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2021 Checklist: Steps to Take Before Burial or Cremation

Our team helps families through this difficult time every day. The checklist below was created to help families figure out what needs to be done to arrange and complete a burial or cremation after the immediate tasks have been handled.
Steps to Take Before Burial or Cremation

Table of Contents

We previously discussed what should be done immediately after a death, and now we are going to go over the steps that happen in the following days before the burial or cremation has been performed. There may only be several days between a person’s death and their cremation or burial, but a lot happens during that short period. 

Review the Finances

How are you going to pay for the burial or cremation? Are there going to be additional costs for a funeral or memorial? Are benefits available to help reduce the family’s financial burden?

These are important questions to ask at the beginning of the process. Hopefully, your loved one had life insurance, a savings account for funeral expenses or pre-paid for end of life services. You’ll need to check into all of those things. 

If your loved one was a veteran you may be eligible for funeral assistance. Contact the nearest VA office to find out if benefits are available

Talk With the Funeral Director

The funeral director can provide guidance on the next steps and the legal requirements in your state. Your funeral director is also the best person that can explain their process for handling and preparing the remains. They are an invaluable resource that makes the process much easier to handle no matter whether they are performing a burial or cremation.

See a detailed explanation for the cremation process.

Purchase an Urn or Casket

You’ll need an urn or casket, but you don’t have to order through the funeral home. However, you do need to ensure delivery by a specified date if an urn or casket is purchased through another provider.

Learn what to consider when choosing an urn.

Set a Time, Date and Location for the Funeral or Memorial

One thing you’ll talk about with the funeral director is whether you want to have a funeral or memorial service before the burial or cremation. You don’t have to have the funeral or a memorial at the funeral home. You can choose any location you like, but the decision will need to be made rather quickly if you want to hold a funeral or memorial before the burial or cremation. 

Find more information on how to plan a funeral and how to plan a memorial.

Reach Out for Help

You can’t arrange a funeral or memorial service all on your own. You’ll need help with preparing the funeral or memorial venue, arranging for people to perform a reading or give a eulogy. And pallbearers are needed for a funeral service with a casket.

If you want to live stream the service or run a slideshow with pictures you’ll need someone to be in charge of that too. 

Order Flowers and Printed Materials If Needed

If you plan to have flowers or printed materials at the funeral or memorial those need to be ordered as soon as possible. Some families choose to forgo printed materials in an effort to minimize environmental impact. You can instead set up a memorial web page online that friends and family members can join.

Find out what makes funeral flowers eco-friendly.

Announce the Funeral or Memorial

Once you’ve secured the location for a specific time and date you’ll need to let your loved one’s family, friends and colleagues know. If this is emotionally or mentally overwhelming have someone else reach out to people on a contact list.

You can also choose to use a social media platform to inform a select group of users about the funeral service or memorial all at once. 

Publish an Obituary

Many families choose to publish an obituary to publicly announce the death of a loved one. While this isn’t a requirement, it can help inform others and even make them aware of when and where a funeral or memorial service will be. 

Learn how to write an obituary.

Write a Eulogy

If you plan to have a service where loved ones will speak you may want to prepare a eulogy. It’s perfectly fine to get emotional. A eulogy is a heartfelt remembrance that can emotionally connect with a lot of people. If you’re worried about getting emotional it may help to focus on a specific humorous experience or have a message of hope so that the emotions are positive. 
Get advice on how to write a eulogy.

Picture of Marlaena Gonzales

Marlaena Gonzales

Funeral Director
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