Free Wills to Print

How to Plan a Funeral

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

Jasper L. Edwards


Funerals and memorial services offer an opportunity for members of the family, buddies and others who knew and loved the deceased, to gather together to honor and remember the individual who died. while providing comfort and solace to those closest to her or him, and their family. Whether planned, following death, or beforehand, organizing a funeral or memorial service often constitutes an emotional, and often exhausting process. This article provides an overview of the steps to be followed to plan a funeral or memorial service, whether for yourself or your loved one.

Planning a Funeral or Memorial Service. 

Planning a funeral or memorial service is an extremely personal process, and your decisions will be shaped by the following circumstances: your own life experience; your relationship to the deceased; what he or she wanted after their passing, or what you plan for your own arrangements after you die, and your available budget, along with a number of other factors. There are various reasons to plan a funeral in advance, but here are the decisions you'll normally have to make. Many people mistakenly believe that funerals and cemetery burials are one and the same, or that opting for cremation means that you cannot also hold a funeral service with the body of the deceased present beforehand. 

Consequently, it's essential to appreciate that a funeral as we understand it actually involves two important functions:

1. What exactly to with the deceased's physical remains.

2. The way to honor, remember and even celebrate the life and memory of the individual who died.

Pick the Form of Disposition.

When planning a funeral or memorial service, it may be easier to first select the form of final body disposition you prefer:

Burial: (Most popular) Whether below ground in a graveyard plot/grave-site, or above the ground in a mausoleum or seplucher, traditional burial generally entails buying a coffin, a cemetery plot or a mausoleum area, or burial vaultage, with a headstone, marker, plaque or monument. 

Burial: (Eco-friendly) An ever larger number of designated burial sites, specially made for this form of disposition, now offer you natural or green burial opportunities. Generally, those who select natural burial seek to decrease their impact or footprint on the environment following death.

Cremation: The cremation process uses flame to disintegrate the body to fragments of bone or ashes. The remains provide the surviving relatives various options afterwards, like maintaining or scattering the remains; burial below ground in an urn; setting the unurned cremated remains in Columbarium, etc.

Alkaline hydrolysis: this form of final disposal is relatively new and may not yet be available on your city or district. However, the alkaline hydrolysis process uses pressure and comparatively low heat to reduce a body to an inert fluid and a skeletal bones fragments.

Envisioning a Meaningful Service 

Within the past twenty years, funeral services have become more and more customized, although the majority of people consider the traditional funeral the most popular option. A personalized memorial or funeral ceremony reflects the life and character of the deceased individual, as seen by the deceased or their surviving family members, and irrespective of the form such solutions take. 

Many households nowadays prefer to plan a memorial or funeral service concentrated on remembering the deceased as she or he was in existence, a service centered on the deceased's body/remains, or a combination of the two. Consequently, you should envision and plan the memorial or funeral service that you or the individual who died consider the most appropriate way to say goodbye--something that captures the distinguishing qualities of the deceased; reflects their or your personal, religious or spiritual beliefs; and provides a memorable, meaningful chance for mourners to share their despair while reassuring and encouraging each other. 

Some families choose to conduct funeral services in a place of worship or a funeral home chapel that incorporates religious readings and music; others desire secular or non-religious services shared in a public or private location; others choose to opt for a private funeral and interment for immediate members of the family and then a memorial ceremony after for other family members. 

To personalize arrangements, you should also consider as important the following when planning your memorial or funeral service: 

  • Officiant(s) who'll lead the ceremony, such as a celebrant, a clergy member or funeral director, etc..
  • Readings, such as prayers, religious texts and secular messages, etc., and who'll deliver them 
  • Eulogist(s), who'll compose and deliver a eulogy about the deceased 
  • Music, whether contemporary, religious hymns or all of these
  • Food/beverages, whether professionally catered, supplied "as-is" or privately, or provided by funeral director's choice of private contractor 
  • Pallbearers, if the Last Disposition involves a graveside ceremony 
  • Webcasting the funeral, or creating a recording of the ceremony to make available for later viewing
  • Personal touches, like a memory board, memorial video, personal memorabilia, etc.. 

Do You Want the Deceased Present? 

Another important decision you'll need to make when planning a funeral ceremony concerns the actual remains of the deceased. As explained already, cremation and burial are merely forms of final human disposition, and neither disposition require that the body be present during the funeral service. 

For instance, you may organize a "traditional" funeral ceremony that comprises a wake/visitation beforehand with the embalmed body in an open casket even when you desire cremation of the deceased as the form of ultimate disposition. Similarly, many relatives decide to cremate their unembalmed relation without a ceremony beforehand, but maintain a memorial service later on with or without the unembalmed remains present. 

Flowers, Donations or Both? 

Typically, people send funeral flowers or sympathy flowers as an indication of support and to express their condolences. For the past several decades, however, families have also employed the phrase "In lieu of flowers..." in death notices and obituaries to suggest their taste for funeral memorial donations instead of, or in addition to blossoms. Therefore, you should indicate whether or not attendees should send flowers, if you'd rather they donate to a selected charitable organization or cause, in memory of the deceased, or if either kind of expression is suitable. 

Other Ways to Say "In Lieu of Flowers" 

Whether requested in the death notice or obituary, social network or by word of mouth, you should definitely communicate how/where to send donations. Examples of worthy causes or organizations you might choose comprise: 

  • The hospice that cared for your precious one 
  • A cause seeking to find a cure for the disease or disease that may have led to your precious one's death, such as cancer, heart problems, Alzheimer's, etc..
  • A charity, organization or business representing a cause or purpose reflecting a personal passion or belief of the deceased, or one which she or he encouraged Contact and Research Service Provider(s ) ) 

After determining the above, the next issue is to research your ceremony and supplier options. If death has already happened, you can contact a local funeral home, cremation supplier or cemetery. Your preferred supplier might help you organize the memorial, funeral or interment service you desire; supply details about your various goods and service options; explain the expenses entailed for the product, services, along with other professional fees; and also help you produce an obituary or death notice and get official death certificates. 

What to Do Immediately Following a Loved One Dies 

You should also discuss with your provider any religious or cultural personal preferences that you'd like honored. As an example, if you would like a secular or non-religious funeral or memorial ceremony, you might want to utilize the services of a funeral celebrant, which a few funeral homes now have on their own staffs. Many funeral homes have experience serving families from diverse cultural backgrounds with their very own funeral rites, rituals, and traditions. 

In case you're planning a funeral or memorial service in advance, you should research your goods and service options of various funeral homes, cremation providers, or even cemeteries in your region. 

Most businesses provide convenient product and service information on-line, prices, and also place their general price list (GPL). Which makes it simpler to compare costs and service/merchandise available options everywhere. The FTC requires suppliers to give customers accurate and itemized price information and disclosures about other services, whether the consumer asks in person or on the telephone. 

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 Your 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. 

Make Your Wishes Known 

Lastly, if you're planning your very own memorial or funeral ceremony in advance, you should inform your loved ones about your end-of-life decisions to ensure they know just what you would like. Preferably, you should provide a written record as opposed to relying upon a family member's memory or maintaining your plans on your computer, but even just one verbal conversation with your partner, child, sibling, or parent can prove better than nothing. 

If you've officially prearranged your memorial or funeral service with a provider, then you want to keep those documents with your other important papers at home--and allow your family members know of their existence and their location--so they've timely access to them when necessary. If you keep your private documents in a secure place, or off in a safety-deposit box, then you should make sure your beloved one(s) also know the safe's combination or can get the key.

Free Wills to Print provides detailed information on Free Wills, How to Write a Will, Last Will And Testament, Living Wills and more.

For more information, visit


   Back to top     |      Print this page   |     Bookmark this page

 Sample Legal Will

 Sample Last Will and Testament

 Sample Living Will

 General Power of Attorney (POA) Form