Deciding between a memorial and funeral service is really down to personal choice. Many factors will influence your decisions such as the most compelling - the personal wishes of the deceased, your relationship with them, affordability issues and your life experience. 

Many people think that a cemetery burial and funeral are the same thing. However, both these formats are different in context and a good understanding of both will helps to make appropriate decisions. A funeral performs two important functions. The first is what will happen with the remains of the deceased and the second is how to celebrate the memory and life of the deceased. 

Pick the Form of Disposition

While planning a memorial or funeral service, you will need to pick one or more of the following forms of the disposition:

Traditional (Burial): This process will involve the purchase of either mausoleum space, a burial vault, casket, crematory plot, grave marker, plaque, a headstone or monument. 

Green (Burial): This process delivers a "green" or natural burial. It "minimizes" the impact on the environment. 

Cremation: This process uses flame or heat to burn the body into ashes. These ashes or cremated remains can be scattered, buried below the ground, or placed in a columbarium. 

Alkaline Hydrolysis: This is a new type of final disposition and its availability is rare. The process uses low heat and pressure to reduce the body of the deceased to skeletal bones and inert liquids.

Envisioning a Meaningful Service 

During the last few decades, funeral services have become increasingly customized. Many people still prefer a traditional funeral. A personalized funeral is intended to reflect the unique lifestyle of the deceased and will give real tribute regardless of the forms of service.

Many families plan a funeral while focusing on the deceased's life or on the bodily remains - or a combination of both. A funeral or memorial service will say goodbye to the deceased in a meaningful way whilst capturing the unique qualities of the deceased. It will reflect his/her personal life, achievements, spiritual beliefs and a lot more besides.

Some families plan a funeral in a funeral home with religious readings and music; others prefer a non-religious service. Some also plan a private funeral and some a memorial for their loved ones.

Do You Want the Deceased Present?

You will have to make an important decision regarding the remains of the deceased. As stated earlier, cremation and burial are the only forms of the final disposition of the body. Both these neither preclude nor require the presence of the body.

For example, a traditional funeral service offers visitation/wake beforehand with the preserved body of the deceased in an open casket, even where you plan a cremation as the final disposition. Some families prefer also to cremate the unembalmed body of the deceased and then hold a memorial afterwards without or with the body remains. 

Flowers, Donations or Both? 

Usually people send flowers to express their condolences to the family of the deceased. For many decades, families have used the phrase “In lieu of flowers…”. which means the attendees can send flowers with or without donations. Therefore, you need to decide what you want from your attendees. They can donate to a charitable organization in the memory of the deceased or they can send flowers. 

Other Ways to Say "In Lieu of Flowers" 

 You can also use the following phrases as a way “in lieu of flowers”. 

•  Memorial contribution to…

•  Contribution to your favorite charity 

•  Send a memorial contribution to…

•  Send the memorial contribution to (Name of The Charity)

Things You Must Do Immediately Following a Loved-Ones Death

It is not easy to witness someone’s death, especially your closed ones. However, you can reduce stress significantly by preparing for his/her funeral. You need to complete a lot of tasks within months after death. First, you need to prepare for the few hours after the demise.

Contact Concerned Authorities 

Call the police when he/she died at home. Police involvement is required to pronounce the death legally by a medical examiner. When he/she dies while receiving the hospice care, contact the agency and contact the hospital, hospice, or nursing home when she/ she dies in a caregiving facility to pronounce the death. If you have partnered with any funeral home, contact them in advance. 

Consider Donating Organs 

If your loved one wished to donate her organs, then check her/ his will or driving license. The donated tissue needs to be collected soon after death. 

Contact A Funeral Home

If you and the deceased have not done yet, you should contact a funeral home. Families normally prefer to choose a local or known funeral that already served the family unless they do not have any non-traditional form of disposition. 

Inform Loved Ones 

In the meantime, you should notify the immediate family, relatives, friends, and others you find close to the deceased. Do not forget to notify the estranged family members and the employer of the deceased. You can also request the immediate family, relatives, and friends to spread the news to others. You can review the address books or phone contacts to make a list to ensure that you have informed everyone close to the deceased.

In addition, get important documents and arrange for dependent care such as pets. 

Make Your Wishes Known

If you want to plan your own funeral, you can inform your family in advance. You can offer a written paper or can save on your computer. A single verbal conversation with your family will also serve the purpose. If you have prearranged everything, then keep the papers with other important documents and let your family know about your decision to ensure easy and timely access.

Lastly, regardless if you're planning a funeral before or following a death has happened, you've got several basic rights under the FTC "Funeral Rule" that you should also review and comprehend. 

The FTC Funeral Rule and Selecting a Funeral Home [link[

Consider  Payment Options [link]

Costs will vary based upon the form of final disposition and the type of memorial or funeral ceremony you desire, but you ought to think about how you'll cover these services. There are many different payment options now available, for example! 

Personal savings 
Funding, frequently through your funeral supplier 
Credit cards 
Totten trust/Payable-on-Death (POD) account at a financial institution, which specifically sets aside capital for closing expenses that pass to a designated beneficiary and avoid probate. 

Additionally, it's possible to officially organize your services in advance with a provider and following that pay in advance, whether all at once or through installments. There are a variety of reasons why people enter into these"pre-need" arrangements, including eliminating the burden of making difficult decisions once death occurs; to prevent financial hardship on survivors, or to spend down their assets in order to qualify for certain federal benefits.

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