How To Plan A Funeral Or Memorial Service


pre-plan-memorial-service-mainPlanning a funeral or memorial service is a very emotional task for the person responsible for making the arrangements. It is a great deal of help if the departed has made pre-arrangements or if they have expressed their wishes for their end of life services. It is extremely helpful if the departed has left a detailed outline of their wishes if they have not already made arrangements.

When you are faced with planning services for a loved one you need to know the differences between a funeral and a memorial service. To funeral directors the term funeral means the body is present for the service and with a memorial service the deceased’s body is not present. Sometimes a memorial service is termed a life celebration.

You also need to know the different methods for final disposition of the remains of the departed. There is cremation, burial and entombment. Cremation is when the remains are reduced to ashes by heat and then these cremains (ashes) are placed in an urn which may be either stored at home with loved ones or buried or scattered. Burial is when the casket is placed in the ground at a cemetery. Entombment is when the casket is placed into either a tomb or mausoleum above ground.

A traditional funeral today is usually held in a funeral home or a house of worship. However, a funeral may be held somewhere else if this is the wish of those making the arrangements.

With a funeral there is usually a viewing of the body one or two nights or several hours before the funeral service. This viewing gives friends and loved ones the opportunity to pay their final respects to the deceased.

Many people will send floral arrangements in honor of the deceased. Some families request donations be made to a particular charity in lieu of flowers.

Following the viewing is the funeral service which may or may not be a religious service. Typically there is a service by a clergy or someone else, friends or family members may speak with remembrances of the deceased, there may be music and then the funeral service is followed by the burial or entombment of the departed. In some cases a funeral service is held and then the body is taken for cremation.


After the services many families host a luncheon or light refreshments which is sometimes held at a restaurant or catered and sometimes friends bring food either to a private home or a meeting place.

A memorial service may be held at anytime after the death of someone. It may be held at a funeral home, a house of worship or somewhere else. The service may or may not be religious.

At times there is a period of a few hours before the service when friends and loved ones meet to share remembrances of the deceased. This is called a gathering rather than a visitation.

A life celebration is similar to a memorial service except the focus is more on the celebration of the life of the departed rather than on grieving their loss.

When planning the services for a deceased loved one you first need to determine what type of service you want. You need to decide where the service will be held. If a burial or entombment where that will be and do you already have the burial plot or crypt. Who needs to be notified. Who will act as a pallbearers if needed. Are you planning refreshments after the service? Where? What type food and who will prepare and serve it. What type flowers do you want. Do you want to request charitable contributions. If visitation how many times. What clothing do you need for the deceased. What do you want displayed in the room for either a visitation or gathering. Do you want a memorial video to play. What music would you like for the service. Who should speak at the service. If the deceased is a veteran should there be military honors at the cemetery. Should there be a service by a fraternal organization to which the deceased belonged. If you are having guests from out of town where should they stay. How much money is available to cover the costs for the burial or cremation and the following services. As you

can see there are numerous things which go into planning a funeral or memorial service. That is why have in everything pre-planned or at least outlined will make it much easier for those loved ones responsible for taking care of the final arrangements for their loved one. A good funeral director is a great help and comfort when it is time to make final arrangements.