Pre-planning a funeral

Pre-planning a funeral

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:

Living wills

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.

Cemetery Plots:

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.

Death Certificates:

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.

Honorary Pallbearers

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.

Graveside Service

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.

Is it Necessary to Have a Minister for a Funeral?

Is it Necessary to Have a Minister for a Funeral?

When a loved one dies, the surviving family quickly finds themselves having to make dozens of decisions. Many of these decisions center around where and when to schedule the funeral and burial service, and who will act as officiant for the services. If the surviving family actively practices their faith and want a religious service for their loved one, their clergyman is asked to officiate at the funeral and deliver a eulogy for the deceased. However, families who are agnostic, atheist, or simply don’t subscribe to any particular faith may prefer not having a minister lead the service at all.
Can you have a legal burial without a minister?

For the 30% of the country who don’t practice any particular faith, it’s perhaps a relief to learn that it is perfectly legal for a non-minister to preside at a funeral or burial service. Contrary to popular belief, a minister-less service doesn’t revoke the death certificate or make the burial illegal or invalid; it just means that the family preferred a non-religious ceremony instead of a religious one.

Who can officiate?

What you will need however is someone to preside over the memorial service. Presiding over a funeral is to assume responsibility of running the funeral service, a bit like how a master of ceremonies might officiate at a meeting of the Toastmasters. For families planning a secular service, the funeral home director (or his assistant) are prepared to step into this position. This is such common practice that of the many secular funerals I’ve attended in the past, all but one relied upon a Funeral Home representative to act as officiant while friends and family delivered a eulogy.

But, worth remembering is that those somber faced morticians aren’t your only options. Anyone can preside over a funeral, in any order and in any fashion. The best choice of officiant is one who was personally acquainted with the deceased and his family, such as a distant relative, a good friend of the deceased, or the deceased’s boss or superior officer.

It’s important to keep in mind that funeral and burial services tend to be very emotional events and whomever the family selects for officiant must be up to the task. The officiant must have the ability to keep the service moving along without bursting into tears himself.

How to Embrace a Homegoing

How to Embrace a Homegoing

There are services that are called homegoing rather than funerals, because the service is based on the belief that the person is going home to the afterlife.


1. Happiness

Although you may feel the loss of a loved one or friend, you can choose to remember the happy times that you shared together. You can choose to remember the good things about that perso

n. You can cherish those memories.

2. Temporary body

You can know that the loved one or friend that passed away is no longer present in the body that you might view in the casket. Have you noticed at some funerals there may be pictures displayed and/or videos of past events that the loved one or friends shared? There is a reason for this. This helps to bring to remembrance the good times that were shared. For others that might be at the funeral that did not know the deceased well, it will give them a closer insight of the deceased person. I attended a home going where the mother did the resolution for her deceased son. She shared so many good aspects of her son with everyone there, I felt as though I truly new her son quite well, when in reality I did not.

3. Sickness and


Possibly the deceased person was sick and in pain before passing away. It will not do any good at this point to focus on their past sickness and pain, but rather focus on the good of that deceased person. Think about what you have to say that is good and positive about this person. Think about the times that you laughed and joked together.

4. Money

Money is a bartering tool. Money can mean a lot to the family of the deceased. Giving them extra money is a

way to show your love. Sometimes the decease may not have had insurance or sufficient insurance for burial. The money may definitely be appreciated by the family of the deceased.

5. Poems

Those that are good at writing poems please do so. These poems can be so inspirational and uplifting to the family. I once attended a home going where the deceased person had written her own poem. The poem was asking others not to cry for her, because she was at home now with her Lord Jesus. It was a very touching poem.

6. Songs

Singing songs of joy and that are inspirational for this homegoing is of utmost important, it is another way to say that you are happy they have gone home to be with their Lord Jesus. That is the greatest joy.

7. Remarks

Have you noticed at some funerals there is time for remarks from family and friends? This is a great time to tell about the good things you remember about the deceased. To tell about those funny events that you may have shared together. This is a time to laugh and rejoice rather than being sad. This is not to say that you may feel sad, because that is a part of the grieving process.

It may have been tradition for the family to wear black to the homegoing when their loved one passed away. Times have changed. You may now see family members wearing white.

The Lost Importance of Funeral Processions

The Lost Importance of Funeral Processions


Back when a handshake was as good as a man’s word and a man’s word was everything, communities had unwritten guidelines regarding funeral processions. Everyone knew what to do, how to handle these delicate situations, simply by having seen the reactions of their parents over the years.

It was quite simple, really. When a driver saw the hearse, he or she would carefully and quietly pull off to the side of the road and respectfully wait until the last car with lights on during the daytime had passed. Then, slowly, once the last car in the procession had passed, the driver would ease back onto the road and continue their travels. It was the manner by which communities paid their respects to the deceased and to the families that were grieving.

No one honked the horn or blared music from the radio; no one sped passed the procession in either direction; no one seemed to be in a hurry to continue on down the road. Rather, it seemed to be a moment to pause, to feel empathy for grieving strangers, to remember the family members that we had lost, to remember that we are only here for a short time.

Pulling over to the side of the road when encountering a funeral procession does not happen much anymore, though there are still a few small towns across America who still practice this tradition. Why have communities lost such a simple expression of respect and sympathy?

Progress, as it is often called, has changed us. Though we are more connected than ever through cell phones and emails, we are more distanced than ever from people, from our families, from our communities. In our rush to be the best, to make another dollar or climb the corporate ladder, we have traded family meals for eating alone on the run. In our attempts to create a better future, we have left much of what we have learned in the past behind us. And, we continue to progress with blazing speed.

We run through our days, mindlessly maneuvering from one point to the next, trying to check items off of our to-do lists. We forget to call friends and neglect to visit family because we are so very busy, though it is often difficult to recall exactly what it was that kept us that way. Perhaps it is time to take a break, to sit back and breathe, and to remember the list that is truly important to us.

Have you told your kids you that you love them? Have you spent much meaningful time with your spouse lately? Have you had lunch with your best friend in a while?

Life happens; people grow and communities change. The world is not meant to remain the same forever. But, during progress, we must make an effort to steady ourselves so that we do not forget the parts of life most important to us, so we do not neglect the very reasons that make life worth living, so that we remain grounded in our families and in our communities.

So, the next time that we encounter a funeral procession, let’s all take a moment to pause and, respectfully, slowly pull over to the side of the road and patiently wait. There, in the quiet of the car, our hearts will feel for the family that has suffered the loss and remember our own loved ones who have gone on before. Perhaps, in that moment, we will realize how fortunate we are to still have the opportunity to tend to that truly important to-do list.