What Steps Are Involved in Preparing a Funeral Service?

By: Ian Elliott
Friday, November 20, 2015

The death of a loved one can be an overwhelming and difficult event in one's life. Planning a funeral service involves a number of steps and decisions, but with a clear understanding of what is involved, it does not need to create more stress. In fact, both the process of preparing the funeral and the experience of a well-organized service can be an essential part of the healing process. Here is a list of steps you can take to prepare a funeral service that will meet the needs and desires of everyone involved.

Assessing the Situation

The first thing you will want to do is take stock of the wishes of the deceased and of those closest to them. If you have been left with instructions, these will be of the highest priority in the decisions to come. Communicate with those people closest to the deceased to see who else you should involve in the planning process. You may not be able to satisfy everyone's desires or beliefs but aim to hear them out and take notes if you think this will help with decision-making later on.

Selecting a Funeral Home

If you have worked with a funeral home in your area, and been pleased with their service, then you are covered. Otherwise, you may want to call around for prices and services offered. Many modern funeral homes now offer online planning tools, such as The Funeral Planner App which will educate you on the choices available and make planning as a family much simpler.

Once you have selected a funeral home you will have the opportunity to speak with the funeral director.  The director will ask you questions and support you to make informed decisions. The topics you will cover with include:

  • How to prepare an obituary.
  • Whether to have a traditional burial or a cremation and the options associated with each.
  • When and where to hold a funeral or memorial.
  • What kind of food and beverages to serve.

The funeral director's questions will cover all of the most important details. Don't worry if you are unsure of all of the answers, you can write down the questions and confer with family or read blogs and articles on each choice. Once you have made some decisions the funeral home will take care of the bigger details so that you can focus on the small touches that will personalize your service.

Religious and Cultural Considerations

Many of the decisions associated with planning a funeral will depend on religious or cultural orientation. If you or your loved ones belong to a particular faith you will want to get in touch with a clergy person to perform a memorial service and possibility provide a location such as a chapel or synagogue that will give the opportunity for worship. Your funeral director can help you to get in touch with a clergy person if you don't have anyone in mind.

Personalizing a Funeral Service

Once the major details are being taken care of you can add personal touches to honour the life of your loved one. Here are a few ideas:

  • Choose photos, or ask others to bring photos of your loved one to decorate the room.
  • Hire live musicians or play gentle or spiritual music through a sound system.
  • Choose a few people to say words or prayers in memory of your loved one.
  • Make a handout with a picture and a story of their life so that attendees will have a keepsake.

One final thing to remember is that people close to you or the deceased will want to help. Make sure to ask for their help and to delegate tasks to all involved so you can lighten the load for yourself.

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