Did the deceased have a known preference for a funeral or memorial service?
If the deceased preferred for their body to be present at their service, than you must have a funeral, and will need to quickly make the necessary legal and logistical arrangements for handling the body. SevenPonds encourages you to consider ahome funeralorgreen burial, if you see fit.
Would some combination of funeral, memorial service and life celebration be suitable? For example, you may hold a memorial service with prayers and aeulogy, or a funeral with elements of a life celebration, such as popular music and dancing.
Make a list of attendees.
Compile a listof those who will be invited. Remember to consult any of the deceased’s preplanned invitation lists.
Decide how to notify invitees. Do you have enough time to mail the announcements, or should you e-mail them? Should you invite them by telephone? You may wish to design a paper or electronic announcement or have one designed, and again, remember to consult any preplanned preferences documented by the deceased.
Consider group invitations, such as to the members of a book club, a volunteer pet rescue group, or a yoga group.
Select a location. The location will need to be appropriate to the service, the season, the number of attendees, and any special considerations. Refer to any preplanned arrangements or preferences documented by the deceased. It may help to use this location checklist:Location Checklist:
Must the location be reserved? If so, how long in advance?
If outdoors, is it practical for the season? If not, is there an alternative?
Is the location large enough? Will there be enough parking? Will the location be accessible for everyone?
Will the location accommodate any special considerations? If you plan to scatter the ashes you will need a location where scattering is legal. Is the location pet friendly? Is it wheelchair accessible?
Identify one or more facilitators.
Whether the funeral or memorial service was preplanned or not, you may need one or more facilitators to aid in implementation. You may designate someone other than yourself to speak or make introductions at the funeral or memorial service. Facilitators may be family members, friends, or professionals. In larger communities, you may be able to hire an event planner or celebrant, much as someone hires a wedding planner.
Determine who should facilitate the various tasks. For example, you may designate a relative to select music, a friend to make speeches and introductions, and a professional planner to reserve a location and arrange for catering, while you handle the invitations yourself.
Commit the details to writing. Write down the details, especially if your event is in only a few days and you find yourself straining to remember the various logistical concerns. You may find the following checklist helpful:
THE SEVENPONDS WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN, AND WHY MASTER LIST
Who will facilitate the funeral or memorial service and what will they be responsible for?
Remember to refer to any preplans left by the deceased.
Who will facilitate any prearranged details?
What details will the facilitator(s) handle?
Are certain friends or relatives needed to provide transportation and/or lodging for out-of-town guests?
Will a particular friend or family member gather mementos of the deceased’s life and bring them to the funeral or memorial service?
Who will speak at the funeral or memorial service?
Which family members or friends would the deceased have asked to speak? Did the deceased specify any particular people?
Will there be any guidelines for the subject matter?
Who should be invited?
Develop a list of names and addresses, phone numbers, and/or e-mail addresses. Remember to consult any preplanned invitation lists and contact information left by the deceased.
When and how will you distribute invitations? What will the invitations say? Will you post apublic announcementof any kind?
Did the deceased want the family pets present at the event? If so, does your location allow for them?
What should be read at the funeral or memorial service?
Do you, or did the deceased, want a somber eulogy, a funny limerick, or something in between?
What music will be played?
Did the deceased want traditional funeral music, favorite contemporary music, or some mix of the two?
Did the deceased want a favorite band or instrumental soloist to be hired to perform?
What should invitees bring to the funeral or memorial service?
Did the deceased want everyone to participate in some particular way, such as by sharing a memory?
Did the deceased want favorite photos, images, or artworks displayed?
Will you hire a caterer with a list of pre-selected items, or do you want friends and family to each bring a dish? Did the deceased have any favorite foods or drinks?
Will you commemorate the event with a photo album or a DVD recording? If so, you may consider hiring a professional photographer or videographer.
Where will the memorial service or funeral be held?
Which location or locations would the deceased have preferred? If outdoors, have you made contingent plans in case of bad weather?
Do you need to reserve this location? Are you able to do so with the time remaining? Will it accommodate all necessary special considerations?
Where will out-of-town guests stay?
Will you need to arrange for anyone to stay in your home or with friends?
Have you reserved hotel rooms for out-of-town guests?
When will the funeral or memorial service be held?
Would you prefer a funeral shortly after death with the body present, or would you rather conduct thevisitationat thecrematoriumprior to cremation? Have you considered ahome funeral?
Will you be able to allow time after death to accommodate travel plans and airline ticket purchases for some invitees?
What time of day will the funeral or memorial service be held, and how long will it last?
Why are you having a memorial service or funeral?
Although this may be clear to you, it may not be clear to those who will help facilitate the funeral or memorial service, and you should specify your reasoning in the invitation.
Did the deceased want a memorial service focused on the spirit after death, a life celebration to give family and friends a joyous occasion for remembrance, or a traditional funeral in keeping with their religious beliefs? Be sure to tell your facilitator(s) the motivation behind these choices.
Did you want to create a record of your loved one’s life? Do you want family and friends to bring certain items to the memorial service or funeral, such as a photo or an object associated with a story or memory?
Do you want to make a video of the funeral or memorial service available online for friends and family? If so, you may consider hiring a professional videographer.