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How To Pre-Plan Your Own Funeral

There are a number of reasons why it is a good idea to plan your funeral. During such an emotional time, it helps loved ones to alleviate the additional stress of having to make all the decisions associated with planning a funeral by taking care of the logistics in advance.

A pre arranged funeral also gives the deceased the opportunity to have a more personalized arrangement. They can have the opportunity to express how they want friends and family to remember them. This way, the family does not have to shoulder the burden of trying to remember everything their loved one would have wanted in their final arrangements.

Funeral Pre-Planning Checklist

Any element of a funeral can can be pre-arranged. This may seem overwhelming to have to think about every aspect of things like the service itself, arrangements for a post-funeral reception, and a burial at the cemetery, but it can all be done by simply following an organized checklist so nothing is left out of the pre-planning process.


This should always be the first conversation they have with their loved ones because it can make a difference in the arrangements that are made with a funeral home. First, let them know if your wishes are to be buried or cremated. Then, this should be put in writing in your will.

If your choice is to be buried, at some point you have to purchase an actual burial plot from a cemetery or other location of your choice designated for burials. If you choose cremation, you can still be buried. You also have the choice of having your ashes scattered at another location.

What Type of Internment is Best?

Maybe you are unsure of the type of interment or what your choices are for burial. Here is a brief breakdown of the most common types:

  • Caskets – There are a multitude of styles and casket materials to choose from either at the funeral home or from a dedicated casket dealer. The prices vary depending mostly upon the durability of the casket material over time and the custom design that may be added to the casket itself. This may include special lining and decorative accoutrements to the exterior.
  • Cremation – Once cremation occurs, there is as wide a variety of urns to choose from as there are casket designs. The major difference is urns can be more easily customized. This can include sports symbols, favorite activities and hobbies, and even pictures or engravings.
  • Cremation Casket – There are actual caskets that can be bought for the cremation itself that are relatively inexpensive and made from non-metal material. A casket can also be rented from the funeral home and used during the funeral viewing and service before cremation occurs.
  • Green Burial – This type of burial is gaining popularity as of late, and it consists of returning the body, in the most natural way, to the earth. Funeral directors will discuss the details of this with you as well if you are considering this option.

Who will the Funeral Director Be?

Because the funeral home you choose helps you through most of the choices you will make for your burial, service, and all the small details that go along with both of these things, it is crucial to pick one that you know your family can trust. If you are not familiar with a funeral home where you live, than ask around to friends and family about who they have used in the past and their experience with that funeral home to find one you can depend on to carry out your wishes accordingly.

When you make your choice, you will typically begin your funeral pre planning at the funeral home. This person or team of funeral professionals will walk you through your entire checklist to ensure you have not forgotten anything. Some of the items they will work with you to plan are the following items:

  • Funeral home viewing for family and friends (can include a private viewing for family only.
  • Customized service needs (religious or non-religious ceremony or memorial service only).
  • The location of the service (funeral home, cemetery, religious location, or other location).
  • Obituary – this can be written in advance during pre-planning or created with the help of the funeral home director.

Ceremonial Planning

Any funeral service will include a variety of specific ceremonial details including some or all of the following items:

  • Choosing an officiator for the funeral service – this may include a priest, preacher, or other religious professional. It may even be someone chosen from the funeral home if you have no specific religious affiliation.
  • Designated pallbearers – This is a list of family and friends that have been chosen by the deceased or designated family member.
  • Speakers (eulogy and other remembrances) – This is a list of people the deceased would like to read a favorite prayer, poem, or other reading.
  • List of guests – If a private service is selected, they can make a list of who they would want to attend this as a limited-attendance ceremony.
  • Music – This list can include naming specific religious hymns to be played at the ceremony as well as other types of music played by a live ensemble or on a CD over a sound system.
  • Floral arrangements – This usually includes choosing the arrangements for the casket itself as well as a few customized designs surrounding the casket. These may include flowers that spell out “MOM” or “DAD”.

Additional Memorial Remembrances

So often during this emotional time, the little things can be forgotten that make all the difference in a funeral ceremony. This includes many of the following items that help to remind family and friends of the person that the deceased was to them and pay tribute to them as well:

  • Prayer cards – This is a staple item for most funerals because it not only acts as a card of remembrance of the loved one who has passed, but it also gives the departed an opportunity to express themself one more time to their loved ones with a prayer or memorable saying of their choice that can be customized on the cards along with a favorite picture of themself
  • Funeral programs – These are always abbreviated booklets of less than five pages that consist of the highlights of the deceased’s life. They can also give a brief synopsis of the funeral ceremony itself. They can be customized with designs that reflect their own personal interest in specific groups or a special theme.
  • Guest Books for Funerals – a guest book really has a two-fold service to the family. It not only allows the family to have a record of everyone who took the time to pay their respects to their loved one and to thank them with a card, but it also helps them to stay in contact with those same friends and family for years to come.
  • Bookmarks – Think about a keepsake that any friend or family member can carry with them wherever they go, and that would be a memorial bookmark. It is a relatively uncommon addition to a memorial ceremony, but one that can be customized and given with a copy of the deceased’s favorite book as an exceptionally original remembrance gift.
  • Thank you cards – Saying “thank you” to each and every person who took the time to pay their respects to your family member is also a staple of any funeral process. Because everyone expects to receive one, make sure you choose one that is not only memorable, but it reflects your heartfelt appreciation for their attendance.
  • Memorial Tribute Display – This can include memory boards, memory trees, as well as an entire table dedicated to displaying a lifetime of hobby items that you created.

How Will It All Be Paid For?

The payment process for a pre arranged funeral can vary depending upon the funeral home that is chosen. Typically, a pre planned funeral can be paid for with a variety of payment arrangements including paying incrementally as you finalize each part of the pre-planning process. Some arrangments do not need to be pre-paid, so this is a very important question to ask as each component is chosen.

Cemetery Arrangements

If there is a need for a cemetery, a funeral director can supply a list of them from nearly any area in which a loved one may pick to be buried. But, some other very important things need to be taken into consideration first:

  • Religion – There are many cemeteries that cater to only certain faiths because of religious restrictions.
  • Space – Consider if you are buying one or more plots and if these plots need to be near each other. You may also want to consider a mausoleum space if ground space is limited.
  • Environment –Is the cemetery well-kept? Take a drive and check it out.

Post-Funeral Reception or Wake

This is always an optional element to include when you plan your funeral day, but one that gives everyone who has had a meaningful relationship with the deceased time to gather together and spend reminiscing with one another about the dearly departed. This could be a favorite restaurant, local hall, or a religious space connected to the deceased.

Charitable Donation

Many people choose to have monetary donations given to their favorite charity in lieu of flowers being sent to the funeral home. In this case, ca list of charities should be created that any loved one can choose from to send their donation to on the deceased’s behalf which should also be included in the obituary.

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