It can be an overwhelming responsibility to be held responsible for planning the funeral of a loved one. You may try to avoid facing death but the responsibilities for funeral planning won’t be too elusive. Before you know it, you will be faced with big decisions and financial burdens that you wish you knew before being faced with it.
As such, this blog post is for you. To all who are grieving and yet shouldered the responsibilities of planning the funeral (either by will or by compulsion, here is what you need to know:
- Do these things ASAP
First things first, when your loved one dies, you need to be quick on your feet and know what is required of you in a sensible time frame. These include:
- Calling 911 to report the death. (If the death is at home, you may not need to call the police.)
- Calling the county coroner (for insurance claims)
- Have the deceased removed from the place of death to the funeral home?
- If the deceased has a prearranged funeral plan, the chosen funeral service provider should be contacted.
- Calling relatives, family friends, and colleagues. You may also notify their alma mater as well as some groups or associations they are passionate about. Group invites can be arranged via letter, email, or telephone.
- Settle the billing expenses.
- Call or meet with funeral providers to start working on the arrangements.
- Collect necessary info for the death certificate.
- Locate claim number of the deceased veteran.
- Call the insurance company.
- Purchase burial lot.
- Publish the death in the obituary section of your local newspapers.
- Personalize the Funeral Service
There are few things that can make the funeral service a more personal tribute to the deceased these include:
- Religious elements- Consider incorporating a favorite hymn of your loved one. There may also be vigils, rites, sermons, or other ceremonies required of the religion of the deceased and the family.
- Music– Play the loved one’s favorite song, instrumental music, or album during the service. The family may also stick to religious hymns for the service.
- Photo or video montage- A slideshow or a video presentation can be a loving tribute to the deceased. If a member of the family is into photography or videography, they can contribute to the funeral planning by preparing a video tribute for the deceased. You will also need to choose a loving portrait to display near the casket.
- Funeral flowers– You should also design on a flower arrangement for the funeral. Heart-shaped or cross-shaped casket flowers frequent funerals. You may also choose to pay tribute with a bouquet of your loved one’s favorite flowers. The little children or grandchildren of the family can also lovingly place inside casket flowers. Guests may also show up with standing spray and condolence wreath. This can save you money with the decorations.
- Veterans– A floral arrangement can also be designed by your local florist or flower delivery as a loving tribute to a veteran. She may use the colors of your national flag. Further, you may need to call for arrangements for the funeral of a veteran. A special tribute may include playing “The Last Post” and placing a flag over the coffin.
- Go Green– If your loved one was a passionate environmentalist, consider opting for eco-friendly choices for the funeral service. Opt for organic flowers, wood caskets, donations to an eco-charity, and other eco-friendly funeral options.
- The Eulogy– Your last words of tribute to the deceased can be very personal in the hearts of the bereaved. Consider mentioning how their life made an impact in your own life. Mention their achievements, passions, and interests. Talk about the shared times and lessons learned from your loved one. Also, if the deceased is a member of an association, consider getting a reputable member to give a speech at the funeral service.
- Plan with the Family
Be cautious of following the wishes of your loved one regarding their funeral care. They may have planned the funeral service beforehand. Details such as the type of funeral and decorations may already be documented.
If not, the bereaved family will have to decide altogether. It is best to communicate with the rest of the family even if you have been assigned to take on the funeral planning. They may have requests that can make the tribute a more personal experience for them too.
- Talk about funeral bills
Reach out to your family members who can help shoulder the costs of the funeral bills. Do not try to pay for all the bills yourself when you can ask for help. If not, you may have financial burdens after the burial. Remember there are many expenses for a funeral which include the casket, urn, or burial vault as well as the funeral stationery, grave marker, and even obituary fees.
It is common not to have resources set aside to plan a proper funeral service. Don’t be shy to ask for the public as well as private assistance for paying for the funeral. If the budget is really tight and you have little help, you can skip the funeral and have a memorial service later after the burial.
Planning ahead can help you gather price quotes from different funeral service providers. Also, make sure the contract lists all costs upfront as well as additional fees including staff salaries and transportation costs.
- Put everything on paper
Don’t rely on your memory when planning for a funeral. The emotional stress can sometimes make you forget the emotional details. Stress and great sorrow can make important details vanish in your thoughts. You may have a nagging feeling of being pulled in different directions with all the planning that needs to be done.
If you don’t want to deal with funeral planning and there is no one else who can handle this tremendous responsibility, consider paying the funeral director to plan the funeral. The funeral director may also help arrange to handle of the body. You may also contact a funeral celebrant to help you plan the type of funeral ceremony for your loved one.
- Using online resources
Do know that there are useful tools online to help you plan a funeral such as worksheets and a detailed step-by-step list of what you need to do before, during, and after the funeral. With careful research, you may find free funeral planning resources. You can also research the type of funeral service you desire for your loved one and how to save money on the funeral.
- Setting important business matters in order
After the funeral, you will need to settle the estate, financial, administrative affairs of the deceased. This may include:
- Filing death benefit claims
- Following the last will and testament
- Getting the last paycheck and other company benefits from the employer
- Canceling utility and rent services
- Closing credit cards and checking accounts of the deceased
- Claiming social security funeral benefit
- Reporting the death to the Social Security Administration
- Mail re-routing at the local post office
Keep in mind that you do not and should not plan and finalize the funeral by yourself. This is the time when family and close friends should come together to help plan for a meaningful funeral.