Organising the funeral of loved ones can be daunting, but it’s important to get it right and in a way that befits their memory.
You may have spoken to your loved ones before they died about their preferences: the type of ceremony they want and any specific details that should be included. In fact, if they were really organised they might have planned the whole thing. As this is not the norm, you will need to discuss this important matter with people in the know. To help you do that, you will find below some guidelines that we hope will make the process clearer.
Most people choose to use the services of a funeral director. Their experience and knowledge allow them to provide good advice and, usually, an excellent service. However, you can choose a DIY funeral, but this will take more of your time and you will need to make arrangements with the local authority. Usually, people chose a funeral director via recommendation, if you want to check out their credentials please check via either The National Association of Funeral Directors or the National Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors.
Burial or Cremation
This decision may have been made ahead of time by the deceased, but if not the executor to the will or next of kin will need to decide.
By law, bodies must be either cremated or buried, including decisions about the place and method. However, considerable latitude is permitted. For example, after cremation, your loved one’s ashes can be scattered in a public place, placed in a family grave or even kept at home. A burial can take place in official graveyards or in other places such as designated woodlands.
What type of service
Do you want a religious or non-religious service? In fact, the choice runs the gamut from very religious to those who don’t belong to any faith. Accordingly, there are services available to reflect your preference.
For religious services contact your local place of worship. The British Humanist Society are a good source of information for alternative services, and they also provide “celebrants” to lead a service.
Most people opt for a black hearse, possibly followed by limousines for the family. However, other modes of transport are available which the family might think to reflect better the life of the deceased, such as a white hearse or perhaps, more quirkily, a motorbike and sidecar which is adapted to carry a coffin. There are plenty of alternatives and it will depend on what is available in the area where you live, as well as the costs involved.
Flowers are very much part of the British funeral tradition and are seen as being essential. Flowers for a funeral can be very expensive and need to be carefully budgeted. Bearing this in mind, many families decide to only have family flowers at the service. Other mourners are normally asked for a donation to be made to a designated charity, instead of flowers.
Order of Service
The service proceeds along pre-planned series of readings, prayers if desired, music and reflections on the life of the deceased.
The readings are chosen to reflect the personality of the deceased and are chosen to allow those who attend some comfort. There is always advice from a funeral director or a celebrant if you get stuck about appropriate choices. There is also lots of advice on-line. Two recommended sites are Much Loved and Natural Endings.
It is customary to have a speech which celebrates the life of the departed. The eulogy (derived from Greek and meaning Good Words) is usually written and read by a member of the family or close friend. It gives a flavour of the person’s life and legacy. It paints a complete picture of the person, highlighting many aspects of the person which might not be known to all the attendees.
Eulogising someone very close is very emotional. Sometimes, the words are written by the family but delivered by the leader of the service.
After the service
Gathering the mourners after the service is customary. Normally, the family will host a reception, depending on the nature of the service, costs and ease of transport.
Paying for a funeral
A funeral is expensive. The average cost is about £ 3000, but costs are expected to rise rapidly. One of the ways many families manage this is by arranging a pre-paid plan, paying for the essentials up front. Here is a blog written recently which gives details of how this can be arranged.