Funeral Planning Checklist discussed by Memorial Woodlands
Funeral Planning is a really emotional and stressful experience whether you are planning ahead for your own funeral or planning a funeral for a loved one. We have put together a Funeral Planning Checklist of the things you can and should think about when planning a funeral, which will hopefully make things easier for you at a very difficult time.
Do you want a burial or cremation?
It is really down to personal choice whether you have a burial or cremation or sometimes religion will dictate which one you choose. Some people want to buried alongside nature or maybe next to a loved one or with family and on the other hand some people don’t like the thought of this and prefer the idea of their body being cremated and their ashes scattered in a place that they or their loved ones love and have lots of memories of. There is often less organisation and cost associated with cremation as you don’t have to think about grave plots and headstones. Some people choose to have a tree planted at a memorial woodland after the cremation and this is a lovely way of giving their loved ones a place to go and remember them in a beautiful and tranquil spot.
If you are planning your own funeral and decide you want to be buried then you can choose and pay for your grave plot years in advance. Some families have family burial plots where different generations are laid to rest on their passing.
Who will you use as your Funeral Director?
Funeral Directors will support and guide you through the process of arranging a funeral; from choosing the coffin to the cremation, burial, burial plots, headstones, service, location, cars, flowers, an order of service, wake, caterers and so on. They will also guide you through anything official that needs to be completed at the time. They should be professional, kind and compassionate and use their knowledge and experience to guide you through this emotional process and the demonstration of these things will help you decide on the funeral director you choose. Recommendation from family and friends is a really good way to choose a funeral director as well as searching the internet if you don’t have any recommendations. Always ask for a cost breakdown of everything before you commit to using them. A funeral home, funeral directors or undertakers is where your loved one’s body is kept whilst the funeral or memorial service is being planned and is where you can go and take time to sit with them to say your final goodbyes if this is what you want to do.
Do you want a memorial or celebration service, or a religious service?
When a person has planned their funeral prior to them passing they will have chosen whether they want a religious funeral service or a memorial or celebration service. If this hasn’t been planned or discussed then it is down to their next of kin to decide and they should think about their life and if they were religious or not to decide which service they are going to plan for them. A memorial or celebration service is much less traditional than a funeral service.
Do want the burial or cremation to take place before or after the service?
You can choose either option, the more traditional choice is to have the service first and the burial or cremation then takes place after, however, some people decide to have it the other way round so the more emotional and stressful part of the day takes place first and this enables them to remember and celebrate their loved one’s life without it hanging over them during the service.
Where do you want the burial place to be?
Your funeral director can help you with this and give you ideas of where this could be, they will also make the arrangements for you and take care of the paperwork and payment if this is what you want them to do.
Do you want the coffin to be enclosed by curtains at the end of the cremation service?
Some people like to leave the crematorium with the coffin at the front where it was during the service so that the people attending can say their goodbyes as they leave. Some choose to have the curtain come round the coffin at the end of the service to demonstrate the end of their life, however, this is sometimes felt to be quite abrupt and can be traumatic for loved ones, so its always something you should consider.
Where do you want to scatter the ashes?
You don’t have to scatter the ashes anywhere if you don’t want to and you can keep them at home in an urn. Some people don’t make a decision about what they want to do with the ashes of their loved ones straight away and decide at a later time. Many people scatter loved one’s ashes where they can revisit to remember them, maybe in their garden or a place which they have fond memories together, like holidays or days out. UK law and regulations state you are free to scatter ashes anywhere in the UK, as long as you have the permission of the landowner. There are, however, specific environmental guidelines covering some locations, like the sea or mountainsides that you need to consider.
Do you want someone to do a Eulogy at the service?
A eulogy is a speech given at a service to remember the life of the person who has passed away. It can be delivered by a family member, close friend, priest, minister or celebrant and it commemorates and celebrates the life of the deceased, often including their loves, their achievements in life, memories and often funny stories.
Do you want flowers at the funeral?
This is really down to personal choice and a lot of people now choose for just close family to arrange flowers at a funeral and these are normally laid on the coffin in the service. They then ask for others to give a donation to a charity that is close to their heart. If you decide this is what you want to do your funeral director can help you with this. If there were certain flowers that your loved one loved then this may help you decide on the funeral flowers you want.
Do you want donations to a charity at the funeral instead of flowers?
This is often the choice that is made and the charities are normally chosen if they were close to the deceased or loved one’s hearts, or if they have passed away from an illness and there is a charity that has supported the family during this time or it may be that they fund research into medical advances.
Do you want readings at the funeral?
This is personal choice and readings don’t have to be religious, they can be non-religious or a mix of both. Non-religious readings are chosen for their words and sentiment and you can find ideas of these on the internet or from your funeral director.
Who would you want to do readings at the service?
You may ask for close family or friends to do some of the readings at the service and this is a really nice touch, making them feel involved, part of the service and they often feel very honoured to be asked. Be prepared that you may ask someone to do a reading but they decide they aren’t able to do it as they will be too emotional. If there isn’t a family member or friend who feels they can do a reading then your priest, minister or celebrant will do the readings you ask them to.
Do you want hymns, songs or music at the funeral?
Hymns, songs or music are a really nice touch at a service and people relate to music really well and it sometimes lifts a service or breaks up the more sombre moments. You may want to play your loved ones favourite song or artist as people are coming into and leaving the service or choose hymns or songs that remind you of them. It is amazing how music can make people smile and bring back wonderful memories.
Do you want photos at the service?
Sometimes people have photos of their loved one throughout their life at the service or wake as a montage. It’s a lovely idea and will bring fond memories back for everyone who knew them.
Do you want a wake after the service?
A lot of people choose to have a wake after the funeral or memorial service and it is a lovely way for family and friends to come together and talk, remember and celebrate the person they loved. Some people call this funeral reception.
Do you want food and drink at the wake?
Most people provide food at a wake after the service as some people may have travelled a long way to be there, you may just want to do refreshments as in tea, coffee and biscuits but it is entirely your choice. Some people will arrange a hot or cold buffet.
Do you want memory ideas for the service and wake?
Personalisation makes a funeral or memorial service and wake memorable and often help loved ones feel like they have achieved something for the person they have lost. It gives you and everyone who attends the service a chance to celebrate their life, and give you lasting memories that you will look back on forever.
Here are just a few memory ideas:
A Memory Table – shows the different times in your loved one’s life using photos, letters, medals, trophies, flowers, plants, pictures, artwork and anything that remembers them. You can also ask the guests to bring something to put on the table that reminds them of your loved one.
A Memory Tree – guests at the service can write their favourite memories and stories of your loved one and you can take these home and add to a memory tree or ask someone to do this at the service or wake for you. It is lovely to read the memories of your loved one from others and you will often go back to these at difficult times.
A Memorial Stone Station – guests can write their name on the stones, messages and memories of your loved one. Its a lovely way of helping guests with their grief at the service or wake and you can put them in a place in your home, garden or a meaningful place after the service and go to in the days, weeks months, years after they have passed.
Tree or Plant Seeds – every guest can take a seed and plant it at their home in honour and memory of the person’s life you are celebrating. It is lovely to see where they have been planted and see how they grow and establish in the months and years following.
What dress code do you want at the funeral?
Traditionally people wear black to a funeral or memorial and this goes back to the days of the Roman Empire when they would wear dark togas as a symbol for mourning. A lot of people now ask guests to wear bright colours or their loved one’s favourite colour as it can lift a very sad occasion, bringing some solace to family and loved ones.
Where do you want the wake to be?
Your funeral director can give you suggestions for where you might want to have the wake or reception afterwards. Some crematoriums or memorial locations now have facilities where you can have the wake after and will arrange the food and beverages for you. You might want to have it at your local church hall or maybe a golf club nearby, it really is your choice.
Who do you want to invite?
Invite family members, friends, work colleagues and whoever you feel would want to come and celebrate your loved one’s life. Sometimes people will attend a funeral as they know the deceased family or friend really well and want to go to support them.
How do you invite people to a funeral?
There are several ways to invite people to a funeral; call, text, email, printed invitation and there really is no best way, sometimes you can use a combination of these methods and ask friends and family to help you with any calls as this is often a very difficult conversation.
Who do you want to travel in the funeral car?
You may decide to just have your loved one taken in their coffin to the service by your funeral director or you can arrange funeral cars that can take close family and friends to the service following the hearse your loved one is in. Most people attending a funeral will make their own way there.
Do you want an order of service?
An order of service is a lovely way to remember a loved one and their funeral or memorial service but you don’t have to have them. An order of service might include a photo of them on the front and then the readings, hymns, songs, poems and order of the service inside. Your funeral director can help you with these and ideas for them.
At Memorial Woodlands we offer burials and interments in our woodland cemetery, funeral services in our non-denominational chapel and reception rooms and wakes and catering afterwards.
Our funeral directors plan and perform many cremations each year at Westerleigh and at Canford and we are available to direct funeral services and ashes interments at all local crematoria.
Our beautiful, tranquil grounds are the ideal setting for a beautiful memorial that will live on in the hearts of guests for years to come. A space to reflect on your loved one, recall treasured memories and feel a sense of peace. It is a wonderful place to visit your loved one, to sit amidst the trees and flowers, under dappled sunlight, listening to birdsong and the gentle breeze.
At Memorial Woodlands we believe every funeral should be as individual and remarkable as the life it celebrates. That’s why we give you a whole day to say goodbye at your own pace and all the professional assistance you need to arrange an unforgettable occasion. Our funeral directors, celebrants and catering team are here for you and will guide you through everything you need to know and consider.
Martyn is the content writer for Memorial Woodlands and updates our blog regularly with helpful advice and new information.