Primary Goal of this Step
Choose the type of service you want to have (funeral or memorial service), and any surrounding events (for before and after the service). Purchase any appropriate or necessary products you may need to facilitate the events.
Important Tasks: Make Funeral Arrangements
Choose the type of service you'll have
After you decide how you’re going to inter the body, you’ll need to decide if you want to have a ceremony around the interment—generally either a funeral (before the burial or cremation), a graveside service (at the interment), or memorial service (after the burial or cremation).
Decide if you’ll be having any pre- or post-service events
Pre-funeral events generally include a viewing, wake, or visitation. Post-funeral events generally include receptions or gatherings. If you will be following religious traditions, those may help dictate these events. If you plan to have surrounding events, you will need to choose when and where they will take place.
Choose how the body will be prepared and whether you want an open casket
Most funeral homes will require that a body be embalmed (a method of keeping the body in good condition) if there will be a viewing before the funeral or an open casket during the funeral. Some cultures and religions feel that being able to see the person who died offers a sense of closure, while some, such as Judaism and Islam, prohibit embalming and therefore effectively prohibit open-casket ceremonies. In some cases, depending on the cause of death, the cost and challenges of preparing the body to be viewed can be too great. While some funeral homes specialize in cosmetic restoration services, others may not have the resources to sufficiently prepare the body for viewing.
Choose cremation or burial products
If you're planning a burial, you'll need a casket and a burial vault or grave liner. If you're planning a cremation, you'll need a cremation casket and an urn. You can purchase these products from the funeral home or from an online retailer.
Choose formal transportation
Transportation via hearse will be required to move the body from the funeral location to the cemetery, and the funeral home will provide and charge for this service. Transportation may be desired to get immediate family members from the funeral location to the cemetery in a funeral procession, and the funeral home can provide and will charge for this service, though you may also drive yourself.
Decide what clothing you want the person who died to be buried or cremated in, along with other belongings you want to have buried with the person
If the body will be cremated, keep in mind that any objects you'd like to save as keepsakes, such as jewelry or clothing, should be removed from the body prior to cremation.