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Arranging a Funeral

Arranging a funeral - a step-by-step guide

Last updated: 28 April 2022

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If you are visiting this page because someone close to you has died, we are sorry for your loss. We hope that these steps will give you all of the information that you need to get started on arranging and organising your loved one’s funeral.

There are several things that have to be done straight away. If you have not yet registered the death and received a death certificate, you should do that first. Read more about registering the death

1. Find out any funeral wishes or instructions

If you were close to the person who has died, you may have a good idea about what kind of funeral they wanted. They may also have written down their funeral wishes, either in their will, or using an online service. You may discover that your loved one had taken out a funeral plan, which should cover part or all of the cost of the funeral.

2. Choose a funeral director

An established and experienced funeral director can help unburden you from much of the stress of arranging a funeral, so you can focus on the things that are most important to you.

A good funeral director’s priority is to listen and support you and guide you through any complicated steps you may have to take. Whether you want a full traditional funeral, a green burial, a unique celebration of life or something low-key, a good funeral director can help.

Just like families, every funeral home is unique, so you may find it helpful to compare funeral directors to find the funeral home that’s ideal for you and your family. As a further help, many funeral homes on Funeral Guide have been reviewed by bereaved families who have used their services. Compare local funeral directors now to begin making funeral arrangements for your loved one.

3. Choose burial or cremation

After you have chosen a funeral director, you can start arranging the service itself. The first thing that you’ll have to choose is whether to arrange a burial or a cremation. You can also choose to have a direct cremation. This is a lower cost option where you receive your loved one’s ashes directly from the funeral director, with no ceremony.

4. Work out how much the funeral will cost

It is no secret that funerals can often be expensive. With the average funeral in the UK costing over £4,000, it is important that you know both how much the funeral will cost, and how it will be paid for. If your loved one had a funeral plan or a life insurance policy, this will be used to cover some, or all, of the cost.

The costs of the funeral can also be taken from the estate of your loved one - if this is the case the executor of the estate will take care of the financial side of the funeral.

If you are struggling with the cost of the funeral, there are many charities that may be able to help. You could also look at government schemes that may be able to help.

5. Arrange the service

As part of their professional services, funeral directors are experts at handling the paperwork, logistics and practical elements involved in arranging a funeral to ensure that everything runs smoothly and happens when it is supposed to.

When it comes to planning the funeral service, a good funeral director can also help and guide you, as you consider the most fitting way to mourn your loved one, or celebrate their life.

There are lots of elements to think about, from who will deliver the eulogy, who will officiate and what readings will be made, to more practical issues such as transport and flowers. Remember that the funeral service is a time to remember and celebrate the person who has died, as well as an opportunity for people who loved them to join in mourning.

For a more in-depth guide to planning the service, please read our article on How to Plan a Funeral Service.

6. Set a date and let people know

Working with your funeral director, you will be able to choose a date to hold the funeral. Usually, the funeral will take place within a week of the death but depending on the crematorium or cemetery, you may have to wait for slightly longer. Sometimes the timing of the funeral can be determined by religious or cultural factors.

7. Arrange the wake

A wake, or funeral reception, is a traditional event that takes place after the funeral service, and serves as a way for family and friends to come together and celebrate the person who has died. The wake could be held anywhere, from a favourite pub or club, to the house of a friend or family member. There is no set format, but often some food and drinks are served, and memories of the person who has died are shared.

Our helpful articles about planning a funeral service provide much more information about other things to consider when you are arranging a funeral. From popular funeral hymns and poems for a funeral, to the many ways in which spirit, faith and individual personality can play an important part in arranging a funeral service.

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