Funeral Planning Checklist: What to do when someone you love has passed

Funeral Planning


I'm sorry for your loss. I know this is a difficult time, but there are some decisions that need to be made soon regarding funeral arrangements. This is often incredibly overwhelming, and it's easy to become confused and paralysed in the face of it all. But don't worry: by getting organized and taking care of the little things, you can help make this process go smoothly. To help you through this process, below is a checklist outlining what needs to be done right away.

Calling the doctor

When you call the doctor, you will likely receive several pieces of information. First, he or she will advise you on what to do next. If your loved one died at home, for example, the doctor may tell you that it's best to call the police immediately and then a funeral director. If there were other people present when your loved one died and they've already called the police and/or a funeral home (or if they are willing to help with these calls), then it's up to them whether or not they want any additional assistance from their physician or an attorney.

Telling your loved ones

  • Tell your loved ones.

There are certain people you should tell first and others you should tell last. It's best to start with those who will be most deeply affected by this death, such as parents and siblings, then work your way out from there. Once they've been informed, consider telling other family members or close friends directly before posting on social media. Be careful of what you say in emails and text messages; if possible, speak directly with the person in question.

  • Help them cope with the news:

If a friend or family member is upset by hearing of the passing over the phone, offer comfort by letting them know that everything will be okay—that this was not an accident but rather part of God's plan for their life (and the deceased's). You can also give advice about practical matters like whether it's better to donate clothing to charity organizations versus discarding of them so that all proceeds go toward helping other people in need.

Calling the lawyer

  • Call your lawyer.
  • Make sure you have a Will.
  • Make sure the lawyer you hire is familiar with the laws of your state and estate planning.
  • Make sure you can trust them. This should go without saying, but just in case: know their reputation, check their references, and if they don't ask any questions or give you any advice during your initial consultation, find someone else!

Calling the funeral director

The funeral director is the person you will work with to plan and coordinate the funeral service. He or she will help you through the process of choosing an appropriate casket, directing you to a cemetery for burial, and organizing flowers and music for the service. It’s important that you choose someone who has experience helping families in your situation. A good funeral director will also be sensitive to your feelings and needs during this difficult time.

Preparing for the burial or cremation

  • If you are planning a burial, make sure you have a burial plot.
  • If your loved one died in a hospital or nursing home, ask them for the correct death certificate. If it is not available right away and will be mailed to you within a few weeks.
  • If possible and appropriate, consider having someone who knows the deceased person personally speak at the service or memorial ceremony. This could be anyone from family members to friends of the deceased person; just make sure that whoever speaks has some knowledge of who this person was and what he/she would want said about him/her if he/she were still alive today!

Preparing for a viewing.

If you choose to have a viewing, decide whether or not to open the casket. If you do opt for open, consider whether it should be closed during some parts of the viewing so that attendees can pay their respects without having to view your loved one's remains.

If a wake is planned, make sure that the location has enough space for all guests and will allow them sufficient time with family members before and after services begin. Make sure that any food/drink provided at this event meets high standards of quality; people may be coming from far away, so make sure there are no surprises in terms of what people will eat or drink!

Prepare your funeral in advance.

Arranging a funeral is a big job, and it's important to be prepared for it. Here are some things you can do:

  • Have a plan in place. It's wise to have your funeral arrangements planned well ahead of time so that you can consider the options and make decisions based on what's most important to you and your family members.
  • Make sure all of your wishes are known. Whether you want an open casket or closed, traditional or non-traditional service (or something else), this information should be shared with as many people as possible—including family members, friends, neighbours, religious leaders, co-workers and even acquaintances who may be willing to help out during this difficult time.
  • Have an estate plan in place too! After someone dies there are many things that need to happen immediately—from making arrangements for their final resting place or cremation ashes through burial services or scattering them somewhere special like Disney World 😉--but there will also be tasks that need attention after some time has passed; having an estate plan will help ensure these responsibilities aren't forgotten when they're needed most!


We hope this checklist helps you navigate your funeral planning process. We know it can seem overwhelming, but it’s important to go through these steps and make sure everything is taken care of so that you don’t have to worry about the details too much. It’s a stressful, sad time for everyone involved, so remember that there are people here to help you. Don’t be afraid to reach out for support when you need it most!

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