Choices to Make for Funeral Arrangements After Someone Has Died

Making funeral arrangements

Funerals — Decisions / Difficult Choices

Planning a funeral involves making a myriad of decisions concerning everything from choosing a final resting place … to selecting a casket … to deciding on pall bearers.

Many of the considerations are not common knowledge. Is embalming required? What’s the purpose of a burial vault?

Others can be difficult choices, such as deciding between burial and cremation. And, who should you turn to for the necessary services and products?

Funeral Directors

For assistance in arranging funerals people usually turn to funeral directors. They are professionals who manage some, or all, funeral arrangements. Funeral directors help you plan the funeral ceremonies and then direct the ceremonies in accordance with your wishes, including coordinating with the cemetery. They also handle the technical services regarding the care, preparation, presentation, and final disposition of the deceased. Funeral directors are available at funeral homes and "alternative" funeral service organizations.

Funeral Homes / Mortuaries

Funeral homes, or mortuaries, are full-service organizations with the staff, facilities, and equipment necessary to help the family commemorate the life of the deceased. "Alternative" funeral service providers offer the services of funeral directors but they may specialize or sell packaged plans. For example, an alternative provider may specialize in cremation or graveside services and may not have a funeral home.

Making Funeral Arrangements

Choices that must be made when arranging a funeral include:

  1. Method of interment
    • Will the deceased be buried or entombed?
    • Will the deceased be cremated? If so, will the cremated remains be buried, entombed, scattered or kept by the family?
    • Will the body be donated to science? Will organs be donated?
  2. Ceremonies
    • Will there be a traditional funeral with the casket present or
      a memorial service without the presence of the casket? Will both
      types of services be held or no ceremonies at all?
    • Where will the ceremonies be held? At a funeral home? At a place
      of worship? At the graveside?
    • Will there be one or more visitations? If so, will the casket
      be open or closed?
    • Will the deceased be embalmed?
    • Should a DNA sample be taken?
    • Who will participate in the funeral ceremonies? Clergy? Pallbearers?
      Speakers? Musicians or vocalists?
    • Will the ceremonies feature certain music, readings, or tributes?
    • Will there be a procession to the cemetery? Will the deceased
      be transported in a hearse? Will family travel in a limousine?

See related topics:

Funeral Planning Steps
Who to Call When Someone Dies
Deceased Transportation
Making Funeral Arrangements
Making Cemetery Arrangements
Third Party Services
Paying Funeral Costs
Estate, Financial and Administrative Matters
Claiming Death Benefits
Obtaining Death Certificates

Go to Funeral Guide — Index of Topics.