Planning a funeral is a challenging event when grief and uncertainty may make planning anything seem impossible. However, for those who lose a loved one unexpectedly or haven’t had the chance to discuss funeral details with their loved one who has passed, decisions must still be made. The process can feel overwhelming, particularly without guidance, but finding a way to organize the process may help. Building a funeral checklist helps you ensure you have all of your bases covered and may provide you with a good source of guidance when making these difficult but necessary decisions.
In some cases, the deceased may have already made their own funeral plans and paid for the service in advance. If this is the case, your first step should be locating the paperwork documenting these arrangements. Contact the funeral home they’ve worked with to pre-plan their service and present them with any documentation they require to get the plan underway. Having existing plans means less strain on the friends and family of the deceased and takes the guesswork out of designing a service they’d have approved of.
The First Steps
No two funerals are identical, but there are a few steps that most planning processes have in common. Remember that though this list is long, many of the items are simply suggestions and not requirements. It is up to you and your family members to decide which options are right for your loved one’s funeral service.
Before the service can begin, there are a number of details you’ll need to handle. The very first steps you should take when planning a funeral include:
- Obtain an official death certificate from a hospice nurse or attending doctor
- Choose a funeral home for the service
- Arrange transportation for the body to the coroner or your chosen funeral home
- Learn more about potential dispositions (cremation, traditional burial, mausoleum interment, green burial) and decide which you prefer
- Discuss and arrange potential embalming options
- Select a casket or cremation container if applicable
- Choose a location for burial or interment
- Select clothing for the deceased to wear during the service
- Investigate any burial benefits the deceased might be eligible for (military burial, religious groups, fraternities, etc.)
- Obtain a burial permit if required
Remembering Your Loved One
After you’ve handled the basic details of planning a funeral, you may want to take the time to plan a service and other details dedicated to honoring the memory of the recently deceased. There are dozens of ways to add personal touches to your funeral planning process, but some of the most common include:
- Write an obituary or hire a professional to write an obituary
- If applicable, choose a headstone and any engravings you’d like on the marker
- Decide what type of service you’d like
- Select where you’d like the service to be held if any service is to take place
- Choose flower arrangements and a florist
- Create a list of flower preferences for organizations and mourners to reference, and ideally include this in the obituary or death announcement
- Compile photos you may want to display at the service
- If preferred, create videos or other visuals you would like presented at the service
- Select and compile any music you’d like played during the service
- Choose poems, scriptures, or other material you’d like to be read during the service and decide who will read them
- Compile photos and other details for a memorial register, guest book, or programs and have them printed
- Acquire memorial cards
- Choose an officiant for your service
- Discuss and decide on who will perform the eulogy during the service
- Choose pallbearers if necessary
- Arrange for the providing of food and beverages after the service
Pricing Your Funeral Plans
When building your checklist, keep in mind that, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FDC), you have the right to pick and choose which services you want rather than paying for a full package to gain a few services. Even so, understanding how much services cost and how they compare to your overall budget is useful when creating your funeral checklist. Your expenses will be divided into three main categories:
- Basic Service Fee: includes general services used in all funerals such as the use of the funeral home, securing death certificates, services from the funeral home’s director and other staff members, burial planning, etc.
- Optional Charges: charges include optional measures included on your checklist, such as embalming the body, transporting the body and/or family members, use of the funeral home for viewings/wakes, cremation, interment, etc.
- Cash Disbursements: reimburses the funeral home for cash spent on buying goods such as food, flowers, and memorial documents from their vendors on your behalf. May also include hiring pallbearers and other necessary staff.
While you’re doing your best to navigate through this process during a difficult time, remember that you aren’t alone. Contact Robinson Funeral Home for guidance on creating your funeral checklist. With over 100 years of experience in helping our community through these tough times, we can help you navigate through the crucial first steps of getting a funeral underway with as little stress as possible. We still offer our planning services to those who ultimately choose to hold their funeral with another provider.
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