Planning a funeral is an emotional rollercoaster, to say the least.
Not only have you lost a loved one, but you must also plan an event worthy of their memory. And it will likely cost around $7,848, which is the average price of a burial these days.
It’s a lot for one person to handle. And if you’ve never undertaken the task of funeral planning before, it’s easy to forget or not be aware of some key details.
But you’re not alone. You are a capable funeral planner, and you will deliver a memorial that your loved one deserves. This checklist includes every last detail so you can be certain you won’t forget a thing.
Organize the Transfer to the Funeral Home
The first steps of funeral planning are logistical and legal matters. There are certain things you need to do to ensure the body of your loved one is safe and secure until their memorial.
These are the tasks step-by-step:
- Ensure a doctor has performed the pronouncement of death
- Get a medical certificate from the doctor straight away
- Choose a funeral home and arrange the transfer of the body
- Check if your loved one had a pre-paid funeral plan or insurance
- Check if your loved one left a letter of wishes in their will
- Register the death of your loved one to receive a death certificate
These steps will ensure you have the funds to pay for the funeral ceremony and you get a death certificate. You often need to register the death within so many days, and you can’t hold a memorial without a death certificate.
If your loved one’s death was suspicious or sudden, the doctor might refer it to a medical examiner. In this case, you may not need to register the death yourself.
Once you’ve chosen a funeral home, your loved one will stay there until the service, and you will be able to make further plans with the funeral director.
Choose a Burial or Cremation Funeral
Most older people plan their funeral before their death, so you will already know what their wishes are. But many younger people have not yet considered their death, so you may have to make decisions on their behalf.
These are common types of funerals or memorials:
- Religious funeral service
- Celebration of life funeral service
- Graveside service and burial
You will have to choose a burial or a cremation service as well as a type of funeral. You will also have to choose a time and date, a celebrant, a location, and transportation. Burials (and sometimes ash scatterings) often need a permit.
If your loved one was in the military or had special honors, that might entitle them to a special type of service.
You might also want to arrange a period of visitation or viewing at the funeral home. So, even if you choose a cremation ceremony, you will still need to organize the embalming and preparation of your loved one’s body.
Organize the Wake for After the Funeral
Most people will host a wake after the funeral so people can celebrate the life of the person who has passed and offer support.
Here are some things you will need to organize for the wake:
- Location e.g., someone’s home or another venue
- Food and beverages
- Transportation to and from the funeral for some guests
And that’s it. No one expects anything else at the wake, so don’t waste your energy, money, or time. Put your focus on the funeral or memorial instead.
Write and Submit an Obituary
During the funeral planning, you will need to write an obituary for your loved one.
Here are some things to include:
- Full name, place, and date of birth
- Short biography of their life including jobs and hobbies
- Names of immediate family members
- Short anecdotes that describe the type of person they were
You can submit a short version to your local paper with a photograph if you wish. But give all this information to your celebrant as they will need it to perform the ceremony.
Contact Vendors and Select Personalizations
Like a wedding or birth ceremony, there are flowers to pick out, music to select, and photos to find. Here is a full list of things to prepare for the funeral ceremony:
- Select a casket or cremation urn
- If burial, choose a headstone and inscription
- If cremation, find a location to scatter/bury/store the ashes
- Find a florist and pick out flower arrangements
- Select music to play during the funeral service
- Choose songs to sing during the service
- Find photos to display at the funeral and wake
- Prepare a video to play during the funeral if you wish
- If burial, select clothing and memorabilia for the casket
- Prepare programs for the funeral service
Don’t be afraid to ask close relatives and friends to help out. You might be the next of kin, but that doesn’t mean you need to plan everything alone.
Ask Pallbearers and Others to Contribute
Speaking of asking friends, you will need to enlist others to take part in the memorial ceremony.
You will need to ask:
- Someone to perform the eulogy
- Six pallbearers
- Other friends and family members to recite passages or poems
- People to write messages on the cards for the flowers
- Any other tributes, e.g., music performances
Also, communicate your wish for flowers, gifts, and charitable donations. People want to help when a loved one passes away, so tell them exactly what they can do with their generosity.
Your Funeral Planning Checklist to Get You Through a Difficult Time
No one likes funeral planning. There is an overwhelming about of paperwork and things to organize when you are not in the best headspace.
But now, you don’t have to worry about forgetting important details. You can concentrate on mourning your loved one and giving them the send-off they deserve.
Funerals are an unfortunate but inevitable part of life, and it’s important to prepare for these occurrences. If you want to learn more about preparing for milestones like buying real estate or retiring, then browse our website for lots of useful guides!