Making plans for a funeral

Many people die without making any plans for their funeral. It can be stressful for family or close friends to arrange a funeral. They may not know what type of funeral service you wanted.

If you tell your family or friends what you want, your funeral is much more likely to reflect your wishes. Although it can be hard to talk about, discussing your funeral plans with close family and friends can help. They may have suggestions for ways to help them celebrate your life, say goodbye and remember you.

Funerals can also be expensive, so planning ahead can be helpful.

What you might 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 to be buried in other places, such as a garden. You may want to be buried on property that you own or in a place you love. In this case, you can get information from The Natural Death Centre. The centre also has details of some natural burial grounds, including woodlands.

A cremation happens in a 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 or friends about what you want done with your ashes. For example, you may choose to have them scattered in a favourite place.

If you live in Scotland, has more information about this. The organisation Good Life, Good death, Good grief also has information about planning ahead.

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 contact your local minister, priest, imam, rabbi or other 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 a humanist service instead:

  • Humanists UK can give you more information about humanist funerals and memorials in England and Wales.
  • The Humanist Society Scotland can give you more information about humanist funerals and memorials in Scotland.

Other things to include

You may also want to think about whether you want:

  • specific songs or readings
  • flowers
  • donations to be given to specific charities
  • to wear certain clothes that are significant to you, 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. 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.