Preparing for Death: Before, During, and After

By: Jacklyn Hutchens
Monday, February 22, 2021

The thought of death and its inevitability is often terrifying, more so when it involves the people you love. But modern social movements on death positivity highlight the benefits of early acceptance and preparation for this unavoidable reality. 

Death services need careful consideration and thoughtful planning, just like what we do for weddings and birthdays. The foresight regarding death, which is usually a grim subject, helps those who will primarily take care of the after-death arrangements the most. 

Creating a funeral planning checklist for yourself and your family provides a road map towards a healthier grieving process by eliminating the worries of setting the final ceremonies. The items below can help you start planning as soon as you’re ready:

Checklist for Arranging a Funeral
Pre-Planning Stage

The death positive movement encourages everyone, regardless of age and health status, to take charge and determine what you or your loved ones want for your final ceremonies. This may include preferences on embalming, burial, cremation, and funeral clothes. Here are the things you’ll need to consider:

  • Choose an estate executor or write a living will to document all your preferences.
  • Determine if you or your loved ones want a traditional burial, cremation, or other alternative dispositions.   
  • Disclose preferences on embalming and other body preparation methods.
  • Decide whether to have a wake, memorial, or different services depending on culture and religious beliefs.
  • Identify the location for the service.
  • Select the coffin, casket, or cremation container.
  • Pick a grave marker or urn.
  • Choose the cemetery, columbarium, or any final interment location.
  • Pick what clothes the deceased will wear.
  • Assign someone who will lead the wake or memorial, and it can be a spiritual leader, friend, or family member. 
  • Choose who will carry out the eulogy.
  • Curate which photos to use for display and memorabilia.
  • Write your obituary or request someone else. 
  • Create a list of music or songs to be played or sung at the service.

When Death Occurs 
It is not uncommon for people to only deal with the specifics of death when it’s unexpected. This list includes the essential steps the bereaved may follow when a loved one has recently passed.

  • Secure a legal pronouncement of death from an attending doctor or nurse. If unavailable, call 911 for assistance.
  • Check for an accomplished funeral planning checklist; this will determine if prior arrangements exist.
  • Coordinate the transfer of the body to the funeral home. If an autopsy is required, the deceased has to go to a coroner first.
  • Coordinate with the funeral director for death certificates, burial permits, flower arrangements, refreshments, and the funeral service's time and date.
  • Submit an obituary to selected news outlets.

What Comes After
There will be legal documents to file and sign to protect the deceased and their bereaved loved ones. For legal matters, it is best to consult an estate lawyer. Still, a reputable funeral home provides everything in this list up to the final disposition.

Direct Cremation Services of Virginia offers assistance in pre-planning and at-need funeral needs. Contact us today for caring, dignified, and affordable services.

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