When someone we know and love dies, we understand that difficult decisions have to be made during the hardest time.
We want you to know what choices are available to you, whatever your preference. We hope this page will inform and signpost you to the help you need to make the best decision, for your personal circumstance. Links to sites for practical advice and information is found further down the page.
Please be aware that some of the articles on this page may be upsetting and you may feel you need a friend or family member to read this with you.
Please watch the film at the end of this page, it shows the story of a family who made their son's coffin and arranged all aspects of the funeral themselves
BREAKING THE TABOOS AROUND DEATH AND DYING
MYTH BUSTING FUNERAL FACTS, Courtesy of Poppy's Funerals
Funeral Directors don’t know best, families do.
A good Funeral Director will support a family to have the funeral that’s right for them.
There is no legal obligation to use a Funeral Director
You can take charge of some, or all, of the funeral arrangements yourself
The vast majority of people do not want to do everything themselves - and a funeral director is perfectly placed to help. But by knowing you have the right to do it all yourself, you know you should have high expectations of the person you are paying to do it on your behalf.
You are perfectly within your rights to collect the person who has died from the hospital yourself, wrapped in a sheet, in the back of your estate car. You can take the person home and care for them yourself. You can complete the relevant cremation or burial paperwork yourself. You can order the coffin online, or make it yourself.
On the day of the funeral, you can transport the person who has died in an estate car to the crematorium, cemetery or wherever the funeral is taking place. You can carry them in, and lead the ceremony yourself.
The body can stay at home
If this feels right for you, this is absolutely possible.
The most important thing to remember after death, is there is absolutely no rush. Some families choose to keep the person who has died at home for a few hours, a few days, or longer than a few days. We have worked with families who have been told by medical professionals that they must have the body collected. This is not true. Whatever you decide the timeframe to be, there can be great value in saying goodbye in your own time. A good funeral director would support you in making this happen.
COFFINS - YOUR CHOICES
You don’t have to have a traditional wooden coffin
The options are endless: willow, bamboo, cardboard, a shroud or you can even make or decorate the coffin yourself!
Some people want an elaborate coffin with a quilted lining. Other people see the coffin as a simple container for the body. We have worked with families who have made and decorated the coffin themselves, or decorated a cardboard coffin during the ceremony as a way for people to participate. Or the body could simply be wrapped in a sheet for burial.
TRANSPORT - TRADITIONAL TO QUIRKY
You don’t have to use a traditional, black hearse
It could be any vehicle, even a family estate car.
The black hearse is an impressive, formal way to transport the coffin on the day of the funeral, and for many people it is absolutely what they'd want. There are others who find it old-fashioned or scary. Some people simply don't feel the mode of transport is an important aspect of the funeral and they'd rather use something simpler to save money. When you remember it is simply a mode of transport you realise almost anything is possible. There are motorbike hearses, VW camper van hearses. Or the traditional hearse comes in pink, the Union Jack, or even leopard print.
FUNERALS DON'T HAVE TO BE EXPENSIVE
The facts around the cost of funerals
Shop around or ask a friend to do this on your behalf. Make sure you’re not sold products or services you don’t want or need. Please read further down the page for advice on benefits and entitlements.
Funerals can be incredibly expensive. But they don’t have to be. The family can carry the coffin rather than employing official bearers. Crematoria regularly offer earlier morning cremation slots that can be half the price of the rest of the day. At our local crematorium the daytime booking is £615 but an 8.45am booking is £299.
You don’t have to organise flowers through a funeral director. Some of the most beautiful funerals we’ve been involved with have seen everyone in the congregation bringing a single stem which is placed on the coffin during the ceremony. You can pay for hugely expensive, quilted American caskets but you can also have a simple wooden veneer coffin, or simple cardboard coffin. There are many ways to avoid a huge funeral bill.
Down to Earth is a national charity offering free confidential support if are worried about paying for a funeral - visit their site for more information and a helpline
KNOW WHO YOU ARE EMPLOYING
Many independent-looking Funeral Directors are not independent
This is important work. Make sure you know who you are employing.
When a company buys out another company, it is common practice to keep the original funeral director's name. Nothing wrong with this as long as the family knows who they are employing.
THE WORK OF A FUNERAL DIRECTOR
Click on the image opposite to reveal full details on the work of a funeral director. We feel it is important to provide the bereaved with all facts, to enable fully informed decisions to be made.
PLEASE BE AWARE if you are newly bereaved, you may want someone else to read this on your behalf.
Thank you to Poppy's Funerals for your expertise and for providing us with these Myth Busting Facts.
Please note that The Good Grief Trust does not advertise or promote any single business. We are keen to share information provided to us by experts, in the hope we will help to make these difficult decisions a little easier for you.
FINDING A FUNERAL DIRECTOR NEAR YOU
Most people use a funeral director, although you can arrange a funeral yourself. To do this you will need to contact the Cemeteries and Crematorium Department of your local council.
We suggest looking for a funeral director who is a member of the Good Funeral Guide - please look on their website for more information
You are of course, free to choose a funeral director which isn’t a member, but these organisations have strict codes of practice
Click here for the Government's advice on what to do when someone dies.
Planning a funeral can be one of the most difficult things you ever have to do.
Funeral Map UK is a unique concept, bringing together independent advice on the things you need to know in order to arrange a funeral service, along with easy-to-find contact details for the various organisations and services you will need to call upon at this time.
Compare funeral directors
The aftermath of a death is always a difficult time, but more so if you’re charged with arranging a funeral. You may be like the majority who don’t know what to do first once someone has died.
Planning a funeral can seem overwhelming, so it’s essential to take your time and decide what’s important to you before instructing a funeral director.
This site offers a funeral director comparison service About the Funeral
FUNERALS - WHAT ARE MY CHOICES?
The Natural Death Centre
The world of natural burial is very varied, and largely unregulated, but those sites that belong to the Association of Natural Burial Grounds are all bound by our Code of Conduct, aimed at ensuring the highest professional and environmental standards.
In acknowledgement of this, the Natural Death Centre runs The People's Awards for the best Natural Burial Ground in the UK, celebrating the personal attention to detail and support given by the staff at natural burial grounds, which makes such a difference to bereaved families.
NON RELIGIOUS FUNERALS
Some local councils run their own funeral services, for example for non-religious burials. Alternatively, the following offer non-religious burials
The British Humanist Association
Institute of Civil Funerals
FUNERAL COSTS AND BENEFITS
The funeral director will give you a written estimate of the funeral costs. This will be made up of the funeral director's own costs and the disbursements, which are payments they make to third parties on your behalf. If you are not offered a written estimate please feel free to ask for it.
If you are asked to sign the estimate please read it carefully as this document may form the contract between you and the funeral director where you have agreed to be responsible for paying the bill.
Call Down to Earth if you are worried about paying for a funeral anywhere in the UK - 0208 983 5055
Visit this site for more information on the cost of funerals.
Bereavement payments- please visit this site for comprehensive information on your entitlements
You could get Funeral Payment if you’re on a low income and need help to pay for a funeral you’re arranging.
How much you get depends on your circumstances and if you are eligible
You must pay back the Funeral Payment if you receive money from the deceased’s estate.
The estate includes any money or property they had but not a house or personal things left to a widow, widower or surviving civil partner.
Carolyn Harris MP talks about the funeral of her 8 year old son Martin
Carolyn Harris, MP who lost her 8 year old son, Martin after a road traffic accident, talks about the vague memories she has of the planning and actual day of the funeral.
Carolyn and her family went through a difficult time to find the money to pay the bill and therefore when she became an MP, she was determined to try to help those who struggle with these costs, by working towards abolishing fees for children's funerals.
"Our films and photography projects reflect this but we also want to help you to find your own way of expressing the grief you have for your child"
Thank you to Jane Harris and Jimmy Edmonds for allowing us to share this film. To watch in full and learn more about the work of The Good Grief Project, please visit ; www.thegoodgriefproject.co.uk
Do you need to speak to someone now?
24 HOUR SUPPORT LINES
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|Cruse||0808 808 1677||Nationwide bereavement support|
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|Bereavement Advice Centre||0800 634 9494||Practical advice (9 - 5pm)|
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|The Compassionate Friends||0345 123 2304|
Open every day 10 am – 4 pm, 7-10 pm
|What to do after someone dies||Simple advice from the government regarding funeral planning|
|Natural Death Centre||Aims to assist individuals in the process of establishing new natural burial grounds, provide guidance to existing burial ground operators and represent our members as a whole|
|Funeral Map||Brings together independent advice on the things you need to know in order to arrange a funeral service, along with easy-to-find contact details for the various organisations and services you will need to call upon at this time.|
|About the Funeral||Helping find a funeral director near you|
|Humanist Ceremonies||Helping plan a non religious funeral|
|Institute of Civil Funerals||Helps plan a funeral driven by the wishes, beliefs and values of the deceased and their family, not by the beliefs or ideology of the person conducting the funeral. It sits between a religious service and a humanist funeral.|
|Bereavement Advice Centre||Information regarding funeral fees and charges|
|Bereavement Advice Centre||Advice re any bereavement payments that you may be entitled to|
|Funeral Payments||Advice on getting help for paying for a funeral if you are on low income|