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How To Pre-Plan A Funeral In Eight Steps

Step 2. Decide What Type Of Funeral And/or Memorial Service You Want

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A funeral is a service relating to the burial of a body. A memorial service is a service in memory of a deceased. You can have either, or both -- or decide not to have either.

Where to have the service

A funeral and a memorial service can be held anywhere. For instance, a funeral can be in a residence, a place or worship, a community center, a theater or in a funeral home. Memorial services are generally not held in locations other than a funeral home.

What happens at a memorial service is often less subject to restrictive practices in your community than a funeral service.

Type of funeral

If you would like a funeral,

  • What type would you like? Traditional? Direct burial? Direct cremation? (To learn more, see Types of Funerals.)
  • Would you like to follow the practice of a particular religion? If so, which one? (This can be a particularly sensitive issue that can cause family conflicts if you don't specify what you want customs you want followed or prayers you want included)
  • What goods and/or services do you think are necessary:
    • For your sensibilities?
    • For the peace of mind of of your family or loved ones? 
    • That are in line with your religious and cultural beliefs?

Keep in mind that:

  • Whatever type of funeral you decide on, you can add or reject various parts based on your beliefs and/or whims.
  • Funerals are for the survivors. This reality does not mean that you should ignore your own wishes. However, bear in mind that a very important part of the funeral ritual is to help the survivors through the grieving process.

A discussion

If you are not clear what you want, or if what you want is not traditional, talk it over with your spouse, significant other, or loved ones. To keep the conversation from getting morbid because people think it's about you and your health condition, consider asking each of your family members to talk about what they would like for their own funeral service. Nora W. brought up the discussion at Christmas when everyone was together. While she received a lot of initial resistance to the discussion, what followed was a meaningful dialogue that made it one of the most meaningful holidays the family ever had together.

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