How to Plan a Funeral: A Checklist

Planning a funeral can be overwhelming as you try to determine what your loved one would have wanted while also remembering that funerals are for the living.  

When you’re in the midst of grief and making decisions on behalf of another person, it can be hard to sort through all the details. The truth is it’s easier to preplan rather than leave it to your loved ones after you’re gone.  

This handy checklist will help you organize your thoughts.  

First, decide on the type of gathering that works best: 

  • Should the visitation be public or private? 
  • Would your loved one rather have an upbeat celebration of life or a traditional service? 
  • Should the service be religious or secular? 
  • Would your loved one prefer an open casket or a closed casket, perhaps with a large portrait displayed? 
  • Is a graveside service something the person would have wanted? 
  • Would your loved one have preferred a funeral, with the body present, or a memorial at a later date after burial or cremation has already occurred? 
  • Is a scattering ceremony appropriate and in keeping with your loved one’s beliefs? 
  • Should there be a reception? If so, should it be held at the funeral home, a restaurant, the family home or elsewhere? Should it be catered or potluck?  

Once you’ve decided on the basics, you can consider further options for personalization.  

  • Who should speak at the service? Would the person you’re honoring have preferred a member of the clergy or a funeral celebrant? Do you think there’s someone, in particular, he or she would have had in mind? 
  • How should friends and family be involved in the ceremony? Who should the pallbearers be? The ushers? Who should give the eulogy? Who should read, sing or play an instrument? Is there any other role that needs to be filled? If so, who should fill it? 
  • What readings should be delivered? Is scripture or secular work more appropriate?  
  • Which songs or hymns should be a part of the service? Are there certain songs that represent your loved one’s personality? Will soloists perform these songs? 
  • Would your loved one want a memorial video to play during the visitation, service or reception?  
  • Which mementos should be displayed? Is there anyone you should ask to contribute items?  
  • Would your loved one have preferred that people send flowers or make donations to a worthy cause? Is there a particular cause that was important to the person who has died? 
  • Is an online memorial website appropriate? 
  • Are there any Signature Services® that reflect your loved one’s personality? 
  • Where should your loved one’s final resting place be located? 
  • How will you fund the funeral? 

When you preplan, you can make your final arrangements while relieving your family from the stress of making decisions at an already difficult time. In addition, you can save money by locking in today’s prices for a future need.  

At Chapel of the Chimes Oakland, we’re committed to helping families heal. Call us at (510) 379-5200 to learn more about how to preplan and all that we have to offer.

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