The loss of a loved one is always a profoundly emotional time. No matter how old they were, or whether the loss was sudden or expected, it will always be tremendously affecting. If the deceased did not make their funeral desires known, it falls to the family to make the necessary arrangements.
It can be extremely distressing to make important financial decisions in these trying times, yet it remains important to get the funeral right. Although the loss of a loved one will always be felt, a proper funeral provides a place for family and friends to grieve together and begin the healing process.
Experienced funeral service providers can help guide you through these solemn times. With help from the right funeral director, you can organise an appropriate and meaningful farewell for your departed loved one.
If funeral preparations have fallen to you, here are some of the most important steps to consider:
1. Finding a Funeral Director
The process of selecting a funeral director can seem daunting, but making the right choice will make all the other steps so much easier. An experienced, empathetic funeral director can be a helpful guide who eases all the planning. The director can take care of all the details and allow you the freedom to simply be with family and friends.
If a trusted family member or friend can recommend a funeral director to you, then that’s the easiest course of action. Alternatively, there are lots of helpful reviews and recommendations online. An online search can steer you to the directors with the best reputations. If you make a few phone calls and speak with them, the chances are one of them will feel right.
Of course, it’s well within your rights to take care of everything yourself, but the whole process is much simpler if you find a trusted guide.
2. Deciding on the Religious or Secular Nature of the Ceremony
The most important thing to consider when making this decision is the belief, or lack of belief, of your departed loved one.
If they had strong faith in any denomination, there will be a well-established tradition and order to the funeral rites.
If your loved one was not a person of faith, there are many secular humanist options available. Increasingly, people are opting for non-traditional funerals that are more of a celebration of a life well lived than a purely sombre affair.
Regardless of your preference, a good funeral director will be familiar with many different options and traditions, and can help you decide what works best for you.
3. Choosing How Your Loved One Will Be Laid To Rest
For a burial in a church graveyard, an attending service in the adjoining church is usually customary. Public cemeteries can often accommodate graveside ceremonies. They also generally have chapels on the grounds that can host all manner of religious or secular ceremonies. Private land burials are another possibility, but you just need to make sure to comply with any relevant laws.
Cremation is becoming increasingly common as it is usually less expensive than a burial. Ceremonies are typically conducted before the cremation and can be held at a venue of your choosing.
Some less common options are available as well. Again, the funeral director will be well aware of all the different options.
4. Arranging Transportation
The most common mode of transportation for a casket is a hearse, but you may opt for a different vehicle. Non-traditional vehicles like floats and horse-drawn carriages are also possible and a way to customise the procession.
5. Choosing Appropriate Music
Traditional funerals typically feature three pieces of music. One piece is played during the entrance, one during reflection, and one during the exit. The music choices will obviously depend on the nature of the ceremony. If you know what music your loved one enjoyed, then the selection process will be a thoughtful way to remember their personality.
If you’re unsure of your loved one’s musical preferences or what music is appropriate for the type of service you decide on, the funeral director, religious leader, or secular service leader can provide helpful suggestions.
6. Deciding on Speakers
Oftentimes, family members and friends will volunteer to read the eulogy – which is essentially the deceased’s life story – or share fond memories, or simply say a few words. This should all be planned ahead of time so whoever is conducting the ceremony has a clear idea of how to organise the flow of the service.
Many people might wish to speak. So, in the interest of time and suitability, you might suggest that they instead speak at the after-ceremony or another event. The funeral director can be an important source of support if you need to have difficult conversations.
In a situation where no one feels comfortable speaking – a normal and understandable occurrence – the director can provide alternatives.
7. Arranging a Post-Ceremony Gathering
Wakes are common, but you are under no obligation to hold one. You may simply wish to spend time with your dearest loved ones. The size and scope of this gathering, should you choose to hold one, depends on financial considerations and your wishes. Whatever you decide, do not feel that you alone are obligated to cover all the costs. The main goal is to provide your family and friends with an appropriate space to be together and say goodbye.
The above list does not cover everything that can go into organising a funeral. It is simply meant to be a basic guide. There are many other important decisions to made, but you do not need to feel alone in making them.
Family Funeral Services is one of Sydney’s leading funeral homes and our directors have years of experience facilitating services of all kinds for people from many different religions and cultures. We pride ourselves on our empathy, respect and professionalism and we treat every client as if they were family. Send us an online enquiry or give us a call to find out more.