How to Plan a Funeral
Planning a funeral service may seem like a daunting task. There are so many decisions to make and factors to consider, and it may be difficult to identify the most helpful sources of information. Rest assured, there are many excellent resources available to help you make the important choices efficiently and with peace of mind, all while helping you stay within your budget. Below is the Harbor Caskets guide to get your funeral planning process started.
Where should I look first?
We recommend starting at parting.com to estimate the cost of planning a funeral in your area, whether you ultimately choose burial or cremation.
Once you have a sense of what you need, we recommend finding the funeral home, or other farewell services professional, you are most comfortable with, to guide you through your service and burial options.
After choosing the location of the funeral, return to harborcaskets.com to buy your casket (or coffin) and save up to 85% on casket costs versus buying a casket through a funeral home.
What is the difference between a funeral and a memorial?
Many people find closure and peace by hosting or attending an end of life celebration. However, as new traditions and burial practices are being introduced, you may hear the terms “funeral,” and “memorial,” used in different contexts. This may add further confusion to what is already such a difficult and overwhelming time. Both funeral and memorial services serve the same purpose – a way to formally say goodbye and pay respects to a loved one. The major difference is that the physical body of the departed is present at a funeral and not at a memorial.
Funerals are an end of life celebration where the body of the departed lies in repose inside a casket. The casket may be open or closed, depending on personal preference. Because the body is present at this type of service, funerals usually occur within a week. Funerals can be held at various locations such as a gravesite, funeral home, or a house of worship. Funeral services are often followed immediately by an underground burial or by cremation.
Memorials are a remembrance service for which the body of the departed is not present. Because the body is absent for this type of service, memorials can occur any time after death, and are often chosen because they offer flexibility in timing and location.
As the name suggests, memorials are a service which honor and remember – or “memorialize” – the life of a departed loved one. Many memorials are considered to be “life celebrations,” rather than an “end of life celebration.” If a cremation has already been performed, memorials often include the scattering (or even burial) of the ashes.
Do I choose a funeral or memorial service?
Whichever end of life celebration you choose is a completely individual decision – end of life celebration often rely on such factors as religion, tradition, culture, budget, logistics, and respecting the wishes of the deceased.
It is important to note that funerals and memorials are not mutually exclusive events – you do not have to choose one or the other. For example, many people opt for a private funeral service, followed by a larger memorial service.
Other types of end of life celebrations
Wakes – Wakes are social gatherings which are customarily held before a funeral. While a wake traditionally referred to an after dark prayer vigil, wakes are now commonly known as an event highlighting the effects of the departed on an entire group or community. Modern wakes are typically held a funeral home and just prior to the funeral service.
Viewings – Viewings are a time for family and friends to pay respects to the departed. A viewing usually occurs after the body has been usually after being prepared by a funeral home – this usually includes embalming to ensure the body appears in its best state. Viewings are also sometimes referred to as “calling hours,” “funeral visitation,” or “reviewal.” Guests are not usually required to stay for a set amount of time – people come and go as they fit. A viewing is a tangible experience with a loved one after death – many believing a viewing to be an essential part of the mourning process, as seeing a loved one can offer a way to say goodbye and assist in the acceptance of death.
How can I save on funeral expenses?
Funeral planning can be expensive and stressful, and at Harbor Caskets, we like to help in any way we can! The first step is to request a General Price List (GPL) from your funeral home, and the substitute for specific line items using the guide below. For more information of GPLs, click here.
Here are a few ways to reduce the cost of funeral planning:
Do Your Research: Explore parting.com to estimate funeral costs in your area and find a funeral home or other farewell professional within your budget.
Buy a Casket Online: The use of a casket is independent on the type of end of life celebration you choose. Purchasing a casket from an online retailer like Harbor Caskets is an easy way to save a lot of money. At Harbor Caskets, you can save up to 85% on casket costs versus the cost of buying one through a funeral home. You will receive a top of the line casket delivered free of charge and with care in a timely manner. Read our guide on buying a casket online here.
Casket Sealing: Purchasing a non-gasketed casket is often an easy way to save some money on a casket. For more information on gaskets, click here and scroll down to the "Metal Casket" section.
Casket Container: A casket container typically comes in the form of a sealed vault – which helps prevent outside elements from getting inside a casket, or coffin, and supports the weight of the soil on top – or a grave liner – which partially (or even entirely) encloses the casket, but minimally helps prevent outside elements from getting inside a casket or coffin. Casket containers are not required by most states (so there is often no legal need to purchase one). However, many cemeteries do require them as the containers serve as a way to minimize gravesite maintenance. If you must have a container, grave liners are often a less expensive option.
Funeral Service: End of life serves can occur mostly anywhere one desires to have one. Consider having an at-home service, a graveside service, or a memorial service instead of a traditional funeral home service. Should you opt for a funeral home service, it's a good idea to do some comparison shopping between different providers. Read our guide on planning a home or DIY funeral.
Fresh Flowers: When it comes to purchasing flowers for an end of life celebration, make sure to shop around for the most economical provider. These providers tend not a florist shop, but an online retailer or grocery store. If possible, floral arrangements can be less expensive if you order them well in advance, choose in-season blooms, and opt for an arrangement of just a few boldly-colored flowers against many leafy fronds.
Silk flowers: Silk flowers are typically made using a polyester silk blend. These flowers are hypoallergenic, do not wilt in the sun, are available all year-round, and last longer than fresh flowers. Silk flower arrangements are a great way to save money. There are many services nationwide that offer silk arrangements for a much lower fee than a fresh flower display.
More questions? We are here to help. Harbor Caskets is your ally in getting the funeral you want at a fair price. Ask us for what you need, and we’ll help you get it at the lowest cost. Contact us in the chat window or here to get started.