Planning a funeral is not difficult. Contact your local funeral directors and they will help you as much or as little as you like. Funeral directors are very helpful and used to coping with
death and bereavement. Don’t be afraid
to ask lots of questions and take your time. Planning a funeral can be a
very stressful time, but it is their job to guide you through it.
Make a checklist of the things you would like to arrange yourself and it will be straightforward.
We have put together what you need to do in 15 easy steps. Each step below has advice on what to do and useful links to help you.
1. Funeral Directors and Costs
2. Burial or Cremation - Choose a Casket and/or Urn
3. Choose Priest, Minister or Celebrant
4. Order flowers
5. Choose Music
6. Choose Poetry and Readings
7. Funeral Speech or Eulogy
8. Order of Service Sheets
9. Arrange Transport
10. Inform family and friends
11. After the Service - Room, Catering
12. Prepare mentally for the funeral
13. Send Thank You Cards
14. Scattering the Ashes
15. Print out the Checklist - Use our free printable checklist so you don't forget anything.
Please be aware that my career took place in the UK and I now live in Australia. This advice is correct for planning a funeral in those countries, but may be slightly different where you live. Ask your doctor, funeral director or solicitor for help if you are not sure.
Please note that this post contains links to products and services for which we may receive a small commission. This enables us to keep bringing you content and articles which support those coping with grief.
Choose a funeral director and decide on what sort of service your loved one would have wanted.
There is no need to fret or panic. The funeral director will guide and support you every step of the way. They will explain all the options you have. They come to the home or hospital within a few hours and the loved one usually goes to a chapel of rest.
The average funeral cost here in Australia starts at about AU$6000, so cost may be an issue.
Ask your funeral director what the payment options are. You might be able to pay in installments. There are some suggestions for keeping down costs later on this page.
Is it to be a burial or a cremation?
Did you know that you are not obliged to buy your coffin or casket from the funeral home?
If you have a priest or a minister, they can arrange the
service for you. They can advise on
music, hymns, psalms or readings. But
again, if you are able, choose something personal to you and your loved one. It will make the service more meaningful and
special as a way of saying goodbye.
The funeral director will also have lists of celebrants for you to choose from. A celebrant is also very experienced and can organise the service for you. He or she will discuss options with you and let you choose. You can include songs, poems, readings. Some people even show photo presentations or videos of the loved one these days.
See below for our recommendations for music and poetry.
An easy way of choosing the flowers is to do it online.
The image above is from the florist we have partnered with in the USA who do complete funeral packages in various different colours and styles.
Choose your funeral music from the following pages of suggestions:
You are likely to receive funeral messages from family and friends and you could read some of these at the service. You will probably want a few poems or readings too.
We have section on this site with many pages of poems from which you can choose:Poems for Funerals
Have a think about whether you would like to write a eulogy, or perhaps invite a family member or close friend to give the funeral speech. You can even just write down your own thoughts and feelings and read it at the ceremony or get someone else to read it for you.
We have provided some guidelines on how to write a funeral speech as well as some examples of eulogies below. The eulogies for a father were the speeches were given by my children at my husband's celebration of life and were very moving. I was so proud to hear of my husband spoken of in this way. The others are also real eulogies which were written by readers of our site for beloved people they have lost.
Once you have decided on the music and the readings you can arrange the order of service sheets. Funeral directors and celebrants have
examples of these to choose from, and they can produce these for you.
Or sometimes these are produced by a family member or friend who is used to using a computer.
Decide what you want to do about the funeral cars. The funeral directors will arrange transport of your loved one, and they can also arrange cars if you need to transport visiting family and friends. But funeral cars are not always used these days. Family members will often use their own and ferry everyone to the service.
The funeral director or hospital often give out lists of who to inform when someone dies.
It can be a busy time – all close family and friends have to be informed. There is a lot of coming and going. Phones are usually busy.
It can be therapeutic to get involved in all of this. It helps to pass those painful early days quickly and you will feel proud that you are coping. But don’t be afraid to ask for help and let the funeral directors take on the responsibility for those tasks which are too much for you.
The funeral director will also help you put a notice in the local paper. They will give you suggestions about the wording and arrange it all for you.
Some families choose a venue for a meal following the
service. Some like to have caterers at
their home or church hall. Sometimes
there is a room at the crematorium.
Or you could go somewhere cheerful where the loved one liked to spend time, perhaps the golf club or local restaurant.
Ring around and ask what arrangements each venue has for funeral food. You will need to work out approximately how many people you expect to come, and don’t forget to take the food into account when working out the funeral cost.
Lastly, after all the planning and rushing around, you probably haven't had a chance to prepare yourself for the funeral itself. It can be a stressful and emotional time and many people are worried that they will break down and they may not be able to control their emotions.
The following page will give you some tips on how to calm yourself ready for the day:
Many people like to send thank you cards to those who have attended the funeral, and those who couldn't come but sent flowers or cards.
If you're having trouble knowing what to write, we have put together some pages of sample messages and notes for you to use as inspiration:
We have created our own range of funeral thank you notes, which you can buy in any quantities from single cards to multiples, and you can have them sent to multiple addresses anywhere in the world. You can also personalise some of the designs with a photo and dates of your loved one's life.
Sales of the cards below help to keep this site going. You get a discount for bulk purchases. Thank you for your support.
Other decisions to make are whether to have the ashes at
home in order to scatter them in the loved one’s favourite place, or to arrange
a formal plaque at the crematorium.
Everyone has their own ideas about this, and the loved one may have made
that decision themselves about where they would like to rest.
Another idea is to plant a memorial tree and scatter the ashes around the tree. Read about planting memorial trees here.
Lastly, in order to make sure you haven't forgotten any of the above, why not print out a checklist to tick off as you get each thing done.
Sales from our pages result in a small commission to us which helps us to continue our work supporting the grieving.
Check out our lovely range of memorial jewelry for any lost loved one. Pendants, necklaces, rings or bracelets, we have them all in all kinds of styles. Choose for yourself or buy as a sympathy gift.
Try a gentle hypnotherapy track to relax the mind. Learn how self-hypnosis can help you cope with grief at any time of the day or night.
Our free downloadable and printable document "The 10 Most Important Things You Can Do To Survive Your Grief And Get On With Life" will help you to be positive day to day.
The 10 points are laid out like a poem on two pretty pages which you can pin on your fridge door to help you every day!
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