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After the Funeral Is Over: Your Checklist

It’s not uncommon for grieving family members to wonder what happens after the funeral. They might also wonder what the future holds for them after losing someone very dear. There’s lots of information available in terms of planning a funeral and the grieving process, but the information seems to stop there.

Here at Pure Cremation™, we want to support you after the funeral as well as before. There are still several things for you to do, and this checklist will give you all the information you need.

1. Hold a funeral reception or a wake after the funeral

A funeral reception or wake after a funeral is not a requirement, but an increasing number of people choose to gather after the funeral in a less formal environment. Family, friends, and other mourners can gather together and provide support. It’s also the perfect opportunity to share memories and stores and celebrate the life of someone they cared about or dearly loved.

People are also becoming more imaginative when it comes to organising such an event. It might be a full sit down funeral meal at a banquet hall or a buffet supper at a family home. You might decide you want to hold the funeral reception outside. You’ll find suitable facilities in a range of beautiful places such as museums, arenas, theatres, gardens, greenhouses, wineries, aquariums, and even sports stadiums. More and more people are also choosing to plan ahead, deciding how best they’d like to be remembered when they’ve passed away.

It’s possible to personalise the event and make it a reflection of the life, beliefs, and relationships of the dear one who has died. Here are some suggestions:

  • Display photographs, portraits, and other personal items
  • Serve food that was a favourite of the deceased
  • Play background music that has significance to your loved one
  • Arrange a group activity
  • Offer an open microphone for guests to share a memory or story
  • Create a tribute video to display during the reception
  • Provide a keepsake or memorial gifts for visitors to take with them

2. Organise a special memorial service for your loved one

A memorial service is an honouring of a loved one and very different from a funeral because there is no burial or cremation. It is a ceremony that honours a loved one who has passed away and an opportunity for mourners to say goodbye.

Funerals often leave people feeling cold and are not typically tailored to the memories and life of the deceased. They also tend to be very generic. A special memorial service is different because it allows people to show how important the deceased’s life was, and how much they made a difference to those around them.

A memorial service can be traditional and be held in a family home, social club, community centre, public house, or some other rented location. There are many alternative locations such as a theatre, football stadium, historic building, a favourite park, or a local beach. For a more intimate celebration, you could choose a place of special significance for your loved one and invite just a few close family members and friends.

3. Hold on to your happy memories with these memorial ideas

A memorial is a way you can cherish happy memories of a loved one, and it can also be a great comfort. It serves as a focus for grief or a place you can visit and remember the person who has passed away. Here are some ideas for you to reflect on.

Place a memorial bench

If you want to place a memorial bench in a public place, you need permission from the local authorities. It’s also possible to dedicate a bench at your local crematorium, cemetery, or churchyard. Memorial benches are a touching way to honour a loved one’s memory, wherever you place them.

Keep an online memorial to share with friends and family

A very informal way to hold onto your happy memories is by creating an online memorial. Use it to publish memorial news, tributes, and messages of grief. Families can use it to find support and celebrate the life of their loved one. You can also use an online memorial for communities to pay their respects, organise meet-ups and gatherings, crowd-fund for charities, help children and grandchildren learn about the lives of their relatives who have passed, and even bring separated families together.

Plant a memorial tree or even a whole garden

Green funerals and woodland burials are becoming very popular. You can use your loved ones ashes, mixed together with some soil as a medium for planting a tree. However, you should only use a small amount as ashes are not plant-friendly. They contain a high pH and level of sodium and could harm the plant if they’re not mixed with the right quantity of soil and organic matter.

The best place for the rest of the ashes is in a container placed in the ground near any roots. Take the tribute one step further and plant a whole garden around the memorial tree in loving memory of a loved one. If your loved one was an avid gardener, memorial garden ideas would be a fitting tribute.

Order memorial jewellery

Jewellery is a meaningful idea if you want to keep your loved one close when they’ve passed away. Several companies can turn your loved one’s ashes into memorial jewellery. Use the jewellery to hold the ashes or have something made from their cremated remains.

Wonder what to do with the ashes? If you like the idea of a memorial, it’s an option you must consider before the funeral so that you preserve some of the ashes.

4. Plan the memorial aftercare

Memorials require cleaning to maintain their appearance and to stop deterioration. If you’ve made the memorial from a polished material, it is usually easier to keep clean. You can give the task of cleaning to a professional cleaning service, or family or friends could look after it.

5. Handle the deceased’s estate with care after the funeral

After the funeral, you have the deceased’s estate to deal with. It is an executor or administrator who deals with their money and property, pays any taxes and debts, and distributes the deceased’s money and property to those who are entitled to it.

Check their will for details

If your loved one left a valid will, they would name the executor in the will. It’s always better if your loved one writes a will because then everything is laid down and those left behind know what to do. A record of wishes is also advisable, so that family and friends know what you want.

The court will appoint an administrator if your loved one dies without a valid will, or there was no will at all.

Apply for probate if applicable

If the estate contains a lot of money or property, the executor or the administrator may have to apply for a grant of representation to gain access to the money. You make an application for a grant to the Probate Registry. When there is a valid will, the Probate Registry will grant probate of the will. When there is no will or the will is invalid, the Probate Registry issues a grant of letters of administration.

Applying for probate may not be necessary if the person who dies had jointly owned land, property, shares, or money or only had savings or premium bonds.

6. Contact relevant institutions and agencies after the death

Depending on the circumstances, you may need to contact numerous institutions or agencies following a loved one’s death. Here are some examples:

  • Employers: To advise them of the death and determine whether any death benefits are available
  • Attorney: To commence probate or estate proceedings
  • Insurance companies: To apply for benefits, change, or stop coverage
  • Pension plans or retirement funds: To apply for benefits
  • Banks and other financial institutions: To change or re-establish accounts
  • Mortgage companies and other lenders: To change or re-establish accounts
  • Credit card companies: To change or re-establish accounts
  • Utility companies: To change accounts from the deceased name

7. Take care of their social media accounts

Shutting down a social media account when a loved one dies is not easy. Many people think a social media account gets shut down when it’s been inactive for a while. This is not typically the case. Each social media platform has its own procedure to follow.

8. See if you’re eligible for bereavement benefits

If your husband, wife, or civil partner has died, you may be eligible to claim bereavement support benefits. To get the full amount, you have to claim within three months of their death. However, you can claim up to 21 months after their death. The monthly payments will just be fewer.

9. Get advice from grief and bereavement counselling

When you lose someone you love, you might experience a range of different emotions. How long it takes before you feel better is a personal thing. Some people take longer to recover and come to terms with their loss than others. We all deal with grief in different ways, but it’s essential to understand that you don’t have to deal with it on your own.

There will be friends and other family members who can offer their support and several organisations experienced in providing support and helping people deal with bereavement, grief, and loss.

10. Celebrate your beloved’s life

Traditionally, funerals have been a time for those left behind to mourn a loved one’s passing. However, celebrations that pay tribute to a loved one’s life are becoming increasingly popular. The tone for “a celebration of life” is happy rather than mournful, celebratory instead of sombre. It will include memories of the deceased triumphs, relationships, and their favourite songs.

11. Mark their death anniversary

  • You can be as creative as you want when it comes to marking the anniversary of the death of a loved one. The memorial can be a small one or something much more elaborate. If you like the idea of celebrating the death of a loved one every year, here are some ideas.
  • Request their favourite song on the radio
  • Hold a favourite things dinner party
  • Host an annual burial ceremony
  • Visit their final resting place
  • Write a letter, poem, or blog
  • Hold a special remembrance ceremony
  • Take some time out and get away from it all
  • Look through old photographs
  • Light a candle in their honour

12. Take care of yourself and your family with a living will

When a loved one dies, people often think more about their own future and what it holds. The death of a loved one is a harsh reminder that life is not eternal.

It’s important not to forget about yourself, your relatives, and friends and make sure you’re prepared for what life can bring. Knowing that you’ve made the necessary preparations brings a sense of security.

One way to do that is to write a living will. In it, you state your wishes regarding life support and medical care if you’re unable to make decisions for yourself. Unexpected end-of-life situations can happen at any age, so it’s crucial you prepare a document like this.

By planning ahead, you can get the medical care you want, avoid unnecessary suffering, and relieve your loved ones of decision-making burdens during moments of crisis or grief. It also removes any confusion or disagreement about choices you would want people to make on your behalf.

Need advice about a living will, or want to make funeral plans or arrangements? Our dedicated team of professionals is here to offer guidance and support at a time when you need it the most.