How to plan a funeral


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Arranging a funeral can be a stressful process at a difficult time. Here is a step-by-step guide to help you know where to start with funeral planing and making funeral arrangements for a loved one.

Choose a Funeral Director

If your loved one had a funeral plan with Avalon, they will have a nominated Funeral Director who will help you arrange the funeral. Their funeral plan documentation will have all the details you need.

Some elements of the funeral arrangements may already be planned. The Funeral Director will help you plan any extra details you want, as well as talk about any special requests your loved one made.

If your loved one didn’t have a funeral plan, it will be up to the next of kin or executor to make funeral arrangements. You will need to choose a Funeral Director, who will guide you through every step of how to plan a funeral.

You can find local Funeral Directors online, or use someone recommended by friends and family. Many funeral homes now have online customer reviews to help you make an informed choice. Remember that you don’t have to use the first Funeral Director you speak to – feel free to compare services if you want to.

Some Funeral Directors will come out to your house to go through everything with you, rather than you having to go to their office. During such a difficult time, being somewhere you know and feel comfortable could make decision-making a little easier for you.

Funeral planning checklist

Once you have selected your chosen Funeral Director then there are a number of decisions you’ll need to make and things you will need to consider.

When arranging a funeral you will need to consider the following questions:

  • Burial or cremation. If burial, where will they be buried? Do they have a plot already? If cremation, what will you do with ashes? Where is your nearest crematorium?
  • Chapel of Rest. The Chapel of Rest is a special room in a funeral home where you can view your loved one to say goodbye. This usually costs extra, but may be covered by a funeral plan. Some people choose not to have viewings.
  • Location for the funeral service. If your loved one was religious, a funeral at their regular place of worship may be most appropriate. Some people have the service at the crematorium, while others might ask a celebrant to conduct a graveside service. Your Funeral Director may be able to suggest suitable locations.
  • Type of coffin. A funeral plan may cover what type of coffin your loved one wanted. If not, you will need to choose a style of coffin or casket. Cardboard and wicker coffins have recently become an alternative to traditional wood.
  • You will be asked what outfit you would like your loved one to be laid to rest in. You might choose one of their favourite suits or dresses.
  • Music, hymns and readings. You will need to choose your loved one’s funeral music and any religious readings you may want. A close friend or relative is usually chosen to read a eulogy paying tribute to the person who has died.
  • Choosing a Minister or Celebrant. If your loved one was religious, you may want a Minister or other religious official to lead the funeral service. But if a non-religious funeral is more appropriate, you will need to find a suitable celebrant. The Funeral Director may be able to make recommendations.
  • Order of service. Order of service booklets are handed out to everyone attending the funeral, outlining what will be happening during the service. These usually have at least one photograph of the person being remembered, so you will need to provide a photo for the Funeral Director to use.
  • Funeral flowers. There’s a wide array of floral tributes available for funerals, from wreaths and bouquets to coffin sprays. You’ll need to decide on colours and styles. Well-wishers may also send flowers, but you might prefer to ask for charitable donations instead.
  • Funeral plans may have provision for a hearse and limousines to take your loved one and the family to the service. If not, you will need to decide what kind of hearse you’d prefer and how many limousines to hire.
  • The wake. Many people invite attendees to a wake after the funeral service. You will need to think about venue hire and any catering you want to provide at the wake.