The More You Know: 8 Funeral Planning Tips

When it comes time to plan a funeral for a loved one or to pre plan a funeral for yourself, there are a lot of options to consider. For this reason, many people turn to mortuaries for funeral planning advice to help them sort out the details of a memorial service or funeral. However, there are some aspects that funeral directors may not make you aware of right off the bat.

Here are some of the funeral tips that we’ve learned over the years and are happy to share with you so you can be more educated during the process.


1: Pre-Planning Funeral Advice

When planning ahead, consider using a national or regional service.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with pre planning for your funeral. It takes the burden off your family and lets you make the decisions. However, keep in mind that a local funeral home may fall on hard times and close. If you choose to plan with a local home, you run the risk that your pre-planned funeral won’t happen because the funeral home no longer exists.

For this reason, our pre-planning funeral advice is to plan ahead with a company that’s been around for a while, a company that offers you the ability to pre plan and choose among several funeral homes in your area.

2: Casket Caution

You don’t have  to buy your cremation urn or casket from the funeral home.

When you visit a funeral home, there will no doubt be some very lovely (and expensive) caskets and urns on display, but you aren’t required to buy directly from the funeral home. In fact, you can find many beautiful caskets and cremation urns online generally at substantially lower prices.

3: Rentals Save Money

You can rent a casket for the viewing.

If you’re planning on cremation, but still want to have a viewing, many funeral homes offer the option of casket rentals. The body is placed in a cardboard container within the casket and then removed after the viewing. This is a great way to cut costs when you’re trying to save some money on the funeral.

4: Dust to Dust

Don’t buy caskets with protective gaskets.

Some funeral homes push these pretty hard, but “protective” caskets need to be exposed to the public as consumer fraud. If you are told that a gasketed coffin will better preserve human remains because it keeps out air, water, and other elements, keep a few things in mind:

While it is true that “sealer” caskets do not allow any air to reach the remains or for any body fluids to evaporate…

  • The trapped body putrefies in an air-tight container, releasing harmful gases, and eventually turns to mush.
  • Given enough time the fluids will eat through the casket from the inside.
  • Since a “sealer” casket doesn’t allow gases to escape, the casket remains under pressure, and when it leaks, it can come out with force. The internet is rife with stories of caskets actually exploding.
  • Most mausoleums are designed with an awareness of this issue and built to deal with it behind the scenes. But in some cases, there are cracks in the crypt wall, and there are leaks.
  • An unsealed casket allows dry air to flow over the remains.
  • A natural decomposition goes through a process of dehydration (because of air naturally moving through the casket, even in an underground burial) known as desiccation.
  • As the body decomposes, body fluids start to leak out of the remains.
  • Airflow allows the fluids to evaporate and allows for desiccation of the body.
  • The end result is a dehydrated body.

Protective gaskets are a swindle being perpetrated against vulnerable people. The rubber gasket used to construct a “sealer” casket costs the funeral industry very little money, but the markup passed on to a grieving family can run to hundreds of dollars.

The truth is that no matter the burial – underground or in a mausoleum – microbes will be present. No casket will stop decomposition or keep air, water, dirt, or fauna out forever. Our list of funeral planning tips would be incomplete if we failed to make it clear to avoid these caskets and save yourself the costs they incur.

5: Speak Up and Ask for Funeral Planning Advice

Always ask to see the individual price list when planning a funeral.

Funeral homes tend to create packages for different types of funerals, which can be very helpful, because they will include aspects that you might overlook on your own. However, they might also include services you don’t need. Ask to see the individual price list along with the packages so that you can compare and contrast.

More tips on funeral budgeting, including a funeral cost spread sheet, can be found here.

6: An Urn Can Serve for the Viewing

Funerals are usually much less expensive when the body is not present.

When there’s no body, there’s no need for a casket or embalming or any of the other necessities that come with having a viewing. If you want to save money, our funeral advice is to opt for direct cremation and have the cremains present at the memorial service.

7: Know the Rules When Planning a Funeral

Some questions to ask of a mortuary.

The answers to these questions should alleviate any concerns that the cremains you pick up belong to your loved one. Some crematoriums will allow a family member to accompany the body and witness the cremation.

  • What chain-of-custody process do you follow from death to urn?
  • When retrieving a body or delivering it to a third-party crematory do you cross-check paperwork and identity? Are you aware of the crematory’s own procedure?
  • Do you tag the decedent with a wrist or ankle band?
  • Will a metal disc with a unique ID number be provided? (This disc should survive the cremation process.)

Our guide to transporting ashes outlines the rules and regulations for shipping cremains, traveling with cremains, and how to ensure that the cremains arrive safely.

8: Request a plain metal or plastic container when picking up cremains.

Often crematories and funeral homes will put their name on the cremation container that you pick up in order to pressure you into buying a different urn on the spot. However, if you request a plain container, they are required to comply.

Funeral Planning Should Focus on the Heart

Sometimes the most meaningful funerals cost less.

You don’t have to spend a ton of money to have a beautiful funeral. You can have a memorial in a park or a potluck at a relative’s home. The important part about a funeral is that you are honoring your loved one’s memory, and most of the time the greatest memories made are the free ones.

If you are planning a service at the time of death instead of preplanning, the funeral planning tips found here will help you in your time of need.

10 Responses to “The More You Know: 8 Funeral Planning Tips”

  1. From Stewart Boomer

    Thanks for pointing out what the side effects are of sealing the casket. Never, in a million years, would I have thought about how bodily fluids would eat through a casket from the inside if not given enough air. Not to mention the possibility of the casket exploding! Now I have a lot more information to go off of as I’m trying to plan a funeral. Thanks for sharing!

  2. From Howard Reed

    I never knew that a casket could be rented, rather than bought. I think most people would be relieved to hear that, and not be so scared of what would happen if one of our loved ones passed. During such a difficult time in a family, many try to take advantage of the situation, but I am glad that there are people out there that will be transparent about what are available.

  3. From Jeff Madison

    I appreciate your tip on planning a funeral in advance. It may sound pretty morbid but I imagine that picking the funeral home and arraignments would be beneficial in the long run. My wife and are getting a little bit older, maybe its time we had a serious talk about our eventual funeral arrangements.

  4. From Andy Harrison

    With any kind of funeral that you choose to have, it is important to always plan for it. You wouldn’t want to pass away and have your family unable to do the service for you. Like you said, pre-planning would take the burden off of your family and would allow you to make the decisions.

  5. From Nash Rich

    I thought the tip of knowing the rules was interesting. I didn’t even know about the tag thing before I read this. I can see how it would be good to have some kind of identification. Thanks for all of the tips!

  6. From Bob Lowe

    This is great information. It’s nice to know that funeral homes may have packages you can buy to help with the funeral. I think when one of my loved ones pass on the last thing I want to do it plan a funeral. Having the funeral home take the worry away from me or any of my siblings, would allow us to focus on being there for each other.

  7. From Lillian Moore

    Thanks for the article! I thought it was interesting that you suggest asking for help when it comes to planning a funeral. I guess there is a lot more that goes into planning a funeral than I thought. Having a quick overview of what options you have from a funeral home can make the entire process easy and affordable. I really appreciate your tips and will use them in the future.

  8. From Gregory Willard

    My grandma passed away about a year ago, and we did the best we could for her funeral. I had no idea that you didn’t have to buy the casket from the funeral home. We ended up buying a casket from the home so that my grandpa didn’t have to worry about it. I will have to take that into consideration next time. Thanks.

  9. From Theodore Winston

    That’s good to know that you can rent a casket for the viewing if you are going to be going with cremation. I had always wondered what a viewing and funeral service would be like if the deceased person was going to be cremated. I’ll have to talk to my relatives about this option if I am ever involved in planning the funeral service. I appreciate your tips!

  10. From Tobias Armstrong

    I really like how you noted the importance of keeping the heart while you’re planning a funeral. I feel like you can get caught up in a lot of things when it’s time to plan for a funeral, but I think the important thing is making sure that you remember the person behind the funeral. Thanks for taking the time to share.

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