When somebody dies and you find yourself in charge of planning their funeral, there's a lot to do and remember. Thankfully, that's why funeral directors exist: they'll make sure you don't forget anything important and oversee the running of the funeral so it all goes smoothly.
You'll need to give the director some information so they can understand the type of funeral you're planning. It's difficult to get all of this across in the first day or so of grieving, so prioritise and determine what's most important. Here are the things you should tell the funeral director right away, so they can begin to shape how the funeral will proceed.
If there's a strict budget
Before any other plans are made, it's helpful if the funeral director can understand any financial limitations. Although they're likely to ask you this early on anyway, it's particularly important to get it across immediately if there's a particularly low budget.
This helps avoid any unrealistic expectations and gives you an opportunity to try and raise additional funds if necessary. Don't worry about being embarrassed or expecting pushy sales tactics – the funeral director is there to help you, and understanding your needs is an essential part of that.
The religion of the deceased
Different religions have different rules for what happens to the deceased, and these are extremely important to get right. In particular, the person's religion can dictate how quickly the funeral takes place, whether or not they're embalmed, and whether they need to be buried or cremated.
Since this can be very time sensitive, you should let your funeral director know the deceased person's religious affiliation right away. They should understand what's needed for any of the major religions, so they can help you if you're not sure.
Any special wishes the person expressed
People make all sorts of wishes about what will happen to them when they pass away. Some of these are simple – a song they want to be played at the funeral, or a passage they want to be read out – but others are a little more complicated.
Being buried at sea, for example, can take extra time to arrange, so it's best to let the funeral director know early on if the deceased person had any specific, unusual wishes.
If the deceased held unusual status
This doesn't come up very often, but some people – for example, important community figures or those with some level of celebrity – may attract particularly large crowds of well-wishers at their funeral.
If this is likely to be the case, you may need to make some special arrangements to accommodate everyone and ensure close friends and family are able to attend the funeral in peace. Make sure your funeral director is aware of the situation from the beginning, so they can best advise you.
Losing a child is the hardest thing anyone could ever go through – I know because it happened to me. Through the grief, I had to find new ways to breathe, to function and to live. Of course, I also had to plan a funeral and memorial service for my child. If you have lost a child or a baby or had a stillborn, you have probably shared many of these feelings. If this has just happened to you, you may be wondering what to do next. First, I extend my sympathy, and secondly, I offer you this blog to help you grieve and help you understand the basics of funeral planning. Take care.