Funeral planning in Scotland
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 someone's death
- celebrate their life
- say goodbye.
Adrienne Betteley, a Macmillan Cancer Support Programme Manager and Diane Miller, talk about planning a funeral and the benefits of writing down your plans.
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Not everyone gets the opportunity that I’ve had to organise my life and my death. I’ve organised my own funeral, and if I’d have got killed in a car crash I wouldn’t have that opportunity.
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 wanted or how they would have 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 ideas and suggestions for arrangements that may help them to celebrate your life, say goodbye and remember you. Here are some suggestions of what you may want to include in a funeral plan:
- 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 - crematoriums 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. If you want a religious service but don’t know who to contact, most funeral directors will be able to advise you about who to contact. 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 Humanist Society Scotland can give you more information about humanist funerals and memorials.
- Whether you want specific songs or readings
- Whether you want flowers
- Whether you want donations given to specific charities
- What clothes you want to wear - This can be important for some people. 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 plansBack to top
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). I’ve changed it a few times. I hear a new piece of music and I think, 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. The Dying Matters Coalition and the National Association of Funeral Directors (NAFD) have a form called My Funeral Wishes, which you can use to record your wishes. If you don’t want to write down your plans, 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 director or the NAFD.
It’s best to look into prices first. Make sure that you know what services are included in the price as these can vary.
Choosing a funeral directorBack to top
You may find choosing a funeral director difficult if there are several in the area where you live. Some people choose one they have used before. If you don’t have any experience of using funeral directors, it’s best to choose one that has a high standard of practice. Those that are members of the NAFD are regularly monitored to make sure their practice standards are high. You can visit the NAFD website or phone them to find out whether a particular funeral director is a member.