Making funeral arrangements for a loved one is likely one of the most important things you'll do for that person. It helps define their legacy and hopefully helps bring peace to you and your other loved ones. It's also likely to be one of the most stressful and difficult things as well, as you'll have to set aside your emotions and grief long enough to complete the necessary steps to plan that funeral.
There are dozens of decisions you'll have to make and questions you'll have to answer if you're planning a funeral. One of the most crucial questions, after what type of funeral your loved one will receive, is how long do you wait after death to plan that funeral in the first place. Here's our guide on understanding how soon you should plan a funeral after death.
Plan at Your Own Pace
First thing's first, if there's one rule about how soon to plan a funeral after a death, it's that there's actually no "right" or "proper" timeline to fit every situation. In other words, there are no hard-and-fast rules when it comes to timing. There are simply too many variables in place for a definitive answer.
Of course, there are some general guidelines, though. It's always a good idea to get the ball moving on funeral plans as soon as possible. Oftentimes the answer to such a question is tied to the religious or cultural views of the deceased. In Judaism, for example, it's required to have a funeral for the deceased typically within 24 hours of death. Other religious traditions, meanwhile, allow for a little more time to pass between death and funeral, as long as the other traditions surrounding death are upheld.
Reasons Why You Might Want, or Need, to Delay a Funeral
Just as there are many different reasons why you might need to plan a funeral immediately after death, there are other times where you can delay funeral planning. In many instances, pushing back the date of the funeral will provide time for friends and relatives from out of town to travel and arrive in time to pay their last respects. Other reasons to delay funeral planning are financial as well. If the deceased put some money aside to handle their final expenses, getting that money released in order to pay for their funeral may sometimes take a little extra time, for example.
Additionally, there's nothing that says you can't have a funeral after a burial, either. It may not be the most traditional approach, but you can plan a memorial service for the deceased sometime in the future, even as you lay their body to rest relatively quickly after death. You'll still have to take care of the burial arrangements right away - there's no postponing that for very long - but this approach does give you some breathing room if you feel you need it.
Elements to keep in mind are: if you intend to have a viewing you may want to have it sooner, and if you intend to cremate, it may give you some extra time.
If You're Lucky, You Won't Need to Plan Anything
Knowing how soon to plan a funeral after a death can be difficult. And planning a funeral can be a harrowing, thankless job, even under the best of circumstances and with the best of help. Funeral directors and the experts at MemorialPlanning.com are wonderful resources in times like these. But even the most attentive and understanding funeral director in the world still can't take the burden of having to postpone dealing with the emotional impact of the death of a friend or loved one. That's why it's always a huge relief when you find out that there's already a funeral plan in place.
That's right - there's nothing preventing people from working out the details of their final arrangements while they're still alive. Of course, no one wants to think about their own impending death, but forward-thinking folks often do set out plans for their own funeral to take the pressure off their surviving friends and relatives. If you're in such a situation where the deceased has a set funeral plan already ready for you, you can be grateful of this final gift the deceased left you.
If you want to consider planning your own funeral in advance, to spare your loved ones the additional grief you may be going through right now, learn more about advance planning.
Rely on Your Funeral Director
Speaking of funeral directors, if you are tasked with planning a funeral for a deceased loved one, it is absolutely a must to speak to a funeral director sooner rather than later. If the deceased pre-selected a funeral home in their own funeral plan that they've provided for you, this becomes an easy process; otherwise, you'll have to select one yourself. Yet it doesn't matter how you find one as much as that you do find one - a funeral director's job is quite literally helping families plan and carry out funerals for their loved ones.
Funeral directors help establish and maintain timetables for funeral planning, as it goes with the territory. However, it's even more important to select a funeral director today than it ever has been in the past. With the socio-economic upheaval in the wake of the COVID-19 epidemic resonating across the globe, there's a need to adapt our traditional funeral planning to today's reality. A funeral director will be able to help you do just that, offering suggestions for how to hold a funeral that allows people to pay their respects to the deceased while still remaining aware of social distancing and other new necessities.
The Best Time to Plan a Funeral
No one wants to think about their own death. That's why so many people don't have any plans in place for their own funerals, leaving the details instead to their friends and loved ones. In these cases, choosing your timing for the deceased's funeral is ultimately up to you and other impacted parties, inclusive of the deceased's budget and their religious or spiritual beliefs. If you need to delay in order for a beloved sibling to arrive on time, so be it. If you need to rush or delay to avoid an upcoming holiday or other event, that's alright. How soon or long you have to plan a funeral is for the most part up to you.
At the same time, it's never too early to begin planning for final arrangements. Whether you're contemplating your own or on behalf of a loved one, and wonderful how soon to start funeral planning, know that having even a rudimentary plan in place years or even decades in advance will save plenty of time and energy later for those in charge of planning the funeral. If you're thinking of doing some preliminary planning of your own, you can start right here on MemorialPlanning.com.