Death is not something that most of us like to talk about. Nevertheless, there comes a time in life when knowing how to plan a funeral can be very useful. In this guide, we walk through the step-by-step process of planning a memorial service. By reading this guide, you can provide an opportunity for family members and friends to gather together so that they may honor and remember the deceased. This guide will also provide plenty of inspiration for planning your own funeral or memorial service in advance. Keep reading to learn more.
Choosing the Form of Disposition
Many people make the mistake of confusing cemetery burials with funerals, but there are a wide variety of disposition options for you to choose from. Choosing a form of disposition will decidedly tell you what to do with the deceased’s physical remains, so you know how to plan a funeral according to the requirements of that form. The principal forms of disposition include burial, green burial, and cremation.
Traditional burials are still one of the preferred methods of disposition. Whether buried below ground at a gravesite or above ground in a mausoleum, you will need to purchase a casket and a cemetery plot or mausoleum space. Green burials are also growing in popularity and allow you to minimize your overall impact on the earth after death. If you or your loved one chooses an environmentally friendly burial, the body won’t be cremated or prepared with chemicals. Instead, the body is laid to rest in its natural state or embalmed with non-toxic fluids that are free of formaldehyde.
Cremation recently surpassed burial as the most popular end-of-life request, but it can sometimes lack the finality we require to reach acceptance. If your loved one requests cremation, you can still host a funeral service to celebrate his or her memory with family members, friends, and others who knew the deceased. Immolation uses far less resources than almost any other disposition method, which makes it another “green” alternative to a traditional cemetery burial.
There are forms of disposition other than burial and cremation, though they are still relatively new and might not yet be available in your area. Alkaline hydrolysis employs pressure and relatively low heat to reduce a body to an inert liquid and skeletal bone fragments. Cryonics is a process by which a body is frozen immediately after death. Most people choose cryonics in the hope that medical science of the future will make it possible to revive them.
Planning a Picture-Perfect Service
Over the last few decades, funeral services have grown progressively personalized. A traditional burial usually takes place at a place of worship or significance to the deceased. These days, many families prefer to plan funeral services that focus on celebrating the life of the deceased as opposed to mourning the loss. No matter what form of disposition your loved one chooses, it is important to plan a meaningful way for family members and friends to say goodbye.
You can personalize your planned memorial service with the help of an officiant or funeral director. These celebrants will lead the service, guiding loved ones through their journey of grief and loss while also sharing comfort. You or your funeral officiant may choose to read poems, prayers, and passages from a religious or secular text. If you would like others to share their sentiments and stories, decide on a few eulogists or open the floor for guest eulogies.
Depending on the form and function of your memorial service, you can also create a unique experience that reflects the personal interests and passions of the deceased by incorporating music into the service. Allow family members and friends to greet one another and share memories by hosting a wake or reception with food and beverages. You can either hire a caterer or provide a potluck with the help of other attendees. Surround those who are grieving with happy reminders of the deceased by adding personal touches to the service – memorial videos, photo albums, etc.
Deciding Whether to Hold a Viewing
Some families prefer the physical presence of the deceased. It is not at all uncommon to host a wake or reception after the funeral service, so that family members and friends can say one last goodbye before laying a loved one to rest. In the case of cremation, you can hold a visitation or viewing before or after the memorial service by preparing the embalmed body in an open casket or the cremated ashes in an urn or specially designed vessel.
Requesting Flowers or Donations
Fresh flowers can add beauty and fragrance to an otherwise somber occasion. Although bereavement takes many forms, you can provide comfort to those who are grieving with beautiful floral arrangements. Funeral flowers are often sent directly to the funeral home or to the gravesite of the deceased. These floral arrangements are usually large and formal, providing decoration and color where it is needed most.
In recent years, families have asked for donations in lieu of flowers. You should clearly communicate how and where to send donations once you have identified a worthy cause or organization. You might consider the hospice services that cared for your loved one in his or her final days. Research and contact causes that seek to find a cure for the illness or disease that caused your loved one’s death. If your loved one volunteered for a specific charity or animal shelter, your donation choice can reflect a personal passion or belief of the deceased.
Contacting Funeral Service Providers
Depending on the form of final disposition, your next step is to research and contact appropriate service providers. If a death has already happened, you can contact your local cemetery, crematory, or funeral home. Your provider can help you arrange the rest of the memorial service and even help you obtain official death certificates. Your provider will need to know any cultural or religious preferences that you or the deceased would like as part of the ceremony. Funeral celebrants or clergy members may be a big help to anyone who would prefer a structured service.
Tips for Funding a Funeral Service
Expenses will vary depending on the form of final disposition and the type of service you desire, but it’s important to set a budget before you begin customizing products and services. Most people pay for funerals or memorial services through credit cards, funeral provider financing, insurance policies, personal savings, or trust accounts. Some people choose to pay for funeral service in advance through installments, so they can relieve the burden of difficult decisions on family members and friends.
If you are planning your own service in advance, you should make your wishes known. With a written record, your family can make accommodations or requests to meet your every wish. If you have any questions about how to plan a funeral, please contact Legacy Headstones today for additional information or further assistance.