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Funeral planning can be stressful, and it will no doubt keep you very busy; the best way to reduce the pressure involved is to make sure you’re well prepared.  It helps to start with a plan.  On this site, you can find a comprehensive list of everything you’ll need to take care of when you’re planning a funeral.

First Steps

There is a lot of stress surrounding a funeral, especially when the loved one in question has already passed on.  You may find yourself overcome with grief.  At these times, it helps to have someone slightly more removed from the deceased to act objectively and handle the responsibilities of funeral planning.

If a death has just occurred, you'll need to follow some basic first steps:

  • Consult the will of the deceased to learn of any special or unique arrangements they may have in place.  You may even find that the deceased has already made arrangements, with a pre-planned funeral.  If the will isn’t being read until after the funeral, consult with the lawyer, and ask if there are any special instructions concerning burial.

  • Inform the following people:
    • Friends and relatives
    • Employer and fellow employees
    • Insurance company
    • Family doctor
    • Cemetery or other burial place (e.g. crematorium)
    • Other organizations to which the deceased belonged to (churches, social clubs, etc.)

Funeral Planning Choices and Decisions

When you start to plan a funeral you’ll learn that there are a number of decisions that need to be made, regardless of whether you’re dealing with a death or pre-planning.

  • Consult a funeral director at Hughes McArthur Mortuary.

  • Arrange a meeting with the Funeral Director.

  • Choose a funeral service location. A church is one of several possibilities.  If you choose a church, you’ll need to choose clergy.

  • Decide on a date and time for the service.

  • Choose the kind of service you want: a traditional funeral, non-traditional funeral, military funeral, etc.

  • Choose a casket (or cremation urn).

  • Choose a burial container or mausoleum crypt.

  • Choose flowers.

  • Choose music.

  • Choose the funeral car arrangements.

  • Pick clothing for the deceased.

  • Choose pallbearers, scripture readings (if applicable) and eulogists.


Planning a funeral can be a multi-layered process. After you’ve completed the initial arrangements, there are a number of additional things to be done:

  • Provide information for obituaries for Hughes McArthur Mortuary's website, the newspaper and social media

  • Choose a charity for donations

  • Arrange for caterers or others to take care of food and refreshments

  • Consider finding a babysitter for any young children who might attend

Charitable Donations

Charitable donations are a great alternative for families who don’t want to receive a lot of flowers, and are particularly appropriate when the deceased has suffered from a specific illness or disability.  For funeral planners who are unsure of what charity might be suitable to commemorate the memory of a loved one, there are a couple of online lists available.  A full list of American charities is available at

Charitable Donations & Religious Tradition

In some religions more than others, it’s an accepted practice to make charitable donations.  Whether or not donations are welcome may relate to religious views about flowers and sympathy.  The practice of giving to charity is more common in the Jewish and Christian religions than in others such as Hindu and Islam.  In Islam it’s customary to help the family pay for funeral expenses.

If you’re unfamiliar with the religion of the deceased or you’re not sure how your expressions of sympathy will be received, you should ask a family member directly.  If this isn’t possible, you can look up most traditions online.  You have to remember that even if the deceased was not an overtly religious person, they may have a traditional funeral for their family.

Donating to Charity at a Funeral

If the obituary invites you to donate to a charity, you can do this in a number of ways. If the obituary isn’t clear on how to do this, you may contact Hughes McArthur Mortuary and find out how to donate to the intended charity.

If you want to make a donation on your own, you can call Hughes McArthur Mortuary to have a card put out in your name, then make the donation personally. You can do so by mailing a check to the charity, donating directly or by paying through your bank. Hughes McArthur Mortuary may also have pre-printed envelopes that you can simply send with a check to the charity.

In some cases, Hughes McArthur Mortuary may provide for the collection of donations (accepting nothing but checks), which they then forward to the charity.

If the obituary instructs you to make a charitable donation in lieu of flowers or other memorials, you can still send flowers as a thoughtful contribution, while also making a charitable donation.

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