What to Expect When Planning a Funeral
It's true that most people aren't sure what to do when a death occurs. We believe that this is because of the simple fact that death comes into our lives less frequently than it did for our ancestors. Average life spans are significantly longer today, and medical services have been improved by leaps and bounds.
These are good things, but in a way, there is also a downside. Very often, we can be ill-prepared to deal with the death of a loved one. Death can be expected in situations of terminal illnesses, old age and declining health. But it can also be completely sudden and unexpected. Either way, the death of a loved one can leave you feeling lost, alone and unsure where to turn for proper guidance.
When you work with Serenity Funeral Homes LLC, you can take a bit of comfort in knowing that funeral arrangements don't have to add to the stress you're experiencing. If you've recently experienced such a loss, we're here to guide you in planning the services that suit your unique needs.
Where cost is a concern, we can discuss ways to reduce funeral expenses while working together to create a meaningful ceremony or memorial service for your loved one if that's what you would like to do. If you have any questions about our process or would simply like to share your story and explore your options, please don't hesitate to contact us
Your Meeting With the Funeral Director
Typically, you'll need to meet with a funeral director within the first 24 to 48 hours of your loved one's death. This meeting is often referred to as the "arrangement conference." We understand that this is a difficult time for you and your family and take the time to fully discuss your wishes, options and costs.
We'll do everything we can to make your experience as easy as possible while helping to guide you through all of the necessary decisions you'll need to make. At Serenity Funeral Homes LLC, you can expect that this process is never rushed and is always free of pressure.
It's not necessary to have someone accompany you to this meeting, but it can often be comforting and beneficial. Many find it easier to make decisions when they have the support of a friend or loved one. Don't hesitate to ask someone to join you.
We find that those guests are honored by the request and gladly step up to help you during your time of need. When asking someone to accompany you, be sure to tell them that you understand if they're not comfortable doing so.
Who is Responsible for Making the Decisions?
If the deceased has not expressed their wishes through a written Last Will and Testament, the chain of command in decision making is as follows:
- The spouse of adult interdependent partner of the deceased if the spouse or adult interdependent partner was living with the deceased at the time of death
- An adult child of the deceased
- A parent of the deceased
- An adult grandchild of the deceased
- An adult brother or sister of the deceased
- An adult nephew or niece of the deceased
- The Public Trustee
- An adult person having some relationship with the deceased not based on blood ties or affinity
The person who is designated as the responsible party, whoever that may be, needs to be present to make decisions and sign documents. Call us at 702-647-0123 if you have any questions about the accepted kinship-related order of precedence, or are unclear about who is responsible for the funeral planning duties.
Assigning responsibility is an important part of the planning process, but it's also very important to include any children, friends, or other family members who would like to be a part of arranging the funeral. While they may not have any legal decision-making rights, their input can be very valuable to have during the process.
If there are others in your life you feel should be asked to participate, be sure to ask them. They can always decline if they are not comfortable.
Gather the Necessary Documents
When a loved one dies, they leave behind legal matters that require timely completion of paperwork in addition to the emotional struggle we face.
We'll look after all paperwork, including obtaining the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death, compiling and registering the death with Vital Statistics, obtaining the necessary permits for burial and cremation, completing applications for the death benefits if applicable, and providing unlimited copies of the death certificate to settle the estate.
If you can have all available information at your initial meeting with us, we can start the process immediately. If you need time to gather all of the information, we'll let you know what you need as soon as possible and what can wait until you've had the time you need to gather everything.
We understand that in some cases the information might not be known or is unavailable> In such cases they may need to be recorded as "unknown." The following items are helpful to us in preparing all necessary documents:
- Deceased's birth certificate
- Deceased's SSN
- Deceased's marriage certificate (if applicable)
- Spouse's birth certificate (if applicable for benefits)
- Spouse's Social Insurance Number (if applicable for benefits)
- Social Security Number and birth certificates of any minor children or children under the age of 25 years if attending post-secondary education (if applicable for benefits)
- Deceased's funeral prearrangement documents (if applicable)
If you're able to gather it, other helpful information may include:
- Photos for obituary, website, memorial stationery, hairdressing/cosmetics and video tribute
- Any personal items that you would like to place in the casket or cremation container to send with your loved one
- Clothing for the burial or cremation - even if the choice is for cremation with no viewing, most often families like to choose a favorite item for their loved one to be cremated in
- Biographical and historical information for the obituary (we will help you write it)
There is no urgent rush to get everything together prior to our meeting. If you are missing some of the required items, we'll make note of everything we have and organize a list to help you see what still needs to be done.
Burial or Cremation?
If the deceased has not made a decision already, the first major decision that will need to be made is whether to bury or cremate. You may wish to consider if there are any relevant religious beliefs to take into account or the family's traditions.
Cremation is a process that uses heat and evaporation to reduce the body to bone fragments (ashes or remains). Many people believe that cremation is a more economical choice and make the decision based on cost alone.
Others believe that cremation is simpler, but it's important to note that there may actually be more decisions to be made with cremation, such as:
- Viewing or no viewing prior to cremation
- Cremation container
- Keepsakes and jewelry
- Witnessing the start of the cremation
If you're having trouble deciding, we're here to help you. We can explain all the different options and the costs that are associated with each so you can make the decision that's right for your unique needs and situation.
Understand the Details of Planning a Service
The funeral or memorial service is an important step in the healing process after the loss of a loved one. During the funeral arrangement conference, we'll guide you through the entire process, provide you with any answers you may need and share our insights and experiences with you.
We'll discuss where the service will be held, whether that's at your family's church, a community hall, a backyard, a favorite restaurant or another place that you think would best honor your loved one.
We'll plan out the entire schedule so that the service is held on a day and time that works best for you and your family.
You can choose to have a minister of your faith officiate the service or a certified celebrant. Or, you can choose just about anyone who is comfortable speaking in public. We believe it should be someone who cares deeply about guiding those in attendance through the ceremony.
Other things to consider include:
- Flowers - colors, placement, arrangement
- Music - style and specific selections, live or prerecorded
- Transportation may be provided for family and friends if you would like
- A time during the service for others to share memories of your loved one, whether they're specific people you've asked or an open mic
- Traditional eulogy or a more informal tribute
- If there's a burial, is it private or open to all who choose to come
- If there's a cremation, will you witness it or have a committal service at the crematorium
- Consider if there are any close friends or business partners you'd like to have service responsibilities
- Would you like to show a DVD tribute
- Memorial stationery options
Select the Right Funeral Products
There are a large variety of options available when it comes to funeral products. Some of your choices may include:
- Cremation containers
- Cremation urns
All of your options can be fully customized to suit your needs and wishes for your loved one. You're also welcome to bring as much of the personality of your loved one into the service. Consider things like their:
- Personal characteristics
- Passions, interests, hobbies
- Lifetime achievements
- Favorite music, sport, color
- Why he or she was unique
- Special memories you'd like to share or highlight
- Important people you'd like to make special note of
- How you'd like to personalize ceremonial elements, such as music, prayers, tributes, eulogies, readings and poems
It's common to personalize many elements of a funeral, such as:
- The visitation
- The eulogy
- The music
- The readings
- The procession
- The committal service
- The gathering or reception