Plan a memorial worthy of your memories with this go-to guide
First things first: find your funeral director. You may be referred by a hospital or care center, but jiving with your funeral director is really what makes or breaks your memorial services. Research your funeral home, read reviews, go in there and meet with someone so you can get a feel for how you would work with them. It’s important you can collaborate with your funeral director.
Next, plan the order of the services. The funeral services are really the focal point of the often multi-day event. Work closely with your funeral director while you’re planning the release of the obituary, the viewing services, the luncheon or dinner, the funeral services, the transportation, the graveside service, and the burial. Some people then choose to have a get together after the burial has been completed.
When you know the order and times of all the different components, you can draw up the program. This is a stressful and complicated part of the event. Guests who participate in the memorial services will keep the program as a memento, so there’s a lot of pressure to make every part of it perfect. Each program is different depending on the person it’s about. Was the life of your loved one sentimental? Humorous? Refined? Professional? How can you make the program match their priorities?
The night before the funeral, many families choose to get together and share a meal where they can swap stories about the deceased in a more private setting. This is a good idea because emotions are running high and people can be tense when they’re emotional. Having this precursor dinner often gets those extreme emotions out of the way before the actual service. People can cry or yell or drink to their heart’s content and strangers won’t witness it.
The flowers and other decorations will make a big impact on guests and family alike. Though these things are planned in advance, they are the first impression of the event. Your funeral director can make a lot of informed recommendations if you’re feeling lost and overwhelmed.
Transportation to the cemetery is another component that requires planning. Funeral homes can organize everything for you, but you are not compelled to utilize the funeral party to the chapel and again to the cemetery.
Flowers on the coffin, graveside services, music or military recognition are all part of the last service at the cemetery. These things can be hard to plan because you don’t know how many people will come to the burial or what the weather will be like. Take a deep breath. Of all the moments of the day, this is really the one you should take for yourself to be present and relaxed.
The little details like food, alcohol, cake, music, any slideshows or photographs are just that: details. Once you get these main components planned and settled, everything else will fall into place. Don’t let yourself be overwhelmed, take time to do things right and delegate what you can.
The best way to avoid placing this overwhelming burden on your family is to preplan your funeral. Your local funeral home will be able to walk you through this process without the pressure. You can take your time, give it as much thought as you want, and prepay. In doing so, you will be able to give a gift of love during a time of grief and despair. Your family members will be able to grieve without a To Do list or a bill at the end of your service. If you are interested in prearranging for you or a family member, please fill out our contact form or comment below with your contact information and we’ll get you in touch with a preplanning counselor.