By Mark Hutchins

When someone passes away, many times they have not done any advance funeral planning. This leaves the family with the burden of making the final arrangements for their loved one. There are many things to consider during this process.

Why should I plan a funeral for my loved one?

A funeral or memorial is a customary way to recognize death and its finality. Today, many families chose to hold Celebration of Life services. Services are held for the living to show respect for the dead and to help survivors begin the grief process. They also give mourners a chance to share stories, create memories, fulfill religious beliefs & customs, participate in a support system, and gather at a peaceful place during a time of confusion and uncertainty.

What type of services do you want for your loved one?

  • Traditional Services with Visitations; Funeral or Memorial services;
  • Cremation with visitation and/or Memorial Services.
  • Direct Cremations;
  • Celebration of Life Events;

If your family is considering some form of visitation and/or service, you will need to decide if
you want to have this take place over two days or have both held on the same day. Things to take into consideration would be:

  • Will the service be held at the funeral home or at a church?
  • Will there be a traditional burial, a cremation burial or no burial?

Once your family has made the above decisions; the next step is deciding on a funeral home that can help you through this process of honoring your loved one. There are important things to


  • What type of facility do they have, will it accommodate the type of services that you want?
  • If you have a large family will it accommodate the number of people that may attend some form of visitation, funeral or memorial service or celebration of life event?
  • Is there enough parking?
  • Does the facility have an atmosphere that is comfortable for your family?
  • Do you need some form of reception area, where you can have food and refreshments?


  • It would be beneficial to develop a small outline of the services that you want, because prices will vary between funeral homes for the same services.
  • Prices can be obtained by calling a funeral home and asking for their general price list (GPL). Every funeral home has a GPL available, as well as a price list for caskets and outer burial containers.
  • Cash Advance items such as the cost for an obituary, opening and closing a grave will be the same no matter which funeral home you select.


  • Are the individuals compassionate and helpful when they are on the phone with you or in person?

Once a decision has been made on a funeral home, you will need to contact that funeral home so that they may take your loved one into their care. You will also need to meet with the funeral director at their facility and outline what your final wishes are. The funeral director will then take over the coordination of all the funeral arrangements for you, relieving you of that burden. The items listed below will be coordinated by the Funeral Director for you.

  • Obtain the signature of the attending physician, coroner or medical examiner on the required certificates; file the certificate with the town or city office where the death occurred; obtain certified copies of the death certificate, as necessary.
  • Ensure compliance with government regulators
  • Transfer the deceased from the place of death to the funeral home (local or out of town)
  • Obtain family history
  • Organize the funeral or memorial service location, such as church, funeral home, or graveside
  • Setup for a viewing/visitation and or service, if requested
  • Make necessary arrangements with clergy, church and cemetery officials
  • Procure the burial permit and file with the cemetery
  • Order and schedule the delivery of all products/merchandise (casket, outer burial container or urn, acknowledgement cards, register books, memorial folders, flowers, etc.)
  • Assist in composing the obituary and submit to the various newspapers
  • Arrange for transportation of the deceased from the funeral home
  • Arrange for family transportation
  • Complete social security papers and secure social security benefits
  • Secure Veterans benefits (if applicable)
  • Secure life insurance benefits (if applicable)
  • Complete accounting, clerical and filing work
  • Answer telephone calls
  • Deliver flowers to local nursing homes, hospitals etc. following the funeral

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