Funeral planning can feel overwhelming, but there are people around you to support you. While it can seem like it is your responsibility to take on the weight of the funeral arrangements, remember that you are one of the mourners as well. Sometimes you are not given the amount of time you need to destress, and you don't want to cause delays for the burial. With these circumstances, it is perfectly okay to ask for other's availability to assist with the funeral service and planning. Whether close family members or more distant relatives, there are many ways you can ask for help during these difficult times.
Ask Friends To Help
As you start talking to the funeral director at the funeral home, many decisions are thrown at you. Do you want a cremation with an urn for the ashes? What about the cemetery, memorial service, funeral reception, and wake? Traditional funeral with an open casket or a celebration of life? What day of the week should it be on; do you want a Saturday or Sunday weekend booking? The funeral planning process is full of decisions, but you don't have to do it alone.
Create a checklist of what you need to decide for the funeral ceremony, and put out the request for volunteers to help. Once you have those willing, you can show them your checklist and ask them what their skills are. Maybe your aunt is great at paperwork and can help you through that process. You may have a friend that knows a lot about the coffin purchasing process that can help you through that. Regardless of how they assist, having some support can make the planning phase much less stressful.
Get Someone Else to Clean Up
Often overlooked, cleaning up after your event is a task you may want to avoid. The last thing you want to do while others are sharing memories is picking up cups and trash. There are a few avenues you can take to resolve this. First, if you have a friend or family member that would be willing to sacrifice their time as they are less close to the deceased, that can be a great lower-cost option.
If you don't want to have someone you know take over the clean-up, you have other options. First, you can always hire a cleaning service to handle the after-event cleaning. This extra help leaves space for you and attendees to take as much time as you'd like together after the event without having to worry. Alternatively, you can rent an event space that will handle the cleaning for you. This option works well for those who can commit to a rent time slot and don't mind adhering to any space requirements.
Don't Stress About the Food
Food is an area that can be really particular. From dietary needs to fussing about a spread that you think the deceased would have loved, this is an area that is often over-examined. Remember that the food isn't the focus. The only thing you need to be worrying about is spending time with your loved ones. Stressing over small details such as food is just one example of how things can easily get blown out of proportion.
When thinking about what you want to do for the meal, reach out to the guests. A cheap alternative is to do things potluck style. Attendees can then pick items they think are appropriate and that they will eat, which takes the stress of making a decision out of your hands. It also is essential to consider any severe food allergies when asking people about different food ideas. If you plan on ordering, survey some of those coming to help you make a decision and fit food requirements.
Let The Guests Set the Playlist
Picking music can be tricky, especially when emotions are running high. This decision is a great area to turn over to others rather than taking the task on yourself. Ask those close to the deceased if they have any suggestions, and make a playlist that way. Another great option is to create a playlist on a streaming site like Spotify and create a collaborative playlist where people can suggest new additions easily. Add those you think are appropriate and ask them to add a handful of songs that inspire nostalgia and positive memories. This process is easier for you and allows everyone to add pieces they think are special to the event and their experiences. Then, you can edit the list to make it more cohesive before using it.
Crowdsource the Photos
Flipping through scrapbooks and photographs can be a very tough task. Just like picking music, this is a perfect opportunity to ask for help while also letting others feel involved. If most of the photos are digital, you can have people upload their favorites to a sharable platform such as Google Drive. Everyone can pick and choose the moments that are special to them. This method may even lead to some lesser-known photos and stories being discovered.
To further help you with your planning, you can use these photos as a mood board to start picking what colors to plan the funeral around. Maybe the deceased always wore a specific tone or spent a lot of time in the wilderness with greenery around. You can use these moments as inspiration for your other tasks. For example, maybe a photo with specific flowers is your inspiration for the event's floral arrangements. When picking cloth coloring and other decor, you can take inspiration from colors within some of your favorite pictures.
So How Long Should it Take?
Funeral planning can take a long time if you do it alone, but by reaching out to those around you, the task becomes a lot more manageable. Depending on how much assistance you get, planning can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. Two weeks is an average time frame you can expect for getting everything put together. Don't stress if the process takes longer, especially if you have to plan it during the pandemic. Take the time you need, and try not to feel too rushed as you plan.
Remember to take care of yourself while planning the funeral. Reaching out to get others' help not only makes the decision-making easier but surrounds you with those who care throughout the process. By coming together as a community of people who loved the deceased, you can support each other throughout the healing process, all while reflecting and honoring the life at the funeral. Hopefully, these suggestions have given you some ideas for how you can involve others in the process and make things less stressful for yourself.