How to Plan a Simple Funeral
In all the hassle of planning funerals and choosing caskets and selecting the perfect spray of sympathy flowers to demonstrate your loss, it’s not uncommon for families to lose sight of the bigger picture of death. A funeral, no matter how or when or why it occurs, is your final chance to say goodbye, and the most important thing is that your focus remains on the deceased. If your goal is to get rid of the elaborate trappings of death and put your attention where it matters most, a simple funeral might be right for you.
Basic Funeral Options
Direct Cremation/Direct Burial: The fastest and easiest way to plan a simple funeral is to opt for direct burial or direct cremation. These options, which take care of the body without a ceremony or any elaborate details, are low in cost and provide much the same results as a more elaborate ceremony—you either end up with a box of ashes or a place to visit the deceased in a cemetery. It’s merely the process of getting there that is pared down.
Simple Materials: If you do want a more traditional funeral but want to trim some of the excess, opt for lower-end materials. Ideas for cutting back include:
- Skip the embalming and have a closed casket instead
- Caskets can be ordered in pine, wicker, or even a durable type of cardboard
- Rent a casket for the ceremony and opt for a simpler version for burial
- Bury the deceased in his/her everyday clothes
- Choose an understated grave marker or urn
Hold the Memorial Service at Home: Many of the costs associated with burial come from the memorial service. Instead of paying for things like a church hall, funeral home, funeral flowers, an officiant, a piano player, and a few of the other more traditional funeral options, hold an informal gathering at home or in a public park.
Keep the Invitation List Small: You don’t have to have a public funeral if you don’t want one. Instead of putting up a public notice and inviting the entire community, keep things private and small.
In Lieu of Donations: Make sure everyone knows that you’re cutting back and focusing on the basics in the obituary or funeral announcement. Most of the time, indicating that in lieu of donations to a charity is a clear signal that you’ll be opting for a simpler ceremony.
Ask Everyone to Share: One of the biggest hallmarks of a simple, basic funeral is putting the focus on family and friends. Instead of hiring an officiant to say prayers and direct the service, allow friends and family to direct the proceedings. This low-key approach to a funeral is a great way to emphasize their role—especially if the service is held out of doors, at a bar or restaurant, or at the deceased’s home.
Green Funeral Options
Another way to simplify a funeral is to look at green funeral options in your area. By default, green funerals seek to reduce the impact on the environment—and therefore tend to be more simple, easy-to-manage affairs. Whether this means donating the body to science or using a natural burial service, you’ll find it’s much easier to pare things down when you also take the environment into account.
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Death is such a reverent and painful subject that it is rare to find the term applied to anything except the end of a life. It is a topic we discuss when a loved becomes very sick, when we are writing out a will, or when we are faced with the sud... more »