What To Do When Someone Dies: Tips On Organising A Funeral

Sharon Hurley Hall
 


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When loved ones pass away, you'll want to make sure that they have the funeral they deserve. Here are the main aspects you need to consider when planning a funeral.

1. Viewing

When someone dies, family members and friend may wish to view the body of their loved one. Viewing can assist with the resolution of grief. It can help people accept that death has occurred. Each family member's viewpoint on visitation or viewing may be different, and this is a very personal decision. The best option in most cases is to leave the option of visitation open to an individual's own emotional needs. Before or shortly after death some people may be adamant that they do not wish to view the deceased, then change their mind a short time later. By presenting the option of visitation, all family members’ individual emotional needs can be met.

2. Flowers, notices and memorials

In many communities it is traditional that friends and family pay their respects by sending flowers or making a donation to charity. Your local funeral director can organise flowers for you. They can also collect, record and distribute donations to charity on your behalf.

The obituary notice in a local, national or other publication announces the death and funeral details and can also become a tribute to the person who has died, by perhaps containing a verse. Some people like to place acknowledgement notices in the newspaper after the funeral, thanking people who have supported them. Some people also like to compile a book of compliments, reflections and memories about the person who has died, written by family and friends attending the service or afterwards.

You don't have to decide whether to put a memorial on the grave or on the site of the burial of ashes until after the funeral. The regulations about what kind of memorial can be put up, and when, vary considerably from place to place. Your funeral director can advise you on this and make any arrangements on your behalf.

3. Transport

You'll need to decide on the size and makeup of the cortege (the hearse and the cars following it). Other questions to consider include:

  • Will it be a standard, motorbike or horse-drawn hearse?
  • How many cars will be needed?
  • Where will the cortege leave from?
  • Will it take a special route?
  • Will you require wheelchairs for elderly or disabled mourners?
  • Where will you return to afterwards?

4. Bearing the coffin

Some families decide that they would like to bear the coffin themselves at the ceremony, instead of the funeral director's staff. Bearers may be friends, family members or colleagues of the person who has died.

5. Music

Many people now ask for specific pieces of music to be played at the service. Your Funeral Director will be able to advise you on this and make the appropriate arrangements for you.

6. Eulogies

A eulogy is when someone pays tribute to a person's life by saying a few words that will help remember that person at the service. You can prepare a speech yourself for this, or you may prefer to read a favourite poem or passage.

7. Catering

You may wish to offer guests refreshments after the funeral. You will need to decide who will provide the catering and where it will be provided. You may prefer to offer refreshments at your home or at a location close to where the service has been held.

8. Burial or cremation?

If there is no grave in existence and a new grave is required, this can be arranged directly with the cemetery or through the funeral director. New graves are expensive and the costs can increase significantly in some areas if the deceased lived outside the cemetery authority's boundary. The family organising the purchase of a new grave should know what costs are before finalising the funeral arrangements. Burials in churchyards are subject to rules and regulations of the church authority concerned. These rules are often very strict in relation to the type of headstone or memorial that can be placed on the grave following the funeral. The restrictions can also extend to what is written on the headstone. Those responsible for the funeral arrangements should be aware of what memorial restrictions are enforced before the interment takes place to avoid any unnecessary distress later on.

If you opt for cremation, this will take place shortly after the funeral committal service is over in the crematorium chapel. Each coffin is cremated individually and after each cremation the ashes are removed and kept separately so that each family receives the remains of their relative. If required these are usually available for collection the next working day and can be placed in the Garden of Remembrance at the crematorium. The ashes can also be kept by the relatives, interred in a new or existing family grave, or scattered in a place deemed as appropriate by the family or as requested by the deceased prior to death.

This is an option that will have been specified in someone's Will or prepaid funeral plan.

So these are the usual options to consider. Other possibilities can be discussed with your funeral director or funeral plan provider.

Sharon Hurley Hall is a freelance writer who has co-authored a book on UK legal services . For more information on prepaid funeral plans, visit Silver Birch Solutions To contact Sharon, visit http://www.doublehdesign.com/

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