How to Plan a Funeral - Where to Begin

By: Richard "Ritty" Polhemus
Thursday, November 10, 2016

The death of a loved one is never easy to deal with. Whether it was sudden and unexpected or a long time coming, it can leave those left behind overwhelmed both emotionally and physically. Arranging the service can be hard enough without the added pressure of all the legal matters that arise. It’s a confusing time where emotions run high, and most people will have no idea where to begin. While it’s impossible to be fully prepared for a death of someone you love, there are a few general guidelines on how to plan a funeral.

Take a Moment to Breathe

Dealing with these decisions in a time of intense grief can be very trying, especially if there were no pre-arrangements. Though you may feel rushed to take care of everything, give yourself a few moments and take a deep breath. These are important decisions that shouldn’t be made hastily. The majority of people haven’t yet had to worry about how to plan a funeral, and no one can expect you to be entirely prepared for it.

Decide Final Disposition

One of the most important things to decide first is the final disposition of your loved one’s remains. Take any wishes or desires of the deceased into account. There are several options available, such as burial (traditional, or natural), cremation (ashes can be spread, buried, or inurned), or donated for science.

Other factors for the funeral service should be considered as well. Will there be a viewing, and if so, will it be public or private? Will there be a formal religious service involving a church, or a personalized memorial service in the funeral home? For example, even if your loved one will be cremated, the body can still be embalmed for an open-casket viewing.

Knowing your preferred final disposition before you meet with the funeral director will help bring clarity to your other decisions. They will be able to highlight the services they offer that are in accordance with what your desires.

While it may seem indelicate to think about cost during this time, it can be a concern. Don’t be afraid to ask about it. The Federal Trade Commission’s “Funeral Rule” states that all funeral homes must be able to provide an itemized list of prices for services.

Find a Trusted Funeral Director

A funeral director can be your saving grace at this emotional time. A funeral staff has years of experience dealing with these sensitive matters, and they can help take some of the burden off your shoulders. They can assist you with organizing transport of your loved one, the completion of legal documents, and help you with all the logistics that go along with how to plan a funeral.

From creating a thoughtful, heartfelt obituary to organizing the minutia of the service, funeral directors, and their staff is a caring, helping hand during your time of greatest need.


Plan the Service or Memorial

The funeral service can be as traditional or as personalized as you wish. Perhaps you want a service that celebrates your loved one’s life. Or, maybe you’d prefer one that focuses on paying final respects before their internment. If your loved one was religious or spiritual, you may desire a service that incorporates those practices. You may even want a combination. Above all, it’s important to plan a service that both the deceased and their loved ones left behind view as meaningful.

To personalize the service, you can find pictures of your loved one to display or play some of their favorite songs. You can also bring along items that they valued, like a jersey from their favorite sports team, an old childhood toy, an heirloom, or other prized possession. Items like these help incorporate your loved one’s unique personality into the service. Thoughtful personal touches can often add a special element to a funeral service and give those in attendance something tangible to focus on.

How to Plan a Funeral - Additional Assistance

Understanding how to plan a funeral can be overwhelming, and most people don’t even know where to begin. Making decisions about the service can be hard enough, without the added worry of all the legal matters that need to be attended to.  

Polhemus Cremation Services can help you shoulder the burden. Owner Richard M. Polhemus is a third-generation funeral director with over 25 years of experience. With a range of funeral planning services available, he and his experienced staff can assist you throughout the entire delicate process with respect and professionalism. Polhemus Cremation Services is available 24/7 - contact us today.


Leave a comment
Please enter the numbers and letters you see in the image. Note that the case of the letters entered matters.


Please wait

Previous Posts

Ways To Honor a Loved One’s Memory

Honoring a loved one’s memory is an essential part of the healing process. When we experience a loss, taking action can provide a sense of control at a time when we feel helpless. Fortunately, ther...

How to Help - Supporting a Grieving Loved One

When a loved one is grieving, knowing how to support them can be difficult. We know something needs to be done, but we worry about making the situation worse. Everyone grieves differently, but ther...

What is a Green or Natural Burial?

Did your loved one spend their life trying to protect and preserve the environment? You may want to honor them by giving them an eco-friendly natural burial. Natural, or green burials are an increa...

Helping Children Understand and Cope with Death

Coping with the death of a loved one is never easy. Explaining it to children can be particularly difficult, especially if they are younger. They may not even truly comprehend what death is or that...

A Few Quick Tips for Proper Funeral Etiquette

Attending a funeral can be an emotionally charged experience, with the tendency to elicit complex and sometimes conflicting feelings. It can be a challenge to respectfully show your condolences to ...

Understanding and Dealing With Grief

Dealing with grief is hard. For some people, it’s the hardest thing they’ll ever have to go through. It’s an entirely subjective experience that’s unique to the individual person, and their loss. T...

Burial or Cremation - Help Making the Difficult Decision

There are many things to consider when it comes to end of life decisions. Aside from all the legal loose ends that need to be tied, you must also plan your final disposition. Many people may alread...

Who Can Authorize A Funeral?

~~     Over my 26 years serving as a funeral director, I have found there has been much confusion regarding who can authorize funeral arrangements.  This misconception appl...