Plan your funeral service and ensure your wishes are fulfilled

Plan your funeral service and ensure your wishes are fulfilled

Planning the right type of funeral service for each individual is important for providing the family with a good way to begin the grieving process. Each individual is different, and a cookie-cutter model is not the way to approach a ceremony that is so personal.

The funeral service should properly reflect the decedent’s personality. People like candy, wine, good food and music, so a funeral and the reception following should include all of those things. You should be able to say goodbye to the people you care about.

Have you ever thought of how you would like to be remembered or how you might remember someone close to you? What special traits stand out – intelligence, sense of humor, kindness or generosity? Maybe it’s a major life accomplishment or a favorite hobby like golf or the theater. What makes each person different, special or unique? These qualities should be the essence of the choices one makes in planning a funeral.


Do plan your service in advance

You want your family to be aware of your wishes so family members are not forced to guess when you are no longer around to let them know the details that are important to you.

Do plan your service with a funeral director

Planning your service in advance can be done at home; however, it is best done at a funeral home, so the necessary documentation can be completed in advance. This becomes even more important if there is a chance of disagreements over funeral arrangements or cost. Most funeral homes provide the necessary forms and paperwork to help you know the options and the costs.

Do think about the personality of the deceased when planning a funeral service

It is the personality of the deceased who should be remembered when the funeral service is planned, not necessarily the family members and friends who are left behind. Those grieving for their loved one will have an easier time coping with their loss if the service reflects who the person truly was. For example, someone who loved parties would appreciate a party-like celebration, while a quiet person would likely want a service more reserved and traditional in tone.

Do be specific about the details

Go to the funeral home and pick out a casket and select flowers. Most funeral homes have books of caskets and flowers, or will let you pick out your choice online. Document the music and have a video made in advance. If you make the video, it can be adjusted for more pictures, right? If there is anything that will be unique about the service, make sure everyone is aware of what you want. It is good to talk about your memories, your vacations, your family and your wishes, all while you walk through the garden at you home or a place where you and your family love. You can play that video at your service,and there won’t be a dry eye in the room. It can be beautiful, and your children will be able to share the video with their children someday.


Do not wait and let others handle the arrangements

Under the stress of grief, we are typically not able to make good decisions. Even people who work in funeral homes talk about not being able to know what they did or didn’t do when planning a funeral service at the last minute. People frequently make bad decisions because of guilt or pressure from other family members.

Do not plan a service you can’t afford

We have heard of people making arrangements that include the refinancing of their home to pay for the service. This is not a good idea. There are many ways to provide a proper funeral service. If you cannot afford that bronze casket, don’t do it. It’s great if you can afford it, go for it. However, funerals are not supposed to leave families in great debt.

Do not arrange for something that may offend your family members

This happens sometimes when there are religious or cultural family differences. Work to find a middle ground, where the entire family can feel comfortable about the funeral arrangements.

Do not plan a funeral that would be right for you, but not your loved one

Be mindful of the personality of the deceased and plan the funeral that fits that person. What were her hobbies? What type of music did he like? What type of flowers did she like? Did she even like flowers? For example, there was a little boy who loved stories about knights in armor. At the boy’s funeral, the family was able to have a knight ride his horse down the middle aisle of the church. The hearts of everyone in attendance swelled with joy when they saw the knight and horse ride in because they knew how much the little boy loved a riding knight. The family was able to plan a loving, fitting and meaningful tribute to their little boy that they loved deeply.

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Funerals are meant to provide ceremony around the loss of a loved one, which will help those left behind to grieve. Grief is a complicated and difficult emotion, so helping families walk the path of grief is important to a funeral director. Finding the right funeral for a loved one is so important in the grief journey. Hopefully, some of these suggestions about the right kind of service will help.

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Marla NoelPresident

Marla J. Noel is President and Board Member of Fairhaven Memorial Park and Mortuary, an organization established in 1911 with over 90 staff members. The main campus is located on the border of Santa Ana and the city of Orange in California. Marl...

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