Making Funeral Arrangements
At some time in our lives, most of us will make or assist in making funeral arrangements for a family member or friend. This website is intended to answer many of the questions you may have about arranging or prearranging a funeral.
The funeral is an important ritual. As difficult as it may be to face, most of us accept death as an inevitable part of life. Today, a dignified funeral ceremony and opportunity to say "good-bye" to the deceased remains an important part of life.
Your funeral director will help you create a meaningful funeral ceremony by discussing your options, guiding you through the arrangement process, handling many details and giving you the information necessary to make decisions. Make sure you ask questions about options that are not presented as your funeral director will do whatever possible to help. No two funerals are exactly the same, nor should they be. Help your funeral director help you personalize the funeral by discussing how you would like your loved one to be remembered.
It is important to understand exactly what kind of funeral goods and type of service you will receive for the price you pay. Unlike most consumer transactions, funeral arrangements are often made at an emotional time.
Although the exact nature of funeral rites and ceremonies can differ greatly from one culture or religion to another, in many ways they have remained the same throughout history.
- Bring together a community of mourners
- Create an opportunity for participants to offer each other emotional support and talk about the life and death of their loved one
- Provide a sense of closure
When considering funeral arrangements, remember these important needs.
A death in the family is always stressful, especially if the family has the added burden of planning the funeral at the time of death.
- Makes your wishes known
- Means that your family can be involved in making these difficult decisions
- Relieves your loved ones of the financial responsibility
Prearranging ensures that your family and funeral director know exactly what kind of funeral you want. Families tend to take comfort at the time of death, simply from knowing their loved one's funeral reflects his or her wishes.
Prearrangement may or may not involve prepaying. Prepaying for a funeral offers you the advantage of paying for your funeral when you can afford it, thus relieving your family of a financial burden later. There are generally three basic ways to prepay for a funeral.
- You can purchase a specially designed insurance policy that provides benefits equal to your funeral expenses. Or...
- You can enter into a trust fund agreement, depositing a specific amount of money in one lump sum or installments. The fund, managed by a trustee such as a banker, is used to pay for funeral services and merchandise. Or...
- A third option is a savings or certificate of deposit account earmarked for funeral expenses in a bank that would be payable on death to the funeral home.
There are other options as well, and state laws covering these financial arrangements vary. Ask your funeral director what options are available, and be sure you have a clear understanding of the different types of prefunding vehicles.
- Is the prepayment refundable in part or in full?
- Does the prepayment cover any cost increases later?
- Who receives the interest on the account, and who must pay taxes on that interest?
- What happens if the funeral home goes out of business or is sold?
- In the event the purchaser of the plan moves, is the prefunding plan transferable?
Feel free to view/print our Preplanning Questionnaire to aid you in your planning. Simply taking the time to complete the forms and discuss your wishes with your family is one way to prearrange your funeral.
Nothing adequately prepares you for the initial shock of a loved one's death. Feelings of panic and helplessness may be overwhelming, but it's important to know you are not alone. It is important to reach out to close relatives, friends and professionals for the help, support and comfort you need.
In some states, a doctor must be present to declare a person dead and state the cause of death. If the doctor isn't sure of the cause of death, or if the death may have been caused by suicide, homicide, or an accident, the county medical examiner or coroner may be called.
Call your funeral director and clergyperson right away, regardless of time of day or location. Immediate assistance and guidance from your funeral director will be extremely valuable to you, especially if you are faced with the added difficulty of making initial arrangements from a distance.
Family and friends should be notified. Call immediate family members first - parents, grandparents, children and siblings of the deceased. Again, do not worry about waking others. Grief researchers say those close to the deceased feel left out if they aren't told about death immediately.
It's not necessary or practical for you to call every family member and friend. News of a death travels quickly. Rely on others to make sure everyone is notified. Although it may be difficult to do, telling others of a death is therapeutic. By saying aloud that a loved one has died, the death is confirmed in your mind - an important step in the grief process.
The emotional impact of death often makes it difficult to concentrate on the overwhelming number of details associated with planning the funeral and taking care of the deceased's estate. You will find your funeral director's assistance extremely valuable as you move through all activities associated with a death.
You and your funeral director will need to plan the funeral carefully to make sure it expresses your wishes. Include your clergyperson in the planning from the start. If you don't belong to a church but want a religious funeral, your funeral director will suggest a clergyperson to officiate.
Experts estimate funeral directors conduct and coordinate more than 200 separate activities in just two or three days in preparation for and during a funeral.
- Transport the deceased person's body to the funeral home
- Secure information for and file the certificate of death
- Meet with your family to discuss arrangement options
- Help you choose the place, type and time for the visitation, service and other arrangements
- Help you select a casket, outer burial container, urn, memorial stone, marker or other items
- Advise you about other decisions to make, such as choosing pallbearers and arranging for flowers
- Help with necessary paperwork, including obituary notices and a variety of government benefit claim forms
- Help you notify the deceased person's employer, attorney, insurance companies and banks
- Arrange for aftercare services to help you through the grieving process
Perhaps no other moment in the funeral process is as powerful as the final disposition. For survivors, this is a strong symbolic moment, a confirmation that they must let go of the person who died and look ahead to a changed life.
For this reason, it is important families choose the kind of final disposition most meaningful to them and most appropriate for the deceased.
Earth burial, otherwise known as interment, is the most common form of disposition in the United States. Americans seem to prefer the idea of a final resting place and a gravesite where they can go to visit and remember the person who died.
Cemeteries may be owned by municipalities, churches, religious groups or other private organizations. Veterans may be eligible for burial in state or nationally owned government cemeteries. Cemeteries vary in the type of outer receptacle they require; some place restrictions on markers or monuments.
Like burial, entombment offers a fixed, final resting place. When a body is entombed, the casket is placed in a mausoleum, an above-ground structure usually made of marble or stone. Mausoleums vary greatly in size and design and are often found on cemetery grounds. Some are large enough for entire families, with a separate room for each person's casket.
Cremation is often accompanied by the rites and ceremonies of funeralization, including embalming and visitation. Final disposition options include earth burial, entombment and scattering. Some families keep the cremated remains in an urn or other appropriate container for a period of time before deciding on a final disposition.
Direct disposition is the immediate cremation or immediate burial of the body with no attendant rites or ceremonies.
No matter how the body is committed, most families choose some form of marker or monument to memorialize the deceased. Markers vary from large granite or marble memorials to small bronze plaques placed over a grave. Many families who choose cremation and scatter the remains purchase space in a cemetery for an inscribed memorial plaque.
Your funeral director will give you a general price list that includes a fee all consumers pay for the basic services of the funeral directors and staff and itemized prices for additional services and merchandise.
The basic services fee covers the overhead costs of running the funeral home, such as personnel, benefits and other routine business expenses. It also covers basic services of staff, such as responding to the initial request for service, the arrangement conference and the coordination of activities with the cemetery and other service providers.
Itemized services and merchandise your funeral directors offers will likely include embalming, other preparation of the body, transfer of remains, caskets, urns and garments. Outside costs such as cemetery and crematory charges, newspaper notices, grave markers and honoraria may be administered by the funeral home.
If you are in need of services or merchandise not included on the list, do not hesitate to ask. Funeral directors routinely find ways to meet the unique needs of each family they serve and cannot possibly include all services provided on a single price list.
The total cost of a funeral varies considerably, depending on which arrangements and funeral goods are selected and which services are to be provided. It is the responsibility of your funeral director to review with you the cost of all services and funeral goods selected, even though it may be a difficult time for you to do so.
The value of services offered and received is as important as the price paid. Carefully examine the quality of what is offered in terms of personal services, facilities and merchandise so you will be absolutely certain your wants and needs are met in a manner you expect.
If, at any time, you have questions or would like to speak with someone, do not hesitate to call (402) 731-1234 or e-mail us.
During the first few days after a death, you are surrounded by family and friends. You are busy planning the funeral and may not have time to think about yourself until later when you are alone with your grief. After you've planned the funeral, take care of yourself.
You can expect to experience a wide range of emotions. Grieving is hard work, and you may feel tired and lethargic without understanding why. Lighten your schedule if you can, eat healthy foods and exercise to renew your energy. Take time to be alone with your thoughts, but also spend time talking to close friends about your loss. You need to express your emotions.
Ask your funeral director about aftercare services available to support your needs during this time.
You can begin to prearrange your funeral by completing the Preplanning Questionnaire, examining our Funeral Planner or discussing your wishes with your family and funeral director. If you find yourself hesitant to do so, even with the best of intentions, you are not alone. We all know intellectually that death is inevitable, but planning for and discussing it can be surprisingly difficult.
Take your time. Think carefully about what will be best for you and your family, and discuss why you want certain arrangements. By doing so now, you are assuring piece of mind for you and your family now and at the time of need.