It's a challenge that most of us will have to address one day. Even if we never have to arrange a funeral for someone else there's always our own send off to think about - particularly with the sensible trend for planning funerals while we are still alive.
Are funeral arrangements in place?
Assuming you're faced with the challenge of arranging a funeral for someone else, one of the first tasks is discovering whether they've left any funeral plans. The deceased's will is a good starting point. Other possible sources of information include the following:
- A letter of wishes (perhaps stored with the will)
- An online funeral planning resource such as The Well Planned Funeral
- Recalled conversations with the deceased
If the deceased has stored funeral wishes online, you may even be notified of their wishes by the website. The information might be as simple as a choice between burial or cremation. On the other hand, you could find yourself managing an unusual funeral arrangement request such as a burial at sea.
Understand the deceased's wishes
As the person responsible for organising a funeral, you and other loved ones are responsible for fulfilling their wishes as closely as possible. Obviously, financial means and logistical practicalities must be considered when planning a funeral - not everyone will be able to have their ashes made into fireworks and blasted into the sky as writer Hunter S. Thompson's were. At this stage, you might also discover that the deceased had already made their own arrangements by subscribing to a prepaid funeral plan.
How to arrange a funeral - contact an undertaker
Once you understand the deceased's funeral wishes, you'll usually contact an undertaker. A reputable undertaker is an experienced funeral planner who'll guide you through the required procedures. Whether it's a sophisticated funeral or a simple cremation, the undertaker and their team are powerful allies at an emotionally challenging time. They've been through the process many times so draw on their expertise to help with the administrative and practical burdens that you're facing. And of course, friends and family are another valuable source of funeral help.
Practical funeral actions
A major part of the funeral will be the ceremony itself. How to arrange a funeral will depend on the deceased's beliefs; these may dictate an elaborate religious ceremony or a simple alternative funeral. Whatever its form the funeral ceremony represents the culmination of mourning and the opportunity for everyone to say goodbye to the deceased. Start making a funeral checklist as soon as you can; it's a sensible way to make sure everything is remembered. Important parts of the funeral service usually include the following:
- Decoration of the venue with flowers and/or other meaningful items
- Funeral music
- Poems or readings
- Religious rituals (if appropriate)
- Tributes and appreciations
- Committal of the deceased for burial or cremation
When the funeral's over, the mourners will typically move to a cemetery or a crematorium for the committal of the body. After this, it's usual for mourners to join the friends and family for refreshments - a wonderful opportunity to reminisce and celebrate the life of the deceased in more informally.
How to arrange a funeral - many people plan while they're alive
Increasingly, enlightened people take responsibility for their final send-off while they're still alive. From burial instructions to details of funeral flowers arrangements or a poem to be read at a funeral, it's a great way to make sure your wishes are fulfilled. Whether you do this by leaving instructions in your will, investing in a prepaid funeral plan or learn how to arrange a funeral through an online funeral planning resource will depend on your personal preferences.
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