When planning a funeral service, or memorial service for a loved one, many people get overwhelmed. This is a common response to the natural process of grieving coupled with the need to make all the arrangements. We’ve put together a quick list of things to consider that will help organize the steps necessary to planning a funeral service.
First, it’s wise to contact your loved one’s legal representative. This may be a member of the family, or a family friend. It’s also possible that this is an attorney, appointed or hired by the deceased. They will have the most relevant information regarding whether or not your loved one had prearranged funeral plans.
Choosing a funeral services provider is the next step to planning a funeral service. There are many such service providers, and we encourage you to prepare a list of questions and then schedule an appointment with the funeral director. One of the key things to look for is a sense of genuine empathy and humility. It is usually apparent right away if the person you are speaking with is more interested in up-selling their services than they are in making sure that you are well taken care of.
Once you’ve selected a funeral services provider, they will help walk you through the other necessary details. They will discuss with you options for the types of service (religious, military, etc.) that you might want. They can help you select a venue for the memorial. They can help you connect with a clergy member or officiant who will guide the service from start to finish.
Other considerations when planning a funeral service include the selection of burial or cremation services. This may already be pre-arranged by the deceased, but if not, the funeral director may guide you in the decision making process. They will be able to help you pick out a casket or select an urn if your loved one is to be cremated.
Once all of these decisions have been made, you will then need to direct your attention to the smaller details. You will need to select clothing, accessories, jewelry and the like for the deceased. If there is to be an open casket funeral, your loved one will need to have cosmetics and hair made up. Again, the funeral director is very capable of helping with all of these details.
It is possible that your loved one has already selected a cemetery plot and maybe even paid for that in advance. Their legal representative will be able to answer many such questions for you.
In many cases, there may be both a memorial and a graveside commitment service. A member of the clergy or an officiant will be more than happy to walk you through the necessary elements of each service. If your loved one is to have a military funeral, it will be necessary to coordinate with the military cemetery staff to schedule the venue.
When preparing an obituary, you may either write it yourself, or send the major details of your loved one’s life to a newspaper’s obituary editor. They will then write it up and place it into the next day’s printed newspaper. There are online services where you may also post your loved one’s obituary.
During the funeral, you may want to have certain family members or friends deliver a eulogy or select remarks. Personal stories help everyone to remember the best highlights of your loved one’s life. You may also want to open the service to anyone who wishes to step forward with a personal story or fond remembrance. The officiant will manage the timing of the service and help things flow smoothly.
If you wish to have flowers delivered to the funeral service, you may make those arrangements with a local florist, or trust those details to the funeral director and his/her team.
Transportation of the deceased will also be handled by the funeral service provider. Other considerations include arranging hotel accommodations for out of town guests and family. You may also want to arrange transportation for close family members both to and from the funeral services.
And finally, you may wish to host a reception for after the funeral service. This may be done at the home of some of the family, a church, or at a professional venue dedicated to such events. This may one catered, or someone within the close circle of family and friends may step up to provide refreshments and/or a meal.
As you can see, there are many, many details that go into planning a funeral service. We hope this list will be helpful for you as you navigate all of the decisions that you must make. Please feel free to contact us with any questions you might have.