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How to Plan a Successfully Funeral

Updated on June 28, 2015


If you ever loose a loved one, you need to know how to plan a funeral. Especially, if you are not affiliated with a church or religious organization. Funeral planning, or planning a memorial is not something we ever want to do. But it is good how tit is done. Planning a memorial service, is for the purpose of honoring and remembers a deceased. There are things that will be done, such as a location for the services, family to determine what will be put in the funeral programs and contacting friends and extended family.

Saying Good-bye

Memorial Service
Memorial Service

Preparing for the Unexpected

If you have some idea of what to do, things will go a lot easier, and you will be less likely to be taken advantage of at that important time. Nevertheless, it is a good thing to make preparations in advance, so those who are left behind are not left with the burden of making your last preparations.

The most difficult thing I ever had to do was to plan the service of my Mother. We as a family were totally unprepared emotionally for her passing. This is where her Pastor and extended family stepped in to help.

Not everyone belongs to a church or has church family that can help you or your family during a time of grieving, so these things I am about to share are good to know.


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The Family Meeting

If the deceased belongs to a church, contact and invited the Pastor, Rabbi, Imam or spiritual leader to be a part of the meeting.

It is necessary to meet with friends and family members as soon as possible, to discuss how you want the loved one to be remembered. Very often, when the family is overwhelmed, most of the decision will be left to one or two family members.

The family should be the primary contributor to the order of the service, what should be included in the program, who should sing, etc. Friends and extended family should only gently make suggestions, unless they ask someone else to handle it.

Immediate Decisions to Make

Some of the immediate decisions that should be made are:

  • Contact friends and family
  • Choose a funeral home
  • Cremation or burial?
  • Choosing the casket.
  • Choose a photo for funeral director
  • Place a notice in the newspaper

Decide a basic amount you have to spend on the funeral and burial. It is easy to spend too much money because of guilt or grief. Remember you still have to live after all is said and done.

You can purchase a casket from a funeral home or you can purchase a casket online at up to 80% discount. If you purchase a casket online, they will delivery the product to the funeral home in a timely manner. Purchasing a burial plot, Where to hold the services

The Flowers

Funeral Wreaths and Flowers
Funeral Wreaths and Flowers

Other Decisions to Make

  • Locate life or burial insurance
  • Picking out or purchase burial clothes
  • What you put in the funeral program
  • Ordering special flowers from family members
  • Whether there will be an open or closed viewing
  • Choosing pall bearers
  • Seating arrangements
  • Choosing a tombstone or grave marker. (this is usually done some weeks after the burial)

The Funeral Progam

The funeral program is designed to allow people to follow the order of service and also as a memento or a keepsake for friends and family. Family can delegate the writing of the program while providing the information to be added. Once the program is proofed and done to the satisfaction of the family, it can go to the printers for publication.

When planning a memorial service, you want you provide programs the the order of services can be easily followed. They can also have as a keepsake. Many people save these programs as a treasure for many years. A funeral program will give the highlights of the persons life and history. The funeral program will also include a picture of the loved one and possible a second picture of their younger years or a pivotal moment in their life.

Provide a good picture to be placed on the front or the back of the program. The program will include the birth, live and accomplishments of the deceased, what immediate and extended family remains, a scripture passage and the order of the service.

Pre-Service Music

Music | Source

The Music

If you are not sure what music to choose, talk to the funeral director about what music is appropriate for the prelude, procession and recessional. Music choice should be appropriate, but most of all keeping the person in mind.

The service does not have to be in the traditional method, but can be modern, less formal or even celebratory and uplifting.

If the deceased love the Beatles, it is perfectly acceptable to have some play, ‘Yesterday’ or whatever their favorite song was. Remember you want to honor the person.

For traditional services, choose appropriate spiritual songs in keeping with what the loved one would have wanted.

How to Plan Funeral


A special are spiritual reading can be ready by an immediate family member. It is also acceptable to tell of found story about the decease, or read a poem or excerpt from their favorite novel.

Determine who will read the obituary, cards and acknowledgment, eulogies, the blessing or benediction, announcements and time and place of the interment.

The Eulogy

The eulogy is a time when words of comfort and acknowledgment of the deceased person. I have seen eulogies being performed by Pastors who really did not know the deceased. It is more acceptable for the eulogy be given by someone close to the deceased and family.

The eulogy should include:

  • The name
  • Birth date
  • Parents names
  • Names of immediate family
  • Names of extended family, such as aunts and uncles
  • Names or honorary mention, such as: a host of cousins, etc.
  • Other facts included in the eulogy should be dates of marriage, military service and eduction and awards


It is usually customary for mourners to meet at a location to talk and visit with the family. If you have an idea of how many people will be attending, food can be catered or friends and family members can prepare and bring food.

If you are a member of a church the women will usually be a great help in preparing and serving food to guest. Most people do not have to be asked but will volunteer to help; but it is good to have a solid idea of who will be preparing what, so that you will have a balance meal.


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    • profile image

      Christina_Moore 7 years ago

      Planning your funeral in advanced may not be something you want to think about but it can save your family a lot of stress, time and money. Another plus is that you can be buried the way you want to.

    • Lita C. Malicdem profile image

      Lita C. Malicdem 7 years ago from Philippines

      I already bought my burial site side by side with my late husband in a beautiful memorial ground. Arranging my funeral is still way out but I'm dropping a hint here and there with my 2 daughters. In Filipino customs, this sounds morbid and must not be raised while one is up and well.

      However, when the time comes, all these unplanned pronunciations will be remembered as a subtle request. They may be considered or not, depends on the living family members to finally decide. Nice hub. These preparations spare time wastage and effortless, too. The last days of the dead are better spent with less hassles. Peace!

    • Psalmist4M profile image

      Psalmist4M 7 years ago from the Shelter of His Wings

      I've sang at them, attended them, even experienced them 1st hand (not my on death) but I didn't know the gathering after the funeral was called Repass. Learned something new. Thanks for the helpful article.

    • 2besure profile image

      Pamela Lipscomb 7 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

      fred allen, you speak the truth! Spiritual preparation for eternity...

    • fred allen profile image

      fred allen 7 years ago from Myrtle Beach SC

      The song I want played at mine is No grave (is gonna hold my spirit down) by the Newsboys! That's Victory! Thanks for writing this. We should remind ourselves daily that our time is short. It will have a profound effect on how we conduct ourselves. Great advice, great hub!