136 Questions to Ask When Planning a Funeral

Saying goodbye to someone special is really hard, and planning their funeral can feel overwhelming like you’re trying to find your way through a huge mix of feelings and tough choices. It’s a time when you’ve got to be practical but also want to honor the person’s life in a beautiful way.

Having a list of the right questions to ask can guide you and give you some peace of mind. A funeral is a chance to make a special moment that reflects the person we’re remembering while making sure everything is taken care of smoothly.

I have put together a list of important questions to help you with every part of planning a funeral, making this important job a bit easier while you think back on the life and times you shared.

Basic Arrangement Questions

  1. Who will be the primary point of contact for the funeral arrangements?
  2. What are the deceased’s wishes regarding burial or cremation?
  3. Is there a specific funeral home or director the family wishes to use?
  4. Have any pre-arrangements or pre-payments been made?
  5. Does the deceased have a plot or niche secured, and where is it located?
  6. What type of casket or urn would be appropriate, considering preferences and budget?
  7. Will the body be embalmed, and what are the implications if not?
  8. Is there a preference for a traditional funeral service, memorial service, or a celebration of life?
  9. What are the dates and times available for the service?
  10. Are there any cultural or religious customs that need to be observed?
  11. Is a private family viewing desired before the public service?
  12. Do we need to arrange transportation for the deceased to the funeral home?
  13. Should we consider eco-friendly options for the service?
  14. What documents and information do we need to provide to the funeral home?
  15. How soon do we need to finalize arrangements with the funeral service provider?
  16. Will we need facilities for a wake or visitation?
  17. Are live streaming or recording services available for those who cannot attend?

Personalizing the Service

  1. What readings, music, or performances would reflect the life and tastes of the deceased?
  2. Who would be the ideal candidates to deliver eulogies or speak at the service?
  3. Are there any personal items or mementos that should be displayed?
  4. Would the family like to create a photo or video tribute?
  5. How would the deceased have wanted their personality and life story reflected in the service?
  6. Is there a particular theme or set of colors that hold special significance?
  7. Will there be any special ceremonies, such as military honors or religious rites?
  8. How can friends and relatives contribute to the service?
  9. Are there charities we can suggest for memorial donations?
  10. Should we include any specific symbols or traditions in the service?
  11. How can we incorporate the deceased’s hobbies or passions into the service?
  12. Is it appropriate to request attendees to wear something specific?
  13. What would be a fitting way to handle moments of silence or reflection?
  14. Should we allocate time for an open mic for attendees to share memories?
  15. Can we incorporate any interactive elements, like planting a tree or writing messages?
  16. Would the family like to include any favorite recipes or foods?
  17. Are there particular poems, scriptures, or quotes that should be read?

Legal and Administrative Considerations

  1. Who is responsible for obtaining and filing the death certificate?
  2. What legal paperwork is needed immediately following the death?
  3. How does one go about writing and publishing an obituary?
  4. What are the steps to take when notifying banks, utilities, and other institutions?
  5. Is there a will, and who is the executor?
  6. What entities should be informed of the death for identity protection?
  7. Does the family have access to the deceased’s safe deposit box, if there is one?
  8. How do we handle the deceased’s outstanding debts or financial obligations?
  9. What is the process for claiming life insurance benefits?
  10. Are there any government benefits, like Social Security or veteran’s affairs, to claim?
  11. How can we transfer or close down the deceased’s social media accounts?
  12. How do we handle the deceased’s mail and subscriptions?
  13. Is there guidance available on arranging for estate or probate attorneys?
  14. What are the rules surrounding the creation and execution of a memorial fund?
  15. Are there any specific documents needed if the deceased was not a citizen?
  16. How do we manage property and assets that the deceased owned?
  17. What necessary steps should be taken if the deceased was receiving ongoing medical treatment or part of a study?

Financial Planning & Budgeting

  1. What is the overall budget for the funeral services?
  2. Can the funeral home provide a detailed price list for all their services?
  3. Are there packages available that could meet our needs and budget?
  4. How do various choices for services and merchandise affect the cost?
  5. Is there financial assistance or a payment plan for those who cannot afford the services?
  6. What costs are absolutely essential, and what can be considered optional?
  7. Will the funeral expenses be covered by a life insurance policy or other pre-arrangements?
  8. Are there lower-cost alternatives that still respect the dignity of the deceased?
  9. What are potential hidden costs we should be aware of?
  10. How much should we set aside for after-service gatherings or receptions?
  11. Is it necessary to tip the funeral staff, and if so, how much?
  12. Are there items we can provide ourselves to reduce costs, such as flowers or a guest book?
  13. Can the cost of the obituary in newspapers vary?
  14. How soon after the service will the various bills need to be paid?
  15. Are there legal or administrative fees that should be anticipated?
  16. What are the cost implications for choosing cremation over burial, or vice versa?
  17. How can we communicate our budget constraints to service providers effectively?

Aftercare and Support for the Bereaved

  1. What support services are available for the family after the funeral?
  2. Can the funeral home provide grief counseling referrals?
  3. Are there local support groups for those dealing with loss?
  4. How can we create an ongoing memorial for the deceased, such as planting a garden or starting a scholarship?
  5. What are healthy ways to cope with the absence during holidays and anniversaries?
  6. How do you suggest handling the deceased’s personal belongings?
  7. Are any follow-up meetings with the funeral director necessary?
  8. What is the process for picking up cremated remains, or who will handle this?
  9. Can you recommend legal or financial services that may be helpful now?
  10. How should we manage the support and offers of help from our community?
  11. Are there special considerations for the care of the deceased’s children or dependents?
  12. What strategies can help the family begin the healing process?
  13. Is there literature or resources that can help younger family members understand and cope with the loss?
  14. How can families leverage social media to keep loved ones and communities updated on aftercare events or memorials?
  15. What steps should be taken to memorialize the deceased online?
  16. Can the funeral home assist in setting up an online memorial or tribute website?
  17. How do we say thank you to those who have helped or offered condolences?

Logistics and Scheduling

  1. What is the timeline for the funeral arrangements, from death to the service and burial/cremation?
  2. Can we schedule services on a date that allows for family and friends to attend?
  3. How much time should we allocate for each part of the service?
  4. Is there coordination needed between different venues (i.e., church and cemetery)?
  5. What time constraints must we consider, such as cemetery hours of operation?
  6. How do we manage transportation for family members who do not live nearby?
  7. Do we need to reserve any venues or equipment in advance?
  8. How long will we have access to the venue for the service and any after-service gathering?
  9. Are there restrictions on the length of a graveside service?
  10. How should we plan the flow of events during the funeral?
  11. What considerations should be made for those with disabilities attending the services?
  12. Is there assistance for setting up and breaking down any personal or decorative items at the service?
  13. How does the time of day affect the cost and availability of services?
  14. Do we need to consider time zones or timing for virtual attendees?
  15. How early should we arrive at each venue on the day of the service?
  16. Is there parking guidance or valet services available for the venues?
  17. Can we arrange a rehearsal or walk-through before the actual service?

Floral and Memorial Arrangements

  1. Does the funeral home provide floral arrangements, or do we need to order them separately?
  2. What types of floral arrangements are appropriate for the service?
  3. Are there any restrictions on flowers or donations at the service location?
  4. Can we personalize the floral arrangements to signify something special about the deceased?
  5. How do we handle excess flowers after the service?
  6. Is it possible to plant a memorial tree or garden in memory of the deceased?
  7. What options are there for creating an online tribute or memorial?
  8. Are eco-friendly or biodegradable floral options available?
  9. How do we select a meaningful headstone or marker?
  10. What are the guidelines for leaving gifts or mementos at the gravesite?
  11. Can flowers be sent to the service in lieu of attendance?
  12. How should the family handle memorial donations?
  13. Can we contribute to a memorial bench, plaque, or other permanent tribute in a public space?
  14. What information is needed for engraving or customizing the headstone?
  15. How can we ensure that all attendees receive a keepsake or memorial card?
  16. Can we set up a memory table with photos and items that were special to the deceased?
  17. What are the practices regarding the creation and distribution of memorial bracelets or other items to commemorate the deceased?

Ceremony and Reception Details

  1. What options are available for officiants for the funeral service?
  2. Do we need to make preparations for any religious or cultural ceremonies?
  3. How do we plan and structure the order of the funeral service?
  4. Can the funeral home accommodate a reception following the service?
  5. What facilities are available for guests to gather and share memories after the ceremony?
  6. Do we need to organize catering for the reception, and how do we estimate the right amount of food?
  7. Are there rules or guidelines that we need to follow when planning the reception?
  8. How can we best accommodate guests with dietary restrictions or allergies?
  9. What kind of music or entertainment should be arranged for the reception?
  10. Do we need to provide transportation for guests between different venues?
  11. How do we handle RSVPs or guest confirmations for the service and reception?
  12. Is it permissible to serve alcohol at the reception, and if so, what are the limitations?
  13. What audio/visual equipment is necessary for any presentations or tributes during the reception?
  14. Are there preferred vendors or partners the funeral home works with for receptions?
  15. How do we best honor the deceased’s memory throughout the reception?
  16. What are the options for a guest book or other methods to record who attended?
  17. How can we manage accommodations for out-of-town attendees?

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the most important part of a funeral?

Every funeral is different, but the ceremony often holds great significance. It’s a time to come together to remember and celebrate the person’s life with eulogies, music, readings, and rituals that reflect their spirit and importance to those left behind. This part of the funeral offers a chance for those grieving to find some peace and feel connected to the departed.

What is the meal after a funeral called?

A meal after a funeral is commonly referred to as a “wake,” “reception,” or “repast,” depending on cultural traditions. It provides a space for friends and family to gather, share stories, and comfort each other over food that often has personal or cultural significance to the deceased’s life.

What is considered rude at a funeral?

Funeral etiquette varies greatly across cultures, but there are some generally agreed-upon behaviors to avoid.

Being loud, disruptive, or inappropriately casual can come off as disrespectful. Negative commentary about the deceased or the family is also frowned upon.

It’s best to approach a funeral with a respectful and supportive attitude, understanding that it’s a sensitive time for the bereaved.

Final Thoughts

The final goodbye to a loved one is never easy, but with thoughtful preparation, it can become a heartfelt tribute that resonates with personal significance and peace. This list of questions is intended to ease the burden of planning, allowing you to focus more on the memories and the healing journey ahead.

They serve as gentle prompts to navigate the many facets of funeral arrangements, ensuring that no detail is overlooked. With this resource, we hope to help you honor your loved one’s legacy with a service that not only respects their wishes but also offers comfort and closure to those who mourn.

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Jessa Claire is a registered healthcare provider. Music lover. Daydreamer. Thalassophile. Foodie. A hardworking Capricorn. Most days, an incurable empath. An old soul. Down-to-earth. Vibrant. When she's not writing, she can be seen relaxing with headphones on or engrossed in her favorite fan fiction book.