Planning a funeral is an emotionally, mentally, and physically draining task. This is especially true when you are planning the funeral for a loved one. It is important to talk to your loved ones about their funeral wishes now so their requests are fulfilled after they pass on. Good topics to discuss with them are their preferences on being buried vs. being cremated, who they would like to speak at the service, certain musical numbers they would like to be performed, specific events or sayings they would like included in their obituary, and personal details they might want included in their funeral services.

Ideally, these topics are best discussed before the passing of the loved one, however that is not always the case. Sometimes a loved one passes on without considering any funeral plans, leaving the family and friends to plan the funeral themselves with no guidance. If this happens to be case, do not panic.

Here are some tips to consider and possible steps to follow while planning a funeral.

One of the first decisions that will need to be made is whether or not the body will be cremated, embalmed, or left as is and buried. There are other options that are less common which are also possibilities. Discuss the options with family and friends and make a decision on behalf the deceased. Make sure to keep in mind the cost of the different options along with what you think your loved one would want.

From there, proceed to pick out the urn or casket. Take your time picking these out and do not rush the decision. The final decision whether to cremate or bury the body can be difficult to come to but once it is decided the funeral plans can proceed.

Next, the size of the funeral needs to be considered while planning any funeral. Consider whether the funeral will be a smaller and more intimate service, or it will be a large and more elaborate gathering. This will help you as you decide on the venue, program, and refreshments. It is not necessary to know an exact number but an estimate will help you as you continue planning the funeral. After you have a good idea on how many people may attend, proceed with the plan by picking the place the funeral will be held.

The program of the funeral can be one of the most difficult things to decide. During this process it is important to remember the deceased and what they would like to see included in the program. Carefully select musical numbers that will honor your loved one. Whether it is a musical number that describes their life, a song that is performed by someone or a group who was special to them, a favorite song, a song by their favorite artist, a song that has religious significance, or a musical number that accurately describes the legacy they will leave behind select music that will be best for the funeral.

If you cannot find someone to perform the musical number, find a recorded version of the song that you can play over speakers. Music is a great way to honor the deceased and bring personal touches to the funeral. Along with the music selection, you will also need to delegate who will speak at the funeral. Be sensitive while considering the options and make sure the speakers are comfortable with speaking.

Generally, speakers will speak on the life story, memories, family traditions, the legacy they leave behind, along with the obituary read. Another possibility that you may want to include on the program is the opportunity to allow the audience to come share thoughts, feelings, and memories. When printing out the paper programs, ideas include a main picture of who passed away, their birth and death dates, saying/poem/or song lyrics that hold personal significance, or a family tree. When planning the program, remember not to stress and do what ever you believe is best and will best honor your loved one.

Other details included in funeral planning might include flowers, printed out pictures around the funeral, a video honoring their life, a display table that includes their hobbies, talents, or pass times, a timeline of their life with pictures and items that represent certain times in their life, background music for before and after the program, or other decorations around the funeral. Try to keep in mind the preferences of one who passed away and possible detail ideas may come easier to you.

Although planning a funeral is overwhelming and brings a lot of emotions, it may help the grieving process. A lot of time will be spent remembering their life, and legacy. This is a great chance to reflect on the impact your loved one had on you and others around them. Try to add as many personal touches as possible as this will bring a sense of intimacy to the funeral. Personal details will also help you as plan and help you feel last connections to the deceased.

These personal touches will also be recognized and appreciated by all those who attend. You never know how influential the little details could mean someone. Also, remember that, along with everything we experience in life, nothing is perfect but it all works out. Do not strive or stress for perfection, as that is not what your loved one would want. Remember to reflect on the positive while planning a funeral and lean on others for help and advice.

Try to find peace and comfort as you plan a loved one’s funeral. Know that many will appreciate your efforts and time as they too grieve over the loss of your loved one. As you make decisions for a funeral or memorial service, remember you are serving and honoring them. Planning a funeral could perhaps help make the grieving process easier. Do not get overwhelmed and take the plans one step at a time. Your dedication will not only help you feel at peace, but you will also be providing an amazing final memory for the others who attend theĀ funeral serviceĀ as well.

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Written by Clif, a freelance writer for SereniCare Funeral Homes, located in the greater Phoenix area.