How to make funeral arrangements following cremation
It’s not easy to make plans in the wake of a loved one’s passing. Grief tends to make even simple tasks seem more complex. The responsibility of making funeral arrangements can quickly become overwhelming—particularly if your loved one left no instructions or indication of what sort of service they would have liked.
The key to getting through it is taking things one step at a time. The following checklist can help you stay on track while making funeral arrangements to follow your loved one’s cremation.
Step 1: Set your budget
The first thing you’ll need to do, if you haven’t already, is determine how much financial support you’ll have for your loved one’s end-of-life expenses. Check their will or call their financial institutions to see if they set aside any money for such purposes in a Payable on Death (POD) account or other financial account that you can draw from. Find out if they may have purchased a prepaid funeral service package or cremation insurance. Whatever funds are left over from these after paying for cremation can be used for the funeral. Determine whether you and/or other friends or family members will be covering any remaining costs—and if so, how much you’ll each be able to reasonably contribute.
If you find you need help paying for cremation or funeral expenses, you may be able to find support from a variety of sources, including social security, government funding, or private financial assistance programs. You can also set up a memorial fund in your loved one’s name to which friends, family, and others can contribute.
Step 2: Choose a type of service
Next, you’ll need to know what type of service you’ll be planning. Let your loved one’s wishes be your guide, if they are known—but if not, take your time to consider your options. There are a plethora of possibilities for your loved one’s memorial service. Many prefer the following, more familiar options:
- Scattering ashes on land, by air, or by sea. If you choose to spread your loved one’s ashes anywhere other than on your own private property, be sure to get permission from the appropriate authorities first. Take care also to check state and local laws as well as federal guidelines to see what permits you may need and what restrictions may apply. Scattering at sea, for example, must take place no less than 3 nautical miles from land, according to the EPA.
- Burying ashes in a cemetery or churchyard. You may also be able to bury your loved one’s ashes on privately-owned land if you have the owner’s permission and have acquired any necessary permits or other paperwork required by state law.
- Interring ashes in a mausoleum or columbarium niche.
However, there are myriad other ways to remember your loved one and lay them to rest. People have had their loved one’s ashes used to create fireworks to be set off during the funeral, or incorporated them into an artificial reef to aid the environment, or trenched beneath a beloved tree or bush. If your loved one was in the armed forces, you may also want to look into arranging a special military service and having them buried or interred in a memorial garden specifically for veterans.
Your choice depends more than anything on what feels right to you and your family—and of course, what your budget (and local laws) will allow.
Step 3: Decide where the ceremony will take place
Now that you know how you want the ceremony to be conducted, you need to determine where it will take place. A private service at home or at a friend’s or relative’s house will require little to no paperwork or external permissions, while a more public setting will necessitate a little more preparation. You may need a burial permit to bury or spread ashes, or you may need to charter a boat or plane for a sea- or air-based scattering ceremony. Again, be sure to check local and state guidelines to see what requirements you’ll need to fulfill in order to ensure your loved one’s funeral proceeds as planned.
You’ll also need to consider whether the ceremony will take place where your loved one will be laid to rest, or elsewhere. Some families may prefer to inter, bury, or scatter their loved one’s ashes privately, and host a larger gathering for extended family and friends either before or after in another location. Others may choose to have everyone present for the initial memorial service, but also invite everyone to a post-funeral gathering at someone’s house or a favorite local bar or restaurant.
In either case, be sure to consider transportation logistics and costs. If you rent a building or space for the memorial, be sure to include that in your budget, as well as any relevant parking or permit fees. If you plan on including multiple locations, it’s usually best to try to choose places relatively near each other, to minimize cost and stress. To help solve this issue, find a direct cremation provider who has the ability to ship your loved one’s ashes to any U.S. postal code.
Step 4: Plan the service itself
How much planning you’ll need to do will depend on whether or not you’ll be working with a funeral home to arrange the ceremony. Most funeral homes will take care of most of the arrangements for you. The downside, however, is that you’ll be paying a premium price, and will need to follow the funeral home’s schedule, regardless of what may be most convenient for your family.
If, however, you’re arranging the funeral service on your own, here are some things you’ll need to take into account:
- Who will be leading the ceremony—for many, this may be a religious leader, while for others, a funeral celebrant or even a friend or member of the family may take on this role.
- What time the event will take place, and about how long the service will be.
- What music, if any, will be played, and at what point during the service.
- Any religious, literary, or personal readings that you or your family may wish to include.
- Whether you’ll be accepting flowers in your loved one’s memory, or asking for donations to a favorite charity or other contributions in lieu of flowers.
- What keepsakes, if any, to give to funeral guests, such as programs or memorial cards.
- What food or refreshments might be available before, during, or after the service.
Step 5: Announce the service
Publish an obituary that includes your loved one’s name and the news of their passing, as well as whether their funeral will be private or open to the public. If the latter, be sure to include all the necessary information, such as where the funeral will be held and when.
Make a guest list and send out invitations as soon as possible. Be sure to keep in mind the limits that may restrict your maximum number of guests, such as boat or plane capacity, or how many people can comfortably be seated inside any buildings or homes involved in the service.
Making funeral arrangements including direct cremation
If cremation has not taken place yet, it’s important to decide—before planning the funeral—what cremation service and provider you’ll be working with. While the more elaborate service packages of traditional funeral homes can seem more convenient at first glance, they can cost up to several thousand dollars and require your family to make travel and other arrangements around the provider’s schedule, rather than the other way around.
Direct cremation offers a simpler alternative that’s as convenient to arrange as it is cost-effective—and Tulip’s service is as straightforward as it gets. Simply call our Family Care Team anytime, day or night, or visit our website to begin making arrangements right from the comfort of your home. We’ll walk you through our process step by step, and take care of everything from collecting your loved one at their place of passing to shipping their ashes to any U.S. address of your choosing. We’ll also report the death and acquire as many death certificate copies as you need on your behalf—meaning less paperwork for you, and more time to spend with your family arranging a funeral befitting your loved one’s memory.
Saying goodbye is never easy, but with Tulip’s help, planning your loved one’s final sendoff can be. Call or visit our website today to get started.
Tulip Cremation provides a simple, respectful direct cremation service for a low, transparent cost and no hidden fees. If you’re ready to start making arrangements for your loved one’s cremation, our Care Team is available 24/7 at (844) 942-4909. Or, if you prefer, you can arrange online anytime via our website.