The initial meeting with your chosen funeral home will take approximately 2.5 hours if the funeral home and cemetery are in close proximity; and longer if they are not in the same location. The following are items that should be discussed with the family prior to the meeting.
- Possible Services offered
- What to bring to the meeting
- Burial Options
- Funeral service options
- Funeral needs
- Visitation options
- Reception options
- Other Considerations
Possible services offered by the funeral home
Many people are unaware of the wide range of services that funeral homes offer with regards to funerals. While all of these services can be convenient to take care of in one place, it can also come at a premium. Before meeting at the funeral home, consider talking through your position on the following services:
- Memorabilia – The funeral home will have options such as obtaining hair and fingerprints.
- Budget – Be aware of fees. It is important to discuss this ahead of time so that, during this emotional time, there is a plan going into the meeting. The funeral (not including the grave and tombstone) can run from $7,000 to $10,000 or more depending on the options that are chosen.
- How much would you like to use the funeral homes optional services? For example, if the funeral home includes a package with items such as thank you notes, will these be purchased?
- If there is a passion care line that can be made available to the family and community, will the family want to use it?
Remember: It’s OK to say “no” at the funeral home if the family feels they are trying to upsell services or items the family doesn’t really need (ex. Memorial items, Video tributes, Casket insurance (there is no such thing)).
What to bring to the meeting
- Bring the burial insurance policy (Number and contact person) if there is one.
- Know the face value amount of the policy.
- Are there any exclusions?
- Most insurance companies will not pay until they receive a death certificate.
- Insurance companies can take 30-45 days to pay, most funeral homes use a 3rd party to collect the money because it is due prior to the funeral. There can be a charge of between 5% and 10% for this service. Can the family cover the expenses to save this money?
- Driver’s License of the person responsible for the payment.
- Bring a checkbook or credit card if the family is paying.
- Vital Information of the deceased will be needed for the death certificate (see the Carsons Village Resource Library for a downloadable copy)
- Full Name
- Residence Address
- Social Security Number
- Date of Birth
- Place of Birth
- Marital Status
- Highest Level of Education
- Father’s First Name
- Mother’s First Name
You will also be asked about your preferences for burial. The following are considerations for the types of burial:
- If burial, open/closed casket
- Embalming (needed for an open casket)
- Clothes for Burial
- Does the family have items to put in the casket (toys, mementos, jewelry)?
- Choice of the urn; plans for ashes (one urn or split among smaller containers)
- If cremation is the option chosen, Important to NOT include metal objects as they may cause an explosion and do not melt easily.
- Location and cost of the plot
- Types of headstones allowed
- Date for headstone installation
Funeral Service Options
Where you would like to hold the service will affect the burial options. Think if you would like to hold it at a church, Chapel, graveside, or somewhere else entirely.
Also think through who will perform the service. Who will brief them and when? Who is the point person for the interaction and coordination?
There are quite a few things needed for the funeral itself, and it is important to consider how you’ll be handling the parts below:
- Have you made arrangements for pallbearers (you will need 6 or 8)?
- How many speakers would you like?
- Do you have a date and time in mind? (You will need to wait at least 24 hours after the home receives the body)
- How will you transport the body?
- Who will make the program?
- Would you like to include poems?
- Where would you like the obituary posted?
- Do you have any music you would like to play?
- Also consider if military honors are appropriate for your funeral. If so, you should contact a local Veteran of Foreign War office or recruiting offices. A “DD214” form is needed for services so a flag can be presented to the family. In addition, patriot Guard Riders can do military escorts from Funeral Home to Cemetery. (Most states have a local chapter for this as well)
The visitation is the time before the funeral where guests may view the casket or pay individual respects to the family. The following are things you might consider having at a viewing:
- Pictures for a slideshow
- Pictures and memorabilia (do pictures need to be scanned?)
- Picture for the casket, program and table
- Frames for all of the pictures
In addition, here are some considerations you should consider for the organization of the visitation:
- Would you like to divide the room so that the family does not have to stand with the casket?
- Would you like to try to involve the immediate family in picking out memorabilia?
- Would you like to personalize the event with a special theme (like Legos, beach, fishing, etc.)?
Reception after the Funeral
After a funeral, you can have a reception if you wish. This may be useful for any family members from out of town or just so that the family does not have to think about organizing a meal after what can be a very hard day. Be sure to consider:
- Host volunteers
- Options for saving money include asking family and friends to bring some of the food and drinks
After plans for the visitation, funeral, and or reception are considered, you need to then think about how you will communicate these plans. The following are aspects of communication to think about:
- Finding a space to announce the services and ways to support the family
- Identifying if anyone needs travel assistance
- Obituaries can be made by the Funeral Home or the family and are a good place to announce plans.
- The Funeral Home will do a basic obituary most times on their website but the family can add to it if available.
- Social media can be a place to announce things, but be mindful of if you page is public or not
Some other considerations you might need to make are:
- How will social media be handled?
- Should pictures be taken at any event?
- Do you need an accommodation for pets?
- Do you need arrangements to drive the family?
- Do you want a list of donations for thank you notes?