Planning a Funeral

Planning a funeral

Most of us are not prepared to plan and carry out a funeral ceremony for someone we love. And so much of the information available on this critically important subject fails to focus on what is most important: having a personalized, meaningful funeral that helps families and friends begin the healing process of mourning after the death of someone we love.

Our funeral home’s dedicated staff wants to help you and can play a critical role in planning and carrying out a meaningful funeral or memorial service. Our licensed funeral directors are intimately familiar with the funeral planning process, key decisions a grieving family must make, and necessary legal documentation that is required during this difficult time. Our funeral professionals can handle all of the details and help you create a unique service that fits your needs and values.

This is a naturally difficult time, compounded by the fact that you are faced with many decisions that must be made as you begin to plan the funeral. You may feel overwhelmed by these decisions. When you are able to make informed choices, you are empowered with the important information needed to plan a meaningful funeral.

This is not the time to deny your need to mourn and embrace painful feelings of grief in the coming days. You may feel deep sadness as you plan this funeral and begin to acknowledge the reality that someone who you love has died. But when all is said and done, you will feel deep satisfaction that you helped plan a meaningful tribute or ceremony for someone who meant so much to your own life, and you will be on the path to a healthy grieving process.

After selecting a funeral home, you and your family will choose the type of funeral service to hold, what will happen to the body and where it will be laid to rest. How a body will be cared for after death is an important decision. Whether you choose burial or cremation, you can use elements of ceremony to honor the life of your loved one and to allow you and your family to say goodbye in a meaningful way.


As you begin to think about the funeral and the many options you have, you may be faced with the conflict of honoring the wishes of the person who died as well as your own wishes as survivors. While it is natural to want to meet the requests of the person who died, do consider changes that will be helpful to you, your family and friends.

Begin a Family Conversation

It is often helpful to have a family conversation before going to see a funeral director. This can be a time for expressing your grief together as well as a time for some initial decision-making. Try as best you can to include everyone in the discussion. No one should feel left out.

The Arrangement Consultation

You may have already scheduled a time to meet with your funeral director to help you plan the funeral. This meeting is called the “arrangement conference.” During the arrangement conference, the funeral director will explain all of the choices available to you and your family, help you make decisions to create your unique funeral, and gather important information about the person who died to complete necessary documents. Above all else, the funeral director will assist you in both arranging for and carrying out a meaningful funeral.


Family members will need to have secured the following documents or information regarding the deceased.

  1. Birth certificate
  2. Social Insurance Number
  3. Names of parents of deceased and their birth places
  4. Military Service Records (if applicable)
  5. Marriage Certificate or proof of marriage
  6. Cemetery documents or contracts
  7. Locate Last Will and Testament of deceased.

The arrangement consultation between director and family will focus on the director advising family on the legal requirements within the province of Manitoba. All deaths must be registered by the funeral director with the Division of Vital Statistics. Disposition of the remains whether it be earth burial in a cemetery or cremation must be recorded with the proper cemetery or crematory authorities.

The director must also inform the family of the many types of funeral services that can be planned. The director’s information is vital to the family in their decisions as to the location of the service, the type of ceremony, whether there will be a time of visitation, prayer service, the clergy person of choice, date, place and time of ceremony, and disposition of remains. The funeral director will also assist in providing information regarding pallbearers, active or honorary, the organizing of same and instructions to be provided to these persons.

The director must advise family on the planning of transportation arrangements related to clergy, pallbearers, the remains of the deceased and family members. It is important that the family become involved in planning, and participating in the funeral ceremony.


Contact may be made by either the funeral director or family. The director and clergy person will work together to insure all details related to the place of ceremony, date and time are coordinated. The clergy will assist the family in planning a meaningful tribute to their loved one. Choice of music, hymns, organist, soloist or special recorded music are all involved with the clergy’s arrangements.


May be held in a church, funeral chapel or some non religious location. Ceremonies may be held in community halls, cemeteries, parks, where ever the service will be deemed to be of value to the family members. The timing of the ceremony must be coordinated with the clergy, facility and is dependent on the arrival times of all family members who are traveling from a distance


This will involve a wide variety of requests placed on the funeral director by family. Some examples are: jewelry, photos, hair-styling requests, special seating arrangements for special groups, organizations or relatives, military or church protocols, video or audio recordings of ceremony, retaining personal items and returning to family after visitation. The funeral director can provide valuable information and assistance in these matters. You can choose from a variety of funeral service types and formats. Some people think funerals must conform to traditional ways, but there is no one right way to have a funeral. Just as grief has many dimensions and is experienced in different ways by different people, funerals are also unique. A funeral should simply be fitting for the person who died and the family and friends who survive them. This is an opportunity to be creative and to share an honest expression of your most heartfelt values. There are no rigid rules that need to be followed, but there are guidelines that can help you if you are unsure how you might proceed.


Perhaps your family already owns a cemetery plot where the person who has died will be buried. If not, maybe you have noticed a nice local cemetery. Your funeral director will know which cemeteries are nearby and can help you purchase cemetery plots appropriate for your needs.

Cemeteries may be privately owned or municipally owned. All cemeteries may have rules or regulations established regarding the burial of any remains. Plots may need to be purchased. The funeral director must advise families on the rules, regulations, costs related to plots, interment fees, the requirement of outer burial containers (Wood, Concrete or Metal) and the fees for same and memorial requirements of the chosen cemetery. Consideration must be given to any future needs of surviving spouse or other family members. Completing cemetery arrangements and graveside services is the responsibility of the funeral director. The graveside service allows the family a time to complete their relationship with the deceased. It can also be a place to return to at special times. The marking of the grave with a permanent marker must also be considered when property is secured. The type of memorial, the size, and material permitted by the cemetery must also be considered.

Because so many aspects should be considered when purchasing a cemetery plot, you may want to consider discussing the options in advance. Questions you may want to consider include:

  •  Does the plot meet my religious requirements?
  • Are there any restrictions I need to consider based on the type of monument or burial vault?
  • Does the plot include perpetual care and maintenance?
  • Are plots available in the same location to provide for burial of the entire family?

Also called headstones, grave markers are used in cemeteries to memorialize and identify the grave site of the person who has died. You may want to personalize the grave marker by including a poem, a drawing or a short phrase that defines the person who died.

Monuments and grave markers are available in a variety of materials, including natural stone, concrete and bronze. Styles can range from very simple to ornate, as single markers or companion monuments.


Burials may be either the interment of human casketed remains or cremated remains contained in an urn. Cemeteries may also have columbariums, to contain caskets, or above ground niches to contain cremated remains.

Planning a meaningful funeral for a loved one is a ritual that almost all of us will encounter at some point in our lives. As you consider the various aspects of a funeral where burial is the final disposition, there are several elements that you can and will need to select in order to create a touching tribute for your loved one. These things will also provide comfort to those who are living as you pay your final respects.

Choosing Burial

Planning a meaningful funeral for a loved one is a ritual that almost all of us will encounter at some point in our lives. As you consider the various aspects of a funeral where burial is the final disposition, there are several elements that you can and will need to select in order to create a touching tribute for your loved one. These things will also provide comfort to those who are living as you pay your final respects.

The Burial Committal Service 

When burial is chosen, the graveside ceremony is the final opportunity to say goodbye. Accompanying a body to its final resting place and saying a few last words brings a necessary feeling of closure to the funeral process. Families are often deeply touched by this ceremony, and its memory resonates for years. A meaningful committal service not only helps us acknowledge the reality and finality of the death, it also symbolizes the separation that the death has created. It is an essential ingredient of a meaningful funeral experience.

Direct Burial 

A direct burial is when there is no funeral service, but instead simply final disposition of the body by the funeral home.

Honoring the life and death of the person who died with some sort of ceremony – no matter how brief, how small or how informal – will help your family acknowledge the reality of the death and begin to heal. Also keep in mind that you may still hold a committal service at the grave site should you choose direct burial.


May be held in a church, funeral chapel or some non religious location. Ceremonies may be held in community halls, cemeteries, parks, where ever the service will be deemed to be of value to the family members. The timing of the ceremony must be coordinated with the clergy, facility and is dependent on the arrival times of all family members who are traveling from a distance.


Gathering Memories Others Have of your Loved One

When a loved one dies, we think about all the things that made that person special and important to us. Take this time, while family and friends are together, to gather together memories that others have of your loved one.As time goes on, these memories will be there for you, to give you comfort, bring you smiles, and help heal your broken heart.

These ideas can be used at a viewing, funeral, memorial service, or any other place where friends and loved ones are gathered, and are especially important if there are children grieving the loss of a parent.

Remembrance Letters

Lay out paper and pens on a table at the viewing or memorial service, along with a piece of paper that asks friends and family to share their memories with you. Here are a few ways to make this extra special:

  • Use special stationary with designs that reflect the life and interests of your loved one.
  • Decorate the table with favorite photographs and lay out memorabilia that was special to your loved one.
  • Provide a spot where people can leave their letters, making it clear that you’d love to have them back as soon as possible.

Otherwise, people, even with the best of intentions, may not get them back to you. If there is room, set up a few small tables to allow people to sit and write while they are there. Collect these memories into a Memorial Tribute Book or a scrapbook with large sleeves for the letters. Give close friends and family members copies of the memorial book you have created.

Share your memories

You have memories of your loved one that are shared by no other. Take a few minutes and write down some of your favorite memories to display. Here are a few ways to make this extra special:

  • Select favorite photographs of your loved one that are related to the memories you have written down. Display them together for others to view.
  • Tie your memories in with your loved one’s favorite memorabilia with the same idea, display them together.
  • Ask others to add their own memories to what is already displayed.

Memorial Websites

When someone we love dies, we often feel the need to share their story and the story of our loss with family, friends and our extended communities. A recent trend has been to memorialize loved ones by creating a website that honors their memory and mourns the loss.

The website can be created to house online video tributes and even guestbook memories collected at the funeral from family and friends. Some funeral homes offer this as a service, or you may be technologically savvy enough to build your own. Your imagination is your only limit to sharing memories and honoring your loved one.

Keepsake Books

Friends and relatives often share memories, stories, photos and condolences in guest books, both at the funeral and on the funeral home’s website. At the funeral, invite people to write down a memory of the person who died. Ask children if they would like to write a letter or draw a picture for the person. Their “goodbyes” can then be saved for the keepsake book or even placed in the casket alongside the body. Many funeral homes offer keepsake book publishing services that collect and document these important memories.

Video Tributes

A video tribute is a unique way to personalize a memorial service – giving you and your family the opportunity to pause and reflect on the life of the person you knew and love. These touching montages can consist of music, photos, memorabilia, or newspaper articles that take viewers through the life of the person who has died.

Your video tribute can be played during the funeral service, during a visitation, or at any other time you and your funeral service professional decide upon. Many funeral homes can also post your video tribute to their website so that others can view it at any time. Tributes can also be made into DVDs or saved electronically for your family to keep. Your funeral home may offer this service or can recommend a local vendor who specializes in this area.


Generally an obituary notice is placed in the local paper announcing the death and advising friends of the ceremony details. The funeral director assists the family in compiling the information and will forward it to the respective papers.


Depending on the ceremony, a family may choose to have numerous pieces or single arrangements for the casket top, chapel or church setting or cemetery service. These tributes will be arranged by the director if requested to, or family may contact the florist directly to arrange.

Flowers may be placed individually by family at the graveside service or some may be kept from sprays following the ceremony at facility or cemetery.


This offers family and friends an opportunity to share refreshments, fellowship, exchange stories, express personal sympathies and share in a time of social interaction. The participation by family and friends can be a great source of comfort to those who are bereaved. Receptions may be structured, in the form of sit down meals or casual settings (coffee, tea, snacks). They may be held in a church hall, hotel, community hall or private residence. The location will depend on the number of persons attending and the families wishes.


These items may vary depending on the choices for ceremony and disposition. Caskets to contain human remains for burial or cremation may be selected. Cemetery grave liners for earth interment may be chosen. This may be an option or a requirement, depending on the cemetery selected. Cremation Urns, made of wood, metal marble, bronze, ceramic in a wide range of costs are available. Register books to record persons attending visitations, ceremonies or graveside services, memorial folders to be handed out at services are all choices families may make to personalize their arrangements.


These expenses may involve honorariums to clergy, organists, soloists, or expenses related to the funeral reception. Floral tributes ordered by family, provincial death certificates required for estate settlement are an example.


With the decisions completed regarding the professional services, facilities, equipment, and funeral merchandise to be provided for the specific service, the funeral director will provide the family with an itemized estimate of costs and an estimate of other funeral related costs. This is normally provided as soon as possible to the family.

The funeral director will also assist in providing information related to any financial assistance that the deceased may be eligible for through any government funded plans: (Canada Pension Plan, Income Securities, Veteran’s Affairs, Workman’s Compensation or Criminal Injuries Compensation). All funeral accounting will be submitted following the completion of all requested services related to the funeral. This account will usually be forwarded within a two week period.