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Planning a funeral is an exhausting and daunting task for many of us, with grief clouding our minds. When it comes the time to make important decisions, it’s easy to make mistakes, big and small.

Understanding common mistakes when planning a funeral well before you need to plan a funeral can make the whole process just a bit easier. Be prepared and keep reading to learn 10 common mistakes people make when planning a loved one’s funeral.  

When planning a loved one’s funeral, we’re so filled with grief that it can be easy to make mistakes, big and small. 

1. Choosing the wrong funeral director.

Losing a loved one is one of the most heart-wrenching and difficult things we’ll ever experience, so you want a funeral director that supports you through the entire process.

Choosing the right funeral home or director is crucial in ensuring that your loved one's final arrangements are handled with care and respect. It's important to research different options and to choose a funeral provider that you feel comfortable with, trust deeply and show you care and compassion through every step of the journey.

2. Not sticking to your budget.

Funerals are known for being expensive, and on average a funeral in Australia will set you back $19,000. Having a clear understanding of your choices and the costs involved with each part of a funeral can help you set and stick to a budget.

Some funeral homes are notorious for upselling or tacking on hidden fees and extras. Following on from the first point, the right funeral director will be upfront and honest about their fees, will respect your budget and won’t push you to spend more than you need.

Funerals are often a distress purchase, and in the midst of acute grief it can feel overwhelming to make any decisions, let alone shopping around for the best deal and service. 

3. Rushing to organise the service immediately after the death.

When it comes to certain decisions that need to be made promptly after a death, such as choosing a funeral director and deciding on the method of body disposal, the planning of a formal service can be approached with more flexibility and time.

With direct cremation, the service is separate from the cremation, so you can plan a service weeks or even months later. It also gives you more time to work through and process your grief, so you are more emotionally available to celebrate your loved one’s life rather than mourn their death. 

4. Not considering a celebration of life service.

Whilst not for anyone, many people don’t realise that a celebration of life is a possibility. Unlike a funeral, which is usually a formal ceremony, a celebration of life is often a more joyful event that honours the relationships the deceased person had with those left behind. 

The death of a loved one is often a heartbreaking time, but the passing can also be an opportunity for reflection, and reliving fond memories shared with the deceased, rather than a ceremony of mourning.

5. Not knowing your loved one’s wishes.

This is a tricky one, as it isn’t possible to know what your loved one would have wanted if they didn’t tell you before they passed away. Take this “mistake” as a learning opportunity about why it’s important to talk about your final wishes

Talking about death and what we want for our funeral not only helps remove some of that fear and taboo, but also helps us understand what our loved ones would want and being able to carry out their wishes. 

6. Not considering your loved one’s wishes.

Following on from the previous mistake, it can be a mistake to not follow through with your loved one’s wishes. For example, they specified that they wanted to be cremated, however you want to bury them instead. Another could be that they requested no service but you want to organise a funeral.

Whilst funerals are more for the living than the dead, it’s disrespectful to knowingly go against their wishes. See if there are ways to honour what they wanted as well as what you want, such as burying the ashes with an accompanied service, or holding a memorial service at a later date instead of the funeral they didn’t want.

7. Following the status quo.

Funerals are slowly looking more and more different than the stock standard from years past. We’re all different, so why should our funerals be the same?

Some of the most memorable and meaningful funerals include elements of the person they honour, maybe a favourite colour, something they collect or something they were passionate about in life. Avoid the mistake of an impersonal service and include elements of their personality.

8. Not planning in advance.

Many people wait until a loved one has passed away to start planning their funeral, which can lead to added stress and higher costs. This can lead to rushed decisions and increased stress during an already difficult time. It's important to have a plan in place, even if it's just a basic outline, so that you're prepared when the time comes.

9. Not learning from previous funerals and experiences.

We’ve had many customers tell us about how a previous experience attending or planning a loved one’s funeral had got them thinking about their own end-of-life wishes. Something that many of us forget is that attending a funeral gives us the opportunity to reflect.

If you’ve ever attended a funeral with aspects that you didn’t particularly enjoy, let those experiences shape how to plan and organise your loved one’s funeral. Or better yet, prepay your own funeral so you’re in control of your own farewell.  

10. Pushing your grief aside to focus on funeral planning. 

Rushing to plan a funeral in the days after a loss often leaves many of us pushing our grief aside. The problem with this is that it can manifest in the days, weeks, even months and years later as you haven’t given yourself enough time to process your emotions.

Resist the temptation to avoid or “push away” your emotions. There’s a fine line between healthy distraction and completely avoiding unpleasant thoughts and emotions. If we aren’t careful, pushing away the grief can lead us to experience more of the very thing we are trying to avoid, potentially even more intensely.

Take time to face your grief and explore the myriad of emotions you’re feeling. By taking time to do this during the planning process of a funeral, you can be more present at the funeral itself, and may find your grief a little less overwhelming and all-consuming.

Lessons from these common funeral mistakes.

If there’s only one thing that you take away from this article, it’s to talk more about the inevitable. No matter how much we avoid thinking or talking about death, the reality is that death is one of the few guarantees in life.

We know it’s uncomfortable, or painful, or even just a bit weird, but even one conversation about burial or cremation, or talking about what kind of funeral we would want can make things less stressful for our loved ones when the time comes. 

Planning a funeral is overwhelming, stressful and emotional, but by avoiding these things, the overall experience will be just that bit easier. And with Bare, we can take care of the cremation. You may wish to add a memorial or funeral to your simple cremation with a Bare Funeral. We can also assist in organising and conducting the service, while we take care of the cremation process.

Whether you are looking to organise a direct cremation, a memorial or funeral service, we would be honoured to support you. To find out more, visit our Bare website here, or call 1800 071 176.