Whether you are planning for yourself or a loved one, there is no need to wait to plan your end-of-life memorial or funeral service. There are many decisions to make, and deciding how things should go now will save your family time and energy later. 

Losing a loved one is hard enough. If the funeral is not already planned, your loved ones must spend countless hours deliberating and coming to an agreement about every detail of your final event.

You can go ahead and plan now. Save your family the time and struggle. Download your free Comprehensive Preplanning and Bereavement Guide or consider the questions below to make your own plan.

Where Will Your Final Resting Place Be?

In funeral home language, this is called your “place of disposition.” From a lush green field and a green burial that considers our environment to traditional burial in a mausoleum at a historical cemetery, your choices are vast. If you also consider cremation and the scattering of your ashes, your final resting place could be almost anywhere on earth. There are also different types of urns and even jewelry that can hold your ashes to give your family comfort.

Be sure to note what type of casket or urn you are considering, along with where you would like to have your final resting place. There are casket catalogs where you can choose the type and color of a casket or your urn type and materials. If you prepay for these types of choices, you also save your family from that monetary burden.

Cremation, Burial, or Green Burial?

Some funeral homes have a dedicated cremation center to care for your remains with the family sitting nearby if they choose. This is a good way to let your loved ones participate in the process of your passing. When you choose cremation, you can still have a funeral or memorial service or even choose to bury your remains. 

Traditional burial includes choosing what type of vault and casket you desire along with the final resting place. This type of choice also includes whether you would like to have embalming performed. If you have family coming from out of town, this helps to make it possible to prolong the time between your death and the viewing of the body. With a traditional burial, you can also choose your pallbearers ahead of time, leaving their names with your planning preparation in your funeral home’s files.

A green burial takes place in a cemetery that allows for the natural decomposition of the body. This burial type includes cardboard or biodegradable casket and often allows for more family participation in the burial process. Many believe that green burial is safer for our environment because the process does not include embalming chemicals.


If you have clergy or other inspiring individuals in your life, you can go ahead and talk with them to plan what type of eulogy they may give. Alternatively, you can let your funeral home know who you would like to have speak at your funeral, and they can contact the person after your death.

From the details of your life to the ideas you found important in your life philosophy, a eulogy is a chance for a religious or non-religious time of reflection about your life and what you found important here on earth. It’s a chance for others who come to focus on and celebrate your life’s ideals.

Flowers and Donations

Many people choose to forego flowers for the funeral and instead ask for donations to a favorite charity or religious organization. You’ll want to have a say in what you would like. Flowers are a language unto themselves, and different types have different meanings. Check out FrugalFlower.com to learn more and choose the perfect flowers for your last rites. Or check out this Time article about how to choose the best charity.


You can write your own obituary, hire a professional, get help from your funeral home, or ask a friend or relative to write one for you ahead of time. With writing this important last document, you decide what is shared with the world about your life. 

You decide where it will be posted online, which newspapers or other news sources will receive a copy for print. You can choose which picture will accompany your obituary or if you choose no picture at all. 

Memorial Service or Funeral?

Memorials are often held long after someone passes away. You can choose this option to allow for a time all of your family and friends can come together to remember your life. These can be held in various locations and ways, but making a plan for what you would like to happen can help family members looking for a way to grieve together.

On the other hand, funerals often include a wake or viewing where loved ones gather to say goodbye to you at an open casket. Whether you choose memorial or funeral, consider where your service will be held. Most funeral homes have chapels where they are prepared to hold a viewing and a funeral. Often this is included in their funeral packages.


Music can be an expression of who you are and as unique as your life itself. When you plan, you can choose musicians or let the funeral home know ahead of time what type of musicians you would prefer and what type of music you would like for them to perform. You can decide when they will play and for how long. 

Alternatively, you might choose to have music played at the funeral home. A woman who passed recently in Virginia chose to have 50’s music played along with a great deal of Elvis. Visiting Graceland with her best friend and listening to this type of music played an important role in her identity. You may prefer a different type of music, but choosing your style is part of expressing who you were when walking on this earth.

Other Important Details

If you have a viewing or wake, you may want to consider whether you would like a hearse for yourself or a limousine for your family. You can pick what types of acknowledgment cards, prayer cards, or memorial folders you would like to include for loved ones to remember you. A register book where guests can record their visit is a nice touch also.

Organ Donation

Choosing to be an organ donor can save lives. After you pass, it is too late to make this important decision, so go ahead and sign up now so that you can help others even after you are no longer here.

Why Wait?

Give your family the peace of mind of knowing what your last wishes were. It is difficult for grieving family members to plan your funeral arrangements without knowing what you would have wanted. Your death can shock your family and make it hard to think, much less plan events as large as even a basic funeral.  Important details can be left out and cause more grief to those already in a season of bereavement. 

Find Help Making Decisions

Your local funeral home director is a knowledgeable resource if you want to make a plan before you pass on. Whether you want to plan and file your last wishes away or work with a director to preplan and prepay for your funeral, our staff at Renaissance Funeral Home wants to be a resource for you. We would love to discuss all of the possibilities with you and help you make the best plans for your situation. Contact us for more information.