When organising a funeral, there are a lot of little things that need to be taken care of, like choosing music and readings for the service, setting up the funeral transport, etc.
In order to create a funeral that is personal and fitting for the deceased, funeral planning is an essential step in the process.
There is a wide variety of planning that must take place, beginning with the selection of a coffin and continuing with the selection of music, readings, and other elements for the funeral service.
This article will guide you through the process of planning a funeral service. Here at Peter Tziotzis Orthodox Funerals, we provide religious and traditional funeral services.
Stick to light, natural colors and a nude lipstick. Avoid anything featuring bright colors, glitter, or unnatural hues.
So why do Funeral Directors bow at coffins? Respect. The aim when working with any family is to show their loved one as much dignity and respect as possible. Even though this person may not be walking on this earth any longer does not mean that they deserve any less respect.
Some people still make this simple gesture of respect, when any hearse passes by. The funeral director often leads the procession carrying a cane or ornamental walking stick. The stick, or 'wand 'is a hark-back to a centuries-old tradition, which fell out of practice in the later half of the 19th century.
Does the procession always leave from the home of the person who has died? Traditionally yes, but the procession can leave from the home of a close relative. The family may decide to leave from the address where people will return to after the funeral. Or, mourners may decide to meet at the place of service.
When attending a service, be on time and enter the house of worship or location where the funeral will be held as quietly as possible. If there are no ushers, remember that the seats closer to the front should be taken by very close friends, with acquaintances seating themselves in the middle or towards the rear.
Planning a Service
The process of organising a funeral or memorial service is one that is deeply personal.
Your decisions, your relationship to the deceased, what the deceased wanted, what you want for yourself after you die, what you can afford, and other factors will all be influenced by the things that you have experienced throughout your life.
Funerals and memorial services give family members, friends, and others who were important to the deceased the opportunity to honour and remember the deceased person while also providing solace and support to those who are closest to them and to one another.
Whether it is planned after a death has occurred, which is referred to as a "at-need" situation, or before a death has occurred, which is referred to as a "preneed" problem, the process of arranging a funeral or memorial service is typically an emotional and, at times, exhausting endeavour.
There is a common misunderstanding among many people, who believe that a funeral and a burial in a cemetery are the same thing, or that if you choose cremation, you cannot also hold a funeral service with the embalmed body of the deceased present beforehand.
As a result, it is of the utmost importance to have a solid understanding of the fact that a "funeral" in the traditional sense serves two primary purposes:
- What should be done with the deceased person's bodily remains? (the form of final disposition)
- How can we pay respect to the person who has passed away, remember their life, and even celebrate their memory? (the state of the funeral or memorial service)
Transportation of Body
The transportation of the body to a funeral home or morgue is the first thing that needs to be taken care of after the passing of a loved one.
When someone you care about passes away in a hospital or nursing home, transportation arrangements are made very easily.
These kinds of medical facilities almost always have standard operating procedures in place for dealing with the handling of bodies.
The healthcare facility will almost always contact you by phone to inform you of the death and enquire as to which funeral home the body should be transported to.
You will have even more time to prepare for the funeral if the nursing home or hospital where the deceased person was cared for has its own small mortuary where the body can be preserved for a shorter period of time.
In the event that your loved one passed away in their own home or outside of a healthcare facility, the first thing you should do is call a number that is not associated with an emergency.
Because of this, dispatchers will be able to send a coroner rather than wasting the time of first responders who are in the medical field.
It is possible that the coroner will require an autopsy of the deceased, but this will depend on the state in which you reside as well as the circumstances surrounding the death.
It is possible that the state in which the person passed away will require a member of the family to sign an authorisation form in order for an autopsy to be performed.
In some states, funds are made available for autopsies and transportation of bodies, while in others, fees may be assessed for these services. Peter Tziotzis Orthodox Funeral Directors are here to help make the funeral process as smooth and stress-free as possible for you and your loved ones.
Filing Records and Getting Permits
A Pronouncement of Death, also known as a Registration of Death, and a Burial Permit, also known as a Disposition Permit, are both legal documents that need to be obtained before a burial can take place. These documents must be filled out by the funeral director, the coroner, or whoever is in charge of the funeral if it is held at the deceased person's home.
You should be able to find both of these forms at the City Hall in your area, and they are also frequently available online.
They are required to be presented to the County Recorder in the county in which the deceased person resided. From county to county, this department is referred to by a different name.
This office is also sometimes referred to as the Department of Vital Statistics or the Department of Health, both of which are common names.
If you are having trouble locating the appropriate office to submit these forms, it is a good idea to call the town hall and ask for assistance.
If you are collaborating with a funeral director, they will be a useful resource for guiding you through the process of navigating the local rules and regulations.
It is illegal to dispose of the body without first obtaining the County Recorder's signature on both the Burial Permit and the Death Registration Form.
The Certified Death Abstract, which is also known as a death certificate, will be provided once the County Recorder has confirmed that these two forms have been filled out in their entirety and contain no errors.
This certified death abstract is the document that is required as proof of death by the vast majority of organisations.
For instance, if the individual who recently passed away was covered by a life insurance policy, the organisation that handles the benefits will not do so in the absence of this document.
As additional evidence of a deceased person's status, a Death Certificate must be provided for credit cards and other bank-related financial accounts. The Certificate of Death needs to be examined very thoroughly to ensure that no mistakes have been made.
In the event that the date of death is entered incorrectly, the printed death certificate will show the incorrect date of death. This may create complications when it comes to closing out accounts, settling insurance claims, and other similar tasks.
Notifying Family & Friends
You will want to get in touch with the deceased person's immediate family members first, as they have a right to know about the passing of their loved one as quickly as is humanly possible.
Take as much time as you need because making this phone call is going to be challenging. You are not required to immediately contact each and every member of your family and circle of friends.
It is recommended that you ask a close relative or friend to assist you in contacting some of your family members and friends alongside you.
You should also inform any other parties that are relevant to the situation.
This includes those who passed away very recently:
- Send a letter to each of the three major credit reporting agencies, letting them know that the deceased person had a doctor, employer, fraternal or religious group, health and life insurance companies, credit card companies, and credit card reporting agencies. The letter should inform the agencies that the deceased person had passed away.
- Please inform the Family Responsibility Office if they have paid their child support obligations.
notify any health clubs, social organisations, or other groups in which they have participated.
You have a responsibility to find out if the recently deceased person was responsible for the care of any dependents or pets.
If it turns out that they do in fact have a dependent or a pet, then the family needs to sit down and figure out how to best deal with the situation.
Someone would need to keep an eye on their home and make sure it was secure if they lived by themselves.
When you collect your mail, you will not only find useful information, but also information regarding bills, account numbers, organisations, and other dangling threads that need to be tied.
To make things as simple as possible, it would be best to have someone who lives in close proximity to the residence of the recently deceased take care of these matters.
This person may be another member of the decedent's family, a close friend, or even a neighbour.
If you do not want to have to clean up a very smelly mess, you should make sure that all of the food in the refrigerator is thrown out when the house is unoccupied.
Planning the Funeral
This step is about as difficult as you make it, and the degree of difficulty is determined by the level of detail that you desire for the funeral service.
The following are the primary components that make up the process of organising the actual funeral service:
- Arrangements for the funeral, including picking the location, date, and time
- The distribution of invitations
- Take into consideration the possibility of providing food and drinks if the setting so permits.
You might want to ask specific guests if they would be interested in preparing a eulogy for the funeral service before the funeral itself.
Attempting to plan a memorable funeral with all the bells and whistles should not cause you as much stress as you might think it will.
What is more important is ensuring that the close friends and family of the deceased are informed about the passing of the loved one.
One positive outcome that can result from a terrible event is that it can bring a grieving family closer together and assist in the development of deeper bonds.
Although it is tempting to try to plan an unusual funeral with special decorations and to hire some musicians to play at the funeral, in the end, the people who attend the funeral and the memories they bring with them take precedence over everything else.
When making arrangements for a funeral, it is helpful to be knowledgeable about the specific regulations that have been enacted to prevent funeral homes from taking advantage of grieving families. These regulations were put in place to prevent funeral homes from profiting off of people who are in a state of mourning. Peter Tziotzis Orthodox Funerals will always find creative ways to pull costs in line with your budget.
Elements of a Service
Even though many people still think of the "traditional funeral" as the norm, funeral services have become increasingly personalised over the past few decades.
Regardless of the form that such services take, a funeral or memorial service can be considered to be personalised if it reflects the distinctive life and personality of the individual who has passed away in the eyes of the deceased and/or his or her loved ones who have survived.
In today's world, many families choose to either plan a funeral or memorial service that is centred on remembering the deceased person as they were in life, a service that is centred on the dead person's body or remains, or a service that combines the two.
As a result, you should consider and prepare for the funeral or memorial service that both you and the person whose life was taken consider to be the most significant way to say goodbye, specifically something that includes the following elements:
- encapsulates the singular characteristics of the departed
- That both theirs and your own religious or spiritual beliefs are reflected in it
- Offers the bereaved a chance to share their pain and comfort one another while also creating a memorable and meaningful experience for themselves in the process.
Some families choose to hold funeral services in a place of worship or in the chapel of a funeral home. These services typically include religious readings and music.
Others have a strong preference for secular, or non-religious, services, which can take place in either a public or private setting. Still others choose to have a private funeral and burial for close relatives only, followed by a memorial service at a later date for extended family and friends.
You should also take into consideration the following, depending on the circumstances, in order to personalise the service:
- The service will be led by the officiant(s), who may be members of the clergy, celebrants, funeral directors, or others.
- Readings, including but not limited to poems, prayers, religious or secular passages, and the like, as well as who will read them
- the eulogist(s), who will write and deliver a eulogy about the person who has passed away
- Music, whether it be modern, religious hymns, or both, and regardless of whether they are performed live or recorded
- Food and beverages, either prepared by a professional caterer, brought by attendees as part of a "potluck," or arranged by the funeral home or other provider.
- Bearers of the casket, in the event that the final disposition includes a service at the gravesite.
- Streaming the funeral over the internet or recording it so that it can be viewed at a later time
- Personal touches can include things like a memory board, a video memorial, personal memorabilia, and so on.
Choosing the Form of Disposition
When organising a funeral or memorial service, it might be helpful to decide how you want the deceased person's body to be disposed of first. This could make the planning process go more smoothly.
Either below ground in a cemetery plot or gravesite or above ground in a mauseoleum or tomb (sometimes referred to as "entombment"), traditional burial typically entails purchasing: a cemetery plot or gravesite; a casket; and a headstone.
- A casket
- A burial plot or a niche within a mauseoleum
- A grave liner or a burial vault
- One of the following: a gravestone, headstone, monument, or plaque
Natural or "Green" Burial
Natural or so-called "green burial" options are now being made available at an increasing number of traditional burial cemeteries and other locations that were designed specifically for this mode of final disposition.
People who choose natural burial do so with the intention of leaving as little of a footprint as possible on the world after they have passed away.
The process of reducing a body to bone fragments or "ashes" through the use of heat and flame is known as cremation.
Survivors of a person who has been cremated have a number of options available to them after the cremation process is complete, including keeping the remains, scattering them, burying the urn containing the cremated remains below ground, or placing the inurned cremated remains in a columbarium.
Due to the recent novelty of this method of concluding business, it is possible that it is not yet offered in your region.
The process of alkaline hydrolysis, also known as "flameless cremation," reduces a human body to an inert liquid and fragments of skeletal bone through the application of pressure and relatively low heat (in comparison to the cremation process).
Having the Body Present
You will also be required to make a decision regarding the physical presence of the deceased, which is another important choice.
As was stated previously, burial and cremation are merely two methods for the final disposition of a body. Neither method requires nor precludes the holding of funeral services with the deceased body present.
You can, for instance, organise a "traditional" funeral service in which the deceased person's embalmed body is displayed in an open casket during a wake and visitation held prior to the funeral service, even if you want to bury the deceased person as the form of final disposition.
In a similar vein, some families decide to cremate the un-embalmed body of their loved one without first holding a service in their honour, but they do go on to hold a memorial service either with or without the presence of the inurned remains. Grieving the loss of a loved one? Peter Tziotzis Orthodox Funerals offers cremation services for those who wish to have their loved ones remains disposed in a respectful and dignified manner.
Flowers, Donations, or Both?
It is customary for people to send flowers to a funeral or a sympathy gathering as a means of demonstrating their support and expressing their condolences.
However, over the course of the last few decades, families have begun including the phrase "Instead of flowers..." in death notices and obituaries to indicate that they would prefer memorial donations to be made in lieu of, or in addition to, flowers at funerals and other memorial services.
As a result, it is up to you to decide whether or not attendees can send flowers, whether or not you would prefer that they make a donation to a specific charitable organisation or cause in memory of the departed individual, or whether or not either form of expression is appropriate.
Other Ways to Say "Instead of Flowers"
You should communicate how and where donations should be sent, whether the request is made in the death notice or obituary, through social media, or simply by word of mouth.
Some deserving causes or organisations from which you could choose include the following:
- The hospice that took care of your loved one when they were there.
- A cause is an organisation that works to find a treatment or a cure for a specific illness or disease, such as the one that led to the passing of a loved one (cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer's disease, etc.).
- A charitable organisation, organisation, or business that stands for a cause or purpose that reflected the deceased individual's personal beliefs or passions, or that the individual supported in some way before passing away.
Contact and Research Service Provider(s)
The next thing you should do is investigate the different service and provider options.
You can get in touch with a local cemetery, cremation service, or funeral home if a death has already taken place in your community. Your chosen provider can assist you in the following ways:
- Make the arrangements for the burial, memorial service, and funeral that you want.
- Give details about the many products and services that are available.
- Describe the expenses that will be incurred for the various goods, services, and other professional fees.
- Assist you in the preparation of a death notice or obituary.
- Get official copies of the death certificate.
It would be beneficial if you also discussed with your provider any preferences regarding religious or cultural observances that you would like to have honoured.
For instance, if you want a funeral or memorial service that is not religious in nature, you might want to hire a funeral celebrant, which is something that some funeral homes now offer as a service to their clients.
In addition, many funeral homes have experience assisting families of varying cultural backgrounds with the rites and traditions associated with their particular culture's funerals.
If you are planning a funeral or memorial service, you should do some research on the various funeral homes, cremation providers, and cemeteries in your area to learn about the different product and service options they offer.
The vast majority of companies make it easy to obtain information about their products and services, as well as prices, and some even post their complete price list online.
This makes it much simpler to compare prices as well as the various service and merchandise options that are available in the local area.
Whether they ask in person or over the phone, service providers are required by the Federal Trade Commission to provide customers with accurate and itemised price information as well as disclosures about other services. This applies whether the customer makes the enquiry in person or over the phone.
You have several fundamental rights under the "Funeral Rule" of the FTC, which you should also review and understand. These rights are applicable regardless of whether you plan a funeral before or after the passing of a loved one.
Consider Your Payment Options
You should think about how you will pay for these services as you plan for the final disposition of the body as well as the type of funeral or memorial service that you want to have. The costs will vary depending on which option you choose.
Today, you can make a payment using a variety of methods, including the following:
Individual retirement accounts Insurance Financing, typically obtained through the funeral home Credit cards
A Totten trust or a Payable-on-Death (POD) account held at a financial institution explicitly sets aside funds for final expenses. These funds pass directly to a beneficiary of the account's owner's choosing and circumvent the need for probate.
Additionally, it is possible to make formal arrangements for the provision of your services in advance with a provider, after which you can pay for those services in advance, either all at once or in instalments.
People make these "preneed" arrangements for a variety of reasons, some of which include relieving their survivors of the burden of having to make difficult decisions after a death has occurred, protecting their survivors from experiencing undue financial strain, or depleting their assets in order to become eligible for certain federal benefits.
Make Your Wishes Known
In conclusion, if you are planning your funeral or memorial service, you should talk to your family about your wishes for the end of your life. This will ensure that they are aware of your preferences.
Even a single conversation with your spouse or partner, child, sibling, or parent can prove to be better than nothing, but ideally, you should provide a written record rather than relying on a family member's memory or keeping your plans on your computer. However, if neither of those options is possible for you, providing a written record can serve as an acceptable alternative. Visit Peter Tziotzis Orthodox Funerals to know more about our prepaid funeral service and find the best funeral option for your unique situation.
Imagine that you have already taken the necessary steps to formally prearrange your funeral or memorial service with a provider. In that case, you should keep those documents with your other important papers at home, and you should make sure that your loved ones are aware of their existence as well as the location of those documents, so that they can have prompt access to them when it is necessary.