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How To Plan a Funeral

None of us wants to think about all the details of a proper funeral, so it’s important to plan ahead so that everyone can grieve without unwanted surprises.


  • Step 1: Choose music after reflecting on the musical tastes of the deceased.
  • Step 2: Place an obituary in the newspaper. Work with the funeral home on this, as well as on memorial cards for attendees. A guest book for visitation and services allows you to thank people later.
  • Step 3: Arrange a gathering after the burial, coordinating with the funeral home to offer suggestions for transportation and an announcement to guests.
  • FACT: Did you know? In 2008, Washington state had the highest mean annual salary for funeral directors, at $86,610.
  • TIP: Be sensitive to those who might feel uncomfortable. Don't insist that someone speak if they clearly would rather not.
  • Step 4: Invite readers to assist in the service or deliver a eulogy.
  • TIP: Elect one person to take the lead in decisions about embalming and cremation if the body hasn't been promised to medical research.
  • Step 5: Delegate people to be in charge of legal advice, invitations, donations, calls to the funeral home, the church, and the florist.
  • Step 6: Decide whether you want a formal memorial service or wake at you place of worship or an informal one at a funeral home. Or neither.
  • Step 7: Choose pallbearers. Consider friends, neighbors, and colleagues.
  • Step 8: Include the family on decisions about which funeral home to use and how much to spend. Select a casket that reflects what the deceased would have wanted.

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