How to Plan Your Own Funeral

An older woman seated on a couch, helping her young grandchildren open a wrapped gift


In a perfect world, we would never need to say goodbye to our loved ones. But just as surely as the tides rise and fall and seasons change on the Cape, lifetimes have their own cycles of beginnings and ends. Whether the end of your life is imminent or on the distant horizon, someday your friends and family will need to lay your body to rest and move through grief in the world after you’re gone.


Planning for this moment can be an act of love and care for those you will leave behind. Nothing will ever make saying goodbye easy, but looking ahead and tending to the details will leave those you care about with fewer things to worry about as they navigate the haze of grief.


Why Preplan Your Funeral?

There was a time when families cared for their own dead, preparing the body and sometimes even digging the grave. In our modern world, knowing what to do when a loved one dies isn’t as common. There’s a chance that your funeral may be the first one that your spouse, children, or other loved ones have ever attended, much less planned. And making funeral arrangements can be a daunting, time consuming process when you’re already coping with grief.


After you die, your loved ones will need to:

  • Alert the proper authorities and find a funeral home to begin making arrangements.
  • Notify family members and friends of what’s happened.
  • Handle legal processes involving your estate, Social Security paperwork, life insurance claims, etc.
  • Decide how and where your body will be laid to rest.
  • Choose a time and location for the funeral or memorial service.
  • Arrange the details like funeral programs, music choices, prayers or readings at the service, etc.
  • Cover funeral costs and other final expenses.

But more than any of that, they will need to come to terms with the loss, gather to share memories, and help one another through grief. They may also need to learn how to change their lifestyle to adjust to a world without you in it.


It’s a process that looks different for everyone, and there are no shortcuts through grief. But by planning the practical details of your funeral in advance, you can ease some of the burden of planning and give your loved ones more time and space to focus on the parts that will help them heal.


A Simple Funeral Preplanning Checklist

You don’t have to wait for a terminal illness to begin getting your affairs in order, and it’s never too early to put a plan in place. You don’t have to plan out every detail of the service, but thinking through the pieces that are important to you and sharing those plans with a loved one will save them the uncertainty of trying to guess what you’d have wanted.


Here are some things you’ll want to consider when preplanning your funeral:

  • Have you made arrangements for your estate, such as drafting a will and setting up a medical power of attorney? You can get this process started by speaking with a lawyer who specializes in estate planning. They can guide you through the steps and let you know what materials you’ll need on-hand to begin.
  • Have you thought about how you’d like your digital afterlife to be handled? Do you have your important accounts and passwords written down in a secure location so your social media profiles and other online properties can be tended to after you’re gone?
  • Have you decided on a final resting place? Do you feel strongly about either burial or cremation? Do you want your ashes scattered in nature or to be buried in a family plot? Would you prefer a grave your loved ones can visit or do you like the idea of a memorial bench or some other marker of your memory? There are no wrong answers here, but thinking through your preferences will help you create an after-death plan for your loved ones to follow.
  • What type of memorial service would you prefer? It’s not necessary to plan for every detail, but if you have strong preferences, writing them down for your loved ones is a good idea. Do you want a religious funeral or a more secular celebration of life? Are there particular songs, psalms, poems, or other readings that are meaningful to you? Would you prefer your loved ones keep things simple instead of paying for a premium casket or ornate urn? Make note of the things that matter to you.

When you preplan with Chapman Funerals & Cremations, our funeral director will walk through your options with you and help you plan final arrangements that make sense of your values, budget, and the needs of your family. Once you’re finished, the plan will be kept on file. When the time comes, your family only needs to call us to begin the process. You’ll also be able to make payment arrangements in advance to save your loved ones from unexpected funeral expenses and lock in pricing against the risk of future inflation and price increases.


It's never too soon to begin planning for the end of your life. Reach out to us at any of our Massachusetts locations to get started, or begin planning online.

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