Meeting With the Funeral Home
When a loved one passes away, you may feel many things, including shock and sadness. However, a lot has to be done after someone dies, and difficult as it may be, you will be expected to contact a funeral home within a day of the person’s passing. Just keep in mind that the sooner you place that first phone call, the sooner the funeral director you’ve chosen can get started with planning your loved one’s funeral, and the sooner you can begin to grieve and heal.
Don’t Go it Alone
It’s perfectly normal for emotions to be running high when someone you love has died. When you’re in this unstable emotional state, however, one of the most important things you can do is to lean on others for support. In fact, you may find it helpful to take someone or even a few available people along with you when you first meet with the funeral director. If you’re having a particularly difficult time dealing with the death, try and choose someone who is a little more stable and grounded and who can serve as a sort of “pillar of strength” for you as you discuss matters that must be taken care of with the funeral director.
Appoint a Decision Maker
As mentioned, it’s a very good idea to bring one or a few people along with you to help make your meeting with the funeral director go a little more smoothly. Unfortunately that “good idea” can quickly turn into one you’ll regret if everyone is trying to take control and fighting to be the “decision maker.” Whether it’s yourself or someone else, the person who will call the shots and have the final say on any funeral-related decisions should be chosen beforehand.
Also bear in mind that you should be following your loved one’s final wishes, if any, as closely as possible. If the deceased left behind information about how he or she would like the funeral or burial to be carried out or about anything else, honoring those wishes is a sign of true love and respect.
Bring the Necessary Paperwork
After a loved one has passed on, dealing with documents and forms is probably the last thing you want to do. Unfortunately, just as paperwork is a fact of life, it’s a fact of death too. Your funeral director will need you to bring in several documents so that he or she can file claims with the life insurance company (if applicable), register the death, and take care of other required tasks. Fortunately, all you have to do, for the most part, is provide the paperwork and let your funeral director take care of the rest.
Things will go a lot more smoothly for you and everyone involved if you know what documents you will need and if you bring them all at once to the funeral director. To avoid hassle, take the time to gather up the following documents as soon as possible:
- Any statements for accounts owned by the deceased
- Tax returns
- Life insurance policies
- Beneficiary designations
- Copies of any owed bills
- Real estate deeds
- Titles for boats, cars, motorcycles, etc.
- Living trust documents
- Stock and bond certificates
- Pre and post nuptial agreements
- Loan/lease documentation
Knowing What You Want
You’re not expected to know exactly what you want the funeral to be like the very first time you meet with the funeral director. However, having at least a basic idea of the kind of service you are going for will speed up the process and ensure that your loved one receives the kind of service you prefer.
You should know, for example, if you would like the deceased’s body to be buried or cremated. You should also have a general idea of the kind of service you want–are you aiming more for a “celebration of life” type ceremony or something more serious and traditional? Also consider whether any special religious considerations need to be taken to give the deceased the kind of service he or she would have wanted.
Additionally, it’s necessary to think about some of the more difficult details, such as whether you want the body to be present at the viewing service and if you’d prefer an open or closed casket. Again, if your loved one left final wishes behind, do your best to honor those wishes as closely and thoroughly as possible.
Finally, make sure you consider where you might like the funeral to be held. While the funeral home is always an option, many people prefer to hold funerals in churches, homes, or in locations special to the deceased. Similarly, many people also prefer to have someone they know conduct the ceremony. Thinking about all of these things may be hard, especially so soon after you’ve gotten the news of a loved one’s passing, but being prepared and knowing what you want will make everything easier in the long run.
How Do You Feel?
Keep in mind that your first meeting with the funeral home is not merely a time for you to plan the funeral. No, it’s also a time for you to assess the funeral director and whether or not you’ve made the right choice. Funeral directors should understand, more than anyone else, the difficulty of what you are going through and should thus be supportive, encouraging, kind, and respectful of your grief at all times. You should never feel pressured, rushed, disrespected, or like the funeral director is only concerned with money. If you feel that way at any time during the process, remember that it is not too late to leave and to find a funeral director who will value you and do everything within his or her power to make the experience of planning a funeral less difficult for you.