Soon after an individual has died, the family or person entrusted with the memorialization must consider funeral preparations. When possible, it is important to bring key family members together for an early conversation. This is especially helpful if the deceased left no advance instructions.

Below are some important questions to consider:

  1. What did your loved one want?
  2. What can you and the family afford?
  3. What is realistic?
  4. What will help the family most?

Choose a Funeral Home

Choosing a funeral home is important in the process, since they will most likely be involved with the transportation and preparation of the body. First, determine if the deceased has already identified which funeral home to use; and most importantly, the funeral service expenses may have already been prepaid. If there has not been a conversation or instructions about arrangements, the choice will be up to the family. For more information on choosing a funeral home please visit: Choosing a Funeral Home >>

Speaking with the Funeral Home

After a funeral home has been selected, the next step is to meet with the funeral director that will coordinate the funeral or memorial arrangements. If instructions are left by your loved one, then provide these to the funeral director and focus on implementing their wishes as best possible. If no instructions were provided, then discuss with family members to determine the wishes that the deceased may have wanted.

Below are some important questions to consider:

  1. Will the body be embalmed or cremated?
  2. Will there be a casket, if so, will it be open or closed during the service?
  3. If the remains are to be cremated, will the ashes be scattered, is so then where will this take place?
  4. If the ashes are deposited in an urn, will it be placed in a mausoleum?
  5. Where is the burial site?
  6. Do religious traditions need to be respected?
  7. Will there be contributions to charities in lieu of flowers?

Veteran Arrangements

If the deceased was a veteran, then a range of benefits are available to help personalize the funeral service. In addition, the family may be eligible to receive assistance with the funeral, burial plot or other benefits. More details are available through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website >>.

Financial Assistance for the Funeral and Burial

If financial assistance is needed, there are a number of sources that the family can look to, including a church, a union or a fraternal organization that the deceased belonged to.

Ask for Assistance from Family and Friends

A funeral can be a large undertaking, it is always important to enlist the aid of relatives and friends where needed for the following items:

  • serving as pallbearers
  • creating the funeral program
  • cooking or ordering of daily meals for the family
  • taking care of children or pets
  • shopping for any items needed for the funeral or household of the deceased

Organize a Gathering After the Funeral

Depending on your tradition, it's called a wake or repast. It can be held at the funeral home, church, a banquet hall or someone's house. Enlist the help of friends and relatives to assist with the planning. For more information on planning a wake please visit: Planning a Wake >>

Write an Obituary

The purpose of the obituary is specifically to provide information and facts about the individual, funeral service, and gathering. In these instances, some funeral homes offer a service to write the obituary on your behalf. If you are interested in publishing the obituary in a newspaper, you will need to check on rates, deadlines and submission guidelines. Writing an obituary may be personal and unique based on the deceased and their relationship with the writer. For more information on writing an obituary please visit: How to Write and Obituary >>

Notify Family, Friends and the Community of the Funeral

After a date, time, and location has been set for the funeral service and gathering, if applicable, share these details with family, friends, and the community and encourage others to pass this information along. Make sure that all addresses for services and locations to send condolences, flowers, cards, food, or donations are also included with the details.