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!

 

Dear Jack: Your Special Drawing about My Grandma’s Funeral (“My Fall Break Fun” Worksheet)

5 years, 11 months.

Dear Jack: Your Special Drawing about My Grandma’s Funeral

Dear Jack,

Mommy showed me a worksheet you completed last week, in which you described and illustrated what you did over the 4 day Columbus Day weekend. Immediately, I noticed the section you devoted to my Grandma’s funeral.

You clearly drew her casket, with the elaborate flowers that were on top, with one of the pews next to it. I am definitely impressed by the details you put it to that.

I know that when Nonna finds out about your drawing, she will especially appreciate the fact you remembered the flowers, because it was very important to Nonna that Grandma’s casket had beautiful and elaborate flowers on top of it.

You noticed those flowers enough to include them in your drawing. That’s amazing to me.

Throughout history, people have naturally created art to preserve images of things they value. You valued those flowers. You valued being there at my Grandma’s funeral.

You also drew Nonna and Papa’s house, and the pool next to it.

And apparently the road trip back to Tennessee was of value to you as well, since you made sure to document a picture of us driving back home, from Alabama where the funeral was.

Dear Jack: Your Special Drawing about My Grandma’s Funeral

I love how you did your best to spell:

“I with at my nons.” (I went to my Nonna’s.)

“Foonrul.” (Funeral.)

“My friz: Jack, Jine, Veru.” (My friends: Jack, Jenna, Vera.)

“I with hom.” (I went home.)

“I had fun.” (Correct.)

Since your school was out both Friday and Monday for Columbus Day, you went to the extended day program at your sister’s daycare.

You enjoyed being there so much! You were so excited to go back on Monday, having been there Friday. As your drawing indicates, you very much valued spending the day with your friends Jenna and Vera.

I will always value your artwork. It’s never just about your drawing skills. Instead, it’s about the stories your drawings tell.

Thanks for being so creative.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: Your Special Drawing about My Grandma’s Funeral

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

Dear Jack: 2015 Toyota Avalon Road Trip to Natchez Parkway Bridge/Butterfly Funeral

4 years, 9 months.

Dear Jack: 2015 Toyota Avalon Road Trip to Natchez Parkway Bridge/Butterfly Funeral

Dear Jack,

For this past week our family was given a 2015 Toyota Avalon XLE Touring Sport Edition to review as a family.

Dear Jack: 2015 Toyota Avalon Road Trip to Natchez Parkway Bridge/Butterfly Funeral

With us having just got back to Tennessee from our annual family vacation in Sacramento, where we reviewed a 2015 Toyota Camry, we decided to lay low this week.

Yet still, Saturday we managed to travel to midtown Nashville to visit the all new Baby+Co.; a spa-like place to give birth, sans the epidural.

Baby+Co. 10 FAQs & Walk Around Video (Nashville Location)

Then on Sunday we decided to trek to Franklin to see the iconic Natchez Parkway Bridge. You nor Mommy had ever been there; whereas I had last summer when I reviewed the 2015 Lexus NX.

While I had the camera rolling as you used the parking lot curb as a balance beam, you stopped in your tracks as you discovered a butterfly that had breathed its final breath.

Dear Jack: 2015 Toyota Avalon Road Trip to Natchez Parkway Bridge/Butterfly Funeral

You were inspired to give it a proper (yet impromptu) funeral, so we did.

As we were getting ready to leave, after taking some family pictures, you were concerned:

“Where is the food? I thought there were nachos?”

I explained that the name of the place we were at was “Natchez”, not nachos.

Dear Jack: 2015 Toyota Avalon Road Trip to Natchez Parkway Bridge/Butterfly Funeral

We are a family who essentially never goes out to eat; not only because we are vegan/vegetarian and our options are extremely limited, but also because we are Dave Ramsey followers and it’s difficult to justify weekly restaurant money when it could be going to our “new car” fund.

Dear Jack: 2015 Toyota Avalon Road Trip to Natchez Parkway Bridge/Butterfly Funeral

However, you apparently caught Mommy and me at the perfect moment, because on the drive home Mommy discretely asked me, “Is there somewhere on the way home we might want to stop for lunch?”

Granted, I was happy to oblige; it would save me from dish duty.

Dear Jack: 2015 Toyota Avalon Road Trip to Natchez Parkway Bridge/Butterfly Funeral

We saw a Chili’s coming up on the right. Mommy told me that she recently went to a Chili’s with Grandma and your Aunt Jenny while we were on vacation, and she was surprised how accommodating they were to her vegetarian lifestyle.

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So we turned into the Chili’s parking lot. They were so accommodating to my vegan and your and Mommy’s vegetarian requirements, that they actually had a whole page for “dietary restrictions” on their kiosk on the table.

Dear Jack: 2015 Toyota Avalon Road Trip to Natchez Parkway Bridge/Butterfly Funeral

I’ll keep that in mind the next time we’re on a road trip…

Of course, I made a fun video about all this so you could see it all; along with my super catch jingle I made up, “Come along, in an Avalon…”

You and I also made a walk around video for the Avalon…

And of course I made a video for your 1st day of Pre-K, which also featured the car as well…

So it looks like even on a “lay low” week, we still managed to have a lot of fun!

Dear Jack: 2015 Toyota Avalon Road Trip to Natchez Parkway Bridge/Butterfly Funeral

Dear Jack: 2015 Toyota Avalon Road Trip to Natchez Parkway Bridge/Butterfly Funeral

Dear Jack: 2015 Toyota Avalon Road Trip to Natchez Parkway Bridge/Butterfly Funeral

Dear Jack: 2015 Toyota Avalon Road Trip to Natchez Parkway Bridge/Butterfly Funeral

Dear Jack: 2015 Toyota Avalon Road Trip to Natchez Parkway Bridge/Butterfly Funeral