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Bereavement affects people in many ways. Some are overcome with emotion, while others find comfort in having things to do, such as arrange the funeral. This guide takes you through the process.

Key questions to ask yourself

When you start making plans for a funeral of a loved one, it can be helpful to think through these questions to ensure you are moving in the right direction.

  • Did the deceased make their wishes clear?
  • Cremation or burial?
  • Is there a will – which may include instructions about the funeral
  • What sort of ceremony do you and other relatives or friends want, if any?
  • Do you wish to use a funeral director?
  • What will the funeral cost?
  • Is there a pre-paid funeral plan?
  • What paperwork is needed?
  • Who do you need to tell?

If you don't know the answers to any of these questions, the pages in this guide will help you.

What were the deceased’s wishes?

Knowing the deceased’s preferences is immensely helpful, but their wishes are not legally binding on the next of kin, even if they are written in the will. It is the only part of a will that is not legally binding. 

Most people want to follow the deceased’s wishes, but there may be reasons why that might not be possible. For example, there may not be enough money to do everything that has been requested, or the deceased may not have left space within a ceremony for a eulogy or tribute to be given, and the family may wish for it.

The stages of arranging a funeral

The next steps in the process are:

This guide offers advice on all of these areas and once you have chosen a funeral director it will be part of their role to give you plenty of information and help.

Page last reviewed: October 2017