Fairhaven Blog

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The Funeral Planning Guide by Marla J. Noel

- Monday, June 27, 2011

We recognize the significance of planning a funeral after the loss of a loved one. Someone you love has died. You may be feeling sad, angry, empty or numb. Despite these normal and natural feelings, you are now faced with planning a funeral or gathering that will be meaningful to your family. Our mission is to assist you and your family during this difficult time by providing you with some information, some ideas and some suggestions for ways to create a meaningful final tribute to your loved one.


There are three separate parts of a funeral arrangement; The collection of vital statistical information that will be used to complete the death certificate, the creation of the funeral service or gathering and the selection of a final resting place or a lasting memorialization. One of our Family Service Counselors will meet with you during the arrangement conference and guide you through the many decisions that will have to be made. The arrangements typically take two to three hours unless arrangements have been made in advance of need.


The California Department of Consumer Affairs has put together a pamphlet regarding funeral and cemetery planning. The pamphlet was designed to help you understand the funeral process and terminology so that you may make informed decisions relating to your funeral arrangements.


Funeral ceremonies help us begin to heal. They are the first step in the bereavement process. It is important to recognize that funerals are for the living. The funeral declares that a death has occurred. It commemorates the life that has been lived, and offers family and friends the opportunity to pay tribute to their loved one.


A well-planned funeral service captures the living essence of one who has died. We have compiled a list of suggestions that will aid you in focusing on those things that your loved one cherished throughout their life. A review of these items may help you to remember meaningful symbols that can be included to personalize the funeral service in remembrance of your loved one.


©  Put together photos of your loved one. This may be done at the visitation or at home at a family gathering. We have a photo board, where those pictures may be placed for the funeral service. If you would like to put photos together permanently, a poster board may be used for this occasion.

©  Play the favorite music of your loved one at the visitation, funeral service or at a family gathering.

© Have your family members write down their fondest memories or the funniest moments, or the most painful memories of your loved one. The memories may be talked about at a family gathering or documented in a memorial folder or a memorial book.

© Write a letter or a poem to your loved one to say goodbye. Place the letter in the casket to be buried or cremated, whichever you have selected.

© If your loved one had a favorite cologne, bring a bottle in for the visitation and spray the cologne on your loved one for final disposition.


© If there are young children or grandchildren, have them make farewell cards to place inside the casket.

 © Put together mementos that represent a favorite sport or hobby of your loved one to be placed on a memorial table at the visitation or the service.

© Have a video made from the pictures that you have gathered and have them coordinated with your loved one's favorite music.

© Ask several people to share their memories during the ceremony. This may be done formally by having three or four people speak in succession at the podium - or informally by asking those attending the funeral to stand up and share memories spontaneously.

© For those with a sweet tooth, hand out your loved one's favorite candy at the visitation or the funeral service.


These are all suggestions that may help you and your family to say good-bye. We have listed some questions below that should assist you in determining some meaningful additions to a funeral service.


Please indicate some of the unique qualities of your loved one.

Favorite Sports Activities or Hobby: __________________________________

Favorite Book: _________________________________________________

Favorite Music: __________________________________________________

Favorite Television Show:___________________________________________

Favorite Movie:_________________________________________________

Favorite Flower:________________________________________________

Is there a saying that your loved one frequently used?  ______________________

Some people have a favorite hat, pair of shoes, jacket, etc. Is there an article of clothing that your loved one was known for wearing or being seen in?




What are your fondest and most cherished memories of your loved one?

Answering these questions will help with the service, with the eulogy, with the obituary and with the way the service is arranged. We hope this helps you. If you have suggestions for others please send them in the comments, so that they may be shared.



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