There are many things to consider when planning a funeral service.
Help from family and close friends to plan the funeral service and decide on each of the elements would be beneficial at this time.
If the person who has died left behind their funeral wishes in their will or by other means, then you may wish to plan the details according to these.
We recently wrote this comprehensive article on funeral etiquette in the UK »
Let others know about the death and inform them of the details of the funeral.
An obituary may include an appropriate photo and a few sentences about the life of the deceased.
It can be published in the local newspaper or, more conveniently, posted on social media.
A traditional coffin is usually made from solid wood or wood effect materials.
Eco-coffins are made from natural and biodegradable materials such as bamboo, wool, cardboard or willow.
You could have a personalised biodegradable coffin with your own design or image.
It's sensible to check with the burial site or crematorium which types of coffin they allow.
The flowers (or charity donations)
These are a significant part of any funeral and there are many variations you could choose for the day.
The most popular funeral flowers include roses, lilies, carnations, sunflowers and daffodils.
You may like to ask mourners to make donations to a chosen charity instead of sending or bringing flowers.
If you’ve opted to use a funeral director, then they’ll probably arrange a traditional black hearse for the procession.
However, at the request of the deceased or loved ones, an alternative hearse can be used – as long as it’s able to carry the coffin.
Usually, a limousine is provided by the funeral home to drive the family in cortege behind the hearse to the cremation or cemetery.
However, it’s not compulsory to have a limousine at the funeral or any particular transport.
Loved ones can travel to the location of the funeral service by car or public transport if they wish.
Most funeral directors will give you the option to choose the procession route to the cremation or cemetery.
The cortege may start from the funeral home or from a family member’s home, and finish where the service will take place.
One of the most talked about elements of a funeral, the music, is what makes a service truly personal.
Will it be a favourite song? A classical piece? A song to reflect the personality or life of the individual?
It may even be from the list of most popular funeral songs; the top track in 2019 is 'Frank Sinatra - My Way'.
Or, if there's a specific instrument that was truly loved then this can be played if your venue allows.
Several pieces of music may be required, for the beginning, middle and the end of the service.
For a religious service, you may wish to search for or ask for recommendations of popular hymns for funerals.
The order of service
An order of service can be done by a professional, by yourself at home or the funeral director can create one on your behalf.
A good order of service details:
- Any hymns or lyrics for songs
- Times of any readings, speeches or prayers
- Names of those performing the readings, speeches or prayers
- A photo of the person who has died and/or quotes
- Information of the deceased, birth and death date, whether they had a spouse and/or children
- The details of the wake, (address, timings, whether food/drink is served)
One of the most difficult parts of the funeral service is writing a eulogy.
The eulogy is a speech about the life of the person who has passed.
You could as ask a family member or relative to write and/or read the eulogy.
Alternatively, someone could read a meaningful poem or a short passage in their memory.
Pallbearers are commonly family or close friends who are chosen to carry the coffin from the hearse to the burial site or crematorium.
The funeral home personnel may be able to carry the coffin if you prefer.
According to research, requests to funeral directors for pallbearers to carry coffins has dropped by 78% in the last 5 years.
The dress code
Will the mourners be wearing traditional black or would you prefer a more colourful dress code?
There may be a colour theme, that all the mourners, including funeral personnel, are asked to adhere to.
Perhaps in the colours of your loved one’s beloved football team.
You'll also need to decide the outfit for the deceased. The funeral home will prepare and dress them.
For a traditional funeral and burial, you’ll need to think about the style and wording of the headstone.
For a cremation, this would be choosing a suitable urn, if keeping the ashes, or deciding where to scatter/bury them.
At a natural burial site, the use of a traditional headstone won't be permitted, as it would disturb the natural setting but you may be able to plant a tree or leave another natural memorial.
Certain memorials will require maintenance as time goes on, so bear this in mind when making a choice.