What every family should know

So a loved one has passed on to their glory, now what do we do. This is a complex question to a very complex situation. Pre-planning can make some of this easier, but few take advantage of this service.


Pre-planning even if it’s only between you and your loved ones can take the “I think this is what they would have wanted” out of the equation. Guessing never really meets or fulfills anyones wants/needs/desires.

Someone to Help

Funerals can be tiring and very busy events for immediate family members. There is much to do, from planning, coordination, greeting friends and family, receiving lines and more. It’s important to have extended family or friends you can rely on for back-up. Someone to help look after small children, or to bring you water while in the receiving line, or pick up plates, glasses and trash at your home if receiving friends and family there.

Visitation or Viewing

Your immediate family members should be available in a receiving line so that guests can easily find them and express their condolences. Family members should arrive at the location of the visitation/viewing early and together. Everyone should be in place when the doors are opened so that friends and family can pay their respect to all immediate family members.

Questions to Ask and Things to Consider

  • Selecting a funeral home
    • Family owned (footnote1)
    • Corporate owned (footnote 2)
    • Funeral Chapel available
    • No Funeral Chapel available
  • Traditional Casket Funeral or Cremation
    • Casket selection (metal or wood)
    • Casket color if metal and or type of wood
  • Ground burial or Mausoleum
  • Visitation
    • Immediate family only
    • Everyone (Open Casket)
      • Receiving line *
    • No one, not even family
    • Viewing
      • Open casket viewing
      • Closed casket
  • Casketing
    • Burial clothes (footnote 3)
      • Formal attire (suit or dress)
      • Casual (what the loved one usually wore)
      • Uniform (military, first responder or sports)
    • Flowers or Covering
    • Sprays and Coverings
      • Many funeral homes have Rent-a-sprays (footnote 4)
      • U.S. Flag, Military, Elected Official, Appointed Official and First Responders (footnote 5)
    • Family Quilts make wonderful casket covers too
  • Church or Funeral Home Chapel
  • Funeral Service
    • Open Casket during service
    • Closed Casket during service
    • Open casket one or two hours before service, and closed during service
    • Service open to all
    • Service by invitation
    • Service family only
  • Grave Side Service
    • Open Casket/Closed Casket
    • Service open to all
    • Service by invitation
    • Service family only
  • Transportation
    • Hearse (colors and various styles)
    • Bus
    • Police escort (charge in some areas)
  • Cemetery
    • Family
    • Private
    • Veteran
    • Arlington National Cemetery (if qualified)
  • Flowers
    • Yes
      • Fresh and type
      • Rent a Flower (artificial)
    • No
    • Donation to charity in lieu of flowers
  • Reception following service
    • Location
      • Church
      • Event Hall
      • Restaurant
      • Home
    • Food
      • Church provided
      • Restaurant
      • Catered
      • Potluck
      • Family coordinated


(1) Family owned funeral homes can be more personal and provide more onsite services such as preparation of the remains.

(2) Some larger funeral homes either have separate preparation facilities for the remains or contract them out. Just something to be aware of.

(3) If pre-planning ask your loved one what they want to be casketed in. If your loved one has passed without pre-planning, consider their lifestyle in determining what you will have the wear. If your loved one never wore a suit or dress in their life, it might not be the best option for their funeral.

(4) Many funeral homes have rentable sprays. They are usually. very high quality and offered at lower price. Consider this option if friends and family have health issues where live flowers could be a concern.

(5) Your funeral director will take care of obtaining American Flags. The Veterans Administration provides them to military and government officials. Local governments usually provide them to first responders and many funeral homes have them for purchase as well.

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