Five Steps for Planning Your Loved One’s Funeral or Memorial

Planning a funeral or memorial service is hard work.  There’s no “how to” manual, no universal protocol.  Many people aren’t even sure where to begin.  Nonetheless, chances are you will be called upon someday to make final arrangements for a loved one.  When that sad day comes, or if you are coping with a death right now, here are some steps you can take to make an emotionally taxing process just a little bit easier.

  1. Report the death: If a loved one dies in a hospital or nursing home, staff can complete the death certification process. If he or she dies at home due to illness, contact your local funeral home; the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) can help you locate one by zip code if you don’t already have an established relationship. In the event of an accidental or unexpected death at home, your best step is to call 911.
  2. Transport the body: Eventually, the remains will need to be moved to a local funeral home or other facility. In most cases, the funeral home will make the arrangements, but in some cases you may need specialized transportation service. For example, Eagle Wings Air offers full service air transportation to families whose loved one’s remains need to be flown to their final resting place.
  3. Determine if there are any pre-arrangements: Sometimes older or very ill loved ones may have pre-planned a service. If that proves to be the case, work with your loved one’s preferred funeral home and / or close friends and family members to carry out the deceased’s last wishes.
  4. Answer the critical questions: Once contact with a funeral home has been established. you can either rely on the deceased’s prearrangements or on the knowledge of those closest to the deceased to answer the critical questions first, such as:
      • Did the deceased want a wake?  A funeral service in a house of worship?  Or a memorial service and celebration of life?  You can learn more about the different options at US Funerals Online if your loved one did not indicate their preferences. A funeral director will also help you to explore the different options.
      • Did the deceased wish to be buried or cremated?  If so, in what kind of vessel? Families sometimes purchase more customized or more affordable urns and caskets online, at sites like Stardust Memorials (urns).and Trappists Caskets, where all caskets are built and blessed by Trappists monks.
      • Who will officiate at the funeral and/or deliver the eulogy? This is a highly personal question, often made in consultation with other family members, or perhaps with a trusted spiritual advisor.  If you are asked to deliver the eulogy, Dignity Memorial has some helpful hints.
      • Will the service be filmed or live-streamed?  Increasingly, families are opting to have their loved one’s funerals livestreamed so those who can’t be there in person can still participate. TribuCast® provides a safe, secure way to enable loved ones to attend a service remotely, either in real time or in recorded form, even when they can’t be there in person.
      • Is there a funeral plot or urn niche, or does one need to be purchased?  Most often, there will be several local options for internment. Other times, families may need to meet a specific request, such as finding a cemetery or funeral home that offers green burial options or using the ashes to help establish a coral reef, through companies such as Eternal Reefs.
      • What kind of grave marker would be appropriate? Some families find they can get more customized products and/or and decreased costs by ordering monuments or remembrance benches online. Clear Stream Monuments, ships all over the US and will ensure the chosen monument conforms to cemetery requirements.
  1. Prepare to personalize – in real life and online: There are many ways to personalize a funeral, memorial of celebration of life, some of which date back hundreds of years, and some of which are decidedly modern:
      • Chose meaningful texts and songs: You may choose bible readings and hymns, or poetry and folks songs, so long as the choices reflect the deceased’s values and taste.
      • Display pictures: Sometimes families simply use framed photos at wakes or memorial services; in other cases, funeral homes may set up slideshows of photos from throughout that person’s life.
      • Embrace memorabilia: At a wake or memorial service, memorabilia can give a fuller sense of the person’s passions and interests.
      • Choose flowers – or suggest what to do in lieu of flowers. You can learn more about traditional arrangements for wakes, funerals or memorials at funeralwise. Or you can provide information for money to be donated to a charity or cause important to the deceased, in lieu of flowers.
      • Use TribuCast®. Not only does TribuCast® provide a secure and tasteful way to video stream a funeral, it is also a great place to personalize the service by sharing the texts, songs, pictures and other memorabilia that may or may not be available at the wake, funeral or memorial.

We hope that these steps demystify the process of planning a meaningful funeral and help you to cope in your time of grief.

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