“What Do I Do Now?” When a Loved One Passes — Funeral Planning Checklist Part Two

May 09, 2015

Many of the issues and actions involved in managing the death of a loved one were addressed in my last post. We know it’s a tough subject, but the additional points below will aid your understanding of the process and help you gain a measure of control, and hopefully relief.

After you’ve selected a funeral home, notified key parties, friends and relatives, and created your checklist, other important matters need your prompt attention.

Gravestones and Cemeteries — If your loved one has not preplanned, two issues are a priority:

  • Arranging for and selecting a cemetery burial plot and related services.
  • Selecting or arranging for a memorial headstone, grave marker, cemetery monument, or memorial urn.

These are two distinct steps, and two separate choices, though sometimes they blur together. So don’t be confused.

Cemeteries often offer to arrange for (procure) a headstone as part of a burial package. Also, be aware that cemeteries sometimes limit or prescribe the type and size of headstone or other memorial permitted on their site. So, when selecting a cemetery ascertain what if any limitations/requirements are imposed on memorial gravestones and statuary. Cemeteries may even limit or prescribe approved memorial monument vendors. Ascertain the extent of your choices before committing to a cemetery plot.  

Funeral directors also offer packages that include arranging for a headstone and a plot. A funeral director can help coordinate your burial arrangements with a cemetery and selection of a memorial headstone, monument or urn—they can also recommend memorial providers and cemeteries. But, choosing a cemetery, a memorial provider, and a memorial headstone are usually decisions best made by the family through direct dialog with a memorial provider and cemetery administrators. Be clear with yourself and your family on whether it’s appropriate to allow your funeral director to make selections for you or if it’s better for the family to make such decisions directly.

You should be very clear with the funeral director and cemetery on exactly what service(s) each will provide. Funeral directors, while knowledgeable, often have established referral arrangements and will tend to direct you to memorial providers and cemeteries that they know well and do business with on a regular basis. If funeral directors or cemeteries offer memorial headstones and urns as part of a package, your selection will be what they offer, as opposed to what is available in the market directly from providers. So, if you leave memorial headstone and cemetery selection to the funeral director their limitations or preferences may restrict your choices.

In upcoming posts, I’ll review more aspects of managing the death of a loved one, including key notifications requiring your attention and how to handle them, important documents to look for, and why they’re important.

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