Overcoming Procrastination on Funeral Planning

sky and tree with a bench

There are several components that make up advanced planning such as retirement planning, long-term care planning, and funeral planning. With so many areas to plan for, funeral planning may be often overlooked. 69% of adults over the age of 40 indicated they would prefer to pre-arrange their own service; however, only 17% had actually made those arrangements. The main reason for pre-planning is so survivors would not have to worry about them or pay for the services (Famic, n.d.). There is no best time to start funeral planning. Even though this may be difficult and uncomfortable to talk about, starting now can save your loved ones’ stress and confusions in the future.

Studies show that the lack of funeral planning is primarily because of procrastination, not because people are unaware of it. A growing body of research suggests that the procrastination is a problem of emotion regulation, not time management. People procrastinate for various reasons, such as having an aversion to a task, a fear of failure, frustration, self-doubt, and anxiety (Phillips, 2019). Dr. Hackett states, “we think we need a large block of uninterrupted time to make progress on important projects. The result is procrastination.” He suggests the “Swiss Cheese” technique which is to punch holes (like swiss cheese) in a complex project. “It will help the project move from the overwhelming to the reasonable category in terms of execution” (Hackett, 2015).

First Four Questions

Rather than waiting for the right moment, there are ways to break up the funeral planning process to start making progress using the four questions listed below. These questions can help us start thinking about what we want for our funeral and what to discuss about funeral planning with loved ones.

1. Do you prefer cremation or a full casket burial?
This is the preliminary decision to be made for any funeral arrangement. If you are clear about your preference, you are taking one of the first steps of pre-planning. You have just saved your loved ones from wondering whether they will make the right decision for you or not.

2. Would your loved ones appreciate the chance to visit you in a private setting prior to the funeral or burial?
Most funerals offer only a limited chance to visit the person who passed away, perhaps by bringing flowers while people are in line to pay their respects.

If you prefer to spend time with your loved ones in a private setting, consider having a viewing or visitation prior to the funeral or burial. The cost of a viewing is usually much less than a funeral or memorial service.

3. If you are considering of having a viewing, do you want to be embalmed?

While embalming is not required, the cost of embalming could end up being less than refrigeration depending on the length of the stay. More importantly, the risk of remains drastically changing prior to viewing is lower and slower with embalming.

Embalming is a process to preserve the body in which fluids are injected into the body to temporarily slow its decomposition (Embalming Explained, n.d.).

4. Where would you prefer to have your final resting place?

The location of your final resting place may play a significant role in how often you would like your loved ones to visit you. Have you ever considered where your loved ones prefer to visit you in your final resting place? Starting a conversation may be the first step to know what your loved ones’ preferences are.

Some may prefer:

  • A location close to their homes
  • To rather not pass it by on a daily basis
  • Outside with cool shade under a tree
  • Inside a mausoleum
  • At a memorial park or a cemetery
  • Scatter ashes in ocean

The Next Steps

When you are ready to start the funeral planning process, consider writing down your thoughts and preferences about your funeral arrangements. It can be just as helpful to communicate to your family that you do not have a preference to any of the above questions. If the four steps motivated you to explore more about funeral planning, please check resources such as the ones listed below and start having a conversation with your loved ones.

Remember, funeral planning is a process and does not have to be done all at once. Use these four questions to help you start thinking about and discussing your funeral planning wishes. Once you have made more decisions and arrangements for your funeral, you can document them or consult with an attorney on how to make your wishes known.


New Study Shows Americans Recognize the Role of Memorialization in Healthy Healing Following the Death of a Loved One. (n.d.) Retrieved from

Procrastination: An emotional struggle. (2019). Retrieved from

Hackett in Management: “Swiss Cheese” Approach. (2015)

Embalming Explained, Answers to Frequently Asked Questions. (n.d.)