The median cost of a funeral in the United States is nearly $9,000. That’s a lot of money and a large burden to think about.

While no one wants to think about death, planning ahead will help shift some of that burden off of your loved ones and give you some peace.

Planning your own funeral might sound morbid, but it’s more common than you’d think. And, luckily for you, it’s not that hard.

It might even be easier before you’re gone. Consider this your funeral planning checklist.

Why Plan Your Funeral?

While only 21% of people total have put planning into their funerals, about 16% of adults under 39 think that you should plan for your death before you’re 40.

Planning ahead will ease the burden on your family, which can be great and incredibly stressful, but it also benefits you. Not everyone has the same beliefs or post-death wishes. Planning your funeral allows you to make sure that everything goes your way.

Whether you want a traditional or religious service with a casket or a grand party with a cremation, or want to have your body donated to science, you get to make these choices instead of just hoping that your family follows through with your wishes.

It may also ease some of the anxieties you have around death. Getting your affairs sorted can be relaxing, and knowing that your work in that area is complete gives you time to think about other things.

So how do you do it?

Decide Where You Will Go

You’re going to make some choices here. First:

  • Burial
  • Cremation
  • Donation

There are other options, but they’re less common, and if you’re after one of them, you likely already know more about them than the average person. The cost varies between these options pretty widely, but that shouldn’t be the only factor in your choice.


If you choose a burial, there are options for where that can happen.

You can choose to be placed in a crypt or mausoleum, of which there are several varieties (both public and private). This way, the body won’t be in the ground if this is a factor for you. Or, if there’s a family crypt, this may be important.

You can have an in-ground burial in several different ways. The standard one is what most people think of when they think of a burial, where a casket is placed in the ground.

There’s also a natural burial where the body is placed directly in the ground with no preservation or casket (unless it is biodegradable) so that it may decompose naturally.


If you choose to be cremated, the process is a little bit different, but much of the same still applies.

You can read more now about how the body is prepared for cremation if that would put your mind at ease about the process itself.

Many people choose a cremation because of cost, but it’s no less valid than a burial and many of the options for the remains are the same. While the in-ground options aren’t available, they’re replaced with the opportunity to scatter ashes.

It’s best to do it somewhere far away from people, like the ocean. But many people try to go to a special place for the deceased.

You can plan this out yourself when you’re planning your funeral. Just try not to make it too hard on your loved ones.


Many people choose to donate their bodies to science. As this is a generous thing to do, there are generally no fees involved with this (aside from fees for a viewing, if you choose to have one).

There are many different ways that a body may be used once it’s donated, and you generally don’t have a say in the matter. That said, you can rest easy knowing that you’re making a contribution to science and healthcare worldwide.

Consider the Funeral Itself

Do you want a viewing? Where is it going to be?

Many viewings and funerals are held at funeral homes or places of worship, but really, anywhere is an option so long as you’re legally allowed to be there or the owner of the building signs off on it.

The Fun Stuff

“Fun” might not be the right word, but this is where things get a lot less tense. There’s a lot that goes into this, but it’s just like planning a party. Think of this as the fun part of your funeral planning checklist.

You’re going to need standard party things, like decorations, flowers, music, and food. These things can all be planned far ahead of time.

You’re going to have to consider your reception and your memorial, and who you’d like in attendance, as well as who you’d like to take care of this entire process.

You get to pick your final outfit and any jewelry or accessories that you might want to be buried in (or wear to a viewing). You also get to pick out your headstone and casket or urn for your final resting place.

These are all minor details and matter much less than the big decisions that other people may feel uncomfortable making for you. This is the most fun part of the planning though, so you should get to enjoy it.

The Money

To ensure that your funeral costs don’t fall on your family, potentially leaving them in debt, plan ahead. You have options:

  • Life insurance: There are all kinds of policies available, even ones that only cover funeral costs. Find one that suits your needs.
  • Savings: Putting money aside (if you have it) for a funeral is a great option.
  • Pre-need: Basically, paying off the funeral over time with a specific funeral home. It’s like putting a down payment on it.

Have You Started Your Funeral Planning Checklist?

Death can be scary, but planning for it doesn’t have to be. Planning your funeral is just like planning a party for yourself, and it can give you the peace of mind that your family is safe from the stress and financial burden of the process. The funeral planning checklist helps you help them.

For more information on cremation services, visit our website. While there are many options for you to consider, it’s best to get all of the information you can before making a decision. Being well-informed is the best way to feel confident in your choices.