Planning a Funeral

Contributor: Kristen Milligan, Inheritance of Hope Co-Founder
Perhaps you are considering making funeral arrangements and sewing some nets. We know this is not an easy topic to think about, but Inheritance of Hope has some resources to help. Below are basic steps you can take that will walk you through the process, written from Kristen Milligan’s perspective. 
Call over a close friend or family member for support and help. I have already talked to those people I feel would comfort my husband and my children the most.  They were honored to be asked, and I have found that many people hesitate to reach out when they are uncomfortable, which seems inevitable after a death.  My friends, since they have been asked by me, will take their jobs very seriously!  Furthermore, I have specifically asked those moms I adore the most to stay involved with my children.  This gives me hope that wonderful women, who knew me, will always be a part of their lives.
Call a funeral director, who will help with many details. I called our funeral director regarding my own funeral.  I discovered it is not uncommon for a funeral to be both planned and paid for by a person before their death.  Cremation, burial, coffin, flowers, etc. are all decisions you can make, allowing your family to grieve instead of make these decisions after your death.  Also, it is always a beautiful and less expensive option to forego many of these decisions by having your ashes scattered at a place that is special to you and your family.  In this case the funeral director is only needed for the cremation and the choice of what the ashes will be kept in until the scattering.
Locate wills and other documents. If these documents are not already together, I would strongly suggest gathering them together and making sure your spouse or other loved ones know exactly where they are.  I have seen families lose the one who is the keeper of these papers, and chaos often ensues if no one knows where to look or what to look for.
Planning your funeral.
Call a priest or pastor to set up a service. It was important to me to have the pastor I felt closest to officiating my memorial service, and it was important to me to have this service in our church.  These are decisions that are personal to you and your family, and can easily be made now.  Even if you were not ill, don’t you think it would be a good idea to share this information with someone?  It is ideal if you are able to talk with your husband, your older children, or your loved ones about these decisions.  I tried to remember in my planning that these events are really about comforting them, not me!  I also decided I would like to write a letter to be read at my funeral.  I believe this will be a powerful way to share what is most important to me with my family and friends. (A note that this letter is shared later in this series.)
Notify the newspaper. I have written my own obituary – does that sound awful?  I want to spare my husband that responsibility, but I admit it was a little bit fun.  I could share what was most important to me.  I found some simple examples on the internet, and I read a few obituaries to see what I liked the most.  It felt good to have it done and put in an envelope with the other information my husband would need if I was to pass away first. Read this obituary.
Call family and friends with notification and information on services. If you have a page through a website like, this is the easiest way to let people know of funerals, visitations, or memorial services.  If you do not have this, I suggest speaking to a friend about making these calls so your family will not have to do it.  Perhaps you could make up a list of names and numbers to make sure no one is missed and not informed.  
Designate a beneficiary of memorials. People who are grieving the loss of a loved one often forget to designate an organization that may benefit from donations made in honor of someone who passed away.  This is a wonderful opportunity to greatly bless an organization that has importance to you or your family.  Consider sharing an organization with your funeral director, your loved ones, or write it down with other instructions for after you are gone.  I, of course, have planned for Inheritance of Hope to receive donations in lieu of flowers! If you would like to do so as well, you can request that donations be made in lieu of flowers to Inheritance of Hope at or PO Box 90, Pisgah Forest, NC 28768.
In closing, if it is applicable to your situation, remember to call social security, your life insurance company, and a lawyer. Perhaps these calls could be made by a friend on the family’s behalf.