Funeral planning

Funerals allow families and others to express their grief and celebrate the life of the person who has died.

Arranging a funeral can be a stressful time. If you tell your family and friends what you want, your funeral is much more likely to reflect your wishes. It may also mean your family have one less thing to worry about.

The things you might want to think about when planning your funeral are whether you want:

  • a burial or cremation
  • a religious or non-religious service
  • specific songs or readings
  • flowers
  • donations given to specific charities
  • to wear certain clothes.

You can record your wishes for your funeral in your will. Or you can keep a record of them and leave them in a safe place that your family or friends know about.

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 (NAFD).

Why plan your funeral

Funerals allow family, friends and others to pay their respects to the person who has died. They play a big part in helping people:

  • express their grief
  • acknowledge the death of someone
  • celebrate their life
  • say goodbye.

Many people die without making any plans for their funeral. For family or close friends who are left behind, arranging a funeral can be a stressful time. They may not know exactly what type of funeral service the person wanted.

If you tell your family or friends what you want or write it down, your funeral is much more likely to follow your wishes. It may also be one less thing for your family or friends to worry about.

Before he died, my husband and I worked through all the practicalities, like funeral poems, music, and the burial site. I was doing what he wanted, and not deciding for him.

Lynda


What you might include in a funeral plan

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.

Below are some suggestions of what you may want to include in a funeral plan.

A burial or cremation

A burial is usually in a churchyard or other designated burial place. It is 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 centre also has details of a number of natural burial grounds, such as woodlands.

A 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 to your next of kin in a container. You can talk to your family about what you want done with your ashes. For example, you may choose to have them scattered in a favourite place.

A religious or non-religious service

If you have a spiritual or religious faith, you may have a clear idea of who you want to carry out the funeral. Even if you do not have a faith, you can still contact your local minister, priest or religious leader to discuss your funeral. Most funeral directors can provide you with contact details. However, you do not have to have a religious service or a religious leader for 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.

Other things to include

You may also want to think about whether you want:

  • specific songs or readings
  • flowers
  • donations given to specific charities
  • to wear certain clothes – for some people this can be important, for example a person may want to wear clothes that were significant to them during their lives, such as a military uniform.


Recording your funeral plans

You can write your wishes for your funeral in your will. Or you can keep a record of them and leave them in a safe place that your family or friends know about. 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 do not want to write down your plans, you can tell your family members or friends what your wishes are.


Paying for a funeral and choosing a funeral director

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 NAFD. It is best to look into prices first. Make sure that you know what services are included in the price, as these can vary.

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 do not have any experience of using funeral directors, it is 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 contact the NAFD to find out if a particular funeral director is a member.

Back to Advance care planning in Scotland

Planning ahead

Planning ahead can help people know what care you would like if you become unable to make choices yourself.

Making a will

Having an up-to-date will ensures that your wishes for who you would like to leave your estate to are guaranteed.

Your wishes for your care

When you are planning ahead, it is important to think about how and where you would like to be cared for.

Power of Attorney

A Power of Attorney (PoA) allows you to choose someone to make decisions on your behalf.

Advance Directives

An Advance Directive is a written statement of your wishes to refuse certain treatments in the future.

Mental capacity

The Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act 2000 aims to protect people who cannot make a decision for themselves.