How to Plan a Funeral Service

When planning a funeral for the first time, or anytime really, it can seem a bit overwhelming. There are many things to keep in mind when planning the service, from the obituary to what kind of flowers you want. Ridley Funeral Home, we're here for you every step of the way.

However, to get caught up to speed on the entire process of planning a funeral, we recommend you read through this comprehensive funeral planning guide. If you have any questions about our funeral planning services, don't hesitate to reach out to us.

There are several important decisions to make when funeral planning. But by following this funeral planning guide, you can gain a better understanding of our funeral planning services. The main decisions you'll need to make are your disposition method and the details of the funeral service. Our staff is here to help you find the best options that fit your funeral needs. When funeral planning, it's important to think about the best ways to honour your loved one's life, as well as the best ways to help everyone grieve and honour their life. There is no right or wrong when it comes to personalizing a funeral service. Every life is unique, so every funeral service should be as well. Check out our extensive list of Melbourne Funeral Services to help you arrange a funeral for your loved one.

Funeral Planning Tips

Thinking ahead can help you make informed and thoughtful decisions about funeral arrangements. It allows you to choose the specific items you want and need and compare the prices offered by several funeral providers. It also spares your survivors the stress of making these decisions under the pressure of time and strong emotions. You can make arrangements directly with a funeral establishment.

An important consideration when planning a funeral pre-need is where the remains will be buried, entombed, or scattered. In the short time between the death and burial of a loved one, many family members find themselves rushing to buy a cemetery plot or grave — often without careful thought or a personal visit to the site. That's why it's in the family's best interest to buy cemetery plots before you need them.

You may wish to make decisions about your arrangements in advance but not pay for them in advance. Keep in mind that over time, prices may go up, and businesses may close or change ownership. However, in some areas with increased competition, prices may go down over time. It's a good idea to review and revise your decisions every few years and to make sure your family is aware of your wishes.

Put your preferences in writing, give copies to family members and your attorney, and keep a copy in a handy place. Don't designate your preferences in your will because a will often is not found or read until after the funeral. And avoid putting the only copy of your preferences in a safe deposit box. That's because your family may have to make arrangements on a weekend or holiday before the box can be opened.

What Are The Four Basic Types Of Funerals?

Funeral types can typically be broken into four different categories:

  • Traditional funeral,
  • Graveside service,
  • Memorial service, and
  • Immediate disposition (with immediate disposition broken into two sub-categories – immediate cremation and immediate burial).

Traditional Funeral

Traditional services typically make use of the full suite of services provided by funeral homes, including:

  • Viewing of the deceased,
  • Service at the funeral home (or church) where the deceased and a casket are present,
  • Embalming, and
  • Use of a funeral hearse to transport the deceased to the cemetery.

This type of funeral will generally be the most expensive.

Graveside Service

With a graveside service, the funeral service takes place at the cemetery or burial site. Funeral homes will still provide much of the same core services as with a traditional funeral – including the transportation and care of the deceased, but with a Graveside service, there is generally no visitation period and no embalming provided. Funeral attendees gather at the gravesite for a ceremony led by a chosen officiant. With a graveside service, the deceased may be buried or may instead have already been cremated with the cremains being buried. After the service, the body or cremains are lowered into the grave or placed in a mausoleum or crypt.

Memorial Service

A memorial service may have many of the same features as a traditional funeral, but with a key difference being that the deceased and the casket will not be present during the ceremony. Also, in most cases, the deceased will have already been cremated. With these key differences, and if the family decides that a formal viewing is not necessary, they may decide not to pay for the cost of embalming.

Immediate Disposition – Cremation and Burial

With an immediate disposition, there typically won't be a service or any type of viewing. Instead, the deceased is buried or cremated soon after the deceased's passing. Immediate dispositions are the least expensive types of funeral. Here at Peter Tziotzis Orthodox Funerals, we provide religious and traditional funeral services.

Note that if the family wishes to be at the cemetery for the burial, the funeral home may charge an additional fee for that service. Also, with immediate disposition, while the family will not hold a service through the funeral home, there is nothing stopping the family from having a more informal service at a later date at another venue.

What Are Some Of The Decisions That Need To Be Made When Planning A Funeral?

Funeral Timing

The decision on when to hold the funeral is entirely at the discretion of the bereaved family. While some people decide to hold the funeral within a few days after the deceased's passing, it is not uncommon for funerals to be held 5-7 days after the passing. Taking a few extra days can often help the bereaved family ensure they select the funeral home and the funeral services which best meet their needs and which best memorializes their loved one.

Burial or Cremation

Let's start by understanding how cremation and burials are different. When the deceased is cremated, the body is incinerated so that all that is left are the ashes of the deceased. With a burial, the body of the deceased remains intact.

With a burial, the body can be buried in the ground or entombed in what is called a mausoleum (which is an above-ground building where the body of the deceased can be entombed). Cremated remains can also be buried or entombed in a columbarium (which is the same as a mausoleum but for cremated remains); however, cremation offers additional options, including having the cremated remains kept by the family or scattered in a place that is special to the deceased.

Step by Step guide to planning a funeral

Planning a funeral might be one of the most difficult things you have to do in your lifetime. There can be several funeral arrangements to organize—from deciding on the type of memorial service to have to contact friends and family, filling out important paperwork, and paying funeral costs—all while managing personal grief.

Whether you're making your own wishes known to your loved ones or preparing to memorialize someone you love, here's what you need to know about planning a funeral.

Funerals are simple to plan in theory, but in practice, they can be quite difficult to manage. The reason is that these events take place in the midst of the grieving process. For many people, planning a funeral is both distressing and frustrating -- the responsibility can even seem impossible to manage. Need help in planning a funeral service? Check out Peter Tziotzis Orthodox Funerals in Melbourne. 

Planning a funeral is a tough responsibility to take on, especially if the deceased did not leave you with any guidance to follow. The best approach when planning a funeral is often systematic, and below we will provide a step-by-step guide to help you through it:

Step 1: Locate any pre-arrangements

If your loved one made any pre-arrangements – like paying for funeral plots, buying funeral insurance to cover some or all of the costs, or simply writing down their wishes for memorial services – locate the information. Call the funeral home that your loved one used for those pre-arranged or pre-paid funeral arrangements. The more decisions that were already made, the less stress and cost for the family.

Step 2: Compile information for the obituary

Speak to the next of kin to gather personal details about the loved one who has passed. This information will include birthdate and date of death, information about spouse and children and grandchildren, plus details about their work. If your services are open to the public, list the dates, times and locations. Friends and family will also appreciate a mention of a cause or charity to make donations. And you can look here for examples of, particularly memorable and evocative obituaries.

Step 3: Choose a funeral home.

One of the best ways to find a funeral home is via a referral from a friend or loved one. Having a recommendation can go a long way to finding a provider who fits your needs and goals. Once you have two suggestions, call each provider and discuss your wishes and budget. You can also use our directory to find providers near you.

Step 4: Decide on the type of funeral.

According to the National Funeral Directors Association, you have several choices for the types of services you can hold -- traditional burial, cremation, green burial, interment in a mausoleum and more. A funeral director or funeral home will be an informative resource to help make these decisions. They can clearly explain costs and processes. AARP says these questions should also be discussed with your funeral director:

  • Will, there be a casket, and if so, will it be open or closed?
  • If a body will be cremated, will the ashes be scattered? If the ashes are deposited in an urn, will they be placed in a mausoleum?
  • Do religious traditions need to be respected?
  • Will there be contributions to charities in lieu of flowers?

Step 5: Select a casket or cremation container.

The funeral home you've decided to use can help you select and purchase a casket or urn, but understand you can shop elsewhere. According to the Federal Trade Commission's Funeral Rule, funeral homes are required to agree to use a casket you bought elsewhere and doesn't allow them to charge you a fee for using it. Prices may vary for caskets or urns depending on materials, design and ornate finishes.

Step 6: Choose a location of the interment

Whether it is a family funeral plot or if a location needs to be selected, this can be a daunting process. Some may be inclined to purchase a cemetery plot due to location; others are dictated by the type of cemetery. During this time of grief, it is always helpful for advice and input from loved ones. A resting place could be determined at a later date if the loved one was cremated.

Step 7: Figure out details of the service.

Arrangements for photos and other displays, videos, memorabilia and post-service meals need to be made. Also, funeral music or songs to be played or sung at the service. If people ask if they can help with any of this planning, take advantage of their goodwill offers. If the loved one is being buried, clothing needs to be selected, and the family should be consulted to see if they want jewellery, photographs or other heirlooms buried with the loved one.

Step 8: Decide who will actively participate.

Determine which relatives and friends may be needed to serve as pallbearers or will give a eulogy. Some rely on a clergy representative to speak about the person who has passed. Other details include choosing passages to be read at the service and arranging transportation to and from the service for family members.

Step 9: The day of the funeral

If you are too emotional to drive, make sure that you don't. Friends, neighbours and family members understand you are grief-stricken. If you are too upset on the day of the funeral to drive, please reach out for help. Enlist the help of relatives and friends if they offer, especially at a post-funeral gathering.

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