Checklist for Funeral Arrangements

Planning a funeral in a proper manner is a huge task and especially for those grieving for a loved one. There are many important decisions to be made very fast by the family members of the deceased. At times some help can be taken by close friends or else the decisions are mostly taken by immediate family members of the deceased.

Here is a checklist that can help you in making funeral arrangements:

Things to do immediately after death:

  • If the death has occurred outside a hospital, call the appropriate organization to inform about the death.
  • If you have a family doctor, give him a call.
  • Make a call to the county coroner as it will help you during various paper works such as claiming the insurance.
  • Inform relatives and close friends.
  • Choose a funeral home and call the funeral director to start the arrangements of taking the body to the funeral home until other arrangements regarding the funeral are made.

Once the body is safely stored at the funeral home; family members of the deceased need to think about other important matters, such as:

  • Collecting all the necessary information that the funeral home will need to make copies of death certificate.
  • Look for the insurance policy number of the deceased and let the insurance company know about the death.
  • Call employer or any other important person who should be aware of the death of the deceased.
  • Call utility companies and the bank offices to close credit cards accounts and so on.
  • Call the Social Security Administration office and inform about the death of the deceased.

Now it is time to begin the arrangement for the funeral. The funeral director will plan everything but you need to give the instructions and your wishes regarding the funeral. In the US, there are three options for a funeral – direct burial, direct cremation and traditional funeral or full funeral service. You can read the article at on whether to cremate or bury to make a wise decision.

Depending upon your choice, you need to make important decisions regarding:

  • Embalming the body by which the body of the deceased will be temporarily preserved by the staff of the funeral home. For direct cremation, or direct burial there is no need for embalming the body.
  • Make a decision regarding what the deceased should be wearing during the service.
  • In case of burial, you need to tell about the funeral director about pre-purchased cemetery plot or whether a plot needs to be purchased.
  • For burial, make important decisions regarding vault, mausoleum, and type of casket for transporting the deceased and so on.
  • In case of cremation, you need to choose a crematorium, buy a cardboard casket and urn to store the ashes.
  • For a religious funeral service, you need to consult with your minister, priest, or other clergy to decide whether there will be an open or closed casket.
  • In case of burial, you need to also think about the grave marker. Order a headstone and think about the epitaph to be engraved on the headstone. 
  • For a full traditional funeral service, you will need pall bearers. Decide upon who can play the role of pall bearers. The funeral director can also arrange for pall bearers.

Some important decisions regarding the funeral service:

  • Discuss with the funeral director regarding the funeral service venue. It can be held in the funeral chapel, funeral home, church, and graveside, a hotel, in a park or even in the family home.
  • Finalize the funeral service date and time and fix the time period for viewing.
  • Decide on who will preside over the service as it can be done by a minister, family friend, clergymen, funeral celebrant or some close friend.
  • An obituary is needed to be written. You can ask someone to write an obituary. In an obituary you need to include information like where the deceased person lived, and then some details on the personality and hobbies of the person. Also tell something about the surviving members of the family of the deceased.
  • Plan as how you can make the funeral service unique. You can have a PowerPoint presentation or video presentation of photographs of the life of the deceased.
  • During a funeral service, usually short speeches are delivered by one or many. Write the eulogy in advance or else you can ask someone else to give the eulogy.
  • Select the Bible readings or a particular poem that you would like someone to read during the service. For some useful advices for readings that you can use in a funeral, check
  • What type of flowers you want for the service also needs to be decided in advance. Inform about your choice of flowers for funeral to relatives and other well wishers so that they can also make the right choice.
  • Make a list of special songs that you would like to be played, as people enter, during and after the service. You can also make arrangements for an organist, a harpist, a band, a flutist.
  • If there is a reception or gathering after the service then you need to make arrangements for that also.

To conclude, the stressful task of planning a funeral can be a made easy with the above mentioned checklist. Do one thing at a time and do not try to do everything at a single time. If things are done in a systematic manner, you can plan a good funeral within a matter of three to four days time.

Some useful resources:

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