The thought of planning your own funeral can be daunting and stressful, but you may not want to leave this task to your loved ones. Conflicts can arise among family members over what their deceased loved one would have wanted. You can prevent this tension by carefully articulating your wishes in advance. Also, you can arrange a payment plan for funeral expenses or ensure that your survivors will have enough funds to pay the bills for your desired arrangement. This can help remove a financial burden from them during their time of grief.
Consider making your funeral plan a separate document from your will so that family members can more quickly and easily access that information.
Once you have devised your funeral plan, you will want to place it in a location that is safe but still accessible. You should also discuss your wishes with your family members and other people who are important to you. If you change your mind about an aspect of your plan, you can revisit it at any time.
Choosing Your Preferred Form of Funeral or Memorial
There are several different options available for funerals or memorial services. You can use a combination of them if you prefer. First, a funeral is a traditional ceremony that may be held in a church or a funeral home, where the deceased person’s body is present in a casket. You can consider whether you would prefer to have the casket open or closed. If you are closely tied to a certain organization, such as the military or a community group, you can plan a funeral service that evokes your membership in that organization. People who hold strong religious beliefs may want to include a prayer service.
If you would prefer a more streamlined, less traditional celebration of your life, you may want to consider a memorial ceremony. Your body probably will not be present at a memorial ceremony, since it occurs a longer time after the death. Many different venues can host a memorial ceremony, and it does not need to have a religious overtone. You can discuss with your loved ones whether a funeral or a memorial ceremony, or a combination, might be appropriate in your situation.
Two other options are a viewing and a wake. While a viewing gives your loved ones a chance to sit with your body, most often at a funeral home, a wake is a celebratory event that can be more uplifting than most funerals. It may be held at your home and allow a broad group of family members and friends to comfort one another. A viewing or a wake is usually complementary to a funeral or memorial service, rather than a replacement for it.
Setting Up Your Funeral Plan
You should put any preferences in writing for matters such as who should attend a ceremony, speak at a service, or serve as pallbearers, if appropriate. You can also provide for the location of the ceremony and any clothing that you would want your body to wear. If you would appreciate having family members or friends make donations to an organization in your honor, you can state this request as well. Perhaps you want your obituary to appear in certain publications, and you may want to make some notes on what the obituary should cover. Your planning can be as general or specific as you see fit.