A Comprehensive Guide to Funeral Planning

A Comprehensive Guide to Funeral Planning

Rachael Barber from Gordon Barbers Funeral Homes takes us through a step by step guide to funeral planning.

Providing advice and information as well as general support on all concerning matters.



Immediately after a death

When a death occurs, unless the coroner is involved, a medical General practitioner will issue a certificate of cause of death. It is the responsibility of the family to collect this however it may have been left at the nursing home for instance or be at the doctor’s surgery. Once you have the cause of death certificate you will need to register the death. This should take place within five days of the death occurring preferably in the district in which the death occurred. Whilst any member of the family or person living with the deceased can register the death, the funeral director is not allowed to carry this out for the family.

The registrar will give you a ‘green form’ which the funeral director will require and a form to send to the social security office.

See our What To Do When Someone Dies page for more detailed information on the paperwork and processes involved.

Funeral Arrangements

The funeral service is a way of saying goodbye to someone who has died. Funeral directors are there to take the family through all the necessary funeral planning arrangements  providing advice on costs and ensuring that the service is fitting to the deceased. Each and every funeral is different to reflect the life of the deceased and it is through the arrangements with the funeral director that the service will become personal to them.

During the arrangements the family will be asked if there is a wish for a cremation or burial. If the deceased had a will it is advisable to check this before making the arrangements so that their specific wishes are carried out.


Here are some things to consider about cremation: Cremation can often cost less than burial, the service can be held in the service room at the crematorium or a church. If the service is at the crematorium a strict time limit is enforced for use of the chapel. Sometimes families will ask the funeral director to book two service times so that they are not restricted for time on the day.


Here are some things to consider about burial: There may already be a family grave or plot which can be reopened. Consideration will be required as to whether a re-inscription of a headstone is required. The family may be asked if they wish for the grave to be available for other family members in the future.

Woodland burials are available in lots of locations around the country and advice regarding this can be provided by your local funeral director. In Norfolk there are two locations – Green Acres, Colney and Norfolk Bluebell Wood.

Personalising the funeral

The funeral planning itself will be made up of various aspects;

  • Music
  • Coffin
  • Transport
  • Flowers
  • Readings
  • Order of Service/stationary

The funeral director will guide the family through these topics offering information on cost as the arrangements progress.

Funerals are often based around family traditions or religious preferences. Funeral are arranged for all cultures and religions.The service can include anything that the family feels appropriate. Whilst the main points tend to be around who will take the service/ service stationary/hymns/ newspaper announcements there are other aspects that can be included such as a balloon or dove release after the service for instance.

Almost any music can be played at the funeral as long as copyright restrictions do not apply. Commonly people choose hymns or play CD’s of a favourite song or piece of music. Sometimes live music will also be played. It is recommended that the family discuss the music with the person who is taking the service on the day.

Funeral Announcement

You may want to have the funeral place an announcement in a local or national newspaper to tell people that the death has occurred and the details of the funeral. More and more the family are choosing for this information to also be made available on line where relatives and friends can send messages, flowers to the funeral and donations to a chosen charity.

The day of the funeral

On the day of the funeral the hearse will convey the deceased to the place of service. This can be via a particular address if the family wishes and they can follow in a limousine also if that is there wish. Chauffeured limousines can save the family the worry of driving, parking and getting to the service on time.

For those seeking a more traditional style of funeral, a horse drawn hearse may be arranged. Driven by experienced coachmen this may be a perfect choice for those who wish to reflect a bygone age.

In fact, at Gordon Barbers we’re happy to accommodate any form of transport if safe for example – motorcycle funerals honour and acknowledge the passion that motorcycle enthusiasts enjoyed in life and demonstrate respect for all bikers.

There is no set procedure for a funeral but traditionally the funeral procession starts at the house of the person who has died. The hearse can travel straight to the funeral and meet the mourners there on arrival.

The coffin is carried into where the funeral service is to be held and close family members are given the opportunity to follow behind the coffin and sit at the front.

The Wake

After the funeral, friends and family sometimes get together for refreshments commonly known as a ‘wake’, which often takes place at the deceased’s house, at a local pub or hotel. This is an opportunity to celebrate the persons life by sharing stories with each other.

After the funeral there may still be some things to organise. The funeral director will still be there to help with these matters such as an internment of Ashes or administering donations.

If you receive benefits you may be eligible for financial help towards the cost of the funeral. The funeral director should be able to provide advice on this at the time of arranging. For further information visit – www.dwp.gov.uk

The funeral can give the family a focus immediately after the death of a loved one, experience has shown us that once all the arranging and sorting has finished this is when people can suddenly feel rather bereft. If you need some advice and support, visit our Bereavement Support page for lots of local resources and services in Norfolk.

Here’s a heartwarming blog entitled ‘Arranging the funeral dad would have loved’ written by Kathy Lawrence, writer and daughter.