Planning a Funeral
There are a number of reasons for considering to make funeral arrangements. A family member or close friend may have passed away unexpectedly, a loved one has been diagnosed as terminally ill, or you may simply want to relieve the burden of your loved ones and you've decided to pre-plan your own funeral.
Regardless of whether you are planning in advance or arranging a funeral for someone who has died, there are many decisions to make and questions to ask. Some decisions will be emotional, like what songs to play during the service, and others will be financial. It is easy to get overwhelmed by the choices available and intimidated into doing what is 'right' rather than planning a funeral you want and can afford.
A funeral should be looked at as a celebration of the individuality of the person who has died. What makes a funeral meaningful is not how much money we spend, but how we pay tribute to our loved ones life.
There are four basic steps to planning a funeral:
1. Open Discussion.
When a loved one dies is difficult enough dealing with your own grief, but if you are also left to second guess the wishes of the person who has died the experience can be more stressful and traumatic. Just as you would discuss your wishes with your friends and family for other important life events, you should discuss your wishes for your funeral. If you're dealing with the death of a beloved friend or family member then get everyone together and discuss how to give your loved one a unique tribute to their life.
- Specific wishes relating to the funeral - songs, flowers, funeral director, poems, casket?
- Organ and tissue donation. Is it something you want or the deceased wanted? Have you/they registered with the Australian Organ Donation Register or indicated your/their intension's on a Driver's License?
- Cremation or Burial? How do you want your remains stored or distributed? Is there a particular cemetery you want to be buried in?
- How is the funeral to be paid for? From the estate, family member or a pre-paid fund? What is the budget?
- Will and matters of the estate - location and specifics
2. Funeral Options.
Funeral practices are influenced by religious and cultural traditions, costs, and personal preferences. Most people are confused about what they can and can't do when it comes to funerals. There are certain health and safety regulations regarding handling, storage and transport that need to be adhered to for repatriation, cremation, and burial but by no-means are the traditional types of funerals your only option. A growing trend is the use of direct burials and cremations with memorial services taking over from the traditional funeral service. You have the right to care for your loved one in anyway you see fit just so long as its within the law.
3. Choose a funeral director
Funerals can be simple or elaborate, public or private, secular or religious, costly or inexpensive. The death of a loved one is the most difficult events we are likely to go through. It is a time of sadness and strained emotions and it can be extremely difficult to be objective about what you want and what you 'should' do. It is important for you to take things slowly and to draw on the support of your friends and family. Don't feel pressured into making rushed decisions. It is a good idea to have someone who is emotionally detached to help make the funeral arrangements and deal with the financial responsibilities. Use the Funeral-Services Referral Service to get quotes from pre-screened funeral directors to compare costs and service options.
4. Planning the details.
Once you have found the right funeral director or funeral home to conduct the funeral, you now need to work out the specifics for the funeral service. From choosing the location of the service, flowers and music to eulogists. We've put together a detailed planning a funeral checklist which you can print off to help organise the process and stay focussed.
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