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Funeral plans

We offer advice on how to plan the funeral service for your loved one, exploring the options available, including non-religious and humanist funerals.
4 min read
In this article
Who will conduct the funeral? What types of coffin are there? What should I dress my loved one in? Do I want the body embalmed?
Is it possible to view the body? How do I place an announcement in newspapers? Where will the ceremony take place? What transport needs to be arranged for the funeral?

Who will conduct the funeral?

If the faith of your loved one or family doesn’t determine this, there are a number of choices.

  • Religious minister: many will be very flexible, but will not want to include elements that specifically contradict their faith.
  • Civil celebrant: civil celebrants will work with the family and can include prayers or religious music if wanted.
  • Humanist celebrant: humanist funerals include no reference to a god. Humanists UK will put you in touch with someone in your area who can do this for you.
  • Member of the family, or colleague or friend: this makes the funeral very personal, but it’s also a considerable responsibility. It can sometimes be easier for everyone if the person in charge is slightly distant from the emotion of the event.


Your funeral director should be able to recommend local celebrants they have worked with.

What types of coffin are there?

Coffins can be made from many materials including:

  • solid or recycled wood
  • bamboo
  • woven willow
  • rattan
  • wool and other natural fibres.


Other points to consider:

  • you can buy the coffin from the funeral director or the local council, cemetery or crematorium
  • a carpenter can make one for you
  • caskets tend to be pricier as the lid is hinged
  • there is a choice of fittings, such as the style of handle and lining
  • if the coffin is going to be cremated, the fittings must be combustible.

What should I dress my loved one in?

You can choose what your loved one is dressed in for the funeral. It might be a favourite outfit or something meaningful, such as a walking outfit or fishing clothes. Remember that natural fibres are required for cremation, and many cemeteries prefer fabrics that are biodegradable. Bear in mind that shoes will be removed before cremation.

It’s not obligatory to provide clothes, as the funeral company can dress the body in a shroud if that is your preference.

Do I want the body embalmed?

Embalming delays decomposition and can improve the appearance of the body. If the body is to be viewed before or during the funeral, embalming may be necessary if the person has died after an accident or debilitating illness. However, funeral directors are also skilled at other methods of making the body look presentable.

 

Things to consider 

  • Natural burial grounds and some cemeteries won’t accept embalmed bodies because of the chemicals involved.
  • Before a body can be embalmed, the doctor must have completed the medical certificate of the cause of death, and the death must have been registered.

Is it possible to view the body?

In some cultures, it’s traditional to see the deceased before and during the funeral ceremony. For others, it’s a very personal choice. Not all mourners want to see their loved one after they have passed away. Your funeral director should be able to advise on this.

In some cultures, it’s traditional to see the deceased before and during the funeral ceremony. For others, it’s a very personal choice.

How do I place an announcement in newspapers?

A public announcement is a good way of making details of the funeral known to friends and acquaintances of the deceased who may not be known to the immediate family. Your funeral director will usually ask if you want to place an announcement in the local or national papers, or online. They can help you with the wording and even place the announcement on your behalf.

 

The cost can vary greatly depending on the newspaper you choose, and the length of the announcement, but these are typical prices (2018):

  • online only via a national newspaper: £30
  • online and in a newspaper: £28.20 per line
  • in a local newspaper: from £50.


What you could include:

  • the full name of the deceased
  • the town or city (not the address) where they lived
  • surviving family
  • date, time, address of burial
  • date, time, address of memorial service
  • whether the funeral is private and for family only
  • whether there are to be no flowers, family flowers only or the option of a memorial donation
  • memorial contributions, such as donations to a nominated charity in memory of the deceased, as well as, or in place of, flowers
  • funeral director’s name and address.

Where will the ceremony take place?

Will the entire ceremony take place at the crematorium chapel, or in the cemetery chapel where there is one? Or will there be a main service at a place of worship or other venue, and just the committal at the cemetery or crematorium? Cemeteries and crematoria tend to set specific time slots for ceremonies. If you want more time, you can request a double slot at the crematorium, but this will cost extra.

 

If you think there will be a lot of people attending the funeral, consider planning for the funeral service to be in a large church or auditorium followed by cremation or burial, which is attended only by the family and close friends. Or a private funeral for the family only may be followed by a memorial service some time later.

What transport needs to be arranged for the funeral?

You might want to use limousines provided by the funeral director for immediate family and close friends. This can relieve the anxiety around timekeeping, as the funeral firm will be familiar with all the possible routes and local traffic conditions. Decide if:

  • the funeral will start from the home of the deceased and follow a particular route, or
  • will everyone meet at the funeral venue?

Further reading

Planning a funeral service

Your funeral director and/or minister/officiant will help you to plan the funeral service, but here are a few things ...

Coping with grief

You may be coping with your own grief as well as that of a parent or other close relative or friend. Here, we explain ...

Last updated: 18 Sep 2018