planning a funeral can be rewarding

Grief Article:

Planning a Funeral Can be a Rewarding Experience

It comes as a surprise to most people: planning a funeral can be a remarkably rewarding experience.

3 minute read

It comes as a surprise to most people: planning a funeral can be a remarkably rewarding experience. While a funeral or memorial service is a decidedly different rite of passage from, let's say, a wedding; the approach to funeral planning is a similarly all-inclusive event. In both, planning involves bringing together select components (such as the music, lighting and decor) intended to create a powerful emotive and spiritual experience for the attendees. Take a few minutes to read through the paragraphs below, where you'll discover each how rewarding planning a funeral can be.

Here's a look at some of the ways the act of planning a funeral is similar—and yet also quite different—to that of planning a wedding.

The Differences

The major difference between planning a funeral and planning a wedding lies in the respective timelines. The editors of "The Ultimate Wedding Checklist" argue wedding planning can begin as early as 16 months prior to the event; while funeral planning typically begins just a few days before the ceremony. When planning a wedding you can take all the time you need; this is not always true when planning a funeral.

There's another major difference between the two: planning a funeral is usually done when the mental, physical and psychological effects of grief are strong. (Learn more by reading our online article, How to Manage the Effects of Grief and Stress.) Combine this planning disadvantage with that of a shorter planning timeline and you've got two good reasons why planning a funeral is rarely seen as a rewarding experience.

The Similarities

Let's stop to consider the similarities in planning these life events. Just look at the article mentioned earlier, Real Simple's "The Ultimate Wedding Checklist" and you'll find the following steps—all of which also apply to the process of planning a funeral:

  • Work out your budget
  • Pick ceremonial participants
  • Create a guest list
  • Reserve a date and time for the event
  • Hire an officiant pastor or celebrant
  • Selecting floral arrangements
  • Select music for each phase of the ceremony
  • Finalize the readings
  • Write personal statement(s) to be read at the service
  • Finalize the order of the ceremony
  • Submit an announcement to newspapers
  • Buy appropriate clothes
  • Arrange for transportation
  • Select food and beverages for the post-service reception

The List of Rewards is Equally Long

The joys of planning a wedding are obvious, while the thought of there being a reward in planning a funeral seems, at least to some people, absurd. But think about it; the most practical of the steps (and least joyous, perhaps) is "working out" your budget.

From that point forward, each step provides you with a creative opportunity. Gathering the core participants, selecting from your loved one's closest friends or family members; choosing the music and readings, setting the menu for the reception, writing the obituary and the eulogy; each of those things offers you a chance to truly personalize your loved one's service.

When you thoughtfully plan each aspect of a funeral or memorial service—giving each the focus it deserves—you'll feel the best reward of all: knowing you "got it right".

Planning a Funeral? Here's How We Can Help

If you're interested in finding out more about preplanning a funeral, we suggest you also review our online article, What's Involved in Preplanning a Funeral?.

Online Sources:
Real Simple, "Ultimate Wedding Planning Checklist", accessed September, 2016
"What to Do When a Loved One Dies", Consumer Reports, October, 2012