Recently I’ve been to a funeral home to preplan a funeral. I realized that pre-planning is very important to saving you time and money. Funeral prices go up rapidly, so it’s wise to get them arranged before you even think you’ll need them.
Here are some things you need to think about:
1. Before Death:
This is actually dealing with what to do if you are unconscious or unable to make decisions for yourself. Do you wish to be resuscitated? Feeding tubes or artificial breathing machines? Or do you want someone to make your decisions for you? If so, you’ll need to grant someone the rights to make your decisions by granting them Power of Attorney. All this should be included in a living will.
2. After Death:
Casket or Cremation?
You’ll be asked if you’d like to be cremated. If not, you’ll need to choose a casket. Cremation is usually cheaper, but some people shudder at the though of being burned. Other people cringe at being buried in a hole. This is definitely a personal choice.
Graveliners and Vaults:
Some Funeral Homes require you to purchase a graveliner or a vault. This is to keep moisture out of the casket. The concrete graveliners are the cheaper option, while vaults tend to look nicer.
Which cemetery would you like to be buried in? Perhaps one nearby, or maybe in the town you were born in? Purchasing a plot ahead of time can be a real moneysaver. Bear in mind if the funeral home must drive a long way, you’ll need to compensate them.
Your Funeral Home should be able to order a headstone for you, or you can purchase one online. They’ll want to have your birth date and other important details engraved on it. There is usually a charge to have the death date inscribed once you’re deceased.
What should the newspaper say about your life? The Funeral Home may ask about your hobbies, your parent’s names (including your mother’s maiden name), your spouse and what year you married, and people you’ve been preceded by, and your survivors. There will be a charge to have the obituary published in an out-of-town newspaper.
You’ll want at least ten Death Certificates. These are to send to your insurance and anyone else who needs to know you’re dead.
3. The Ceremony:
You can have the viewing on a specific day, a few hours before the funeral, or none at all. Some people may wish to see you one last time. Others may avoid it at all costs.
Service at Church, or the Funeral Home?
The Funeral Home will ask where you’d like the service to be. If at a church, you should contact the pastor and ask if he’ll officiate for you.
If you like, you can choose some honorary pallbearers to place the casket in the ground This is usually not required, but some desire it. You’ll want to get their permission first, of course.
You can choose to have a graveside service, where everyone will watch the casket being placed in the grave. There will be an additional charge for this.
Have everyone send the flowers directly to the Funeral Home. This allows them to set up before the service. When buying a casket spread, the flower shop may ask if there is a viewing, and if the casket will be opened or closed.
Do you want a certain song to be sung? By the congregation, or a selected person? Relatives may not be able to sing without crying, so be considerate. Other times they may volunteer willingly.
You may have the option to have a slideshow in service. For this, you should collect about 35 through 50 pictures, and provide them and some background music to the Funeral Home. Some Funeral Homes may not do this, but ours did a suburb job putting the slideshow together for us.
Open or Closed Casket?
You should decide whether the casket should remain closed throughout service. In most of the funerals that I remember, the casket would remain closed until the very end, and then they’d open the casket and everyone went up in rows to view the deceased before exiting the chapel. This can be hard on some.