A funeral is a way of celebrating or remembering the life of a person who has died. The funeral ceremony may be followed by burial or cremation.
The funeral process is our final opportunity to say goodbye to a loved one, an occasion for family and friends to come together to support one another and an important element of the grieving process.
The funeral is also important as a reflection of the person who has died, and it may be important that the funeral is meaningful to them.
Timing and shaping the funeral
Is it the right time to start to make arrangements?
Be sure that the death does not have to be reported to the coroner, as this may affect the date when the funeral can take place.
You can only finalise the date for the funeral once the death has been registered.
A will or record of wishes
Has the person who has died left a will or a record of their wishes with regards to their own funeral?
If there is no record, do you feel that you know the wishes of the person who has died, and can use these to help shape the funeral?
Choosing a funeral director
You may like to appoint a funeral director - but you don’t have to. You can carry out the arrangements yourself.
Funeral directors will manage funeral arrangements and give advice and support. They aren’t regulated or licensed, but most are members of one of two trade associations.
You can check to see if a funeral director belongs to one of the two trade associations on their websites:
Members of these trade associations must provide you with a price list on request.
They can’t charge you more than their written estimate unless you give them permission. It’s not always clear from their adverts if a funeral director is independent or part of a group, so ask the funeral director before you go ahead.
Before choosing, you are advised to confirm the estimated prices stated and the services offered.
- a viewing of the deceased either in or out of business hours
- the type of coffin offered (the colour and style can vary and may not be suitable to your requirements)
- the times that are offered for the proposed funeral service (often, a ‘basic’ funeral will offer no choice of service times at the local cemetery or crematorium)
- if it is possible to purchase additional services (an extra limousine may be needed, for example).
Please note that prices are for funeral director services only.
Your chosen funeral director will make other payments on your behalf. You'll have to pay for these additional fees which are usually known as disbursements.
The costs will vary according to your needs and will include such fees as:
- cemetery or crematorium services
- a minister or reader for the funeral service
- an organist
- doctors fees (for cremation)
- newspaper notices.
These costs should be itemised separately on your funeral account.
Managing the costs of a funeral, burial or cremation
If you’re arranging a funeral, you’re responsible for the costs, so it is a good idea to check how the funeral will be paid for and whether the estate of the person who has died will cover the costs.
Read more about paying for funeral costs.