How to plan a funeral

When the time comes to plan a funeral for a loved one, very few people know where to begin. At Bethel Funerals, we meet with many families who are feeling overwhelmed by the funeral planning process.

Our professional funeral planners have created this step-by-step funeral guide in the hope that you will find some comfort in our words, and some practical advice to assist you as you prepare to say farewell.

Step 1: Contact a funeral director

After a death has occurred, a Doctor, Nurse or Paramedic will provide you with a Verification of Death form (VIC) or an Extinction of Life Certificate (QLD). Once you have been provided with this certificate you should contact a Funeral Director.

The Funeral Director can liaise with the hospital, care facility or coroner and arrange for the deceased to be transferred into their care. Funeral directors are able to assist with the necessary arrangements to ensure you and your family are cared for during this difficult first step.

Step 2: Attend a funeral arrangement meeting

At the funeral arrangement meeting, you will be invited to share your preferences regarding the type of funeral service that will best reflect and pay tribute to your loved one.

You will be asked to provide personal information about the deceased so that the final Death Certificate can be issued by the Department of Births, Deaths and Marriages. For further information regarding legal documentation please refer to our Personal Profile Record.

Clear communication between the Funeral Director and your chosen Minister or celebrant is crucial. Before you engage a Minister or celebrant, it is important that you first discuss preferred funeral service times and dates with the Funeral Director.

Step 3: Connect with a Minister or celebrant

Once the time and date of the funeral have been confirmed, you will be better positioned to meet with the Minister or celebrant and begin to focus your attention on the details of the service.

Your Minister or celebrant will be able to provide suggestions and guidance regarding the structure of the service including hymns and prayers, as well as assistance with creating the detail for the order of service booklet.

Step 4: Choose a legacy

Leaving a legacy via a bequest or donation may honour the wishes of your loved one, especially if they had a passion towards some specific, humanitarian, mission, medical or community/social work. As a family member, you can choose where this contribution will be directed, or take instructions from their Will. It is our hope that you will draw comfort from the knowledge that their legacy will live on and make a difference to the lives of others.

Think about the values and causes your loved one held dear. Let your memories of their interests guide your decision when choosing a legacy donation to honour them.

Further information about the positive impact created by honouring legacies can be found here.

Step 5: Plan the day

Depending on the preferences of your loved one, you will need to consider whether the service will include an opportunity for a viewing of the deceased and whether there will be a cremation or a burial.

There are caskets and coffins made from a variety of materials and numerous styles from which to choose. As well as arranging a hearse and other vehicles, we can book musicians, manage refreshments and order floral tributes.

Our staff can prepare an online memorial site for your loved one and help you to prepare and insert notices in the press. Our selection of funeral stationery is of the highest quality and we will maintain the memorial book register for those attending the service.

For further information regarding our services please refer to our Funeral Planning Guide.

Step 6: Write a eulogy

Writing a eulogy gives you the opportunity to honour the life story of your loved one.

Begin with the facts including date and place of birth, names of parents and siblings and any special pets or friends. You might then mention education, occupations, and church or community service. Descriptions of significant relationships, family members, children, hobbies and holidays are always interesting. You might like to conclude with a reflection on the life values your loved one held dear, and describe the impact they have had on others.

Our Funeral Planning Guide includes helpful advice on material to include in a eulogy.

Step 7: Prepare a visual tribute

Everyone loves looking at old photographs of family and friends. Creating a visual tribute can be a wonderful way of helping others to recall fond memories, retell old stories and celebrate a shared delight in life.

The visual tribute you create can be accompanied by nostalgic music and played on the large screens in our funeral chapel.

For helpful suggestions on appropriate song choices please refer to our Funeral Planning Guide.

To consider…

For now, your focus should be on creating a meaningful funeral for your loved one. After the service is done there will be other tasks to be completed such as notifying different agencies and service providers. We suggest you check out our blog <Link to after a funeral blog> that identifies a list of people and companies needing to be informed of the death after the funeral.

Although funeral arrangements are not generally a popular topic of conversation, the reality is that most of us will be involved in planning a funeral at least once in our lives.

If you are unsure of where to begin please consult our step-by-step funeral checklist, and our more detailed Funeral Planning Guide, where you will find all you need to know about planning a funeral.

Subscribe to our email list to receive our latest news, articles and supportive resources.