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Guide to Arranging a Funeral for a Loved One

When you’re faced with arranging a funeral for a loved one, it can all feel very overwhelming on top of your feelings of grief and loss. Preparing for a funeral is a very personal and emotional thing to do. You want to give them the best send-off possible but might be confused about where to start and what to do.


This funeral guide will help you with the process and provide some helpful tips to plan a ceremony or celebration of life that is meaningful and reflects the values and wishes you believe characterised their life.


Funeral arrangements in the UK


Your loved one may have left instructions about the type of funeral they wanted, or you may need to plan and arrange the funeral yourself. Either way, this guide to organising a funeral will help answer some of the questions you might have. 


Choosing a funeral director


A funeral director can make the planning of funeral arrangements more straightforward and bearable. Generally, people go to the local funeral director or the one that’s closest. However, there are more options than you might think. 


Choosing the best funeral director can be confusing as there are so many, and they all seem to offer the same services.


You’ve got plenty of time to consider your options as there is usually no rush to arrange the funeral of a loved one. 


Some of the things to consider include:


  • Think about the services you need before you choose a funeral director

  • Explore the different funeral director services

  • Check the funeral director’s reviews

  • Prepare a list of questions to ask the funeral director

  • Telephone the funeral director to check the ‘human connection’

  • Meet with the funeral director before making a final decision


It’s also important to remember that you don’t have to use a funeral director. The process of planning funeral services is relatively simple, and you get to be more involved and save a great deal of money. 


Perhaps you’d be willing to organise the farewell gathering, such as a celebration of life event. Then, you only need professionals to take care of the practical side of things. Pure Cremation is one provider that can help with this.


Arranging the funeral yourself


A funeral director can play a crucial role in organising a funeral, but there is no legal requirement in the UK to use one. You can arrange a DIY funeral, which can be a very meaningful and lower-stress alternative to what can sometimes feel like an impersonal process.


There are many advantages to arranging a funeral yourself. You’re able to take control of the ceremony as a family and make sure the wishes of the deceased can be achieved exactly. Costs can also be kept to a minimum and the deep personal involvement of the family may help the grieving process in ways that other arrangements may not.  


How long does it take to arrange a funeral?


Several factors can affect the time it takes to arrange a funeral. If time is of the essence, it is possible to arrange for a funeral service within 48 hours of a person’s passing. But, if no plans have been made, there are scheduling difficulties, or a coroner’s report is required, it can take a month or sometimes longer. 


An average timeline to make funeral arrangements for a loved one is around two weeks. This allows the family and friends time to make plans whilst mourning. There is sufficient time to complete the formal procedures required and arrange the funeral service. 


There is no time restriction for family and friends to hold funerals for the deceased in the UK. However, some religions do have specific time frames within which the funeral should be held. For example, if the deceased is a practising member of the Jewish or Muslim faith, the funeral service should be held as soon after the death as possible.  


All the documents you need to arrange a funeral


Before a funeral can take place, you will typically have to register the death. Once you’ve registered the death, you’ll get the necessary documents for the funeral.   


When you register a death, the registrar gives you a certificate that will allow the burial or cremation to proceed. There are different forms for the different parts of the United Kingdom for the majority of deaths (i.e. when the Coroner / Procurator Fiscal is not involved):


In England and Wales the registrar issues a certificate known as the ‘‘green form’ and you will also receive one free copy of the Death Certificate which will be needed to deal with the deceased’s affairs. You can purchase additional certificates.


In Scotland you will receive a Certificate of registration of death and a Form 14 (Required by the Funeral Director) you will also be asked if you require any extract of registration of death to cancel bank accounts etc (there is a cost for each one requested) 


in Northern Ireland you will receive a GR021 form giving permission for the body to be buried or cremated. You will also need a long or short form death certificate (ask your funeral director which is required) and there is a modest fee payable for each copy of this.


If you’re making the funeral arrangements in the UK, you must hand the relevant certificate to the funeral director. 


For a burial, you have to complete an application form to purchase a new grave or re-open an existing plot. These vary depending on the cemetery or churchyard chosen.


For a cremation, you will need to complete an Application for Cremation (a legal requirement) and the individual crematorium may have an additional form to capture your wishes about the service and the disposition of the ashes. 


If the Coroner or Procurator Fiscal are involved in determining the cause of death their office will issue the relevant forms for burial or cremation.


How do you plan a funeral?


There’s a lot to think about when someone dies, from arranging a funeral to dealing with their estate. The person may have left details about the kind of funeral they want, or you may need to plan and arrange the funeral yourself. Let’s look at some of the things you need to do. 


  1. Respect your loved one’s funeral wishes


You may have already talked to your loved one about their wishes, or they may have left a funeral wish-list, in a written document or will. There is no legal obligation to carry out spoken or written funeral wishes if it’s difficult to do so.


Nevertheless, many people find personal comfort in fulfilling a funeral wish for someone who has died, no matter how small.


If your loved one had a life insurance policy or funeral plan, then they might have already arranged and paid for many of the critical elements of their funeral. 


  1. Choose the type of funeral service they would have wanted


There are many options for choosing a funeral service, from traditional funeral services established by faith, a direct cremation, a memorial ceremony, or even no funeral at all.


If your loved one has not left instructions about the type of funeral they wanted or made their wishes known, you’ll need to decide on the kind of service. It should be something which reflects their life and commemorates them in a special way.  


  1. Prepare your funeral planning checklist


A funeral is a personal event, and people often have different requirements. There are many details you’ll need to take care of, from arranging funeral transport to choosing the songs played during the service.


If you’ve got a funeral planning checklist to refer to, it should help to ensure you leave nothing out.  


  1. Arrange the transportation of your loved one


You’ll need to arrange transport to the funeral. It doesn’t have to be a traditional hearse. Perhaps there is another way you can transport your loved one to the funeral. For example, if they were a farmer, their last trip in a tractor and trailer might be fitting. Similarly, if your loved one was an avid motorcyclist, being transported in a custom sidecar hearse would be a good reflection of who they were. 


  1. Set a budget for the funeral (Plan the cost of the funeral in advance)


It’s important to think about how the funeral will be paid for and the funeral costs. The cost of a funeral depends on the funeral arrangements you choose to make. It is possible to make provision for the cost of a funeral ahead of time using life insurance, over 50’s insurance, savings and pre-paid funeral plans. Check whether your loved one has done this as it can take away a huge amount of worry about costs.


  1. Coffins, funeral flowers, and extras


There are many extras you can add to a funeral, which will increase the total cost. If you’re worried about the funeral cost, consider whether you genuinely need to have additional elements such as funeral flowers, an expensive coffin, and other add-ons.


There are ways to organise a low-cost funeral in the UK without compromising care, respect, and expressing what made your loved one special.   


Direct cremation, for example, is a distinctive alternative to having a funeral and  It offers greater financial control and flexibility over how you say goodbye. It can be 60% cheaper.


  1. Plan the funeral order of service


A funeral order of service is a ceremony schedule that can be given out to mourners as they arrive or sent to people who cannot attend. There is no set order to follow, but it generally includes hymns, songs, readings, poems, photographs, and anything else that you’d like added. 


It can become a special keepsake for you, your family, and friends who came to say goodbye.


  1. Invite family and friends


You can call, write to, or email friends and family members about the funeral. It’s also possible to place an announcement about the death in a local or national newspaper. This is a useful way to reach people who weren’t in regular contact with the person who died.


You can also create an online memorial in the person’s memory and share it with people they knew and use the deceased’s own social media pages to announce their death, allowing others to leave memories and stories on the timeline. 


When you’re telling people about the funeral, include the date, time, and place of the funeral or memorial event. Mention any wishes about flowers or donations to charity. The funeral itself can be separated from the memorial service as a memorial event may be more suitable for children to attend..


How to arrange a funeral during COVID-19


Over the last 2 years funeral arrangements have been impacted by government guidelines. Always check these when making your arrangements.


Guidance is available from the government, via the COVID guidelines.


What is the cheapest way to arrange a funeral?


An increasing number of people are looking for a more affordable, no-frills approach to simple funeral services, such as a Direct Cremation. Pure Cremation offers a very low cost cremation held separately from the celebration of life event and so gives you control over the budget, style, location and timing of your loved one’s farewell.


If you’re ready to start making arrangements, and this simpler, more personal approach appeals to you, then call our friendly team today.  

Call us today:

0800 033 7737

Need advice or have any questions about direct cremation? Our dedicated team offers expert guidance and support and can help you get started.