How Long to Wait Before Arranging Funeral Services?

Arranging Funeral Services: How Long Do You Have?

When a death occurs, families have some decisions to make regarding final arrangements. One of the first decisions to make is whether or not to include a funeral with burial or cremation services.

End-of-life arrangements must be carried out soon after death, given the realities of body decomposition. If a funeral is preferred, it’s usually performed within a week, and ideally within a few days if there will be a viewing. This timeline can be stretched out if the body is embalmed, but only by another week or so.

In short, you’ve got two weeks to work with if a funeral and viewing are involved. This is true whether the remains will be buried or cremated, because the funeral is what dictates the compressed timeline.

However, if you choose not to have a funeral and opt for direct cremation instead, your funeral planning timeline can be much more flexible.

With Direct Cremation, Families Can Schedule Funeral Services Whenever They Prefer

Once death is confirmed, direct cremation services include the immediate removal of the decedent’s remains and transport to a mortuary. Approval for cremation can take several days, and once approval is confirmed, the cremation service provider will transport the remains to the crematory. Then the body is cremated and the remains are returned to the family.

Funerals aren’t part of direct cremation, but a funeral service can still be held at a later date. In some cases, families delay a memorial service for months following cremation. There are many reasons why family members may choose to delay a funeral, but no matter what they are, direct cremation gives people time to put everything together.

What Can Affect the Funeral Planning Timeline?

Funeral planning is a complicated process, before accounting for grief. If you’ve lost a family member and are working through memorial planning, the process can feel overwhelming. Some of the factors you may need to consider include:

  • The deceased’s final wishes – It’s common for people to specify their final wishes in a living will, and this could include whether the decedent wishes to have a traditional memorial service or not.

    Given the rising costs of funerals, many people are choosing less expensive end-of-life options for their surviving family members, to relieve them of any financial burdens. This is a primary reason why Americans are choosing cremation for their end-of-life arrangements. The average cost of cremation is lower than the cost of burial.

    Some people take this approach further and preplan their cremation. By preplanning cremation, you’re making your intentions clear to family members. You’re also ensuring your final arrangements are paid for, which simplifies things further for family members.
    If your loved one has specified what they want their final wishes to be, either through preplanning, a living will or just in conversation, then it’s up to surviving family members to make those wishes happen. This can have a big say on when a memorial can be held.

  • Other family members’ availability – Funerals are a must-attend for close family members, as gathering together can bring comfort in the grieving process. This can complicate funeral planning as you work through determining who can attend and who cannot.

    Some people specifically request a small funeral when dictating their final wishes. If that’s the case, contacting everyone and lining up schedules may not be a major concern. If you’re expecting a lot of guests, though, you’ll likely need to schedule the memorial for the weekend, when availability is open for most people.

  • The date of other important events – If your loved one has passed close to another significant event – like a graduation, birthday or holiday – then pushing the ceremony back may be needed so that sad memories aren’t associated with happier events.

  • Whether the decedent passed far from home – If the decedent passed in another state and if you want funeral services back home, it will take time to transport the body. You’ll also have to work with multiple funeral homes to make that happen.

    This can be the case when a snowbird dies in Florida, as the remains may need to be transported thousands of miles before arriving home. Embalming the body will be required to preserve the body en route and delays are common. This can push the funeral back for a week or longer.

With so much to consider, many people prefer to give themselves time to mourn, map out a potential memorial and opt for direct cremation instead. Direct cremation eliminates all of the challenges associated with funeral planning, as you’ll have all the time you need to figure out the details.

Direct Cremation Allows Friends and Family to Remember Their Loved One in a Personal Way

Along with the standard direct cremation package, families can choose to add an urn for their loved one’s cremated remains, which can be a part of a future memorial service. Families can also opt for a basic container that makes it easy to scatter the ashes. Direct cremation can also be rushed within a few days, to help expedite funeral services for any reason. 

When a loved one passes away, flexibility is key. A memorial has to be arranged, family members need to be contacted and schedules have to be adjusted. It’s all made more complex by the rushed nature of memorial planning.

Direct cremation services can help slow everything down, giving people time to grieve, and allow them to come up with the perfect way to memorialize their loved one.


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