The circumstances around planning a funeral understandably can make it a daunting and stressful experience because unlike many other planned events, it must be done under the emotional duress of a personal loss a well as in a relatively short time frame. It comes as no surprise that one of the most asked questions regarding the funeral planning process is “how long does it take to plan a funeral?” The answer largely depends upon any pre-planning arrangements that may exist, as well as any particular religious faith of the person who has passed.
In short, a funeral generally takes one day to two weeks to plan, but whether it is in a shorter or longer process depends on the following considerations.
Please view our Complete Funeral Planning Guide to get an idea of what all needs to be accomplished both before and after a funeral. We also offer same-day delivery funeral flowers, including wreaths, crosses, and casket sprays for families who need floral arrangments created and delivered quickly anywhere in the US.
Was there any pre-planning?
It is becoming more common for individuals to pre-plan their funerals as part of their estate planning. Both of these tasks fit together and the costs of the funeral can be accounted for and paid for by the estate. If your loved one pre-planned their funeral along with their estate plan then much of the work has already been done and family members and friends can focus on making those plans become a reality.
If you are looking into pre-planning your funeral you should keep in mind what type of funeral or memorial service you would like to have, whether your body will be buried or cremated, which funeral home and funeral director you would prefer to work with (remember to not pay ahead of time in case the funeral home goes out of business!), and if you would like an alternative burial (see Alternative Burial: Memorial Reefs) or celebration of life rather than a traditional funeral service, such as an open casket ceremony.
If the funeral has not been pre-planned (remember to look for any pre-planning documents among the estate planning documents), then the funeral will have to be planned by family according to what they think their loved one would have wanted. This process can take anywhere from a week to two weeks.
To learn more about why you should make pre-planning your funeral part of your estate plan, please read “10 Reasons to Pre-Plan a Funeral“.
Does the deceased have a particular religious faith?
Some religious faiths, such as Islam, require a burial within a certain amount of time. While this may or may not be strictly adhered to, it is best to follow the tenets of a particular faith if that is something you knew would be important to your loved one. The time between death and the burial or cremation may or may not play a large role in the funeral planning, so it is best to consider this first before making any other funeral arrangements.
What kind of ceremony or memorial would honor your loved one?
As with any event, the complexity and size of the event will determine the amount of planning necessary.
A direct cremation with only very immediate family can be accomplished within days. While a large funeral ceremony at a church with an open casket and a burial ceremony will require more time to plan. Remember to give some time to others who may need to make travel plans to attend the funeral (especially if there will be guests attending from out of town).
The amount of time needed to plan a funeral depends on the type of service, the deceased’s religious faith, and whether any planning had taken place before the death took place. If you decide to work with a funeral director, remember that they have probably done this hundreds of times and will know how to put on the proper ceremony within the timeline that the family wants. There are also various aspects of the funeral or memorial service that you can help plan on your own from the comfort of your home, such as finding music for the ceremony, ordering announcements, and flowers, and even the casket (all of which can be delivered directly to the funeral home). This could potentially save you time, as well as give you more options to choose from.
Although the idea of planning a funeral can be overwhelming, and for many, it is their first time having to do so with many unknowns. Try not to allow yourself to get too overwhelmed, take things one step at a time, and ask for help and guidance when needed.