Most of us have little idea when to start when we’re called on to organise a funeral. Not only is the process new, but it’s also complicated and stressful and needs to be carried out quickly. Equally, the decisions that you need to make can become costly unless the deceased had a funeral plan in place. Funerals can cost several thousand pounds, and it’s easy for the organiser to pay more than they’d like to just to feel as though a ‘good send-off’ has been assured.
However, if you know a little about the process in advance, you can take steps to organise a funeral with less worry and pressure.
Take a Breath
If your loved one was a Muslim or Jewish, then the funeral will need to happen quickly – and if so, you should contact your local mosque or synagogue. They are typically well prepared to help with the funeral. In all other instances, you have some extra time – especially if the hospital advises that a post-mortem will need to be carried out. First, get a legal pronouncement of death from the doctor, and contact a funeral home to arrange collection of the body.
From this point you can begin preparations. Your loved one may well have stated their wishes for a cremation or funeral, but if not speak with the family to get a sense of preference. You’ll need to find someone to officiate, choose the type of funeral service you want, make decisions around coffin, hearses and other funeral elements, send obituaries out, procure a headstone and plot if you are having a burial, and meet with a solicitor about the deceased person’s estate.
To get help with this, the funeral home will help you to get death certificates, organise the funeral and prepare obituaries. The death certificates will need to go to the deceased person’s bank, other financial institutions and life insurance company. Take copies, as you may need a few.
Planning the Funeral
Think in advance about the sort of funeral you need before you meet with the funeral home. Do you need to organise an elaborate funeral or a small private graveside service? Is a memorial service later down the line more appropriate? Will there be a viewing, and will it be public or private? Choose a reputable funeral company that won’t push products and services at you at a difficult time. Look too for a professional company with good reviews and a strong reputation.
Find out if the deceased had a funeral plan to cover the expenses involved. Otherwise, ascertain the budget before you buy the services. You can keep prices low by choosing modern cardboard coffins, for example, which can be customised with designs. Funeral planning with a budget in mind prevents you from making knee-jerk expensive decisions.
Remember too the personal details such as songs, speeches and dress codes which will truly honour the memory of the deceased whilst encouraging others to participate.