What to Expect Before, During and After the Funeral

What to Expect Before the Funeral

It’s a common enough experience; a loved one dies and now you’ve got to face something you’ve never ever done before. You’ve got to go to a funeral home to make their funeral arrangements. Now, not only are you emotionally affected by their death, you’re anxious and really need to know what to expect when you arrive. So, let’s talk about that for a bit.

You should know that we’ve taken great pains to make your experience with us as easy as possible. Here’s how:

  • We’ve put a lot of work into making our funeral home a pleasant place to spend time. That means our interior design is easy-on-the-eye, the rooms are spacious yet cozy, and the furniture is comfortable.
  • Our staff is both professional yet personable. We believe that when you leave, you’ll consider us more than funeral directors; we’ll be well-on-our-way to being friends. Friends you can really trust to compassionately care for your loved one…and for your family.
  • We’ve streamlined the funeral arrangement process. Since we’ve been making funeral arrangements with families for a very long time, we’ve had ample opportunity to learn the easiest, most efficient way to guide you through the process.
  • Our team is trained to handle all the details. And we do mean all of them. From filing insurance, social security or veterans administration paperwork; to greeting and bidding farewell to your guests–and everything in between.

Exactly What Happens at the Funeral Home?

While we can’t speak to every situation, we can tell you the bare basics of what to expect on your first visit to our funeral home.

  • When you come through the front door, you will be greeted warmly by a staff member. Names will be exchanged, and hands shaken in cordiality. Some words of comfort will be offered.
  • Once informed of the reason for your visit, you will be directed to the funeral director’s office and asked if you would like some refreshments.
  • Before the funeral arrangement conversation goes very far, you will be given a copy of our General Price List, Casket Price List, and any other appropriate price-related documents. This is done to ensure compliance with the Federal Trade Commission’s Funeral Rule.

The funeral director will then ask you a number of questions. Think about it this way: your conversation is intended to do a few things: 1.) Share accurate biographical details of the deceased to assist the funeral director in completing relevant paperwork, 2.)  Share information about the life of your loved one.  Things such as hobbies, passions, collections, etc…  anything that will help your funeral director create the life story for you, your family and friends, and 3.) come to an agreement about the plans for the funeral, memorial service, or celebration-of-life.

Clearly State the Facts

When it comes to properly completing death paperwork, and writing a detailed Colorado Springs obituary, accuracy is everything. So, when it comes to the first task, that of sharing your loved one’s biographical details, you’ll want to bring documentation of the following:

  • The deceased’s full name
  • Their Social Security number
  • Parent’s names
  • Spouse and children’s names
  • Maiden name of mother
  • Marital status
  • Educational history
  • History of military service
  • Work history
  • Hobbies and interests
  • Church affiliation
  • A list of organizational and club memberships
  • A recent photograph

Naturally, if you’ve failed to bring any of this information, you can always call us later to share whatever is missing.

Planning for the Funeral Event

The second step in the funeral arrangement conference, that of planning a meaningful ceremony to pay tribute and celebrate the life of your loved one is really at the heart of what you’ll be doing that day. In order to facilitate things, we ask that you bring:

  • Pre-arrangement papers, if applicable
  • Clothes in which to bury or cremate your loved one
  • Cemetery property information, if applicable
  • A list of preferred charities for memorial donations, if applicable
  • A list of pallbearers, if applicable
  • Desired musical and readings selections

What to Expect During the Funeral

Much like any other social event, a funeral service can present us with unique challenges–especially if we don’t know what to expect. Here’s a short list of things you can expect during a funeral:

  • Funeral homes do their best to provide adequate parking facilities. Yet, parking may be hard to find, so do your best to arrive 10-15 minutes early.
  • Depending on the location, the ceremony may be officiated by a pastor, minister, celebrant or funeral director.
  • Remember that the front seats are intended for immediate family members, so choose a seat near the middle of the room.
  • In some services, you may receive a copy of the funeral order-of-service, which details what will happen during the ceremony. It will tell you exactly which hymns will be sung, and specifically names the prayers to be read. It’s like a program at a theater or symphony performance: the funeral order-of-service is a very handy thing to have. If you’re given one, hang on to it.
  • Depending on what’s in the order-of-service, you will have the opportunity to participate in various activities. You may be asked to stand to sing a hymn or kneel in prayer; only participate to the degree you feel comfortable.
  • If the service is less traditional and more a celebration-of-life, you may be asked to close the service with a release of a balloon. Or you may find yourself requested to place a flower in the casket. Some families ask their guests to write a note to the deceased and place it in the casket. We suggest doing only as much as you feel comfortable doing.

Will People Cry?

Even at weddings and baptisms, people cry. Just like at a funeral, these pivotal life moments are very emotionally-charged. That means you can certainly expect to find people crying at a funeral. It’s always helpful to remember to bring a travel pack of Kleenex with you; however, the funeral home staff will also have access to Kleenex if you–or the person seated next to you–has a need to wipe their eyes.

But, here’s something you should also know: people laugh at funerals too. A funeral is a rich bittersweet mixture of sorrow and joy. In fact, when we’re at a funeral (which is fairly often) the behaviors of guests remind us of the well-known remark from Theodore Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss: “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”

You’ll see tears, and you may hear some laughter. Without doubt, emotions run high at funerals; sometimes there’s even a demonstration of anger by one or more of the survivors. Expect people to be on their best behavior, but also know that anything can happen.

How to Leave the Funeral

The funeral officiant will make it very clear that the funeral service is over. At that time, the funeral director and staff will dismiss those in attendance, as well as the family.  If the family is the last to be dismissed, it is good to give them the space and time they need to say their final farewells.

Guests and family may collect outside the location for some quiet conversation. If you are now ready to leave, do your best to say a sincere good-bye to the bereaved family.

If you choose to follow the hearse and casket to the cemetery or Colorado springs crematory, you’ll be given clear directions by members of the funeral home staff.

What to Expect After the Funeral

After a funeral, grieving family members often ask us, “What happens next? What’s ahead in the near future for me?” These questions are important, and we’d like to tell you what we tell them. Here’s what happens after a funeral.

The Early Days after Loss

The funeral or memorial service is over. Things have begun to grow quiet; maybe the phone isn’t ringing as much as it was, or fewer people are stopping by to check in on you. Your loved one’s death continues to become more of a reality. And the very thought of facing your life over the next few weeks and months fills you both with loneliness and a sense of dread.  It all feels like way too much to deal with, and we’d like you to know that right now it’s okay to take care of yourself first.

In fact, let’s just say that you’ve got two important things to do in the coming weeks and months. One, as much as possible, you need to practice exquisite self-care. Second, you need to spend some time focused on completing the paperwork which will officially change the status of your loved one with banks and creditors; employers, insurance companies, and mortgage holders.

This can be a slow process; so be prepared for the “long haul”.  And then there are those on-going obligations which you’re unable to shift: caring for the children or grandchildren; See why you need to strike a balance, giving a bit of extra weight, whenever possible, to “self-care” activities?

In those times when you’re resting, you might want to think of one or two people who would be willing to help you deal with the paperwork left in the wake of your loved one’s death. Be sure to write down their names as they come to you; early bereavement is notorious for causing confusion.  In fact, keep a pen and pad of paper with you to jot down those other important thoughts that will surface when your brain is in “idle”.

What is Your Relationship Status?

Let’s be honest here; the degree to which your grief leaves you vulnerable, as well as the amount of “paperwork” you will have to deal with both depend on the relationship you shared with the deceased. If you are the surviving spouse, a daughter or son–or have been declared as the designated executor–the responsibilities you have over the death paperwork will be much more extensive than if you were merely a loving niece, nephew or friend.

Death Paperwork

In her book Elsewhere, writer Gabrielle Zevin wrote “I have so much paperwork. I’m afraid my paperwork has paperwork.” Her words, while comical, provide a fairly accurate look at the amount of paperwork which may lie ahead of you right now. Those of us who are extremely well-organized should have less to deal with; the unorganized among us…well, that’s another story. Here is a checklist of the tasks you may be facing in the coming weeks:

Get organized. Locate and safeguard as many of the documents listed below (be sure to put each into in a designated set of file folders, and keep them within easy reach):

  • Birth certificate
  • Driver’s License or State Identification Card
  • Passport (if applicable; not everyone has a passport)
  • Marriage certificate
  • Divorce papers (if applicable)
  • Deeds and Titles to real and personal property
  • Veterans Administration Claim Number (or service discharge papers)
  • Recent Income Tax Forms
  • W-2 forms (if employed)
  • Recent hospitalization records
  • Insurance documents: Life, Health, Automobile (there may be more than one policy in each category)

17 Things To Do After the Funeral

1. Before you do anything, get a notebook. You’ll want to record the date and time of every phone conversation, email or postal communication; if you did it, write it down. Be sure to include the full name of the person you spoke to, their job title; and their employer identification or extension number.

2. Request certified copies of the Death Certificate. Speak with one of our funeral professionals to determine just how many you may need.

3. Check to see if deceased had left a will. This may require contacting the family attorney, checking your safe deposit box or home safe; or the state Will Registry.

4. Get the mail redirected, if applicable. Visit the United States Postal Service website to learn more about how to submit a Change of Address form or stop by your local post office.

5. Stop health insurance coverage. You may need to provide them with additional information, so keep your file folders handy.

6. Contact employer or union. Determine if there are any death-related benefits available, ask (and answer) questions, and change any relevant contact information.

7. Make sure to pay the bills. Some folks have their bills paid automatically, but if this isn’t the case here, you’ll need to take care of them before they become delinquent. If you fear delinquency, you may wish to speak with a utility representative to work out a payment plan.

8. Initiate probate. Even if you’re not the executor, if you have an interest in the estate, it’s possible for you initiate probate court proceedings (but only if the designated executor of the estate fails to do so in a timely way). You may want to find and hire an estate settlement attorney. For more information on how to find an attorney, read our Legal Advice page.

9. Notify utility departments. Depending on the situation, the accounts may be closed, or the account owner’s name and contact details changed.

10. Transfer title of real and personal property. Whether it’s an automobile, boat, motorcycle, RV, or plane; you’ll need to inform your state department of motor vehicles of the change in ownership. At the very same time, notify any related vehicular or personal property insurance companies of the change in status.

11. Close or modify credit card accounts. You will probably need to provide each of them with a certified copy of the death certificate. Again, keep that set of file folders handy.

12. Contact life insurance companies. Not everyone has life insurance; but some people have more than one policy. No matter how many policies were in force, you will probably need to provide each of them with a certified copy of the death certificate for each claim made.

13. Notify other policy holders of the change in “Beneficiary” status. If your loved one was a designated beneficiary on the insurance policies; investment or banking accounts of other individuals, then you’ll need to notify them of the death of a beneficiary.

14. Arrange to close or modify bank accounts. Depending on your relationship to the deceased, you may be entitled to convert into your name.

15. Change stocks and bonds into your name. Again, this depends on your relationship status to the deceased. And again, you’ll need to provide certified copy of the death certificate to all organizations involved.

16. Report the death to other agencies. Depending on the age or military status of the deceased, you may need to notify either the Social Security Administration or the Veterans Administration (or both). Other agencies of interest include membership organizations (professional or avocational associations, Masonic lodges, Rotary or Toastmasters clubs, gym and golf course memberships, Costco-type memberships, and dating sites–just to name a few).