Your Guide to Planning a Meaningful Funeral Experience

Whether you choose burial or cremation, there is a wide range of funeral elements and traditions available. You may decide to include a viewing or visitation with an open or closed casket, a service at the funeral home, church or other place of worship, and a procession to the graveside service or final resting place.

Your family may wish to have one person offer a eulogy, or have multiple speakers share stories and memories about your loved one.

If you have family and friends who are unable to attend, many funeral homes offer livestream services that can help people participate remotely so they can say their final goodbyes. Your funeral director can also help you create a custom video tribute to include in the service.

How to express your loved one’s beliefs

If religion or spirituality is important, your family may want to have a clergy member officiate the service. Having a faith-based service may also help decide where the funeral takes place.

It’s good to know, however, that anyone can officiate a funeral or memorial service, such as a family member, friend, a funeral celebrant or your funeral director.

Where the service will take place

Choosing a setting for your loved one’s service is an important part of funeral planning, whether it’s at the funeral home, your loved one’s church or another familiar place.

Your funeral director can help you explore options that will be comfortable and meaningful for everyone.

What will happen after the service

Many families choose to have a committal service immediately after the funeral.

Family and friends often gather at the graveside and place pictures, dirt or other personal items or remembrances on the casket or urn vault before burial.

With cremation, families often choose to have a committal service at the columbarium or cemetery, or scatter some or all the cremated remains in a garden, by a lake or ocean, or at another setting that was special to your loved one. You may even decide to include each of these, or add other elements, such as a balloon release.

It’s also important to remember that the service is not your only chance to remember your loved one. You might also choose to have a less formal gathering where guests share memories, stories and feelings.