There is not many things that are as difficult to face as the death of a loved one. Sadness, shock and a profound sense of loss leave bereaved family and friends unprepared to deal with the many preparations for a fitting funeral or memorial service. But the preparation is a necessity to pay tribute to the deceased but also to help the surviving family member express their grief and celebrate the life that was lived. No one likes to think about preparing for a funeral but it is something we all we face at some point in our lives.
We have outlined a quick funeral planning checklist below to assist you in the planning process. It is meant to be quick bullet points of the key items of a funeral service. If you need something quick to read without having to sift through a whole lot of text, this is the format for you. Each item offers a summary of the main points for your reference. If you need to enlist the help of an additional family member or close friend.
Choose a Funeral Home
Get recommendations from family and friends if you do not have a funeral home in mind. You can also search online for funeral homes near you or near the area where you would like the service to be held. Recommendations are always best but you can also read online reviews if you are short on recommendations from people you know. This is where to begin, once the funeral home is chosen the funeral director will guide you through the service process as well as provide costs for what you decide.
Type of Service
You need to decide what type of service you are going to have for your loved one - traditional burial or cremation. You can either choose based on what the deceased wanted or base it on costs. Cost can come up about equal if you choose an element that is higher end in pricing such as a more expensive casket or urn, but typically cremations are less expensive. This can also be dictated by culture or religious affiliation of the decease.
Record Personal Information
You will want to gather information about your loved one like place of birth, education, accomplishments, career, and any other organization they may have been involved in. If they had a will or last testament, they may have noted some personal information about themselves which is a form of recording. Perhaps you want to record a family tree and gather the names of parents and grandparents. Personal information not only includes data but can also include photographs.
Funeral Notice Wording
You will need to write a funeral service notice or death announcement for the newspaper or a postcard you will send out. You may also do this via email if needed. Take some time to write the notice of death and where the funeral will be held. No need to get into details, a short paragraph will suffice so it does not need to be lengthy nor do you need to stress out over it. You can at this point write a list of people who should be notified of the death. Maybe you just let certain people know and have them notify others. There is no need for you to let each and every one know. A select few can be notified by you and they in turn can notify others.
If you choose a traditional burial or cremation with a viewing, you will need to select the clothing your loved one will wear. If you are going for a favorite color or color theme, you will want to choose an attire that includes those colors or is the prominent color in the dress or suit. If you are doing a traditional burial, you will also need to decide if you will have an open or closed casket. Regardless, clothing needs to be selected for the body that is presented in the casket for viewing.
Select Casket or Urn
The funeral home will assist you in selecting a casket or urn. Usually they will have a room that is filled with a variety of caskets and urns for you to make your selection. Casket and urn can have personalization on them directly. For example, a casket panel can be personalized with the deceased photo and information. The urn can be personalized with a plate or etched photo of your loved one.
Decide on Service Location
Choose an officiant, pastor or official to be the celebrant of the service and where you will have the service held. It can be at the funeral home, which is most typical. Most funeral homes are equipped with a special room that the service can take place in. You can hold the service in a church or even private room. Sometimes the amount of attendees or age of the deceased will dictate your options.
Identify People Who Will Have Key Roles
You will need to make a list of people (family and friends) who will play key roles in the service such as pallbearers, speakers, veterans, fraternals, eulogist). Perhaps immediate family and close friends or an organization members will be designated as pallbearers. It is your choice or that of the deceased prior to death.
Personalizing the Service
Consider ways to personalize the service such as incorporating special music, poems, reading and other memorabilia. You might also purchase memorial buttons, church fans or custom printed apparel in personalizing a service. It is a celebration of the life and there are many things that can be done to create it in a special way that commemorates their life.