When you're a close relative of someone who dies, you may be responsible for planning their funeral if the person didn't make their own arrangements in advance. The process usually has three steps. First, the body must be embalmed or cremated. Next, a memorial or funeral services are held, and then the body is taken to the burial plot for another short service, or the ashes may be spread in the case of cremation. All of these steps are often carried out by the funeral home you choose, but it doesn't necessarily have to be that way. Here are some options.
Cremation Allows For Delayed Services
If you're having trouble making arrangements for the funeral or if some family members are sick or out of the country, you may want to wait and have a memorial service later. When you have your loved one cremated, the cremation can be done right away. Then, you take possession of the ashes while you plan for the services to take place at a later time. If your loved one is to be embalmed, you'll probably need to have the funeral service within a certain number of days and have the body buried even if family members can't make it back in time.
A Formal Funeral May Be The Most Appropriate
The type of funeral service you choose might depend in part on the status of your loved one. A community figure will probably have many people attend the visitation hours and the funeral. This might call for a formal funeral with a few nights of visitation before the service. The first night might be reserved for the family so you have some private time with your loved one before members of the community come to pay respects. Not all funerals are formal occasions though. Many are private and casual gatherings of friends and relatives.
The funeral home can usually help you with the customs and planning if you're not familiar with what you need to do for a traditional funeral. You'll probably need to choose a casket, clothing, arrangement of flowers, seating assignments, music, and the speaker. Planning a formal funeral can be a big job and stressful, so finding help from the funeral home or someone else with experience will probably be a welcome relief.
A Private Memorial For Family Might Be Ideal
You don't necessarily have to have an official funeral service at a funeral home. If your loved one was cremated, you may want to have a memorial service in an entirely different place, such as their favorite park or at their home. If your loved one was embalmed, you may want to skip the funeral services and have a small family gathering at the cemetery where your loved one's body is taken.
If you're also left with the responsibility of paying for the funeral services, the cost might come into play when making your decisions. Talk to the funeral home about your options and choose a funeral services style that's a good match for your situation and budget.