How to Plan for a Funeral or a Memorial Service

How to Plan for a Funeral or a Memorial Service

The following contribution is from another author.

Planning a funeral or memorial service can be a difficult task. Since death can be a touchy subject, it can be hard to talk about. AARP reports a 2017 survey by the National Funeral Director’s Association said that 21 percent of Americans have talked with a loved one about their funeral. 

They are meant for loved ones of the deceased to celebrate their life, honor and remember the joys that person brought. If you have experienced the death of a loved one and are tasked with planning a funeral or memorial service, you may be feeling a bit overwhelmed. Maybe this is the first time you have ever had to plan a funeral and you may not know where to start. Here are a few things to consider when planning for a funeral or memorial service.

Form of Disposition

There are many options to choose from when looking for the best form of final body disposition. The choice you make is extremely personal and one is not better or worse than the other.


There are a few options to accomplish this. With the traditional route, you may need to buy a casket, cemetery plot or mausoleum space, a grave liner or burial vault, as well as a headstone, grave marker or monument or plaque. Some people purchase these items through the funeral home while others purchase these through online vendors like

Over the past few years, people have become more environmentally-conscious and that has spilled over into funerals. To minimize the impact on the environment, a natural or “green” burial can be an option.


This type of body disposition is becoming more popular. The Motley Fool says in the past four years, cremations have outpaced burials. By 2040 they are expected to lead burials 78.7 percent to 15.7 percent. This process uses heat or flames to reduce a body to bone fragments, also known as ashes. The ashes give plenty of opportunities to the survived loved one to commemorate their life by scattering them in a sentimental location, incorporate them in a beautiful canvas through art or they can even bury the urn below ground.

Alkaline Hydrolysis

This is a newer form of final disposition that is still gaining popularity. This process uses pressure and relatively low heat to reduce a body to an inert liquid and skeletal bone fragments.

How Would They Want Their Service?

If you have not talked about this with your deceased loved one, it may be tough trying to figure out what they would have wanted, especially if they haven’t prepared a will. As a rule of thumb, make sure the service is personalized and not cookie-cutter. The service should reflect your loved one’s life and personality when they were living. Think about where they would have liked the service. Would it be normal for them to have it at a church or funeral home chapel? Would they want it at a nice location in the outdoors?

Another thing to keep in mind is who will officiate or lead the service. Decide on if you want to incorporate readings of poems, prayers, religious or secular passages and who will do these readings. Will there be a eulogy? If there is music would it be right to play religious music or secular music? Most services also provide food at the end of the service. If that is something you would like to incorporate as well, consider if you want to have it catered or should it be potluck style. If the final disposition involves a graveside service, figure out who the pallbearers would be. In times like these, consider webcasting the funeral for those who are not able to physically join.

All of these aspects factor into how the funeral service or memorial should be. Remember to add personal touches to the service like a memory board with all their pictures, or maybe a slide show depicting their life. A nice video could add the perfect personal touch to see the deceased loved one in action and help to remember who they were.

How You Want To Pay

There are many ways to pay, but they all depend on the form of the final disposition. It also depends on the type of service you have. If you want something traditional at a funeral home that follows into a cemetery it is going to be more expensive than opting for cremation and holding a memorial service. The cost of the service may also vary by state. Either way, there are many options for you to pay. 

Funeral and memorial costs can be paid through your personal savings account if you have had the luxury of being able to save for this occasion or through insurance. You can also finance your funeral costs through your funeral provider. Credit cards are always an option or you can opt for a Totten trust which is an account at a financial institution that sets aside money for final expenses and the account can be passed to a designated beneficiary.

How You Want People To Show Sympathy

Most people will send flowers to show support and solidarity to the family as a way to express their condolences. Now families of loved ones can kindly ask for people to send other things instead of flowers. They can ask for donations to a charity organization of their choice or a cause of their choice as a way to commemorate the deceased. You could easily suggest something like this in the obituary or death notices.

Research Service Providers

Now that you have thought about the final disposition, what kind of service you would like, how you would like people to show sympathy and have worked out how you will pay, the next step is to figure out who can provide you the service. Research your local funeral home, cremation provider or cemetery to figure out what their availability is. They may also be able to help you with the planning process while giving expert advice.


Eric is the creator of At Home in the Future and has been a passionate fan of the future since he was seven. He's a web developer by trade, and serves as the Director of Communication and Technology for a large church in Nashville, TN (where he and his family are building a high tech home in the woods).

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