Your Guide to Navigating Funeral Planning and Services
Do you need to plan and organize a funeral service?
Are you looking for some ideas for a funeral service?
Want to know how to plan a funeral?
Finding the Right Funeral Home
When choosing a funeral home, it’s important to select one that meets all of your standards and will work to meet your needs. Ultimately, you want to find a funeral home that you feel comfortable with and you feel is trustworthy. But how do you narrow down the extensive list of funeral service providers in your area?
First, you’ll want to do some shopping and price comparisons. Be sure that you have all prices in hand when you are comparing because price structures can vary widely from one funeral home to another. You might visit some on their web site, while calling others and speaking with a service associate. Some funeral homes may include certain services in their base price, while others may add the same services for a fee. So, know what you’re getting when you ask for a price and know what the total price is before you start comparing.
Next, does it matter to you if the funeral home is locally owned? Some funeral homes are locally and privately owned, while others are owned by corporations. Some corporations may purchase locally trusted funeral homes and keep the name and the employees, but change some pricing and practices. Typically, those funeral providers owned by a corporation charge a higher price.
These are some of the typical fees that you can expect from a funeral home:
- Professional services
- Other preparation fees
- Receiving, transferring, collecting remains
- Use of facilities
- Equipment usage
- Funeral director services
- Casket, urn, other burial container
- Death certificate
- Obituary notice, death notice
- Police escort
- Funeral flowers
- Cemetery tent
- Graveside service
- Cremation service
- Burial equipment
Finally, consider amenities and any religious or cultural requirements for the funeral program. You’ll want to choose a funeral home that will meet all of your needs during your time of grief. And at no time should a funeral service provider pressure you into making a decision or signing a contract. Only agree to use their services when you are comfortable and being treated with dignity and respect.
Meeting with the Funeral Director
A funeral director can be an essential part of funeral pre-planning. A funeral director will help guide you through funeral planning and decision making, while offering emotional and grief support during this difficult time. They may help you with writing an obituary, selecting a casket, planning what will happen during the service, as well as managing the transportation needs for that day.
The funeral director should have one to two years of formal education and completed a one-year apprenticeship with a licensed funeral home. In addition, each state may require further licensure. Many funeral directors are also members of the National Funeral Directors Association, which oversees the industry.
In every business, there are people willing to take advantage of others during their time of need. The funeral industry is not immune to these practices. So, it’s essential that you do a little research about your local funeral director before signing on. We'll provide some funeral service education for you here.
There are a few things about the funeral industry you should know first. The Federal Trade Commission has created a set of guidelines called The Funeral Rule. These guidelines regulate funeral industry practices and prevent fraudulent or unfair practices.
A trustworthy and reliable funeral home will adhere to industry standards and regulations without pressuring you, upselling, and hiding pricing or practices. A funeral director should also happily support you through the entire process. Here are a few rules established by the FTC.
- You can shop for your own casket. You don't need to buy one from the funeral home.
- The funeral service provider is required to provide you with a general price list (GPL) and a casket price list (CPL) when you inquire in person.
- Funeral businesses must provide an itemized statement, including only the items you selected when contracting their services.
Beyond regulations, you’ll want to choose a licensed funeral director with whom you feel comfortable and confident. A good funeral director should serve you in several capacities.’
- He/she appears dedicated to their career.
- He/she puts the needs of you and your family first.
- He/she is respectful.
- He/she does not pressure you to make hasty decisions or pay more than you can afford.
- He/she provides a high degree of personal service.
- He/she is willing to make changes to meet your needs.
- He/she understands that the funeral is your and your family’s experience.
- He/she also helps you understand funeral etiquette.
- He/she is willing to give you as much time as you need.
Planning Funeral Services for Your Loved One
During this time of grief, it may be difficult to focus on planning a funeral service. Sometimes a family member may have already made a funeral arrangement. Or, perhaps the deceased went so far as selecting a pre-paid funeral. If either of these is true, a burden might be removed from you while you are mourning. However, if this is not the case, you can still plan a wonderful funeral service for your family member.
Fortunately, you have an unlimited number of choices when planning a celebration of life.
- Burial or cremation
- Funeral services
- Graveside ceremony
- Memorial service
- Life celebration
- Home funeral
- Different locations: church, park, mountaintop, beach, etc.
- And more
Whichever method you choose to memorialize your loved one, be sure that it’s in keeping with what they would want. You’ll also want to ensure that the celebration matches their religious or spiritual beliefs. You may want to consult the will of the deceased person for any information regarding their final wishes. Did they want a traditional funeral or did they have special requests?
Families and close friends may want to participate or speak at the funeral or memorial service. There are several ways that they can be involved.
- Give the eulogy.
- Read a spiritual passage.
- Read a poem.
- Tell a story.
- Sing a song.
- Play music.
- Lead a prayer.
- Give a sermon.
- Provide food.
- Craft an item in memory of the deceased.
- Create a display with special items and photos.
- And more.
Once you’ve decided on the type of service and who will be involved, you’ll need to take a few more steps before the service date.
- Make a list of attendees.
- Decide how to notify invitees. Individual notifications, group notifications and/or a newspaper/online obituary are among your options.
- Select a location. Consider the size of the space, weather, reservations required or any other special considerations.
- Identify one or more facilitators for the service. You’ll want to depend on someone to make sure that all plans happen smoothly.
- Determine who should facilitate the various tasks. It may be best to divide some of the responsibilities between a few trusted parties.
- Put all of the arrangements in writing. Write down the details for yourself and for any facilitators so there is no confusion about individual responsibilities and the events of the day.
When planning a funeral or memorial service, it’s best to be organized in advance (if this is at all a possibility). If you find yourself having to plan everything while you are grieving, be sure not to do it alone. You’ll want time to process your own grief, too, so select a trusted family member or friend to help you through the process.
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