Funeral planning in England and Wales
Funerals allow family, friends and others to pay their respects to the person who has died.
Funerals play a big part in helping people to:
express their grief
acknowledge the death of someone
celebrate their life
The ways people can plan ahead vary across the four nations of the UK (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) and there are also some legal differences. The web pages in this section are about the ways people can plan ahead if they live in England and Wales. If you live in Scotland or Northern Ireland you should ask a healthcare or legal professional to give you information that’s relevant to that country.
Not everyone gets the opportunity that I’ve had to organise my life and my death come to that. I’ve organised my own funeral, and if I’d have got killed in a car crash I wouldn’t have those opportunities. So I think you’ve got to be philosophical about it really.
Many people die without making any plans for their funeral. For family or close friends who are left behind, arranging a funeral can be stressful if they don’t know exactly what type of funeral service a person wants or how they would like it carried out.
If you tell your family or friends what you want, your funeral is much more likely to reflect your wishes. It may also be one less thing for your family or friends to worry about.
Although it can be hard to talk about, discussing your funeral plans with close family and friends can be helpful. They may have helpful ideas and suggestions for arrangements that may help your family and friends to celebrate your life, say goodbye and remember you.
Here are some suggestions of what you may want to include in a funeral plan.
Whether you want a burial or cremation - Burial is usually in a churchyard or other designated burial place. It’s also possible for people to be buried in other places, such as a garden. If you want to be buried on property that you own or in a place that you love, you can get information from the Natural Death Centre. The Natural Death Centre also has details of a number of natural burial grounds such as woodlands.
Cremation takes place in a designated crematorium, which usually has one or more chapels where a service can be held. After a cremation, your ashes are given in a container to your next of kin. You can discuss with your family what you want done with your ashes - for example, you may choose to have them scattered in a favourite place.
Whether you want to have a religious service or not - People who have a spiritual or religious faith often have a clear idea of who they want to conduct the funeral. However, you don’t have to have a religious service or a religious leader to conduct a funeral or memorial service. You could choose to have a humanist service instead. The British Humanist Association can give you more information about humanist funerals and memorials.
Whether you want specific songs or things read out.
Whether you want flowers.
Whether you want donations given to specific charities.
What clothes you want to wear - For some people this can be important. For example, a person may want to wear clothes that have been significant to them during their lives, such as a military uniform.
Recording your funeral plans
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I was very keen that my funeral service, when I die, would be just how I wanted it, and I’ve made that easy for (my husband) because I knew he would be dithering…I’ve changed it a few times because I hear a new piece of music and I think, you would know that would be really good, I’ll have that as well!
You can document your wishes in your will or you can keep a record of them and leave them in a safe place known to your family or friends. Alternatively, if you don’t want to write them down, you can simply tell your family members or friends what your wishes are.
Funerals can be expensive so you may want to pay for your funeral in advance by taking out a funeral pre-payment plan. You can find out more from your local funeral directors or the National Association of Funeral Directors. It’s best to look into prices first. Make sure that you know what services are included in the price as these can vary.