Planning a Christian funeral is never an easy thing to do. Saying goodbye to a loved one is difficult. People grieve in different ways. Oftentimes family tension adds to the stress during an already emotionally burdensome period.
First, before making any plans, ask family members if your loved one left specific directions for their funeral. If so, this will greatly ease the load of making decisions and guessing what your loved one would have wanted. Be sure to find out if your loved one has a funeral or burial insurance policy or prepaid arrangements with a funeral home or cemetery. Many people take out burial insurance along with their life insurance. This is to ensure that a good portion of the funeral costs are covered.
Start by arming yourself with the right attitude. Making the funeral arrangements will be less of a weight if you recognize that it can actually help you and your loved ones work through the grieving process. Begin thinking of the service as a celebration of the person's life.
If your loved one was a member of a church, they would most likely want you to ask a pastor or minister from their church to officiate the service. If the deceased had no contact with a church, you may want to rely on the funeral home to recommend a minister, or ask family members to help decide on a minister.
Once you have a plan for the service, you should sit down with the minister and go over the details:
People have many options and choices of what to do with their remains and deciding on their final resting place. Direct burial and cremation are the most popular and the most traditional choices. Other choices include organ donation (especially after traumatic deaths) or donating one's body to science. There is a growing trend for more creative options--to be cremated and then scattered or buried at sea, to be kept in commemorative urns…
Traditional Funeral Service: The traditional funeral usually includes a viewing or visitation of the body, formal funeral service, use of a hearse for transporting the body and burial, entombment or cremation of the remains. The traditional funeral is generally the most expensive type of funeral. It involves many different services and product fees including embalming and dressing the body, rental of the funeral home and hearse, costs of casket, cemetery plot, etc.
Direct Burial: With a direct burial the body is buried shortly after death, usually in a simple container. There is no viewing or visitation, so embalming is not needed. Direct burials are usually less costly than the traditional funeral. A memorial service may be held at the graveside or later. If the family chooses to be at the cemetery for the burial, the funeral home often charges an additional fee for a graveside service.
Direct Cremation: With a direct cremation the body is cremated shortly after death, without embalming. The cremated remains are placed in an urn or other container. There is no viewing or visitation. A memorial service may be held, with or without the cremated remains present. The remains can be kept in the home, buried or placed in a crypt or niche in a cemetery, or buried or scattered in a favorite spot. Direct cremation is usually less costly.
Cremation after a funeral or disposition after other delay: Delayed cremation can occur in several circumstances where the body is cremated after some time delay.