Planning the details of your own funeral service is a task few like to think about – let alone handle. But by working through some of the particular specifics in advance, you are showing compassion for your loved ones by sparing them the burden of making these decisions at a time when they are mourning the immediate loss. Your thoughtful planning will bring them peace knowing that they are celebrating the joys of your life in a way that would make you pleased.

This Essential for “Planning Your Own Funeral Service” corresponds with the Checklist under the same title. The checklist should be kept in a safety box or given to the spouse or closest relative.


The first general concept that needs to be determined regarding the service is whether it should be a religious or non-religious service. Many religions have very specific requirements for the format of the service. If you are unsure about what the religion may require, you may wish to speak with a religious leader to clarify the details.

The second general concept that needs to be determined regarding the service is the final resting place for the body. Is your desire to have your body buried or cremated? If you choose burial, the services of a cemetery and the purchase of a plot will be required. If you choose cremation, you will need the services of a crematory and you will also need to determine what should be done with the ashes.

Another choice involves a service at the place of final rest for the body. Services at a gravesite or crematory are common practices and can be used either in addition to the funeral service or replacing it.

Some people choose to have a memorial service. This service is usually held away from the locations of the funeral or burial services. For example, if the death occurred in one city and the funeral and burial were there, but the individual played an active role in a community miles away, a memorial service might be held in the second city. The body usually is not present for a memorial service.

If you were involved in a branch of the armed forces, you may wish to include a tribute to the military in the service. Some of the components to this part of the service are the draping of a flag over the casket, the folding and presentation of the flag to the surviving spouse, a salute through the use of the shooting of rifles, and the playing of Taps on a bugle. Recording the information about the military branch and post commander will assist the family in making necessary arrangements. You may wish to speak to the post commander ahead of time.

If you have a preference about the funeral home to be used, place that information on the checklist at this point. Include the funeral director’s name and the address of the funeral home. There are many items that the funeral home handles that can be planned ahead of time. See the Checklist and Essential for “Pre-planning a Funeral.”

If you have a preference for your final resting place, place that information on the checklist at this point. Include the name of the cemetery or crematory or mausoleum. There are a couple of items that are handled by the cemetery or crematory that can be planned ahead of time. If you have already made those arrangements, let your loved ones know by marking it here.


There are several decisions about who will be involved in the service that can be determined ahead of time by you. These decisions will save the survivors the pressure and stress of selecting one person over another. Your input in these decisions will help your loved ones during the time of their loss.

The first decision needs to be who will officiate or perform the funeral service. This person could be a close family member or friend. If the service is tied to a religious group, you may want to select a representative of the religion. On rare occasions, leaders of the funeral home can be asked to officiate. The checklist has a place for a first and second choice.

The next group of people mentioned are the pallbearers. Traditionally six people are chosen to accompany the casket. These people can be family members or close friends. If a military service

You may wish to select less than a handful of people to deliver eulogies. In this selection, give consideration to the ability that the individual has to speak in front of a crowd and the ability that the individual has in handing moments of deep emotional stress.

You may also designate individuals to be involved in the service by delivering prayers, poems, readings or music. List these individual on the checklist here, along with verses or readings and music that you would prefer used.

Finally the checklist concludes with a decision about the use of flowers. If you would rather that flowers be minimal and that donations be given to a specific charity. Please take this time to list your favorite charities that could be sported by well-wishers.



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