How to Make Funeral Arrangements at the Last Minute

Did your loved one unexpectedly pass away? Your next step is to plan a funeral on short notice. Discover how to make funeral arrangements quickly.

How often do you think about dying? Even if you don’t obsess about your own death, you might think about what might happen if someone you love dies.

What would you do if a family member, partner, or close friend died unexpectedly and you had the job of planning their funeral?

Unless you’ve made a career of it, or you’ve planned the funerals for other loved ones, you have no idea how to make funeral arrangements. You’re not alone, and shouldn’t be at a time like this.

We want to take a minute and help you prepare for this difficult event. Read this post, print it out or save it in your archives. You’ll have a step-by-step plan at your fingertips.

Work with a Checklist

In a perfect world, you’d have time to talk with your loved one ahead of time. If you’re dealing with an unexpected death, you won’t have the luxury of knowing what they wanted for their final goodbye.

Making a funeral checklist as soon as possible after the death will make the rest of the planning process go smoothly.

The checklist should come before you set the funeral budget. Get together with other immediate family members and ask for input. Funerals have a way of bringing even the most disconnected families together and you should take care to not leave anyone out.

Make an extra effort to include people who’ve committed to helping you pay for the funeral expenses. A funeral checklist should include the following details:

  • Funeral Venue
  • Size
  • Viewing
  • Funeral Officiant
  • Reception

These are the basics, but you and your family should feel free to modify the checklist to serve your unique needs.

Put Together the Funeral Budget

What a relief if your loved one put money aside for their funeral expenses! Sometimes that isn’t possible, and you’ll end up covering the costs. If that’s the case with your situation, it’s up to you and your family to determine how much you can spend.

Planning a funeral and doing it with a budget in mind, doesn’t have to divide the family.

Emotions usually run high when a family faces the death of a person they love. Each person deals with the loss in their own way. Sometimes that includes going overboard with extravagant funeral details.

Putting together a budget and sticking with it can help make the entire funeral planning process easier for everyone.

The Money Talk

In 2019, the average funeral cost is between $7,000 and $9,000. Buying the casket is often your highest expense. If you’ve decided on cremation, you may spend anywhere from $2000-$4000.

Paying for a funeral is difficult enough if you’re on your own and don’t have the money. If you have siblings or other family members who want to have a say in things, it’s even harder.

While you certainly can’t force anyone to contribute, you should present the budget and the funeral checklist so that everyone who needs to be involved gains an understanding of how much money you’ll need.

It’s easiest if each person can pay an equal amount towards the costs. Maybe you have family members who can’t afford to pay as much as the others. Whatever you do, don’t make them feel uncomfortable—encourage them to contribute what they can (if anything) financially.

You’ll have plenty of tasks you can divide up among the group. Allow people to share in that aspect of the funeral so that they feel like they’re contributing something even if it’s not money.

Is There a Life Insurance Policy?

Another blessing many people forget about when a loved one dies suddenly is a life insurance policy.

It’s great if you’re the beneficiary of a policy because it’s possible you can use the money for funeral expenses. Contact the insurance company for instructions about filing a claim. Keep in mind that you may need to cover the funeral initially while waiting for the claim processing.

Don’t rule out seeking help with funeral expenses from a church or other community group where your loved one had ties. Also, if they were a veteran, check with the Department of Veteran’s Affairs for information on filing a claim.

Taking Care of the Body

No one wants to think about transporting a loved one’s body, but it’s a necessary part of the planning process.

Nursing homes and hospitals take care of moving the body to a funeral home. If the person dies at home or away from a healthcare facility, a coroner typically comes and officially pronounces the death.

Depending on your location, your state may require an autopsy. You’ll pay to transport the body to a morgue for the autopsy, and then to the funeral home.

Another part of taking care of your loved one’s remains deals with paperwork such as the Death Registration, Death Certificate, Burial Permit. Usually, you can get information on these forms from the Department of Health, also called the Department of Statistics in some counties.

Planning the Funeral Service

Now you can plan the funeral or memorial service for your loved one.

The traditional funeral service consists of 3 parts:

  • Visitation
  • Service
  • Burial

If you decide on a traditional funeral, you can hold the visitation and service at a funeral home. You can also hold the service at a place of worship. If you prefer a unique funeral service, consider any of the following locations:

  • A hotel
  • A boat
  • At home

People also hold funeral services in parks or natural areas. If your loved one enjoyed the ocean, consider a seaside service.

A viewing isn’t necessary, but do plan a service or memorial where people can come and say goodbye.

Now You Know How to Make Funeral Arrangements

Even though it’s not something any of us want to dwell on, it’s helpful to have a plan for the day a loved one dies.

Making a funeral checklist, putting together a budget, taking care of the business side of death, and finally planning the service is all part of knowing how to make funeral arrangements.

After reading this, hopefully, you feel more prepared for that day when it comes.

If you found this post helpful, continue reading through our archives. You’ll find articles on everything family. Thanks for reading!

 

3 Non-Romantic Reasons I Love My Wife

On the surface, it’s easy to see why I chose to spend the rest of my life with the woman I married over 9 years ago. She’s universally beautiful, she’s unselfishly kind, and she’s humble yet confident in herself.

I am a lucky man. I have the ability of knowing in all confidence, I made the right decision.

Not only did I choose the right person to marry, but I made the right decision that fateful night of October 5, 2006, when I spotted her in a crowded room full of hundreds of people and decided to take a chance: I walked up to her and attempted to woo her with my interesting stories, my charming, yet off-beat personality, and my average looks.

It worked.

Now here we are in our mid-30s, having been married nearly a decade, and having produced two blue-eyed, Dutch-looking children despite our DNA.

So while I could easily write 841 words on the romantic aspects of how much I love my wife, I’m instead going to take a different direction. What about the non-romantic reasons I love her?

What about the reasons that would be symbolized not by a heart emoji, but instead, by a house or a stack of money, or by a clock or even a skull?

If for no other reason than to challenge myself as a writer, I now present to you 3 non-romantic reasons I love my wife.

  1. We make a good business team.

I feel like this isn’t emphasized when a couple becomes engaged, but marriage is a business, and it needs to be ran that way. The longer we are married, the better we become at running our family’s business.

During our first year of marriage, before kids, we were able to pay for my wife to go get her Master’s Degree, without going into further debt. That investment paid off, as my wife has since then, consistently made considerably more money than I have all these years. My wife also handles our family’s weekly budget.

On my end, I have been faithfully building my experience as a writer (thanks to this blog) since 2009, and as a YouTuber for the past 3 years. Now at present day, we are seeing the possibility that my “side hustles” (as a blogger, ghostwriter, SEO expert, social media influencer, and YouTuber) are starting to pay off. I actually speculate that by January 2019, our monthly mortgage payment will be covered from my YouTube earnings alone.

My wife is the detailed accountant and investor. I am the creative entrepreneur. Together, we run a family business.

            2. We make a good parenting team.

In the same way we are counterparts as co-business owners, we function the same way as parents. My wife is the nurturer, the schedule keeper, the travel planner, the head chef, and the laundry engineer.

Meanwhile, I am the disciplinarian, the head of communication, the chauffeur, the before-and-after school program director, and the “wake up at any hour of the night to get our daughter back to sleep” technician.

We are not great at doing each other’s roles. Instead, we embrace our individual parenting strengths as part of our own identities. We’ve got a good system. And we’ve got good kids.

Whereas I see marriage as a business, I see parenting as a talent management agency. We have two young recruits who we are responsible for molding into respectable and independent adults, preparing them for the real world.

        3. I want to be around her even during the predictable, seemingly uneventful, non-                          Facebook-status-worthy moments of life.

For me, it all comes back to the famous line in our wedding vows: for better or for worse.

Yeah, I’m totally cool with slowly aging alongside my wife for the next 40 years as we live happily ever after, until ultimately one of us finally dies first, leaving the other person with the insurance money- and unimaginable sadness.

But what about the in-between of better or worse? Not everyday can be a Michael Bublé song. Many days are more like Huey Lewis, when he sang, “Yes, it’s true, I’m so happy to be stuck with you.”

I love my wife for the moments in our life together that are just normal and forgettable; the B-roll footage that no one would care about watching if our lives were a reality TV show on TLC, called Our Crazy Vegetarian Life. Being grateful for your spouse through all the filler moments, which honestly, make up most of our time on this planet, is what real love is all about.

So maybe I’ve failed to hold true to the title of this article. Maybe there really is something romantic about building a life together, running it like a business, creating and raising mini-me’s, and choosing to love a person until the day you die, even if most of those days don’t have fireworks and champagne.

Maybe there’s something undeniably romantic about the unromantic parts of loving the person you married.

If so, consider me a hopeless romantic.

Photo credit: Mohamad Alaw.

About the Author:

I am an accidental stay-at-home vegan daddy blogger based in Spring Hill, Tennessee. I have no spare time, but by default, my hobbies include playing guitar, singing, songwriting, mountain biking, skateboarding, running, and going on road trips across America with my family in vehicles that Toyota and Lexus provide for free because it’s smart advertising for them.

Additionally, I enjoy making videos for both of my YouTube channels: Nick Shell, which is a mentorship program for younger men who are psychologically dealing with going bald, and Family Friendly Daddy Blog, which celebrates and explores ethnic diversity based on DNA test results.

Dear Jack: My Grandma is in Heaven Now

5 years, 10 months.

Dear Jack: My Grandma is in Heaven Now

Dear Jack,

Last weekend, our family traveled to my hometown of Fort Payne, Alabama so that we could attend the visitation and funeral for my Grandma; Delores “Lola” Gonzales Metallo.

Our family most recently visited her just a few of months ago in July, which made the 2nd time she was able to meet Holly.

Then the following month, while you were staying at Nonna and Papa’s house for a week of “summer camp,” you visited Grandma again.

I’m so glad you got to have that one last special visit with her. Nonna sent me this picture of the two of you, which she took with her phone:

“Special visit with Grandma. A sweet bond between a 5 1/2 yr old Great Grandson with his 81 yr old Great-Grandmother. Grandma had an old movie playing on her TV and Jack loved it. Grandma was soooo happy. She loved hearing about Jack but especially the movies he was getting to go see.”

But as of last Thursday morning, at age 81, she passed on to Heaven. No more pain or suffering for her.

One of the first things that came to mind when I heard this was the children’s Bible I read to you each night before you go to bed.

Grandma gave it to me as a Christmas gift in 1988, nearly 30 years ago. In the front of it, she wrote, “With all my love!”

Dear Jack: My Grandma is in Heaven Now

Grandma was known for her love of dogs, her ability to perfectly iron a shirt, her obsession with possible upcoming bad weather, and her fascination with anything Biblical.

She undeniably had a great effect on me developing my faith in Jesus. I think it’s so cool that I get to teach you from the same Bible she gave me.

During the visitation the day before her funeral, I really enjoyed hearing the stories from people who I didn’t know well, but who knew stories about her that I never knew.

It was much more a time of celebration than it was a time of mourning. She lived a long, full life. She got to meet all 4 of her great-grandchildren before she passed, of which your the first.

I would not be who I am today if it weren’t for her influence on my life. She was there every birthday, every Thanksgiving, every Christmas, and every time our family got together; each year of my entire life.

Dear Jack: My Grandma is in Heaven Now

She meant a lot to me, obviously. And I know for a fact that she really loved you a lot.

We will see her again, though. This is not goodbye.

Love,

Daddy

I Try to Make a Point Everyday Not to Die

I Try to Make a Point Everyday Not to Die

I don’t mean to sound morbid, but I’m sort of obsessed with not dying.

In the trailer for the upcoming Star Trek Beyond movie, there is an interesting conversation:

Mr. Spock proclaims, “The fear of death is illogical.”

Captain Kirk replies, “The fear of death is what keeps us alive.”

Both men make brilliant points; and together, they present a perfect paradox:

The fear of death is illogical and yet it keeps us alive.

Now at age 35, happily married with a wife and 2 kids, a “real house”, and a solid career, my life is clearly settled.

I’m no longer trying to figure my life out like I was back in 2001 when John Mayer’s “Why Georgia” was such a relatable song; as he ponders his “quarter-life crisis” proclaiming, “I wonder sometimes about the outcome of a still verdictless life… Am I living it right?”

It’s inevitable that at some point, I am going to die, so it’s truly illogical to allow myself to believe otherwise.

I assume that for the human race, that mystery of not knowing for sure what happens the moment we die only adds to the fear of dying. I don’t fear death itself, though.

The moment I die, I’ll immediately know for sure whether my life of faith in Jesus as the Son of God was the right call.

If I was wrong about Christianity, I guess the worst that could happen is I’ll learn that ultimately I was simply part of some elaborate Matrix scheme inside somebody else’s head.

My fear isn’t of death itself or what happens after I die; it’s about missing out on my future in this life. My actual main motivation for not dying is simple and predictable:

There are 3 people are greatly depend on me for the rest are their lives.

Granted, I have a life insurance policy in place to pay off the house if anything happens to me. But beyond finances, I am motivated by the desire to finish out this storyline that has been set in place.

What started as a romantic comedy back on October 5, 2006 when I met my wife, has now evolved into a family sitcom.

I see the world through the eyes of a writer. So I, as the protagonist, can’t let myself die. I can’t just disappear right when the story is really getting good.

So what exactly do I do each day in an effort not to die?

Well, before I answer that, I quickly accept the fact that if the Lord decides to take me at any point, He can and He will, as Job told God:

“A person’s days are determined; You have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed.”

So I get it that I could randomly have a brain aneurysm and that would be the end of it.

But I instead focus on what I can control, not what I can’t.

For example, I refuse to talk on the phone while I’m driving. I always wear my seat belt.

Plus, I know that as an American man, I’m much more likely to die from preventable health issues than anything else.

Unless I’m really proactive on my end, as a stereotypical male, I am especially in the running to die of a heart attack, diabetes, stomach cancer, or prostate issues.

Therefore, I run. I mountain bike. I take walks throughout the day.

I obviously don’t smoke.

And while it’s not a popular decision or lifestyle, especially as a masculine American man, I have committed to my vegan (and therefore vegetarian and kosher) lifestyle for years now.

Yeah, I get it. I could totally be setting myself up to be the Mr. Play-It-Safe who Alanis Morrisette speaks about in her classic song, “Ironic.”

It’s not that I’m not trying to overwrite God’s predetermined number of days for me. Instead, I am trying to outsmart the more subtle and predictable ways that as a man, I might die too young.

Therefore, I try to make a point everyday not to die.

I can only do much. But I can do some.

Preventing My Own Inevitable Death

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I’m constantly aware of all the ways that today could be my last day alive… each and every day.

So instead of sweeping those thoughts under the rug, I welcome them and keep my self aware of them, as doing so make me more prepared for them.

And by being more prepared for them, I can do a better job of preventing my own inevitable death; instead of just hoping I win the “long, healthy life lottery.”

Statistically, a car accident would likely be the easiest way for me to “slip into eternity”; as I have a 45 minute commute to work everyday in fast-paced Nashville traffic.

But I do what I can. While I’m driving, I always wear my seat belt, I stay off the phone, and I keep the radio’s volume at a low enough level.

I am aware that if I do my part, and pray daily for God to keep our family safe, then I’m doing everything I can in my control to prevent my inevitable death.

So that brings me to my next most likely way to go: heart disease or cancer.

I feel that the more I listen to men who are around age 50 talk, I hear phrases like “open heart surgery” and “stomach staple surgery” and “all my medications.”

So while my vegan lifestyle, which includes running and mountain biking, may sound extreme, I would say the other things awaiting me if I don’t live this way now are actually more extreme.

Granted, I’m only 34, so I still have some time before my body really becomes susceptible to going on “auto pilot to self destruction.”

But the way I see it, I actually do have a decent amount of control over my ultimately preventable death.

It could all end today, or tomorrow, for me- I realize that. However, I choose to focus on the parts I do have control over; not the other way around.

I don’t want to work hard my whole life, only to get cancer the moment I retire. I want the quality of my life to good the whole way through; not have to hurry up and try to fix things once it may be too late.

In the end, I won’t have any regrets about my crazy vegan lifestyle if it means I get to spend another healthy day with my family.

Dear Jack: People and Animals and Life and Death and What Happens Next

4 years, 8 months.

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Dear Jack,

I wanted to document this day for you because I believe it’s important to document your spiritual journey.

This morning on the 5 minute drive to your preschool, you cautiously asked me, “Daddy, one day, will all the people and all the animals be dead?”

I definitely wasn’t expecting such a deep question from you so early in the morning.

The fact that you even asked me that question shows me that you are processing your understanding of what death really means.

I’ve been curious for a while regarding at what point I would have a conversation like that with you.

It appears your understanding of death is based on what you see on Power Rangers and Disney movies, since someone (usually a parent) dies on nearly every animated Disney movie I’ve ever seen.

I answered your question as simply yet as accurately as I knew how:

“Yes, that’s true. One day, all the people and the animals will be dead. But for those of us people who believe in God and in Jesus, His Son, and if we help other people, then we will live in Heaven together.”

It somehow seems out of place to summarize our religious beliefs into such a small amount of words, but you are already familiar with this from what you hear at home and at church. But you seemed to be satisfied to my simple answer for your difficult question.

For the next few minutes until we got to your school, you were silent as you stared at the window.

As I helped you out of your car seat, I saw you seemed disheartened, so I asked you if were okay.

You put your head down and began crying softly.

I assured you whatever what it was, that we could talk about it; assuming you were sad because, in your words, one day we will all be dead, including the animals.

You looked up to answer me, “I just want Pandy!”

We had discovered last night that you had left one of your favorite stuffed animals, Pandy, at school.

Once we found Pandy inside your classroom this morning, you were no longer sad.

In other words, Pandy is still alive!

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: I Could and Would Die for You

4 years, 5 months.

Dear Jack: I Could and Would Give My Life for You

Dear Jack,

Without any hesitation, I could and would give my life for you.

However, I believe there is nothing heroic or surprising about that statement whatsoever.

Instead, it’s simply common knowledge, I would assume; that a father would simply in a moment either risk his life or give his life if he saw his child in serious danger. Cue a relevant song:

The reason I recently gave this thought is because recently when we took our mini vacation to Pensacola, we walked out to the end of the long fishing pier at Casino Beach. Mommy and I took turns holding you up to the guard rail to let you see over into the water.

(We were all surprised to the see the man next to us catch a small shark; which he ultimately was required to throw back into the ocean.)

As we left the pier and walked back to the beach, you asked me this:

“Daddy, what would happen if another child’s daddy or mommy was holding them and they pretended like they were going to throw their child into the water, but then they really did, but they didn’t mean to?”

I was amazed at such a deep, hypothetical question from a 4 and a half year-old little boy.

My answer was this:

“They would do whatever it takes to get their child back. If it were you that fell in, I would immediately jump in after you.”

Granted, I’m not sure I would survive the hit of impact of the water (that pier is pretty high off of the water), or that the water would absolutely be deep enough to save my fall.

Either way, I would follow you, even to death. Cue another relevant song:

This reminds me of a scene on one of my favorite shows, Lost; during the final season one of the main characters gets trapped in a submarine, after a bomb explodes, causing water to rush in.

Spoiler alert! Even though Lost ended almost exactly 5 years ago:

Her legs are pinned down from the explosion, leaving her upper half out of the water, as her husband desperately tried to bend the steel bars in order to free her.

After several attempts, he realizes it’s impossible. Though he himself was free and could escape instead of drowning, he chooses to stay with his wife; dying with her in the flood.

It was one of the most touching moment in Lost for me.

But ultimately, it wasn’t heroic. You undoubtedly would die for the people you love the most; without hesitation.

So yes, it’s a dark thought to think about you falling in the water or that we would not spend many more decades together here on Earth.

I just want you to know- I can’t imagine living the rest of my life with you or Mommy. If I felt I was about to lose either of you, I would instantly throw my life in front whatever it was to try to prevent anything bad from happening to you two.

Not because I’m some great guy, but simply because you and Mommy are my life. What would life be without you?

Love,

Daddy