Arranging a funeral can be one of the most emotionally difficult things to do in life. Sometimes a person will leave specific instructions in their will, a list of wishes, or may have even purchased a prepaid funeral plan so some elements of the service will be covered.
If this is not the case, to help make sure you’ll have everything considered for the funeral, here is a checklist to support you.
Choosing a Funeral Director
Compare directors by visiting their websites, you can also arrange to talk to them in person to see if they’re right for you. Directors can help make you aware of services available and your options for coffins, flowers, etc.
Burial or Cremation
This is one of the first steps. The choice of burial or cremation may be decided by religion or personal beliefs and will affect some elements of the rest of the funeral. This and many other choices at the funeral are deeply personal and no one can say one is better than the other.
Once burial or cremation is decided you’ll then need to choose a coffin, and then storage for the ashes if it’s a cremation. There are lots of different styles, and some colours to choose from, at different price ranges, from traditional caskets to eco-friendly, water-soluble urns.
Location of Burial/Where to Keep or Scatter Ashes
If a burial is chosen, you’ll need to decide on a cemetery and buy a plot, some graves can have more than one coffin, so can be shared by close relatives or a married couple. For a cremation, you’ll need to decide what to do with the ashes, whether they will be kept in a container by someone or scattered somewhere that meant something to the deceased.
You’ll also need to decide on venues, usually two locations: where the funeral service will take place and where the reception/wake will be held. It’s common for people to hold wakes at their homes if there is enough space for guests.
Some funeral directors offer different types of funeral hearse to choose from. You can choose a vehicle or a horse drawn hearse, along with colours other than black. There’s modern limousines, motorcycle hearses and vintage styles like a converted Volkswagen van.
Some of these styles could make a fitting tribute to a person that is associated with or was born in a particular decade, for example, the Volkswagen van could represent the 60s or 70s and the person who has passed may have loved the culture or music from those times.
Along with the hearse, you can add extra limousines or horse drawn carriages for family to follow behind, but you can also choose to use your own vehicles if you wish. This could be for budget reasons or simply out of personal choice.
It’s not a requirement to write an obituary, however it can be a useful way to share news of the death to the wider community and acquaintances.
Order of Service
Some directors provide a range of service sheets to choose from and different packages, depending how many you need and how many pages are needed in the booklet. These can include pictures and will let attendees know what will be happening at the funeral in terms of hymns, etc.
Outfit for the Deceased
It doesn’t have to be a suit, it can be a favourite piece of clothing that they liked to wear, such as a leather jacket or football shirt.
Your loved one may have had a favourite flower. Specific flowers and colours also have meanings such as red symbolising strength and love. Colour could be a running theme throughout the funeral and doesn’t need to be black.
Hymns, Music, Poems
You can choose anything from traditional religious passages to modern music, and speak to a director for help if needed. You can tell them what kind of person your loved one was and they might be able to help you find something suitable.
Ask For Help
Along with choosing which services you want, try talking to family and friends about the person if you need help with personal tributes, it might inspire ideas.