Funeral arrangements

A funeral or memorial service allows you to get together with relatives and friends to remember the person who has died.

Most people use the help of a funeral director when planning a funeral. But you and your relatives or friends can make the arrangements for the funeral and burial yourself, if you would rather.

The person who has died may have left instructions or told you about what they would like at their funeral. If they haven’t, you can think about what they might have wanted. You do not need to have a religious leader to conduct a funeral, and it doesn’t need to be in a church or chapel. There is information online and in books to help you plan.

Remember you will need to pay for the funeral. Your relative or friend may have had a pre-paid funeral plan or an insurance policy that covers the cost. It may be possible to use money they have left to pay for it.

After the funeral can be a difficult time. It is important to look after yourself as you adjust to your relative or friend not being around.

Funerals and memorial services

Funerals and memorial services allow relatives and friends to get together to remember the person who has died. They’re a way of acknowledging their death. They can be a celebration of the person’s life as well as a chance to say goodbye to them.

Planning the funeral

There are a number of things to think about when you are planning the funeral. You and your relatives or friends can make all the arrangements for the funeral and burial yourself, if you’d like to. But most people prefer to have the help of a funeral director. You can get contact details of funeral directors from your local phone book. The National Association of Funeral Directors (NAFD) and the National Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors (SAIF) also have lists of funeral directors.

If you’re planning a cremation rather than a burial, you need to tell your relative or friend’s GP, so they can complete some paperwork.

Below, we’ve listed some things to think about when planning a funeral.

Choosing the type of funeral your relative or friend would have wanted

Your relative or friend may have talked about, or left information about, the type of funeral they wanted. They may have left instructions in their will or a pre-paid funeral plan. This allows someone to plan their funeral in advance.

If they haven’t left instructions, you might like to think about what they would have wanted while you plan.

Deciding whether to have a religious or non-religious ceremony

You don’t need to have a religious leader to conduct a funeral or memorial service.

Some people have no strong religious beliefs, while others have a strong religious or spiritual faith. Some people live their lives as humanists, agnostics or atheists.

You may have very clear ideas about the funeral service and what you would like to include. You can also get ideas from books, online, or from the registrar.

Deciding where to have the funeral

Some people have a clear idea of where they want the funeral or memorial service to take place. A funeral, religious service or spiritual service can be held wherever you like. Services are often held in the church where the body will be buried or in the chapel next to a crematorium, but they can be held in other places if you prefer. For example, they can be held in your relative or friend’s home, or a favourite place they liked visiting.

Deciding whether to have a burial or a cremation

After the memorial service, the person’s body is cremated or buried.

A cremation takes place in a designated crematorium. Afterwards, the ashes of the person are given in a container to the next of kin. You and your relative or friend may have talked about what they would like to happen with their ashes. You can carry out these wishes when you’re ready.

A burial is usually in a churchyard or other official burial place. It is also possible for people to be buried in other places, such as a garden. If you want to bury someone on a property you own or in a place they loved, you can get information from the Natural Death Centre.

My mum was very organised. She’d got life insurance and she’d got a will. She told me what she wanted at the funeral – what flowers and that nobody was to wear black. Everybody that went said it did her proud.


Paying for the funeral

If you are arranging your relative or friend’s funeral, you will also be responsible for paying for the funeral costs. Your relative or friend may have had a pre-paid funeral plan or an insurance policy that covers the cost of their funeral. Or if they have left money, this can be used to pay for the funeral. Sometimes banks and building societies will allow money to be used to pay for the funeral before probate is granted. But they don’t have to do this, and you may have to pay the funeral costs while you’re waiting for probate.

The Social Fund is a government fund that makes payments to people in need. These payments include a Funeral Payment to help with the cost of arranging a funeral. To be eligible for most Social Fund payments, you need to be receiving certain benefits when you apply. The fund is run by the Department for Work and Pensions.

If you live in England, Scotland or Wales, visit or contact your local Jobcentre Plus office for more information on Funeral Payments. If you live in Northern Ireland, visit or contact your nearest Social Security Agency office for more information. You’ll find its number in the phone book or on its website –

After the funeral

The period of time after the funeral, when everyone has gone home, can be very difficult. Now there is nothing to organise and it can feel very quiet. It’s a good idea to try not to do too much too soon. You will need time to get used to your relative or friend not being around and the changes this brings. It’s important to take time to look after yourself.

You may feel very emotional at this time. Some people may try to keep busy to try and avoid their feelings. But don’t be afraid to show your emotions – it’s perfectly natural to cry when you’re thinking and talking about your relative or friend. Some cultures have specific practices to follow, which can help mark each phase of the bereavement process after a person’s death. We have more information about your feelings and emotions.

There was so much happening and so much for me to think about, I didn’t really have time to think about what it would be like. It’s not until after the rest of the family goes home that it really hits you.


Back to After someone dies

At the time of the death

You may have a range of feelings after someone has died. It’s important to get help and support to know what to do.

Practical tasks

There will be practical tasks to do after someone dies, but take your time and ask for help if you need it.