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Plan a Funeral in Canada

  • 03-16-2019

Options to Consider—

There are many options to consider when planning, or pre-planning, and there is no right or wrong way to conduct a funeral or memorial service. Some people like to put an individual stamp on their last rites—whether it's being buried.aboard their motorbike or in a canoe. Others specify, or their families wish to commemorate and mark the loss, by telling their stories with words, video, and music.

Your religion or choice of service/preferences will often influence procedures. Some of the items that you will need to consider will be pre-determined. Other choices may be up to your own inclinations or the wishes/instructions of your loved one.

You may need to meet religious requirements and ensure that the service is held withing a specific time period, for example, or that certain traditions are followed. You may prefer an officiant or humanist service, no service at all, or a later memorial commemoration.  You may also need to decide between burial or cremation, if no preference has been expressed or if that choice is available to you.

Guidance from professionals

A funeral director—find one familiar with the religious affiliation—is an excellent first port of call. These professionals are trained and experienced in guiding through the legalities. They can provide helpful advice and will know the considerations that need to be taken into account for the service of your choice and will be able to guide and explain the options open to you.

Funeral homes/directors often provide brochures or guidance on their websites, or will have staff on hand knowledgable in what must be done to meet the requirements of the local authorities. Their experience is invaluable in guiding you step-by-step to help plan and organize the service you wish for. Various elements you may wish to incorporate into the funeral will require decsions— from type of service, casket, or whether to keep or scatter the ashes if cremation is selected. Even deciding on music for the service or what to say in your obituary announcement can be overwhelming. Some of these concerns you may be familiar with or have considered—others not at all. You may wish to hold a private funeral and then a public memorial service—this usually means that the body is not present and is often held at a later time. Whichever route you choose, the funeral home is often the best place to start. 

Choices to be made when planning a funeral

From The Board of Funeral Services (which regulates funeral homes and other providers) comes an excellent downloadable booklet that summarizes the initial considerations.

A Funeral Home will generally:

Coordinate religious and non-religious funeral and memorial services, receptions, and provide rental facilities for the reception.

•    Remove the body from the place of death, wash, embalm and dress the body

•    Place the body in a casket and deliver to a cemetery or crematorium

•    Register the death

•    Transport the body to or from a place of worship/and arrange to transport the body elsewhere

•    Arrange for caskets, urns, vaults and flowers.

You may wish instead to deal with a transfer service, which is entitled to provide many essential services but not arrange or provide funeral services. Cemetary and cremation service providers meet different needs—but for your initial questions, the Funeral Home is a good place to start.


Documents and information you may need when planning a funeral

This government site provides a Consumer Information Guide Order Form downloadable 4 page PDF covering the many areas you may need to consider and information you will want at your fingertips when considering funeral planning—whether it's pre-planning or on behalf of someone else. 

It's designed for pre-planning but you can also fill in the blanks for the deceased if you know their wishes. It covers areas from:

  • Name, address, email etc.
  • Vital statistics—date of birth, social insurance number
  • Marital status
  • Partner's name (and perhaps previous partners if remarried, etc.)
  • Father's and mother's names/including maiden name
  • Physician's name
  • Place of current and previous residence
  • Employment history
  • Education
  • Hobbies/leisure interests/groups/offices held etc.
  • What you (or he or she) would like to be remembered for
  • Surviving relatives/family including siblings, grandchildren, other
  • Preceeded in death by and dates
  • Military or police service
  • Legal info such as Power of Attorney for property and personal care 
  • Will--and its location
  • Lawyer
  • Estate trustees
  • Safety deposit box and contact info
  • Insurers
  • Financial advisors
  • Real estate brokers
  • Credit card numbers and information
  • Where to find banking and financial/legal docs
  • Funeral or transer service information
  • Preferred musical choices/readings/any scripture and poems and by whom
  • Floral requests
  • Jewelery/glasses to be worn
  • Memorabilia to be displayed (awards/honors etc.)
  • Obituary to be published and where
  • Pall bearers names/contact info and also honorary pall bears
  • Memorial contribution designation if desired
  • Any final instructions ref cultural or social preferences


This site provides links to funeral homes across Canada by location, and related information that may be useful. Scroll down the page for funeral home links in the US for a comprehensive guide.




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