Steps for Planning a Funeral Service
How to best farewell our loved one is probably among one of the most difficult decisions for families to ever make. There are dozens of decisions that will need to be made in the days ahead. Regardless of whether the death was sudden or anticipated this is an emotionally stressful and sad time for everyone. This funeral planning checklist will help keep you focussed, print it out a keep it in a convenient place.
- After the death certificate has been issued one of the first things that should be done is to consult the will of the deceased. The will may contain information regarding special instructions concerning burial, cremation or organ donation. Funerals are highly personal and it is important to carefully consider wishes of the person who has died along with your own emotional needs.
- Inform the following people: relatives and close friends, employer, family doctor, insurance company, solicitor or public trustee
- Choose a funeral home or director to help coordinate logistics of the funeral service and disposition of the remains.
- Select a date - Most funerals take place in the immediate days following the death. If you decide to opt for a direct burial or cremation you can choose to have a memorial service at a later date. There is no set guidelines for when memorial or life celebration services should occur. Birthdays or anniversaries are often chosen by families as these days often have the most significance but it is a personal choice.
- Decide on a guest list - the anticipated number of guests can influence the choice of location or setting.
- Choose location - Formal funeral services usually take place in either church or other house of worship or at the graveside. Informal locations such as a park can be selected if the coffin is not going to be on display throughout the service.
- Open or closed casket. In addition to open casket and closed casket options, people can elect to have a pre-funeral open casket which allows people to view before the funeral, then during the service the casket is closed.
- Select clothing and Jewelry.. Choose clothing and jewelry that best resembles the person's life. A favourite shirt or dress may be more appropriate than a formal suit and tie.
- Select a clergy member, celebrant or person to preside over the service. This person should represent the spiritual beliefs of the person who has died.
- Choose pallbearers. The funeral director can provide this service if you choose. A pallbearer is one of the persons carrying or attending a coffin. Friends or relatives are usually selected for this honour.
- Ask family members or friends to deliver eulogies. Decide on how many people you want to speak. Each person should plan to speak between 2 - 5 minutes.
- Choose music or musicians. Most funeral services will include music at the beginning and end of a ceremony. The music can be sombre or more contemporary to reflect the personality or musical preferences of the deceased.
- Find readings. Discuss reading with the clergy or person who is presiding over the service. Readings can be traditional prayers or religious readings, favourite poems, prose or song lyrics.
- Select flowers and other decorations. Flowers and plants are used to decorate the location of the service. Other items that can be included for use during the service are: candles, photographs, medals, sporting or hobby memorabilia, flags, etc.
- Select wake location, food and refreshments. Traditionally wakes are held at the home of the deceased but today anything goes. Some people wakes are held at the deceased favourite restaurant, in parks or at their favourite sporting club. Food and refreshments can range from pot luck dinners to fully catered affairs. While it is appropriate to serve alcohol at a wake keep plenty of water, soft drinks, coffee and tea available.
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