Funeral Home and Cremation Service
Challenges of Funeral Planning
There are many decisions and considerations to be made in planning a funeral, so we've created this informational pamphlet to help you through the process of planning for a loved one, or to prepare for yourself.
The funeral is a time to honor a loved one who has passed, and is one of the most important events in the life of the individual. So it's important to make it a fitting memorial that reflects their passions, beliefs, and personality. Their wishes in the funeral and disposition should be honored (to the extent allowed by regional laws).
The first major decision is burial or cremation. This decision is influenced by every factor we'll discuss, but ultimately may come down to the wishes expressed by the individual. A burial will require purchasing of a plot or vault, as well as a casket and possibly a burial vault and headstone. Cremation will require purchase of a cremation casket and urn.
In many cases spouses may be buried beside each other, or in the same location in a double-depth vault. Close families may also be buried in close approximation, so it's important to check with family members to determine if any such location has been reserved or specified.
There are number of considerations to be made for the individual in the funeral or memorial. Attire of the individual may be determined by cultural traditions, if not there are a number of options. Traditionally a suit or dress is often picked; however you may want to choose an outfit worn to a special event in that person's life, or even the person's favorite t-shirt and jeans if that reflects their personality. Some may chose to purchase a new outfit to honor the individual as well. What's most important is that the clothing reflect the individual and provides comfort to the family in their final goodbye.
It's also important to think about and make your own wishes for your funeral known to loved ones. You may think "I don't care what you do with my body", but that puts even more pressure on your family. Remember, that the funeral is just as much for you as it is for your family to grieve. Making these decisions for them will help them honor you the best they can, which in turn will help them.
Your family plays the central role in the funeral. Not only is it a time to honor a loved one, but it is the important first step for the family to mourn and heal. It can be helpful to let the family play a role in the funeral by collecting photographs or videos to be displayed in the visitation or at the funeral, and to collect stories to be shared in eulogy. You may also collect songs to be played, or poems to be read that have a special meaning to the individual or family.
Family tradition may determine whether burial or cremation is preferred. The family may have cemetery plots or vaults in proximity or even a family cemetery. These traditions can help grieving family to remember their family history and ties.
Every family is unique with their own traditions and views in living life; the funeral doesn't have to be a an impersonal event but should reflect the idiosyncrasies of your family unit. Wearing sports jerseys may reflect the individual's and family passion for sports for example. By making it unique to your family, you solidify the bonds that will help each other through the grief.
Another thing to consider is that technology and social-networking have given rise to the memorial pages. If the departed has a Facebook page, consider encouraging family to post stories, and photos as a memorial. This can serve as a source of remembrance that a loved one can visit at any time. In fact social networking sites such as Facebook now allow you to designate a loved one to look after you Facebook page after you have passed.
Cultural choices can determine many seemingly small choices such as open or closed-caskets, type of casket and adornment, or even acceptable expressions of grief during the funeral or memorial.
Selecting prayers, passages or scripture, and hymns can provide spiritual strength for loved ones, and serve as a reminder of the gift of life, and the hope of a better future. Consulting with your spiritual leader or clergy member for assistance in planning the service can help in ensuring that traditions are upheld, as well as provide help in choosing prayers, songs and passages to provide solace and comfort.
Economic considerations can play a large role in funeral or memorial planning. The location of the service can make a financial difference, the service can be held at a funeral home or a church or temple. In some cases it may be financially beneficial to have the service in the home of the individual or close family member. Economic considerations can play a larger role in the preparation and deciding between burial or cremation. Burial is often much more expensive than cremation, and the price continues to grow. There are many rights that a family has in taking care of the body which can be more cost effective, while outside the scope of this newsletter more information can be found in the resources below.
There is also growing interest in "Natural Burials" in which the person is buried in a biodegradable coffin without body-preserving chemicals. In some cases a tree or plant may be planted with the body to serve as a memorial; this can provide a more economical and ecologic alternative to traditional burial.
You're Not Alone
It's also important to plan ahead and make your wishes known to your loved ones to lesson the burden on them when the time comes. There are a number of resources available which can include checklists and workbooks that can be completed for your family.
Provides helpful resources and checklists for planning funerals, including state laws and common cultural practices.
A short PDF booklet and worksheet in helping to plan your funeral.
Provides helpful resources on funeral planning, as well as information in legal and financial matters in funeral planning, as well as the rights of the family in funeral preparation and planning.