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There are many ways to pay your respects, honor a loved one and say goodbye. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution because each farewell is as unique as the life being celebrated.

Having the opportunity to plan a truly personal funeral or memorial service can be comforting. It can also seem overwhelming, especially at a time when your heart and mind are preoccupied by grief. There are lots of details to consider and decisions to make, especially if you or your loved one didn’t plan ahead.

Getting Started

Funeral planning is something many people do just once or twice in their lifetime, so it’s ok if you aren’t sure where to begin. Here are a few questions to help you with the planning process.

Did your loved one preplan their funeral arrangements or express any wishes?

Talk with family members and review any documents the deceased left behind to make sure you’re aware of any preplanned or prepaid arrangements, purchased burial plots or written preferences. Ask close friends and family members if the deceased had shared any desires for how their life should be honored.

Do you have a funeral home in mind?

Some families have long-standing relationships with local funeral homes or you may know a funeral director personally, but many people must make this decision at their point of need. While most funeral homes offer similar services, it’s important to choose a partner that fits your style and wishes and one you can trust and rely on. Learn more about choosing a funeral home.

Who will be the main point of contact?

Talk with your family and decide who will have the main responsibility for communicating with the funeral home and funeral director. Having a designated family representative in charge will help reduce stress and make the process easier for everyone involved.

Where will be your loved one’s final resting place?

The decision between burial and cremation is often influenced by factors like religious beliefs, family traditions, budget, location, timing and personal preferences. You’ll also need to consider casket or urn options, memorial items (such as headstones or online memorials). Your funeral director will explain all of your options and help you choose what’s best for your family and your loved one.

What type of ceremony will be held?

Funeral services, memorial services and celebrations of life are an important part of honoring a loved one. There are a variety of options ranging from traditional to unique, which means the ceremony can be a meaningful reflection of your loved one. Your funeral director is there to offer advice, ideas and recommendations so don’t be afraid to use him or her as a resource!

We Can Help

Coping with a loss is never easy, but you don’t have to go it alone. NYSFDA members are committed to doing what’s right for you and your family during an emotional time. Your funeral director will advise you on all the options, help you figure out what you can afford, and take care of the details for you. No matter what you’re envisioning, we can help make it happen. Find a NYSFDA member funeral home near you.