Funeral Planning Guide


For many people, a funeral is a necessary part of grieving, and often the first step in the healing process. For thousands of years, funerals have been one of the most common ways of expressing grief and paying tribute to loved ones. Some people prefer to make plans for their funeral while they are still alive, while others choose to leave the planning to family and friends to figure out after they are gone. Whether you are planning your own funeral, or the funeral of a loved one, this guide will illuminate some of the funeral planning process and what things you need to consider.

Why Should You Plan Ahead?

Many who have undergone the emotional strain of arranging a funeral within hours of losing a loved one have made the choice to pre-plan their own funeral. Doing so lifts the burden from their loved ones by relieving decision-making and financial pressure at a time of grief and emotional stress.

What are the Basic Steps of Funeral Planning?

While many funeral homes offer the option to pay for a funeral service in advance, funeral planning can be as simple as writing down your wishes or sharing them with your loved ones so they will have a basic idea of what to do when the time comes. Some of the general steps to planning a funeral include:

  • Estimate the cost of the funeral. There are many choices that you can make that can increase or decrease the amount a funeral will cost. Having a budget in mind before making any plans can make this easier.
  • Share your funeral plan with your family. Choose someone you trust that will responsibly carry out your wishes once you are gone. You can get specific or just share the basics of what you’d like.
  • Make financial arrangements. Figure out whether you will have enough money to cover any expenses necessary. You can consider funeral insurance, trusting, pre-purchasing cemetery space, and a pre-need contract for funeral services.
  • Organize all your important documents and personal information. Having all the necessary information in one place will make it easy for your loved ones to get your affairs in order.

Benefits of Pre-Planning

Between 70 and 75 decisions are made within the first 24-48 hours of death. It’s difficult to think rationally while making so many decisions within days of losing someone, pre-planning gives yourself, family and friends peace of mind. Pre-planning gives your loved ones direction of your wants and desires. It’s easy, anyone can do it, and you can change your mind at any time.

Planning Your Own Funeral

We all know that one day we will die, but even so it can be difficult to acknowledge this fact. Planning your own funeral can be emotional taxing, but there are lots of benefits to being involved in this process. The most obvious benefit is that planning a funeral in advance alleviates a lot of the stress that your grieving friends and family will feel after you are gone. Losing a loved one is already an incredibly dark time, so removing the need to make tough choices in that scenario is a wonderful thing you can do for the loved ones you leave behind.

Another reason you should plan your funeral is that you may have a preference about what you would like to have done with your remains. The most common choices are burial, cremation, or donating your body to science. Some people don’t have a preference, while others are very particular about what should be done based on their religion, culture, or family traditions. 

Some of the decisions you can make in advance include:

  • Decide on Burial or Cremation and in the event of a burial, the location
  • Select your casket or urn type
  • Pick what type of service you want (religious, military, non-traditional)
  • Choose the person you would like to officiate the service
  • Choose the location of the service (i.e. funeral home or place of worship)
  • Select the burial garments
  • Pick what type of floral arrangements and style of programs
  • Select which photographs you would like to be used in the programs
  • Designate your pallbearers, pick any music or readings you want at your service.

Planning a Funeral For a Loved One

A funeral is a way to honor and celebrate the life of a loved one who has passed away, but also an important step for those who are still around to grieve for them. If you spoke with your loved one about what they wanted at their funeral, relaying that information to the funeral director can speed up the planning process as they will have years of knowledge and experience. However, if you are planning without any knowledge of what the deceased would have wanted, 

Pre-Payment Options

When pre-planning your funeral, you have the option to pre-pay for the services. Everyone may not opt to pre-pay, but should you choose to, we will guide you through the steps.

Pre-paying your funeral reduces stress and financial burden on your loved ones after your passing. Madison Memorial Home is a member of Choices-New Jersey Prepaid Funeral Trust Fund, the largest fund of its kind in NJ, and one of which is the safest and best resource to place prepaid funeral funds. Once the funds are deposited, you will receive a monthly statement and the trust will accrue interest. We can also coordinate a payment plan that suits your needs, such as a monthly plan. By pre-paying your funeral you eliminate your family second guessing on if they have spent too much or too little on your funeral. Pre-payment also protects you and your family from inflation.