Working with a funeral director: How to plan a funeral

Published: 17/4/2023

Losing a loved one and planning their funeral can feel overwhelming. It's a time when emotions are raw and the thought of making arrangements can be daunting, remember you don't have to go through it alone, there are experienced funeral directors that can help.   

We are also here to support you with our step-by-step guide on how to plan a funeral with a funeral director, so you can honour your loved ones memory in a meaningful way.

Contact a funeral director

The first step in planning a funeral is to contact a funeral director. If your loved one had pre-planned their funeral, they may have already chosen a funeral director. If not, you can choose a funeral director on your own. A funeral director plays a crucial role with helping you plan a funeral. They can arrange for the transfer of the deceased to a hospital and funeral home, and assist you with necessary funeral arrangements, including the funeral service and burial.

Meet the funeral director

Once you have chosen a funeral director you will attend a funeral arrangement meeting. Here, you have the opportunity to choose the type of service and share any preferences regarding how you want to pay tribute to your loved one. The funeral director can guide you through the process and help you make decisions that align with your loved one's wishes and your family's cultural or religious beliefs.

Choose a minister or celebrant

After confirming the time and date of the funeral, you need to choose a minister or celebrant who will help finalise the details of the funeral service. Depending on whether it is a burial or cremation, the minister or celebrant can guide you on the service structure. Your funeral director can easily connect you to the celebrant based on your preferences. If you wish, a close friend or family member can also lead the service, adding a personal touch to the ceremony.  

RELATED ARTICLE: Choosing the right funeral celebrant

Plan the funeral itinerary 

Once you have confirmed the date, location and celebrant, you need to start organising the details of the funeral day. These details will depend on the wishes of the person who passed away, which may be outlined in their will.   

Some of the things to consider when planning a funeral include:

Cremation vs burial 

Decide whether your loved one preferred cremation or burial as their final resting option.

Style of casket or coffin

Choose a casket or coffin that reflects your loved one's personality or cultural preferences.

Urn and final resting place

If you choose cremation, you may need to select an urn and decide on the final resting place for the ashes.

Open or closed casket

Determine whether the funeral service will have an open or closed casket based on your loved one's wishes or cultural customs.

Arranging a hearse and other vehicles

Coordinate with the funeral home to arrange for a hearse and other vehicles to transport the deceased and the family to the cemetery.

Music, flower arrangements and refreshments

Choose music, flower arrangements and refreshments for the funeral service, keeping in mind your loved one's preferences and budget.

Eulogy and legacy

Writing a eulogy can be a meaningful way to share memories, stories and reflections about the deceased. You can speak about their accomplishments, impact on others and their qualities. Consider involving other family members or close friends in delivering eulogies or sharing their memories during the service. It can be a powerful and emotional moment to honour your loved one's life and the memories they leave behind.  

RELATED ARTICLES: How to write a eulogy with humour with examples

Personal touches

This can make the funeral service more meaningful and memorable. You can display photographs or memorabilia that represent their hobbies, interests or achievements. You can create a memory table with items that hold special meaning to your loved one including their favourite book, piece of their artwork or memento. Adding personalised touches such as a slideshow of photos, video tribute or a special reading and poem that was meaningful to your loved one. You can play their favourite music or display their favourite flowers.   

You might also like to encourage guests to share stories, memories or reflections during the service. Having personal touches helps create a warm and personalised atmosphere that celebrates your loved one's life.

Notify and invite guests

You can send out formal invitations, place a notice in the newspaper and online at My Tributes, make phone calls or send messages to inform people of the date, time and location of the funeral service. You may prefer to use social media to share information about the funeral service and invite others to attend or pay their respects.

Consider cultural and religious customs

Consider the cultural or religious customs and traditions of your loved one or your family when planning a funeral. Different cultures and religions may have specific rituals, practices, or customs that are important to follow as a way of honouring the deceased and their beliefs. This may include prayers, chants, hymns or other ceremonial practices. 

Legal requirements

Ensure that you comply with all the legal requirements and regulations related to funeral planning in your area. This may include obtaining necessary permits, completing required paperwork and following local regulations for burial or cremation.

Budget

Funeral costs can vary widely depending on the choices you make, be transparent with your funeral director about your budget and ask for options that fit within your financial means.

Reception or gathering 

If you plan to have a reception or gathering after the funeral service, make arrangements for the venue, food and other necessary details. This is an opportunity for mourners to come together, share memories and offer support to each other.

Seek support

Planning a funeral can be emotionally and physically draining, it's important to seek support from family, friends or professionals. Don't be afraid to ask for help or delegate tasks either, you have enough on your plate. Family and friends often want to offer support so they can feel connected in their own grief.   

Planning a funeral is a significant and emotional task which although is difficult, can provide comfort, healing and closure for those left behind. By honouring your loved one's memory in a meaningful way, you can create a fitting tribute that celebrates their life. 

To find support:

Beyond Blue provides Australians with information and support to improve their mental health. Call 1300 22 46 36 or visit beyondblue.org.au for more information.

Lifeline Australia provides Australians experiencing a personal crisis with access to 24-hour crisis support. Call 13 11 14 or visit lifeline.org.au for more information.

GriefLine listens, cares and supports people experiencing loss and grief, at any stage in life. Call 1300 845 6am to midnight AEST, 7 days a week.

MensLine Australia is a professional telephone and online support and information service for Australian men. Call 1300 78 99 78, 24 hours / 7 days a week.

Kids Helpline is a free 24/7, confidential and private counselling service Australia wide specifically for children and young people aged 5 to 25 years. Call 1800 55 1800.

Life Supports Counselling provides Australians with experienced counsellors & psychologists in their local area Australia-wide. Call 1300 735... .

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