A Step-By-Step Guide To Planning A Funeral

Planning a funeral can be an incredibly difficult time when you’re trying to process a loved one passing away and work through the grief. You may be feeling lost and confused, so we want to try and help make the planning as easy as possible for you. That’s why we’ve put together the following step-by-step guide listing all the aspects of planning a funeral. You can use this as a checklist to help make sure everything is arranged and in place. 

Allow Time For Grieving And Processing 

Before anything else, it’s important to mention that you need to give yourself the space to work through your grief and process the passing. Seek comfort from family members and friends, and consider working with a therapist to help process the grief. Although you may find it hard initially to talk about your loved one, discussing them and their life with another person can help lighten the load. Celebrate their life and the impact they had on others. 

Establish Any Preferences Your Loved One Had For Their Funeral

The first step in planning a funeral is to establish whether your loved one had made plans for their funeral and if they had any preferences for how it should take place. If they did, you can simply follow the preferences they have outlined already. If they didn’t have a funeral plan in place, then take time to reflect on what you think they would have preferred, or any previous conversations you may have had regarding the subject. Did your loved one hold any religious beliefs? If so, remember to respect this in the service you choose for their funeral. 

Choosing A Funeral Home

Firstly, decide on the funeral home you would like to use. Consider factors such as location and what services you require. Funeral homes manage the transportation of your loved one from their home to the funeral home, as well as embalming and dressing, and graveside services. 

Cremation Or Burial 

Depending on your loved one’s wishes or your own, you will need to choose the option of cremation or burial. Baldwin Brothers Funeral and Cremation Society provide tailored cremation services at the Village’s funeral homes, and will help you through the cremation process from start to finish. With both burials and cremation, you can place objects in with your loved one. These could be meaningful trinkets, sentimental jewelry, flowers, or any relatively small objects you think your loved one would wish to take with them. You could even write a letter to them telling them how much you love them and memories you may have had together, and place this with them. If you’re having a burial, consider whether to have the casket open or closed for guests to pay their respects. 

Urns And Gravestones 

The next step is choosing either the urn your loved one’s ashes will be housed in, or the casket and gravestone for their burial. You can browse through different options and purchase them online, and have them delivered to the funeral home you choose. If it hasn’t already been outlined in any funeral plans, take time to consider what you want to have written on the gravestone or urn plaque. What words sum up the way you felt about your loved one and what they meant to you and any other family or friends. 

Choosing Funeral Flowers

There may have been a particular flower that your loved wished to use, but if you’re not sure then think about what kind of flower signifies them. Funeral flowers don’t have to be completely white and uniform. You could include bursts of color that celebrate the personality and life of your loved one with sunflowers or gerberas, for example. If you’re still unsure, you could base the choice of flowers on the time of year. For example, if the funeral is taking place in the spring, you could opt for tulips, or if it’s in the winter you could choose traditional, white flowers such as lilies or chrysanthemums. The flowers can either be ordered through a local florist or bought online and delivered to the funeral home. After the funeral has taken place, flowers can either be placed on their grave or taken to their home. You could also consider donating the flowers to charities once they have been used for the funeral.


You can create personal invitations to the funeral for all the people you believe your loved one would have wanted there. Think not just of family but also any old friends they had, neighbors or work colleagues. You can place details of the service and when and where it will be taking place in the local newspaper or online so that people who wish to attend can do so.

How To Write An Obituary

At the start of the obituary, you need to include the details of your loved one. Such as their name and surname, and their time of death. It is up to you whether to include the cause of death. You can then write a brief summary of their life including factors such as:

  • Their parents (do not include mother’s maiden name for identify theft reasons)
  • Where they were born and the year they were born (don’t include the exact date for identity theft reasons)
  • Their education
  • Their work life
  • Their spouse and when they married
  • Their children
  • Major milestones and events in their life
  • Accomplishments they were proud of
  • What kind of person they were

In the next part of the obituary, you can list close family members and relatives. You can then include a section listing the details for a public funeral if that’s relevant. This will allow people to visit the funeral and find out where it’s held.

Photos And Videos

Will there be photos taken on the day and if so will there be a set time for this to take place? Will the service be recorded on video? This can be useful if there are guests that live far away or are otherwise not able to make the service. Copies of the video can be shared digitally for guests to use. If you do not wish for photos and videos to be taken of the day make sure you’re guests are aware of this. 

After The Funeral Service

If you’re going to be providing food for the guests, then look up catering services that can take the pressure off having to prepare food yourself. Think about what kind of food you want to be served. You could choose a light lunch or buffet for people to help themselves. If you’re loved one had a particular cultural diet you could reflect this in the food served up. The gathering before or after the funeral doesn’t have to be a solemn affair. You can celebrate the life of your loved one with music and dancing whilst still mourning them. Think about any bands or entertainment that you think could be provided. 

The Funeral Program

Once you have everything booked and a clear plan for the funeral, you can order programs to be made. These will detail the program of events for the funeral for guests to follow throughout the service. You should also include details of anything that will be taking place after the service, and where. 

Ordering Death Certificate Copies

It’s worth having several copies of the death certificate if you’re the person in charge of managing the accounts and bills set up by your loved one. Many companies and institutions will require proof of the death certificate in order for you to be allowed to close accounts or manage them. 

How Long Does It Generally Take To Plan A Funeral?

The amount of information and things to consider when planning a funeral can feel completely overwhelming, particularly if you’re struggling with grief. But the good news is that in total a funeral can be planned-out in its entirety within just a couple of days. A lot of the elements of modern-day funerals can now be planned and bought online now too. So, you won’t have to be making as many phone calls at a time when you probably don’t feel like talking to too many people.

Beginning The Process Of Probate 

Once the funeral has taken place, you can then begin the process of probate when you feel ready. Probate is the process by which the assets of your loved one will be distributed. If they have already created a will that is in place, then it simply follows the wishes outlined in their will. If they haven’t created a will, then the assets will be distributed according to the state laws regarding intestacy. The court overseeing the probate ensures any debts owed by your loved one will be paid using the assets they hold upon their passing. Once any debts have been paid, the remaining assets will be divided accordingly to the beneficiaries. You will be appointed an executor to oversee the process of identifying and distributing assets. 


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