The Role of the Funeral Home

A funeral home and its staff play a critical role in planning and carrying out a meaningful funeral. They will provide you with:

Knowledge & Experience 
Licensed funeral directors are intimately familiar with the funeral planning process and the decisions a grieving family must make. Funeral directors have the knowledge and experience to help families understand the options available to them, to explain the value of different product features and to help create highly personalized, meaningful tributes.

Coordination & Planning
They provide value in a variety of ways before and after the service – arranging for removal of the body, obtaining required legal documents, preparing a loved one for viewing, planning the service, arranging for final disposition, providing facilities for the visitation and funeral service, and transporting the deceased and mourners to the final resting place.

Understanding Your Needs
Keep in mind that the funeral you have is essentially a statement your family makes to the community at large: “Someone precious to us has died. We are in grief and invite you to join us in remembering a life and supporting each other.” Your local funeral professional can handle the details and help you create a unique service that fits your needs and values.

Grief Support & Healing
Funeral Directors have been trained to help families through the grief process and can do so in an environment that is conducive to healing. They can guide you through the entire process, explain all of your options and help you to make decisions that help start the healing process. In a time of distress, they can be a voice of compassion and reason.

Making Final Arrangements

Above all else, the funeral director will assist you in arranging and carrying out a meaningful funeral.

Make Key Choices

As you begin to think about the funeral and the many options you have, you may be faced with the conflict of honoring the wishes of the person who died as well as your own wishes as survivors. While it is natural to want to meet the requests of the person who died, do consider changes that will be helpful to you, your family and friends.

Have a Family Conversation

It is often helpful to have a family conversation before going to see a funeral director. This can be a time for expressing your grief together as well as a time for some initial decision making. Try as best you can to include everyone in the discussion. No one should feel left out.

The Arrangement Conference

The “arrangement conference” is when you meet with your funeral director so they can help you plan the funeral. During the arrangement conference, they will explain all of the choices available to you, help you make choices to create your unique funeral, and gather important information about the person who died to complete necessary documents.

Funeral Planning Checklist

This is a naturally difficult time, compounded by the fact that you are faced with many decisions that must be made as you begin to plan the funeral. You may feel overwhelmed by these decisions. When you are able to make informed choices, you are empowered with the important information needed to plan a meaningful funeral. Here are some key topics and decisions you should review with your funeral home.

1. Life Story Information

  • Biographical Information
  • Survivors
  • Attributes or Passions
  • Hobbies and Interests
  • Special Memories
  • Thoughts to Include in the Obituary

4. Memorial Items

  • Keepsakes
  • Remembrance Jewelry
  • Video Tributes
  • Stationery & Registry Book

2. Service Options

  • Visitation Date & Time
  • Ceremony Date & Time
  • Type of Service
  • Person to Lead Service
  • Person to Give Eulogy
  • Others Who May Want to Speak
  • Pallbearers
  • Music
  • Readings
  • Committal Service
  • Gathering After the Ceremony
  • Other personal touches like a memory board, favorite food, dove or butterfly release.

3. Merchandise Choices

For a burial, you will need to select:

  • Casket
  • Vault / Mausoleum
  • Cemetery
  • Monument

For cremation, you will need to select:

  • Casket or Container
  • Final Resting Place
  • Memorial Urn
  • Possibly an Urn Vault

Download Our Complete Planning Guide

This guide will walk you thorugh the information you will need and the decision you will need to make.  Complete this prior to the arrangement conference or as part of your pre-need planning and share it with your funeral director.

Writing a Good Obituary

If you’ve read many obituaries, you’ll see that they often follow a certain formula. A good way to get started is to follow a template or examples you find online. Your funeral director can also help.  Like a good funeral, a good obituary feels personal. It uses language that sounds right to the family. It tells the story of the person’s life, and it expresses how family and friends felt about the person. Longer and more detailed is generally better, though newspapers charge for the space, so costs also have to be considered.

If you’re writing an obituary, ask other friends and family members for help. Gather many people’s ideas and insights, if possible. Then show your draft around, soliciting feedback and making sure you didn’t leave out something important. Finally, try to choose a photo of the person that captures their personality. A candid shot often has the most impact, though the photo must also be crisp and high resolution.

The Advantages of Planning Ahead

The idea behind planning ahead is simple. One day, a great deal of vital information about you or a loved one will be needed by your family and anyone whose responsibility it is to assist them. Those who plan ahead can be assured that, not only will their personal wishes be fulfilled, but other unnecessary difficulties will be avoided.

Both you and your loved ones can benefit when funeral arrangements are made well ahead of need. It can be beneficial to include your immediate family in those plans, ensuring those left behind are aware of your wishes and able to plan a meaningful funeral that will help them begin their mourning.  By discussing plans in advance, you can take all the time necessary to make decisions about cremation or burial, type of ceremony and other funeral elements.

You may want to discuss your thoughts and decisions with your family and a funeral service professional. The Meaningful Funerals Companion Guide can be used to capture your wishes and biographical information in advance. Upon completion, simply store it in a safe place with your other important documents.

Creating Meaningful Funeral Ceremonies: A Guide for Families

This compassionate, friendly workbook affirms the importance of the personalized funeral ritual and helps families create a ceremony that will be both healing and meaningful for years to come. Designed to complement the role of the clergy, celebrant and funeral director in the funeral planning process, A Guide for Families walks readers through the many decisions they will make at the time of a death.