Death of a Loved One
Losing someone you care about is never easy, and grieving is made even more difficult when you are the one responsible for making the funeral arrangements. Shortly after the death of a friend or family member, you may feel like all you want to do is be alone to mourn and cope with what has happened. When you’re in charge of planning a funeral, however, you can’t do that. As difficult as it may be, you have to step up and create a memorable ceremony for your loved one. Fortunately, taking the process one step at a time and not allowing yourself to get overwhelmed can make funeral planning a little bit easier.
Look at Your Responsibility as an Honor
First things first, you should examine how you feel about being placed in charge of your loved one’s funeral. There is no “right” way to feel. You might feel overwhelmed, resentful, or any number of things.
At the end of the day, though, you must remind yourself that being chosen to plan someone’s funeral is an honor. You have the opportunity to remember your loved one in a very special way. Furthermore, try to keep in mind that having a funeral is a step toward healing. It will allow you to cope and begin moving on, while still allowing you to remember and honor a special person. It might not be easy, but taking stock of your attitude and trying to remember the positive things about your role as funeral planner can make the “burden” of funeral planning feel a lot lighter.
Letting Others Know
One of the hardest calls you will ever have to make in your life is the call that alerts people to the death of a loved one. Unfortunately, when you’re in charge of planning a funeral, this is a call you will likely have to make again and again.
Begin planning for these phone calls by making a list of who needs to be notified of your loved one’s passing. Think of people who might like to attend the funeral and include them on your list. Common people to contact when a death occurs include:
- Family members
- Close friends of the deceased
- Clergy members
While letting those first few people know about the death may be difficult, one good thing is sure to come of this task: you will be gathering people “in your corner,” people who can provide you with much-needed love, support, and help. During this time, you will need all the support you can get, so don’t be afraid to lean on others. You may even want to ask one or two people to assist you in spreading the word about your loved one’s death.
Also, don’t forget that one of the most important calls you will make is to the funeral home of your choosing.
Speaking with the Funeral Director
After you have chosen a funeral home- a decision that should not be made lightly-your next step is to call the funeral director. He or she can get the ball rolling on what needs to be done. A few of the things that funeral directors can and will do include:
- Transporting your loved one’s body
- Helping you to select a casket or urn
- Helping you to select a grave marker
- Obtaining a death certificate
- Arranging funeral services, viewings, memorials, etc.
- Writing an obituary
Unfortunately, funerals can be quite costly. You are not expected to pay for all of the funeral costs out of your own pocket however. In fact, your loved one may very well have made some or all provisions for his or her own passing.
If your loved one was working at the time of his or her death, you should call your loved one’s employer right away. The employer can let you know of any payments due, any benefits the deceased one is eligible for, and any life insurance policies that exist through the employer. When funds are available, they can be used to help pay for the funeral.
If your deceased loved one did have a life insurance policy, you can talk with the insurance agency about submitting a claim. Typically, the beneficiary of the policy will need to fill out claim forms and provide a death certification and claimant’s statement. The funds may be accessible immediately depending upon your loved one’s policy and certain other factors.
Honoring Your Loved One’s Wishes
In this day and age, many people, even healthy people, make the choice to plan for their own deaths. When they do, they will often leave behind certain “wishes” about how they wish for their funerals and other matters surrounding the death to be carried out. Often, you can find preferences of the deceased in his or her will or in notarized documents left behind.
You should do everything within your power to honor your loved one’s wishes, and a good funeral director can help you to do so. Even if the funeral director you have initially chosen cannot perform a certain service, such as cremation, he or she should be able to point you in the direction of someone who can.
Working with Your Funeral Director
Aside from friends and family members, the funeral director you have chosen will be your best resource for planning for your loved one’s funeral. As such, it is imperative that you choose someone whom you can trust and whom you feel comfortable with to be the funeral director.
Funeral directors should be sympathetic to your plight, should offer you a full price list of all services and products they offer, and should treat you with respect and kindness every step of the way. With the right funeral director by your side and a willingness to take things one small step at a time, you can get through and maybe even enjoy planning your loved one’s funeral.