Making arrangements for a funeral while you are grieving can be stressful. This page has information on how to arrange a funeral to help make this easier.

This page takes around 5 minutes to read.

Establish who will arrange 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.

Find 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, but only independent funeral directors can be part of certain trade associations. It's 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.

It's crucial to look around for funeral directors, obtain quotes, and review feedback from existing customers.

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:

Planning the funeral


When planning a funeral, it’s crucial to consider the wishes of the deceased and their loved ones, along with any religious or cultural traditions to be honoured.

Families can also opt for alternative vehicles for transferring their loved one, adding a personalised touch to the proceedings, but potentially impacting the overall cost. Funeral directors and professionals are available to provide guidance and support in making arrangements that are meaningful and respectful. 

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.


Explore different types of funeral

With thanks to Memoria for providing their expertise and information on different types of funeral.

Explore the cost of your funeral


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.

Explore the costs of funeral expenses and end of life arrangements by reading this 'Cost of Dying' report

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.