If Funerals Are For The Living, Why Should Families Pre-Plan?


There are a number of definitive “best practices” out there that funeral directors swear by when it comes to planning funerals. Whether it’s a piece of advice, a rule they’ve created, or even a tried-and-true method they’ve developed over the years, they are dead set that their way is the only way… that is, until you talk to another funeral director down the street who has a completely different opinion on the matter.

The truth is, many important funeral decisions and opinions can change from funeral director to funeral director. Some prefer the modern take on life celebration, while others prefer to stick to the classic funeral traditions of the past. One funeral director might tell you that it’s okay to wear bright colors to a funeral, while another may consider anything other than black inappropriate.

But while there may be no standard set of rules when it comes to the “right way” to do a funeral, there are a couple of statements that pretty much every funeral professional will agree with…

  1. Funerals are for the living.
  2. It’s important to put your funeral plans in writing so your family will know your wishes.


I myself have written about both of these subjects, and have talked about the importance of pre-planning and designing a funeral that will help families heal in whatever way they need. However, it wasn’t until a couple weeks ago when I was asked one simple question that I began to doubt these two simple statements…

“If a funeral service is for the living, what’s the point in pre-planning your funeral? If my family will find comfort in having an open-casket, but I’ve always wanted cremation, who should get their way?”

They made a great point, and sent me into a tailspin thinking about why pre-planning is so important in the first place.

Which Is Better: Family Planning vs. Pre-Planning

When it comes to pre-planning, many funeral professionals often focus on the idea that it’s important for families to put their wishes down into writing, so that their family knows what type of funeral they would have wanted. We explain how wonderful it will be when their families will not have to guess which type of service they would have liked, or will not have to make the difficult choice of where the funeral should take place.

But, as we have also said many, many times in this profession, the funeral is not for the deceased. It’s for the people around them who are trying to celebrate their loved one’s life and begin their own healing process. So shouldn’t we let the family decide the service that will help them the most, rather than leave them out of the pre-planning process?

For me, there’s no black and white answer to this question. Planning a funeral shouldn’t be a decision that is either all family or all pre-planning. It should be the perfect mix of both… planning a funeral should honor the loved one’s wishes AND provide healing and comfort to the people who will need it most – the ones attending the funeral.

Why People Should REALLY Pre-Plan Their Funeral

Pre-planning a funeral is about so much more than choosing the minor details of the service, or choosing which type of music should be played. The pre-planning process is hugely beneficial for not just the person planning their funeral, but also their family and friends who will be attending it. Here are some of the biggest perks of pre-planning…

1. It’s sparks important conversations about death.

It’s no secret that there is a huge stigma about death. People hear the word funeral and think, “Death? That’s dark, creepy, weird, scary… insert any other negative word you can think of here.” But the truth is, funerals are something that people experience every single day, whether they are open to them or not. Going to funerals, planning funerals and simply talking about funerals helps people become more comfortable about the idea of them, and even helps people understand their own feelings on death better.

2. It relieves a huge financial burden from families.

Funerals can be an pricey undertaking, just like any other important life event… but what makes funeral costs different is that they often come at unexpected, unplanned times for many families. This can cause many family members to feel overwhelmed, burdened, or stressed out at a time when they are already deeply emotional. Luckily, pre-planning is a huge resource for relieving this burden, so let your families know about the importance of setting aside costs for their funeral.

When people take responsibility for their arrangements and plan and pay for their services in advance, they are protecting their loved ones and are removing the possibility of emotional overspending in the future.

3. It allows people to understand what their family needs from their funeral.

When we say that a funeral is for the living, we don’t mean that it’s up to the family to plan a funeral in whatever way is easiest, fastest or most simple. It means that the funeral brings immense value, healing and comfort to family and friends when their loved one has passed. However, just simply planning any old funeral won’t create this healing experience… that’s why it’s important that families have these conversations together during the pre-planning process.

Advise your families to have that difficult conversation about death and funerals, and answer the following questions:

  • What makes you uncomfortable at a funeral? What helps you feel more comfortable?
  • Does having a body present at a funeral help you in the grieving process?
  • Do you like the idea of having a permanent memorial to go to and reflect on your loved one’s life?
  • Are you comfortable with the process of cremation? Do you like the idea of having an urn at home?


These questions (and others) will help people get a better understanding of what elements of a funeral are important, or even essential, for their immediate family, and they can begin to factor these decisions into pre-planning.

Help Your Families Plan Better

At the end of the day, pre-planning is still just as important as it ever was. It’s immensely helpful in that it not only helps people make decisions outside of the emotional moments following a death, but it also brings to the forefront a conversation that all families should have… How do people feel about funerals? What decisions would make them most comfortable? These aren’t just questions that should be answered by the person who is pre-planning their own funeral, but should be a discussion between the entire family.

As the go-to funeral expert in your community, it’s important that you help educate and guide families on these pre-planning conversations that they should be having. One great way to do this is through your website.

f1Connect’s strategic Pre-Planning resources not only educate your families on the many benefits of arranging their funeral in advance, but also offer checklists, conversation starters, and even online pre-planning tools that allow them to get started with their planning right there on your website. By featuring these helpful resources on their websites, our clients have seen up to a 2000% increase in their pre-need leads!

If you want to learn more about how you can get f1Connect’s Pre-Planning resources on your website, along with a whole host of other super-useful education tools, click here to talk to one of our funeral success coaches!

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