Whether you are planning the funeral of a loved one, or planning your own send off, Protect Your Family has written this step by step guide on all the things you need to think about and consider when planning a funeral.
Find a funeral director
Choosing the right funeral director is an important first step in making the arrangements for the ceremony itself, but it is one that shouldn't be rushed.
Whether you are planning a funeral as part of your financial funeral plan and wishes, or if you are the bereaved planning a funeral for a loved one, take your time over picking the right director for you, your loved one, your budget and your wants and needs.
Compare prices and what each director offers, this will help you decide if they are the right fit for the funeral you are planning. Once you have chosen a funeral director and have started the process, they will move your loved one's remains to the funeral home for the next part of the ceremony.
What kind of funeral do you want?
Luckily for you, a funeral director is an expert in this field. They do this every day and so will be able to guide you every step of the way as there are so many things to think about and so many options to take.
Your funeral director will have many packages to choose from, from the type of service, the type of coffin, the cortege – the list goes on and on – but it’s important to keep a track of the cost as it can mount up quickly. Check what is included and whether you really need it all.
This is also the point where you'll have to decide on the details, including cremation, burial or woodland burial, the type of coffin, the type of service, flowers, music, venue, and order of service etc.
Fix a date
Your funeral director will be able to help you with this. There will be a choice of dates and venues, depending on the kind of funeral you want and where. They will also help you inform anyone you need to about the date.
Some people prefer to have the wake in the comfort of their own home, while others prefer to hold it at a place or venue close to the person who has died. Again, this is entirely up to you.
One thing to consider is who is going to cater for the wake. If you are holding it at home, will you want the extra stress of preparing food on the day or can you find a caterer who can help? Does the venue you have booked offer food too, or do they have a caterer they usually use? Organising this early on will take the stress away on the day.
The next thing to consider is the actual funeral service. Do you want a non-religious celebrant or a minister/priest to conduct the service?
Who will give a eulogy and are they happy to do so, or would they rather the celebrant/minister do it?
What music can be played, and will there be hymns and is a pianist/organist needed?
When it comes to the eulogy, it can be very cathartic to get together with other family members and close friends and write it together to remember the person who has passed and get a different perspective on the person. It will help with the grieving process, as well as with the making the eulogy more entertaining and unique.
Another thing to think about at this point is the pallbearers, in other words the people that will carry the coffin into the funeral. These can either be family members or friends, or the funeral directors can carry the coffin into the service. Again, this is up to the family or the person who’s planning the funeral. There are usually six pallbearers and they have to be physically able to carry the weight of the coffin and the loved one.
Order of service
The order of service lets the congregation know how the funeral ceremony will be conducted. It also allows for words for hymns to be printed, as well as any prayers (if you are having a religious ceremony) or readings.
It also allows the family to say thanks for the messages of condolence, as well as letting attendees know where the wake will be held.
Some people like to put a photo on the order of service, others don’t. Again, this is entirely up to you and your family. But getting these organised, chosen and printed as soon as you have the date of the funeral arranged is one less thing to worry about.
Flowers or not
Flowers are an integral part of a funeral, but these days more people are asking for donations to a chosen charity in lieu of flowers and asking for only family flowers to be presented on the day, or in some cases not at all.
Some funeral directors can provide flowers for you or a chosen florist for you to choose from. Again, it’s worth shopping around for a design and cost that suits you or your loved one.
Make the final arrangements
As the day of the funeral comes closer, take time to go through the final arrangements, costs and expectations with the funeral director. Ensure that you know exactly what will happen, and who is doing what.
Get in touch with the pallbearers, and those giving readings or making a eulogy, to ensure that they are still happy to take part in the funeral and whether they have any questions or issues.
Sorting this out a few days before the funeral itself with relieve the stress on the day. Discuss with them the order of service and, if you have them, even provide them with a printed copy so they know how the ceremony is being structured.
The day itself
You will by now be confident that you have everything sorted and that your funeral director is fully in control during the day and at the ceremony itself.
It will be an emotional day where many friends, family and well-wishers will want to give their condolences, but don’t feel you have to see everyone - you will have plenty of time to see them at the wake. Take time to grieve and to listen to the eulogy, even if you played a part in writing it.
A funeral is a way to say a final goodbye to your loved one, so take your time in doing so - in remembering, in laughing and in contemplation of the person they were and how loved and respected they were by everyone attending.