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Navigating Farewell: Essential Questions When Planning a Funeral

Chris Merlino

Chris is the owner of Buklad-Merlino Memorial Homes. He is an Expert Contributor for Hamilton Square Neighbors magazine where this was originally published.

The passing of a loved one is a somber moment that calls for reflection and remembrance. As you begin to plan a funeral, it's important to approach the process with careful consideration and thoughtfulness. A funeral is not only a way to honor and celebrate a life but also a means of finding closure and support during a difficult time. To help guide you through this journey, here are ten crucial questions to ask when planning a funeral:

1. What Type of Service Best Reflects Their Life?

Each individual has a unique story, personality, and life journey. Consider the deceased's beliefs, interests, and values when deciding on the type of service. Whether it's a traditional religious ceremony, a personalized celebration of life, or a more intimate gathering, choosing a fitting tribute is the first step.

2. What is the Budget?

Funerals can range widely in cost, and it's important to have a clear understanding of your budget. Discuss this openly with your family and the funeral director to ensure that you create a meaningful experience without unnecessary financial strain.

3. Burial, Cremation, or Another Option?

The choice between burial and cremation is a significant decision. Consider the deceased's wishes, cultural or religious beliefs, and any environmental concerns when making this choice. There are also alternative options like natural burials or donating the body to science.

4. Should There Be a Viewing?

Viewings can provide closure for friends and family, allowing them to say their final goodbyes. However, this decision should take into account cultural and religious preferences, as well as the emotional well-being of those involved.

5. Who Will Officiate or Lead the Service?

Depending on the type of service, you might need to choose an officiant, religious leader, or a family member or friend to lead the ceremony. Make sure the chosen person understands the importance of the occasion and can deliver a fitting tribute.

6. How Will You Personalize the Service?

Personal touches can make the funeral more meaningful. Consider incorporating favorite music, readings, anecdotes, or even multimedia presentations that capture the essence of the person's life.

7. How Can People Pay Their Respects?

Determine how attendees can pay their respects during the service. This could involve sharing memories, lighting candles, or offering a moment of silence. Providing these opportunities can help attendees process their emotions and find solace.

8. What About Flowers, Donations, and Memorials?

Decide whether you'd like to request flowers or charitable donations in lieu of flowers. Additionally, consider creating a lasting memorial, such as a scholarship, memorial fund, or a dedicated bench or tree in a meaningful location.

9. How Will You Communicate the Details?

Clear communication is key to ensuring that loved ones are aware of the service's date, time, and location. Utilize various channels such as social media, obituaries, and formal invitations to ensure that everyone who wants to attend has the information they need. Your funeral director can help with these efforts.

10. Are There Legal and Administrative Considerations?

Depending on your location and circumstances, there may be legal and administrative steps to take, such as obtaining a death certificate, arranging transportation, and addressing the deceased's estate. Consulting with legal professionals and funeral directors can help navigate these matters. Feel free to call us for guidance at (609) 695-1868.

Planning a funeral is a thoughtful and emotional process that requires attention to detail and compassion. By addressing these essential questions, you can create a meaningful and personalized farewell that honors the life of your loved one and provides a space for healing and remembrance.


We understand that making decisions about a funeral can be difficult. Whether planning ahead or at a time of loss, we're here to answer questions, support, and guide you every step of the way. 


Honor your loved ones by helping them honor you and your wishes. Be prepared by making important decisions and arrangements ahead of time. We're here to help you. 

Your loved ones will be grateful, relieved, and free to grieve with grace.

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