New York State Funeral Directors Association

Making funeral plans usually doesn't top anyone's list of things they want to do.

But after a loved one passes away, you might find yourself given the responsibility of planning their funeral.

During this emotionally stressful time, it's important to know what resources are available for funeral planning and what you can do to plan a ceremony that honors the life your loved one lived while respecting the family and friends who are still living.

To help you put together a funeral that's loving and respectful and that won't cause you considerable financial stress, on top of the emotional stress, avoid the following common funeral planning mistakes.

Not Talking To Your Loved One In Advance

Although death can be unexpected, there are instances where a person has been dealing with a long-term illness or other medical issue and will have made plans for their end-of-life in advance.

Discussing what a person wants after their death doesn't seem like a fun conversation to have, but it's an essential one.

When you put off discussing end-of-life affairs with your loved one, you might not get the chance to find out what they really want at their funeral and you might miss the opportunity to honor their final wishes.

If you aren't comfortable discussing funeral planning and other end-of-life matters with your loved one on your own, have someone else in the room at the same time.

For example, if you need to speak with one of your parents, you can have a sibling or your spouse there with you.

You can also meet with a funeral director who will help guide you through this process.

Not Setting A Budget

Take into account all the sources of funding you have for the funeral.

"When planning a funeral, understanding the cost of the event and what their sources of funding are is important and a funeral director can help show you options that fit your budget," says Michael A. Lanotte, Executive Director & CEO of the New York State Funeral Directors Association.

"They will work with you to help you understand what services you get at a variety of different price points and to choose the service that reflects your loved one's wishes."

Not Researching Funeral Homes

In some cases, a loved one will have chosen a funeral home before their death. Funeral director speaking with lady about funeral plans

In other instances, picking a funeral home is left up to the surviving family members and friends.

Since each funeral home is unique, it's a good idea to research places before choosing one.

You might also want to meet a few funeral directors before making your decision.

Meeting a funeral director and visiting a funeral home in person can give you a clear idea of the type of service you will receive.

Ignoring Your Loved One's Wishes

Part of funeral planning involves balancing what your loved one wanted with what is practical.

While you might not be able to do everything they wanted based on your budget and their expectations, it's a good idea to try to honor their wishes as much as possible.

If they wanted a big reception or luncheon after their burial, do your best to allow for that. If you have a limited budget, you might ask guests to bring a dish to share, perhaps something that your loved one really enjoyed.

Having Too Many People Weigh In

It's a good idea to have just a few people responsible for planning the funeral.

Once a group of people is allowed to weigh in or offer their opinions and advice, the field can get crowded and it can be difficult to move forward with a plan.

You can tell people that you'll listen to their ideas, but make it clear that you won't be able to accommodate everyone's wishes.

Forgetting To Celebrate The Living

Funerals can be sad occasions, but it's still important to look at the positive effects a person's life has had on those they have left behind.

It's a good idea to use the funeral ceremony as a time to lift up those who are still living, by celebrating your loved one and by remembering what they gave to you during their lifetime.


Planning Info Kit