Finding Support for the Funeral Planning Process
Planning a funeral for a loved one is much easier if you have someone to share the burden with you. Although too many people coming together to plan a funeral (such as all the adult children of a beloved father or mother) can make it difficult to reach important decisions, having someone by your side as you navigate the burial options, caskets, headstones, and funeral flowers can help you make smarter—and more cost-effective—decisions.
Who to Bring to the Funeral Planning Meeting
Ideally, you should choose a time to visit the funeral home when a trusted friend, spouse, or family member is available to accompany you. This support person should not be as close to the deceased as you are, or as emotionally invested in the funeral planning process. This way, he or she can act as a check to ensure that you make decisions that are appropriate for your situation—not necessarily the ones that you may feel obligated to make because of your overwhelming emotions.
This person should also be aware of or sensitive to your financial situation. As much as we hate to admit it, most funeral planning discussions are centered around money—what you can afford, how much you are willing to spend, and the price of everything from grave markers to the obituary in the newspaper. By being with somebody you are comfortable discussing money with, you can talk about a budget ahead of time and ask them to help you be accountable to it.
Your support person should also have some idea of how the funeral business works (or have had prior experience burying a loved one). They will be better able to remind you what items you need to bring to the meeting, attend to issues you may have overlooked, and keep track of all the details that arise when planning a funeral. As strange as it is to make the comparison, the kind of people who are good at funerals are the same who are good at weddings or large parties.
How Many People is Too Many People?
If there is dissention in your family, or if your family is a large one, it is best to elect one (or two) people to be the voice of the funeral plans. Although everyone might wish to attend the funeral planning meeting (and, indeed, may be helping pay for it), select one of you to be the person who makes the final decisions. Otherwise, this can quickly become a case of “too many cooks,” where choices are put off or budgets are set aside in favor of large, sweeping, emotional decisions.
What to Do if You Don’t Have a Support Network
If your first choice support person is unavailable, or if there’s no one you can ask for help during this difficult time, you do have options. You can:
- Ask a trusted member of the clergy or your community to advise you.
- Look on forums for people who have gone through the funeral planning process and can offer practical advice.
- Reach out on Facebook or other social media for someone who might be willing to come along to be your support.
- Do as much prep work ahead of time as possible so you can be fully prepared for the meeting (this includes asking for a price list, setting a budget, and making as many decisions in advance as you can).
- Ask your loved ones to pre-plan their funeral so that there won’t be as much to do after death occurs.
This last option naturally has to take place in the months and years preceding death, but it is still a good one. If you know that you’re likely to be left planning the funeral for a relative on your own, you can ask them to start taking steps now—or even look into funeral insurance plans that will help you cover the costs.