It can seem so morbid to talk about funerals and planning for them, and indeed everyone would avoid this topic at all costs. But when the death of a loved one becomes imminent, you wish somebody would show you how it works. If not, you wish somebody else can do it for you. Still, only you can personalize the funeral service and make it your tribute to your loved one. If you have no idea where to start, here is our step by step funeral planning guide:
How long does it take to plan a funeral?
Ideally, you should be planning for the funeral ahead of time. The high costs of funeral services can be minimized if you pay for them in installments over a few years. If the death came as a shock, this quick plan shouldn’t take more than a few days.
First Step: Moving the body from the place of death
Whether your loved one died in a hospital, nursing home, workplace, or your residence, you should arrange for transportation of the body as soon as possible to the funeral home or morgue. The funeral home will be responsible for moving the body. Healthcare facilities have a process to follow and will notify you which funeral home you can contact for transportation of the body. You can also call 911 or the coroner’s office to send dispatchers to transport the body to the funeral home. Be aware that autopsy is necessary for some states.
Second Step: Filing death records and obtaining permits
There is a various state for completing a Pronouncement of Death or Registration of Death signed by the County Recorder. You will also need a Burial Permit or a Disposition Permit as the body cannot be buried without a legal permit. You can file such records at your local city hall or do so online if it is permitted. Then, submit the forms to the County Recorder. The town hall staff should be able to tell you where to submit the forms. If you work with a funeral director, they can help you navigate the local rules as well.
The Death Certificate is a necessity for claiming insurance policies and benefits. You can also use it to handle administrative and financial accounts such as their bank accounts. Be mindful and check the information on the Death Certificate such as errors in the date of death, complete name, etc.
Third Step: Calling family and friends
Amidst all, you will still have the burden of notifying everybody else of the death of your loved one. You will need to contact the immediate family first. If possible, do not call every single family and associate all at once. You can also ask for family and friends to contact relative parties.
You should also notify their landlord, employer, employees, church, other organization affiliations, as well as their doctor, insurance companies, credit card companies, and credit card reporting agencies. You may also notify the Family Responsibility Office, should your loved one be paying child support before their death.
Fourth Step: Choose the type of service
Do you want a burial or a cremation? Think about the costs of both services before making a final decision. Consider foregoing a funeral service for a memorial service if budget is tight.
Fifth Step: Meet with the funeral director
The funeral director can help ease your burdens with funeral planning. They can take on some of the responsibilities and help you personalize the funeral service. The funeral director can help arrange a fitting tribute for your loved one.
Sixth Step: Finalize the Date and Venue for the funeral service
The funeral can take place in a church or place of worship, at a village hall, a crematorium, or even in the family home. The latter is becoming increasingly popular as a personal way to have a funeral service. Be sure you know the procedures of funerals from your church minister.
There are also several things to consider when choosing a date for the funeral service. You will need to consider family who will have to travel from abroad. You will also have to coordinate with the funeral home or crematorium as well as the church for other services they might hold on the same day. You wouldn’t want to plan the funeral on the same day as a wedding.
Seventh Step: Choose the coffin or urn
If you have help from a funeral director, they can purchase the coffin or urn for you. However, consider choosing the coffin or urn yourself. You may also want to add personal trinkets inside the casket such as letters or photographs. Choose funeral flowers for the casket as well as the inside sprays. Your chosen funeral home may have florists they can recommend albeit the fee may be higher. Consider choosing your own local florist and ordering the funeral flowers yourself.
Eighth Step: Decide who will officiate the funeral service
If you are religious, you should definitely consider a religious minister to officiate the funeral service. In other cases, you may delegate the responsibility to the funeral director or a family member. If you want to hold a service at the crematorium, your minister can lead the service there as well. You may also hold a non-religious service depending on your beliefs.
Ninth Step: Plan the order of the service
Aside from flowers, you can also personalize the funeral service with religious music and hymns or the favorite songs of your deceased loved one. Include religious verses and prayers. Encourage the guests to pay tribute with quotes they remember of the deceased by hanging a quote board on the wall. If a family member can play a musical instrument at the funeral service, this can also make the funeral more personal to the family.
You will need to finalize everything in order to create a schedule or a formal order during the service. Let everyone know about this when you send the funeral invitations. Include the eulogy and other speakers from associations they were part of.
Tenth Step: Arrange the funeral transport for the burial or cremation
Following the funeral service is the burial or cremation. The funeral home may have a burial site or you may have to choose a burial site. You have to purchase the cemetery lot beforehand. The funeral home can arrange for transportation of the body to the burial site. Finally, don’t forget to send thank you notes to everyone that came at the funeral and gave funeral flowers and sympathy flowers. You may also host a funeral buffet after the service.