×
A red rose on a brown funeral casket.

What to Consider When Planning a Funeral

How to Plan a Funeral

The funeral and memorial service provide an opportunity for people who loved a deceased family member or friend to gather together. Being able to honor and remember a person who died can provide great comfort, while also offering support for those attending, which is why we outline how to plan a funeral.

Whether the funeral is being planned after death or beforehand, it can be an emotional, and sometimes exhausting, process. In this article, we look at some of the steps as to how to plan a funeral, whether it is for you or a loved one.

How to Choose a Funeral Home


In most states, there is no legal requirement to use a funeral home. However, working with a company who is experienced in the processes and who can guide you in what may be a very difficult time, can take a huge amount of stress off your shoulders.

The selection of the funeral home is often made on how close it is to the home or perhaps a company that has served the family before. However, this may mean that the cost is more, and you might be narrowing down your choice of how the funeral should be conducted.

Funeral homes should be very open with their pricing so that you have complete clarity over what the total cost will be. Even if you are offered packages of goods and services, they should still provide you with a breakdown of the costs for each element.

How to Choose Between Burial or Cremation

Choosing between burial and cremation is a very personal decision and one that is difficult for many people. Cremation is now more popular than a burial, but there are factors to take into account before making a decision.

When a body is cremated, all the remains are reduced to ashes. These can then be kept by the family, scattered or buried. With a burial, the body remains intact and is placed in the ground or entombed in a mausoleum.

For some people, the impact that their funeral has on the environment is an important consideration. There is some debate over whether the pollutants released during a cremation cause more damage than those which enter the soil from the decaying casket. This has increased the number of people who are opting for a natural burial where embalming fluids are not used, and the coffins are made of biodegradable materials

The religious beliefs of the deceased may also play a part in deciding whether a burial or a cremation is required. For example, the Baptist church, does not permit cremation while the Catholic church does but requires the ashes to be buried. Cremation is required in Hinduism and Buddhism but is forbidden for Muslims.

How to Select a Casket or Cremation Container

A casket is likely to be the most expensive single item when planning a traditional funeral. They do vary widely in style and price, and it does have to be remembered that they are sold primarily for their visual appeal. An average casket costs around $2,000, though if made from materials such as mahogany or bronze, then the price can go up to as much as $10,000. There are now third-party companies who sell caskets, at what may be a much more competitive price, and these can then be shipped directly to the funeral home.

If you have decided on cremation, then you may be thinking about an urn to hold the ashes. There are other options, though, and it does not have to be an urn. You can decide to use a decorative scattering tube or even have a keepsake made from your loved one’s ashes.

Following the cremation, the funeral directors will contact you when the ashes are available to collect. Usually, the ashes are provided in a polythene bag that is placed inside a plain cardboard box or tube. If you do prefer a more traditional urn, then there is a wide range to choose from that span all budgets.

Information for the Obituary

An obituary is the notice of the death which is placed in the newspaper. It’s not something that has to be done, but many families find it a useful way of letting people in the community know about the passing.

It’s usual to start the obituary with some basic details, including the name, age and date of passing. This is then followed by some biographical information, which might include birth date and where they were born. This is then might be followed by information on their education, marriage and work history.

You might then want to make the obituary a little more personal, to convey the spirit of the loved one who has passed. This can include a focus on their hobbies, passions, or their characteristics.

Obituaries often end with a brief mention of the family members who passed away before them as well as the surviving family. Usually, that means that close family members, such as their spouse and children, are listed by name. Other relatives can be referred to more general way, for example, several cousins, nephews and a niece.

Do remember that the newspaper will charge you by line, word, or inch (depending on the publication), so the aim is to write in a very concise way.

Funeral Costs

The National Funeral Directors Association estimates that the average funeral with viewing and burial is $7,640. For a funeral with viewing and cremation, then the average cost is $5,150. Some $1,500 of these totals relate to the embalming process and facilities for viewing of the deceased.

The costs of a funeral can be a significant worry for those who are nearing the end of their life. So, many people find that having a funeral plan that covers the costs can provide a sense of comfort while also reducing some of the distress that the family may feel at an already difficult time.