Four Key Decisions

Four Key Decisions to Help Memorialize a Loved One

Despite the certainty of death, many Americans delay dealing with the fact and avoid funeral planning.

In fact, nearly 3 in 5 Americans aren’t confident they could plan a funeral for themselves, let alone a loved one, according to a survey conducted by

Created by the National Funeral Directors Association, the website aims to empower families in their funeral planning, help them understand memorialization options and support them as they navigate their grief after a death.

One of the main challenges in planning a funeral for a loved one is ensuring the service captures the person’s life and memories.

However, according to the survey, just 41.2% of respondents know the deceased’s preferences for a funeral, burial or cremation, and 26.5% have not discussed their preferences with loved ones, though they do feel confident their family and friends would plan an appropriate funeral or memorial service for them.

To kickstart the planning process, consider discussing these decisions with your loved ones:

Final Disposition

The final disposition is the way the remains are finally handled. Currently in New York State, there are three legal forms of disposition: burial (42.4% in 2022; NY), cremation (53.5% in 2022; NY), and natural organic reduction (NOR). NOR was signed into law in December 2022 by Governor Kathy Hochul. The State is in the regulatory process and how NOR works in New York is evolving. Therefore, facilities are not currently set up and equipped to perform this type of disposition.

There are many factors that go into this decision, such as religion, environmental factors, cost and more.

Service Options

Regardless of a preference for cremation or burial, how a family pays tribute to its loved one is also important.

There are a variety of ways a funeral, memorial service or celebration of life can reflect the life of the person who died, such as through pictures, location of the service, music and more. 


One of the most impactful parts of the service can be the eulogy.

Think about who knows you best and would be comfortable speaking. Some choose to write their own eulogy. Either way, eulogies can provide closure and honor a life.

After the Service

While services are an opportunity for loved ones to grieve and heal together, it’s important to consider how to keep memories alive, such as by planting a tree, scattering cremated remains in a special location or visiting a gravesite.

Any of these options can help a family continue to pay tribute to the deceased.

To find more information about how a funeral director can help plan a meaningful service and resources to help you understand your own and others’ grief and loss, visit

(Source: National Funeral Directors Association)

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