Where to begin
If you make your funeral arrangements in advance, you’ve already decided the most important factor about your funeral: taking responsibility for your legacy and empowering your loved ones to fulfill your final wishes. This isn’t the only decision you’ll make about your funeral, however. Prearranging can be as simple as selecting a funeral provider, or as detailed as choosing what food to serve after the ceremony. We’re here to help you start your prearrangement process.
At its core, prearranging a funeral is answering three questions. First, do you want to have a ceremony? Second, do you want to have a visitation? Third, what would you like done with your remains? These are the core decisions that, if left unresolved, can cause your loved ones angst.
The purpose of the ceremony is to mark a transition, acknowledging the passing of a loved one and beginning a new stage of life without them. You may think of funeral ceremonies as an inconvenience for your family or even as narcissistic. But the ceremony actually isn’t for you; ceremonies help your loved ones grieve. A ceremony can be anything from a small graveside gathering of family to a celebration of life welcoming hundreds of family members, friends, colleagues and neighbors. Funeral ceremonies can be held at a variety of locations, including a place of worship, a funeral home, social club, community center, outdoors or even in your home. Learn more about ceremonies from our blog.
Sometimes known as a wake, calling hours or a viewing, a visitation is a time for connection. Viewings provide an opportunity for guests to share personal stories and experiences with the family of the deceased, allowing them to personally connect with acquaintances of the deceased. Family and friends can comfort one another and hear stories about the way their loved one affected others’ lives.
While the disposition of your remains might seem unimportant now, the topic can be a source of discord among family members when left undecided. The most common options are burial, cremation or some combination of the two. When choosing cremation, you also need to include your wishes for your cremains. Options include sharing them with loved ones, spreading them at an important location, burying them for descendants to visit or some combination. When opting for a traditional burial, you will need to choose the location of the cemetery or mausoleum where your remains will be buried.
While funerals have additional details, start by answering these three questions. From this foundation, you’ll be able to personalize your funeral with more specific details later. Tackling the prearrangement process with these three decisions ensures that your family, your clergy or your funeral provider will be able to honor your wishes. Be sure to write down your preferences and share them with someone important to you. Better yet, connect with a funeral provider and finalize the plan so you can rest easy.