Funeral Planning: Everything You Need to Know


Most people don’t relish the idea of thinking about death, yet it’s a fact that none of us can escape. In the US alone, over 2.8 million people die each year. While that’s less than one percent of the total population, it still means millions of people grieving the deaths of loved ones.

It also means that family members must take on the duty of funeral planning for their loved ones. Planning anything when in the grip of deep emotional pain is difficult. If that’s a task you’re facing or expect to face soon, keep reading.

This guide will walk you through the key information you need to make the funeral happen.

Last Wishes

Many people will make their wishes for their funeral known in advance. If that’s the case, you can use those wishes as a guide. For example, they may have expressed their wish for cremation or for a traditional burial.

Your loved one may have also made financial arrangements, such as funeral insurance, or purchased a burial plot in advance. Look for these preparations before you start your own planning.

Pick a Funeral Home

You’ll likely want the services of a funeral home and funeral director. The funeral director can help you with a wide range of necessary planning.

For example, they can provide a setting, date, and time for a viewing. They can take on a quiet hosting role at the viewing by greeting and directing mourners to the appropriate room.

They can also help explain things that might seem mysterious to you, such as the difference between casket and coffin. The funeral director can help you choose a casket and arrange transportation from the funeral home to the cemetery.

Select a Location for Burial

If your loved one didn’t already own a plot, you must find a cemetery and purchase a plot for the funeral. In most cases, this means a nearby cemetery. If most of your family lives primarily in another state, however, you may wish to hold the service at a cemetery near where they live.

Plan the Service

The service itself has a number of potential moving parts. You will need someone to speak at the funeral, such as a minister. You must also arrange for any photos, flowers, and display items.

If you plan on a meal afterward, you may want a catering service to handle the cooking. You may also wish to arrange transportation for those who feel too overwhelmed to drive.

Funeral Planning and You

Funeral planning is a deeply painful task for most people. Making decisions while in the grip of grief can feel overwhelming.

If at all possible, find out your loved one’s wishes and if they made any arrangements in advance. This can limit the number of choices you must make and simplify the process.

It’s also important that you know that it doesn’t need to come off perfectly. People will understand.

Looking for more life planning tips? Check out the Family & Parenting posts in our Lifestyle section.