10 Tips To Properly Organize A Funeral

Even though we all face dying, this is a topic we don't want to think about, let alone talk about. It seems too morbid! But do you want all those hard decisions thrust upon your family in such a difficult time? Do not leave the decision making to them, have your wishes down in writing.

Or perhaps you have recently lost a loved one and are having to deal with all the decision making and arrangements. At such a difficult time when you are in mourning and cannot think straight, it would be good to have a list to refer to and give some direction on what to do. Here is that list to make this difficult time easier for you or your loved ones.

1. Notify Authorities

If someone dies outside of the hospital or nursing home you need to notify the authorities. Call 911 or your local emergency number to report the death. They will likely then call the Coroner, but it is a good idea for you to do so also, especially when it involves a Death Insurance Policy. Notify their place of Employment. Also contact the Executor.

Eventually, other Authorities that need to be contacted are: Lawyer, Accountant, Insurance Companies, Health Insurance, Bank, Memberships to cancel, and Driver's license to cancel.

Be sure to get sufficient copies of the Death Certificate, as many companies (such as Banks and Insurance Companies) require a copy of the Death Certificate.

2. Contact Close Family and Friends

The police are required to notify the next of kin, but you will no doubt want to notify other members who would want to know and may have to start making travel arrangements. If you are making this list for yourself, note the names and numbers on the printable list attached of ones you would like to be notified in the event of your death.

If you are dealing with grief, you do not have to make all the calls. Perhaps call one family member from each side of the deceased's family and let them be responsible for notifying all of their family. Call a close friend and give them the list of ones you would like to be notified. There will be enough on your plate, so this narrows your phone calls to three.

Also, the phone will start ringing off the hook, and you will find yourself facing extreme exhaustion taking all of the calls and explaining the circumstances over and over. Have someone you can depend on to be there to take all the incoming calls.

3. Find The Will

This can be a challenge if you do not know where the will is, or the key to the Safety Deposit Box. It is a good idea to have a Fireproof Box. Inside the box should be important documents, instructions, the key to the Safety Deposit Box. In the advent of death, your family and loved ones know right where to go.

4. Gather Information

Gather information you will need for the completion of the Death Certificate with Vital Statistics, for the Funeral Director, and for Memorial Cards:

  • Parent's names, including middle initials
  • Social Security or Social Insurance Number
  • Date of Birth, Place of Birth, and Date of Death
  • Marriage Certificate
  • House and Land Titles
  • Place of Employment, name and address and occupation
  • Education 1-12
  • College 1-4 or 5+
  • Name of Father
  • Name of Mother (Maiden)
  • Names of Children
  • Special accomplishments of the deceased - athletic, political, religious, scientific

5. Burial Arrangements

The Funeral Director will guide you through much of this process, but knowing where this information is or having it ready will make this difficult time a little easier. Here are some of the things you need to consider:

  • Cremation or Embalming
  • The site for the Service, it could be a Church, Temple, Funeral Home or graveside
  • If Embalming, you will need to consider the type of burial
  • Clothing & Jewellery if having a traditional burial.
  • Cemetery plot - purchase one or have a copy of the Deed.
  • Urn or Type of Casket - wood, metal, or rough box
  • Open or closed Casket
  • Funeral or Memorial Service - service before or after the burial or cremation. Will there be a graveside ceremony?
  • Decide if you want the body or Remains at the service

6. Obituary

Compose an obituary. Information to Include:

  • Vital Statistics including where born, name of parents and the surviving family members
  • Memberships & Associations
  • Hobbies
  • Details about the funeral, the Funeral home friends may call, date and times, Service & burial time.
  • List of Newspapers to submit, Radio, and/or the Internet

7. Funeral Plans

  • Choose the type of service - a Funeral or Memorial Service
  • Choose the location of the Service & the luncheon - at a Church, Funeral Home or graveside
  • Eulogies - Decide who will deliver the eulogy. You will need to consult with them and provide them with information about the deceased as well as other details.
  • Appoint Pall Bearers - usually 4 to 6 men are needed
  • Choose Music - Some soothing instrumental, or songs that have special meaning, or perhaps a family friend will be a vocalist or instrumentalist
  • Choose Flower arrangements - for the Service, a casket spray
  • Choose Pictures - photo album or slide show in memory of the deceased's life
  • Props - There may be something that reflects the love and interest of the deceased
  • Memorial Cards - Will you have them printed or make your own
  • Guest Book - purchase a guest book for guests to sign as they arrive
  • Transportation - for the family to the service and to the grave site
  • Grave Marker - Choice of marker or stone, Engraving and Inscription on the Stone
  • Accommodations for out of town relatives, delegate ones who can assist with travel, and airport pickup
  • Legal Matters

8. Memorial Cards

Memorial Cards are small cards that the Funeral Home usually print as a testimony to the deceased. Or you will need to supply them with copies to be given to the attendees. Just a small touch but can mean so much in the memory of the deceased, and can give comfort to the ones who are grieving. They can be laminated and can include a thank note from the family, favourite photos, a prayer, scripture or religious song. With the convenience of the computer and software program, you can make your own. There are examples on the Internet.

9. Funeral Luncheon

Give thought to the location of the luncheon and who will cater it. Often many family and friends need to travel to attend the funeral, and so you will want to give some refreshments before they travel back. Possibly your Funeral Home provides that service for a fee, or a local Association, hire a Catering Company, or get friends to organize it.

10. Thank You Cards

You will need lots of cards to send out a thank you to friends and family and Associations. You may also want to submit a Thank You to your local newspaper.

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