Primary Goal of this Step
In order to begin the process of planning your funeral or memorial service, you should consider whether you'd like to be buried or cremated, what type of funeral or memorial service you'd like to have, and if you'd like to have any events before the service or events after the service. Once you make these decisions, you'll be ready to select a funeral home and begin making arrangements for your funeral or memorial service.
Important Tasks: Select a Funeral Home
Determine if previous arrangements were made
Have any previous arrangements been made? Has a cemetery plot or a space in a mausoleum already been purchased?
Decide on burial or cremation
If you choose burial, you will need to purchase a burial plot or a spot in a mausoleum at a cemetery. If you choose cremation, you can decide what you want done with the cremated remains, including burial, scattering, or giving them to friends and family members to be stored in an urn.
Select the type of service you'd like to have
Decide where the funeral service (and burial, if appropriate) will take place
You will need to choose a location for the service (funeral home, church, synagogue, etc.) and burial, if appropriate. In some cases, death will occur far away from where the funeral (and burial) will occur and you will need to engage two funeral homes to coordinate transporting the body. (For example, if you plan to be buried with other family members in Boston, but you live in San Francisco.) In this situation, you will need to work with a funeral director in the place where the funeral and burial will take place as well as a funeral director in the place you live. Contact the destination funeral director first to make arrangements. He or she will be able to advise you on when and how to make local arrangements.
Decide if you will be having a pre-funeral gathering (viewing, visitation, wake)
A viewing or wake with the body present may require the services of a funeral director. In addition, if the body will be on display it may be necessary for the body to be embalmed, which is prohibited in Judaism and Islam.
Now you’ll know what kind of funeral director you’ll need to hire!
Depending on what you chose above, the typical options are:
• Funeral followed by burial - Funeral director at funeral home
• Funeral followed by cremation - Funeral director at funeral home
• Direct burial, memorial service follows - Funeral director at funeral home
• Direct cremation, memorial service follows - Funeral director at a crematory or funeral home