Making funeral arrangements can help you and your family with peace of mind during a difficult period. Sometimes it is easier to make arrangements for a loved one’s passing before his or her time instead of in the midst of grief.

Whether or not you or your loved one are religious, some people believe that preparing for the next journey is something that should be given as much care as when planning for the birth of a child. Some counselors suggest that, in order to help you make end of life decisions, you may think of the passing as simply the next stage—and your loved one going “home.” The power of positive thought can help you plan with your head, not your emotions.

That said, coping emotionally with the logistics of funeral services is not an easy chore. Enlist the help and the support of friends, family, neighbors, clergyman, or counselor during this time, and consider some of the fundamentals in this article.


Types of Funeral Services

Two types of funeral services exist: burial and cremation. This is an extremely personal choice, and why planning ahead helps avoid assumptions (that could be incorrect). Try to speak with your loved one well before he or she becomes too ill to make decisions about passing. You may want help in speaking to Mom or Dad from a clergyman or friends and family, but respect your loved one’s privacy and how difficult this conversation may be for him or her.


Place of Burial

Another extremely personal decision is where your loved one wants to be buried, or where he or she would like ashes to be placed. Many families want to be buried together, perhaps in the town in which they lived for years. Meaningful places such as the town Mom or Dad were married in or the place where you were born might be choices. Again, making advanced preparations can solve potential drama in the family.


Funeral Costs

Adding flames to the fire, one of the most traumatizing things about funeral preparation is the cost. The average price of an American funeral is around $6,000. Things such as a velvet-lined casket, flowers, obituary postings, vaults, special transportation, or a large service can make that price jump significantly. Make a list of what Mom or Dad expects for the service, and the cost of the burial plot, the casket, and all the flowers. Preparing for these costs ahead of time can help lessen the burden.

You can use a separate account, place the funds in a trust (which earns interest), create a shared bank account with someone you trust, or if your loved one is eligible for Medicaid you can potentially set aside a certain amount of money for a funeral (each state’s laws vary).


Funeral Services

Ask Mom or Dad what kind of services he/she wants for the funeral. It’s a tough conversation, but important to have while he or she is able to make decisions. Be sure to respect his or her values and any religious and spiritual connection. The funeral service is not about you, your brother’s, or your neighbors’ preferences—it’s about your loved one’s preferences. So be sure to respect that, even if it means a service that includes immediate family only, or is in a church that is different from the one he/she attended most of their life (or no church at all).

Remember, a funeral exists to both provide closure for the friends and family of your loved one, as well as to honor his or her life. But first and foremost, it is about the wishes and desires of your loved one.