There are many reasons why you might need to say “no” while planning a funeral. Maybe intrusive family members are making it difficult for you to plan the small, intimate memorial service the deceased asked for. Perhaps you’re feeling pressured to buy larger and more elaborate caskets from the funeral home. It’s possible that you might even need to go against the advice of others to forgo a military funeral or close the funeral to the public.
Whatever the reason, it’s important for you to remember that you have every right to plan this funeral your way. There is no feasible way to make everyone happy with the outcome of a funeral, as this is a time when emotions are running high and grief can put a strain on even the strongest relationships. Your best bet is to act in accordance (first) with the wishes of the deceased, and (second) according to your own discretion.
Dealing with Family Members and Friends
A funeral brings both the best and the worst out of people. You’ll find that many loved ones are willing to come to your aid without a moment’s hesitation, while others might voice strong opinions that conflict with the wishes of the deceased.
In both of these types of situations, it may be necessary to decline assistance and advice. Planning a funeral is one of those times when too many cooks can spoil the broth , and having just a few trusted relatives on hand will make things go smoother than having too many. Here’s how to keep the numbers low:
- Let someone else say no for you. If you aren’t feeling up to the task of declining offers of assistance or advice, ask someone you trust to do it in your stead. This is one time it’s completely okay to pass the buck.
- Be firm but polite. If you prefer to deal with people on your own, be upfront about your wishes. Explain that you have been chosen to act on behalf of the deceased, and that you will do your best to honor what he or she would have wanted.
- Ask the funeral home to step in. Funeral directors exist for a reason—and that’s to make your funeral planning process go as smoothly as possible. If a family member is overstepping his or her bounds, the funeral home may be able to act as gatekeeper.
- Give them something to do. Most of the time, those who get in the way of funeral planning are doing it with good intentions. Feeling ineffective can be hard in times like these. By offering them a task—even if it’s as simple as coordinating food for the memorial service or making a list of those who sent flowers and sympathy cards—can make a big difference to that individual.
Dealing with Funeral Service Providers
You might also find that it’s necessary to turn down funeral service providers. Funeral homes are businesses just like any other, and a large part of their business comes from the money you pay for caskets, body preparation, and the funeral itself.
However, you are not obligated to pay for any service or upgrade you don’t want. The Funeral Rule clearly states that funeral homes are required to be upfront about price lists and about what items are legally required versus those that are not.
And while you might feel pressured to make decisions or choose upgrades you don’t want, saying no to a funeral home shouldn’t result in lowered customer service. If you feel at all discriminated against, know that you do have rights when it comes to planning a funeral, and that even with a pre-plan package, you may be able to transfer to a different funeral home or provider.