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How to Plan a Funeral

By Steve Farrell

Recently my family had to plan a funeral service for my mother-in-law. It was probably the hardest thing I have ever experienced.

What made it worse was that we had absolutely no idea what we were doing or were to begin. Funeral planning usually has to be accomplished in a very brief time. Worse yet, it has to be done while your grief is the freshest. It's like planning a wedding in a week instead of several months. If it were not such a somber occasion it would almost be humorous.

I will do my best to provide the basic information you should consider whenever you begin to plan a funeral. Every funeral is different but they often contain similar elements. Use this information as a guideline when you are faced with making funeral arrangements and you should be successful at putting together a nice service on short notice.

1. Pick a good funeral home with a knowledgeable director. They will provide you with a great deal of help and direction.

2. Get some help choosing a casket from someone you trust. If you don't plan on having a public viewing of the body then you can save a lot of money by choosing a less expensive casket.

3. Decide what type of service you want. Will it be at the funeral home? Will it be a graveside service? Will it be a memorial service at your church?

4. Write a nice obituary for the newspaper that describes the life of your loved one. The key is to be brief since this is pretty expensive.

5. The bulletin used at the service is a memorable keepsake for those that attend. Spend more time writing about their life for the bulletin.

6. Decide what Pastor will perform the service.

7. Provide the Pastor with favorite Scriptures, poems, anecdotal stories, etc. to help them describe the deceased.

8. Pick some favorite songs to be played during the service. They can be recorded or live music.

9. You may want to have a reception with a meal after the service. Many churches provide this at no cost or for a donation.

10. Make sure those that attend the funeral know about the guest book. It's very easy for people to come to the funeral service without signing the guest book because they did not know it existed or where it was located.

11. If you will have pall bearers decide their order in advance.

12. Ask someone to take charge of taking a picture of each flower arrangement that arrives. You don't want to forget who sent what arrangement.

13. If you have live music make sure the musician knows exactly how you want the songs performed.

14. You may want to predetermine which family members will sit where.

15. Make sure you have plenty of Kleenex available where the family members and closest friends will be sitting.

16. Ask a friend to collect all personal items after the service if you are moving from one location to another.

17. Decide on gift money for the Pastor, musicians, food prep team, etc. in advance so things don't become awkward.

18. Pull together at least 100 pictures to be used for a memory DVD and for displays. You will find that even 100 pictures will not be enough once you get started.

There are so many details to attend to when you plan a funeral service. These are some of the major things that are bound to surface. Believe it or not you will make it through this extremely emotional and painful experience. Take one step at a time and get as much help as possible. God bless you my friend!

Steve Farrell: I've been a Christian for over 30 years and have been a parent for 20 years. I have a Christian ministry site found at - http://www.christian-life-advisor.com.


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