Chapter 2: Planning for after death

Funerals, memorials, and services

It felt wrong to be working out the details of he funeral while he still alive. But after he died, I was grateful we had done it because I was so exhausted and emotional, I am not sure I could have coped with it then.

Funerals and after-death commemorative events are influenced by cultural and religious traditions, family preferences, and costs. Knowing a person’s wishes in advance can help relieve some of the emotional stress from caregivers and families and also give the person who is ill peace in knowing this.

Traditional funerals are not the only option. Some families choose a burial or cremation soon after death, without holding a viewing or funeral service, and they may choose to hold a memorial service later instead. Memorial services can be held anywhere – in a hall or home, or by a gravesite if the family wishes.

Where to start

The funeral home is often the main resource for planning. A funeral director can explain the different options and costs for a funeral or service; discuss how they can accommodate mourning rituals, and different religious or cultural traditions and beliefs; and offer guidance on planning. The home can also connect you to religious institutions or businesses involved with a funeral.

Some of the services offered by funeral homes may be costly, so it could be beneficial to discuss preferences and explore costs in advance. Services and specific arrangements can usually be planned and paid for in advance (even years).