Funeral Planner & Arrangements For Funerals

Helping you cope with funeral arrangements

For thousands of years, it has been a common practice to bury the dead in different ways. The Egyptians used to mummify the dead, while the Romans burned the deceased. However, burial has become the traditional practice in later years. Regardless of the method followed in the funeral service, what is common is that at this time, friends and family come together to pay last respect to one who had touched the lives of his/ her loved ones in some way or the other. When a death occurs in the family, all the surviving members of the bereaved family usually pick a coffin or a casket from the funeral home for the deceased to be buried in. A coffin is the funerary box that is used in the containment and display of the deceased for burial.

Practices of using coffins in funerals

Coffins are also known as caskets. However, in North America, there is a distinction between ‘coffins’ and ‘caskets’. By a coffin, they refer to a tapered octagonal or hexagonal box, used for the burial, while casket refers to a burial box that is rectangular in shape and has a split lid for viewing the deceased. The coffin can be buried directly in the ground, placed inside a burial vault, or cremated.

Types of coffins used in funeral services

There are mainly two types of coffins that are offered to customers – those made of wood and those made of metal.

* The kind of wood that is used in coffins might be pecan, pine, oak, maple, mahogany, cherry, mahogany, ash, and walnut. There are coffins that also come in various finishes that imparts a beautiful look to the coffin.
* Coffins that are made of metal are generally produced from four materials, which are steel, copper, stainless steel, and bronze. Often such metal coffins have come with a protective or non-protective finish against water and air. In case of steel coffins, one of the distinguishing features is that they usually have a memorial tube or an identifying kit which makes it convenient to identify the body if there is any need of it being exhumed or even transferred somewhere else.

It should be mentioned that the price of the coffin depends very much on the kind of material that it is being used. As well as this, one may also choose the type of lining to be used inside the coffin.

Coffins are an integral part of the funeral service. One may choose from a wide range of coffins that are available according to the budget and requirements.

Death is a part of life and so are funeral services. But did you know how much damage we do to the earth even after we have stopped living? Did you know that 60 million trees are axed every year to build coffins? Gases released during cremation account for 16 percent of the mercury emissions in U.K. Construction of vaults for burials lead to the introduction of about 1.6 million tons of concrete in the soil. The number of people who die each year is about 56 million now and this figure is expected to increase twofold by 2040, so things will only get worse.

We don’t really stop to think of the materials that are used to manufacture items like caskets that are used in traditional funeral services. According to recent research, the quantity of metal used to make the caskets used in North America is equal to the amount of metal used to manufacture the Golden Gate Bridge. Some funeral service rituals sometimes require embalming. Since these embalming fluids are supposed to retard the process of decomposition of the body by inhibiting the growth of bacteria, they also inhibit the growth of bacteria and other important enzymes in the soil.

To prevent all this damage to the environment, we can now choose to opt for greener funeral services.

Green burial tips

One way of ensuring that a funeral is environmentally friendly is to use a biodegradable casket. If you use a coffin made of used paper, buried in a place where there are trees and shrubs, the body will slowly become a part of the environment.

Another method is to cremate the body before it needs to be embalmed. If the body is embalmed, cremating it leads to air pollution because of the toxic gases released during the cremation.

Headstones also lead to pollution because they obstruct the growth of trees. Thus you may choose to have a living memorial for yourself or your loved one in the form of a tree. If this becomes a practice then it will be easier for the survivors of the decedent to cope with the loss because they will have a living substitute for the person who is no more and also lead to the planting of millions of trees. There are more than two hundred environment-friendly burial sites in England, so you can choose the one that is close to your home.

Another novel environment-friendly option is to get your ashes mixed with reef material. This material is then placed in an ocean. Eventually it becomes a new reef. This promotes the growth of organisms that grow on reefs and restores the ecological balance of the planet.

With so many options, it is now much easier to plan a funeral service and burial that will not harm the environment.

The epitaph or the final chapter to a well lived life is a funeral. Planning funerals can prove to be extremely overwhelming especially during an emotional crisis. Often it can become really difficult to take care of all the small details when grieving for the loss of a loved one. It is at this time when the family and friends of the bereaved family take control of the situation and plan the funeral service. The various practical and ceremonial tasks are delegated and distributed among the close friends and family members. The usual task list includes the following activities:

•    Answering the telephone and providing information on the funeral to friends and mourners.
•    Writing letters or emails to the distant relatives and acquaintances of the deceased, informing them about the death. A funeral or memorial program can also be drafted and sent along with the letter.
•    Setting up and managing a phone chain in order to notify people of the death. A phone chain is extremely useful in getting the notice out without having to assign one particular person to make all the phone calls.
•    Keeping a track of the senders of donations and funeral flowers in order to send out ‘thank you’ notes later.
•    Making arrangements for funeral flowers and other decorations at the church, the funeral home, or any other funeral location.
•    Choosing the coffin.
•    Helping to arrange for a charity for the purpose of receiving donations in lieu of flowers if required.
•    Finding a venue for the memorial service and also handling all the arrangements.
•    Getting the funeral order of service printed for the distribution at the service.
•    Arranging for food and other necessities to be delivered to the mourning family during the week before the funeral service as well as the week after it.
•    Writing the obituary in the memory of the deceased.
•    Providing the pastor with favourite poems, scriptures, anecdotal stories, etc. for describing the deceased.
•    Setting up a memory display table or photographs.
•    Babysitting if required.
•    Handling the logistics of services such as podium and microphone, chairs, police chaperone, musicians, parking, transportation, accommodation arrangement for out station guests and relatives, and honoraria and fees to the musicians and officiant.

Special tasks

Apart from these regular tasks, there are certain special tasks as well. Pallbearers are required to carry the coffin from the funeral vehicle into the service. Ushers are needed to help seat guests and speakers are required for short readings, verses, and poems.

By distributing all the tasks among the family members and close friends, planning and executing the funeral arrangements isn’t such an ordeal. It is an obvious fact for the bereaved family to be emotionally drained out if they have to carry it alone. Family and friends therefore play the most important role in the planning of a funeral service.

Funerals are very mournful occasions, and they symbolise the care the survivors have for the life bygone. A lot of planning is required to organise a funeral service for our departed loved ones. One of the many tasks involves arranging funeral flowers for the wake or memorial service. Due to the sensitive nature of the occasion, utmost care needs to be taken to choose the appropriate flowers.

Funeral flowers tend to reflect the personality of the deceased. Sometimes they are symbolic of the relationship that existed between the survivor who is arranging the funeral service and the deceased. Through the flowers they choose, survivors can also show their love and respect for the dead person.

What type of flower should be chosen?

• Rose
• Carnation
• Lily
• Gerbera Daisy
• Aster
• Delphinium
• Gladiolus
• Chrysanthemum

While roses and carnations are considered classic and traditional, a more contemporary funeral flower arrangement combines two or more types of flowers to create a unique and beautiful style.

What is the right colour to choose?

• Flowers can have a great effect on the moods of people. The mere presence of flowers can lift the spirits of a gloomy person. The colour of funeral flowers varies with individual preferences. It ranges from darker shades like purple to brighter ones like yellow. More often than not, we see funeral flowers in soft, pastel, and muted hues, rather than in loud and glaring tones.

• The colour of funeral flowers also depends on the venue of the funeral service. In a funeral home with collared halls, a large white wreath might look quite breathtaking. But this may not be the case if it is placed in a white church or a funeral home. Adding a dash of colour might provide some respite from the already gloomy surroundings.

What is the appropriate flower arrangement to choose?

• Funeral flower arrangements can be both formal and informal. Formal floral arrangements include wreaths and crosses. While flower covered crosses are appropriate for Christian funeral ser        vices, wreaths can be used in almost all kinds of funerals.

• Informal flower arrangements for funeral services can include baskets, cut flowers, potted plants, posies, pedestal arrangements, bouquets, planters, headstone flowers, casket lid floral arrangements, sprays, and even a bunch of floral sticks tied with a ribbon.

Many a times, sprays are placed over the deceased’s casket. Crosses, bouquets, and wreaths are generally used as displays. These are arranged around the room or hall in which the funeral service takes place. Flowers have the ability to make the ambience soothing and lighten the mood of the mourners.

Custom-made funeral flower arrangements have also become increasingly popular in recent times. There are florists who specialise in creating arrangements that reflect the personality of the deceased. Different patterns, designs, and styles can be juxtaposed to create a unique funeral flower arrangement which will be a real tribute to the deceased. Funeral flowers are perhaps the most elegant and simple way to pay our respects to the departed soul.

Cremation is a process by which a body is reduced to ashes in a few minutes’ time with the aid of heat and evaporation. This is done in preparation for last placement and memorialisation of the deceased. Normally cremation takes place either at a funeral home or a chapel. If the deceased had any specific wish regarding the venue of cremation, it is carried out in accordance with his/ her wishes. The body is cremated with the help of a cremator which functions between 800° Celsius and 1000° Celsius, and burns the body in around 2 ½ hours time.

Why Cremation and not Burial?

There are several reasons why some people choose the process of cremation over that of burial. For people with a spiritual bent of mind, or those who believe in afterlife, the process of cremation is preferred since it turns a body into ashes and returns it to the ground. This very thought may seem more agreeable to people of certain religious beliefs.

The thought of allowing a body to decay inside the earth may seem offensive to the sensibilities of some people. They may prefer a clean and quick disposal by fire, and hence tend to be more comfortable with the idea of cremation. Moreover, after cremation, the remains can be collected in an urn to be either kept by the survivor, or scattered on a river or ocean.

From a more practical point of view, cremation is less expensive than burial. Since there is no need to select a grave side, the charges for cremation automatically come down. Also, there is no need for a headstone. In addition, cremation allows more flexibility to the memorial service planning.

Memorialisation of the cremated remains

Memorialisation is a process by which the family and friends of the deceased can provide a final resting place for the cremated remains of the body. There are various methods of memorialisation. Cremation urns are available at funeral homes, and these can be used by families to preserve the remains. The urns can also be placed in a niche in a columbarium. Niches are basically compartments that protect the carved urn and preserve its adornments. Many cemeteries have urn gardens that are specially designed for this purpose.

Memorialise your loved one with cremation jewellery

Cremation is undoubtedly a sad affair, but you can preserve some of the fond memories of your loved one in the form of cremation jewellery. Cremation jewelleries are alternatives to urns, and can be kept with the survivor. If you wish to keep the remains of your beloved one with you, cremation jewellery can be a good option. Such a piece of jewellery, which is considered a personal token of remembrance, has a small unit to store the ashes. There are various kinds of cremation jewellery available. You can choose from different designs like animal figures, heart shaped pendants, crosses, and many more. The most popular metal for cremation jewelleries is gold. Jewellery in silver, brass, and pewter are also among the popular options.

Funeral is a ceremony to mark the death of a person. A funeral encompasses the set of beliefs and practices of a specific culture. The ceremony is aimed at paying homage to the deceased and praying for the dead person’s soul. The word “funeral” is derived from the Latin word “funus” which means “corpse”. Sometimes, it is also used to refer to the funeral rites. To be able to perform the funeral rites properly you need help from a funeral service provider.

Choosing a burial option and funeral provider

There are certain things to be kept in mind while choosing the burial option and funeral service provider. Here are some pointers:

1. Selection of a funeral home − While selecting funeral homes, people usually consider distance to be the most important factor. Funeral homes may also be selected on the basis of reference from a trusted person. Availability of services can be another major reason to go with a particular funeral home.

2. The tussle between national and locally owned funeral homes – Funeral homes can be either national or locally owned. While funeral homes owned by the national corporation offer a wider range of services, a locally owned funeral home may prove to be a better option in terms of accessibility and financial considerations.

3. Comparing the facilities provided by the funeral homes – Comparing the services provided by different funeral homes will help you choose the best available option. According to the Funeral Rule, the funeral provider is supposed to provide detailed information regarding the price list, products, and services offered by the particular funeral home. Sometimes special packages are offered by certain funeral homes. It might prove to be beneficial to have information about these facilities.

The usual services provided by funeral homes

Funeral homes provide certain traditional services and products. These include:

• Embalming
• Preparing the body
• Vault
• Casket and coffin options
• Memorial service
• Graveside service
• Hearse

The customs and rituals followed in funerals

There are certain customs and traditions that have been followed through the ages in funeral ceremonies. However, these customs are not universal and depend on the religion and culture of the deceased.

• In Christian tradition, the body of the deceased is normally retained at the funeral parlour for the last visit. In the West, after a burial ceremony, family members gather together at a relative’s house or an off-site location for refreshments.

• In Jewish tradition, the body is buried as soon as possible and a seven-day period of mourning is observed by the deceased’s family members.

• According to Islamic tradition, friends and family of the deceased accompany the procession to the grave. Post burial, a 10-day mourning period is observed.

• In Buddhist tradition, the body is buried in a week’s time and the family members and friends make a charitable donation.

• According to Hindu customs, the body is cremated within 24 hrs and a mourning period is observed.

Funerals are essentially somber occasions and call for all family members and friends of the deceased person to come together for one last time. Even though it is a particularly distressful period, one must make the effort to honor the memories of the deceased.

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