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Complete Guide to Arranging a DIY Funeral

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It’s long been thought that a professional funeral director needs to play a crucial role in organising a funeral, but this view has changed in recent years.

There is no legal requirement in the UK to use a funeral director to plan a funeral, and arranging a DIY funeral is a viable option. It can be a meaningful alternative funeral to what can be an impersonal process and an option that is not overly stressful. People choosing this option find out first hand how easy and straightforward the process is.

In this article, we’re going to explore your options, detail the things you need to know, and guide you through the process of arranging a DIY funeral in the UK.&

What is a DIY funeral?

DIY stands for Do It Yourself, but a much better explanation of the term is a “Direct It Yourself” funeral. You get to choose the arrangements, enlist the help of professionals if you think it’s necessary, and put together a personal and unique farewell for your loved one. 

There are many reasons why you might want a DIY funeral. You might prefer a less formal celebration rather than a traditional affair. You may be looking for greater involvement in planning every aspect of your loved one’s funeral, because it’s a way of showing how much you loved them. 

You’re going to have lots of things to organise, although most of them are straightforward. Difficulties may arise because you’re feeling the emotional strain of bereavement, stressed about time constraints, and worried about your lack of experience. 

However, with the right preparation and planning, anyone who wants to organise a funeral independently can do so. 

Things to know before planning a DIY funeral

If you’re planning to arrange a funeral without a funeral director, there are some things you need to consider before you start. 

Think about gathering a team of family and friends to help you. It might be stressful and overwhelming to organise everything on your own, whereas friends and family can help. 

You also need to consider the following:

  • Car and transportation of the deceased
  • Booking a cremation or burial date
  • Completing the correct paperwork and submitting it on time
  • Purchasing a coffin or casket
  • Arranging the funeral service you want to hold

If you don’t want to organise all of the funeral, you can call on professionals for certain services. These might include looking after your loved one’s body before the funeral, helping with funeral transport, or buying a coffin.

Can you hold a DIY funeral at home?

Yes, it is technically possible to hold part or all of the funeral at home. If you want to, you can include the service itself, scattering their ashes in the garden, or treat the initial cremation and a celebration of life as two separate halves of a funeral.

Can you transport a dead body yourself in the UK?

Most people tend to use a funeral director or a cremation service provider to transport the body to the funeral ceremony, but there’s nothing to stop you from doing this yourself if you wish.

There are no restrictions on transporting a body within the UK unless you’re crossing the Scottish border. In this case, you’ll need to contact the Coroner or Procurator Fiscal first. It’s also a good idea to take the doctor’s certificate with you just in case it’s needed.

Do you need a coffin for a DIY funeral?

Coffins are commonly used for funerals in the UK. It protects the body, is easy to handle, and if the body is being cremated, it provides additional fuel for an efficient cremation. 

However, legally you don’t have to use a coffin for a funeral. A shroud is considered a suitable and affordable alternative.

The cost of a DIY funeral

DIY funerals are more affordable than a traditional funeral, which is something to bear in mind as funeral costs continue to rise year on year.

However, it is not the cheapest funeral. A direct cremation can be as much as 60% cheaper than a DIY funeral. Not only that, but it also offers greater financial control and flexibility over how you say goodbye.

All steps of a DIY funeral

Knowing what to do when someone dies can be confusing. If you’re arranging a loved one’s funeral, you will need to follow these steps.

Register the death of your loved one

You must register the death within five days at a registry office. In Scotland, you have eight days. It’s not possible to make any further arrangements until this has been done. A death certificate is one of the documents required for a funeral.

To register the death, you must take the medical certificate which has been signed by a doctor.

Decide on a cremation or burial funeral service

Deciding whether it will be a cremation vs. a burial service is probably one of the most critical questions when it comes to the practical arrangements for a funeral. Around 73% of UK funerals are cremations, but this is a very personal choice.

Book the crematorium 

&If you’ve decided on a DIY cremation, the next step is to book the crematorium. To do this, you’ll have to fill in a form at the crematorium. This form is called the ‘Authority for the disposal of cremated remains. Some crematoriums allow you to do this online. 

You might also be asked to complete a ‘funeral instruction form.’ This form gives details of the deceased and theirs or your preferences for timings and music during the ceremony.

Consider taking care of the body

f you arrange a funeral with a funeral director, the body of the deceased is usually stored in a mortuary or in refrigeration.

For DIY funerals, storing the body is something you have to consider. You need to find a suitable place. Somewhere that’s cool is preferable, and you should aim to store the body for no more than a week before the funeral.

Plan the transportation of the body

Transportation of your loved one is another factor that you will need to arrange. Whether you’ve chosen burial or cremation at a cemetery, crematorium, woodland burial ground, or another location, you have to transport your loved one there.

A hearse is the most traditional choice, but any vehicle will be suitable as long as you can secure the coffin within it.

It is not typical for a crematorium or cemetery to provide pallbearers, so you must ensure you have a team of family and friends to carry the coffin into the crematorium or lower the coffin into the grave.

Choose a final resting place

There are various options if you’ve decided on a burial. Some families choose to be buried at home or in a family cemetery.

If a cremation service is what you’ve chosen, there are also several alternatives when it comes to the best places to spread ashes. You might choose to display the ashes at home, store them in a columbarium, bury them in an urn garden, or scatter the ashes somewhere meaningful. 

Pure Cremation offers the option of scattering the ashes of a loved one in the Charlton Park Crematorium Garden of Remembrance.

Gather friends and family to honour their memory

It is perfectly acceptable for the funeral service to be led by a family member or friend, rather than engaging a minister or officiant’s services. 

There is also the option of not holding a funeral service at all but choosing instead to say goodbye through a memorial service.

More and more people opt for something other than the traditional funeral service and celebrating a person’s life rather than mourning their passing.

Types of DIY funerals

There are several options open to anyone who wants to organise a DIY funeral. The different types of funeral ceremonies include:

  • A traditional burial
  • A woodland burial
  • A cremation
  • Burial at sea
  • A memorial service after a DIY funeral service or cremation that might include an ashes scattering ceremony
  • A religious funeral
  • A direct cremation
  • A green funeral, burial, or cremation

Is a DIY funeral right for your loved one?

When you’re deciding on a funeral for your loved one, it’s important to consider whether it’s right for them and whether you’ll be able to say goodbye in the right way.

One significant advantage of a DIY funeral is that it allows you to say goodbye in a very personal way. If you’re concerned about the cost of a funeral, it’s also a more affordable option.

Ideas for a DIY funeral

There are many aspects of a funeral you can make personal in unusual ways. For example, you can choose to do something creative with the ashes. Here are some other DIY funeral ideas:

  • Arranging DIY funeral flowers
  • Personalising the DIY funeral order of service and making DIY funeral programs
  • Making your own DIY funeral wreaths
  • Designing and making DIY prayer cards
  • Arranging flower keepsakes
  • Making a guest book
  • Making DIY funeral favours
  • Creating an online memorial where people can share memories.

Getting help with the cost of a DIY funeral

If it’s your responsibility to make the funeral arrangements for a loved one, you will have to cover the full amount. However, you may be eligible for help with funeral costs. Unless the person planned their own funeral by taking out a funeral plan or pre-paid funeral with a local funeral director.

If you would like to know more about cremations used for DIY funerals, then please get in touch.