Making arrangements for a funeral while you are grieving can be stressful. This page has information to help make this easier.
Who arranges the funeral?
Funerals are usually arranged by close relatives or friends. If there is no one to organise the funeral it will usually be done by the local authority.
You can arrange someone’s funeral once you have their death certificate. The person who has died may have left instructions for the type of ceremony they want, and whether they want a burial or cremation. They might have prepaid for their funeral, or have life insurance that covers the costs. If you’re unsure, check the following:
- their will
- ask their close friends and relatives
- ask local funeral directors
- if you think they might have purchased a funeral plan but aren’t sure, you can try searching for it on the Funeral Planning Authority’s website
If they haven’t left instruction then it is up to the person arranging the funeral to decide how to do it, which can be with or without the help of a funeral director.
Using a funeral director
Many people arrange funerals through a local funeral director, and most can perform both faith and non-faith based ceremonies.
You can search online for someone who will perform the ceremony you want, however it is important that the director you choose belongs to one of the two UK trade associations for funeral directors: National Association of Funeral Directors (NAFD) or the Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors (SAIF). These associations have codes of practice and complaints procedures in case you’re not happy about something.
A funeral director will provide things like:
- the coffin
- transportation of the body to the funeral
- care of the body such as washing, dressing and laying the body out
- the necessary people to carry the coffin
Citizens Advice has a full list of the services a funeral director can help with:
Types of funerals
The funeral itself can be a faith-based ceremony, have no religious element at all, or be somewhere in-between. A good funeral director will listen to what you want and help you achieve it.
If you want a non-religious funeral you might prefer to use a non-religious celebrant. A celebrant is someone who works with the deceased person’s loved ones to conduct a ceremony tailored to their beliefs and/or preferences. It could have elements of a traditional funeral or none at all.
- There is a good article explaining the difference between a funeral director and a funeral celebrant on the Very Well Health website.
- To find a funeral celebrant visit Humanists UK and the Institute of Civil Funerals.
Funerals have a cost and can be expensive, so make sure you see a price list before choosing the ceremony. Do not sign anything until you are certain you want to use their service and you have identified how the funeral will be paid for.
You can compare prices between funeral homes. Once you’ve chosen, ask to see a written estimate with a breakdown of all the costs.
You might be able to get help with the cost of the funeral if you are receiving benefits. Check the government’s page on Funeral Expenses Payment.
Arranging a funeral yourself
It is perfectly legal for you to carry out a funeral yourself. There is a legal requirement for the body of the deceased person to be either cremated or buried, but the details of the funeral ceremony itself are entirely up to you.
A funeral can be very personal, and many people choose to organise very unique ceremonies. Brightly coloured hearses, glittery coffins, cardboard coffins you can decorate yourself - these all happen. You can even have a funeral in your own garden.
If you want to organise a funeral yourself there is plenty of practical advice on the Natural Death Centre’s website, including a list of natural burial sites.