Planning your own funeral: guide

Guide to planning your own funeral including help with costs.

Thinking about what you would like

When it comes to planning your funeral, there are many choices to make. You may have religious, cultural or other considerations that influence your choices.

Some of the main decisions you'll have to make include the following:

1. Burial or cremation

After you die your body will usually either be buried or cremated.

If you choose to be buried this could be in a grave you or your family already own. Otherwise, you could choose to buy a new grave in a particular cemetery. A grave is often called a lair in Scotland.

If you choose to be cremated this can be arranged in any crematorium. However, it's important you also think about what you want to happen to your ashes after the cremation.

Your ashes can usually be:

  • buried in a cemetery
  • scattered at the crematorium
  • kept by your family or friends and scattered however they choose

There are also other ways ashes can be treated, such as using them in the creation of a painting or a piece of jewellery or firing them into the sky in a rocket.

Donating your body to medical science

You can also choose to donate your body to a university medical school. You'll need to arrange this while you're alive either directly with the university, or by making your wishes known in your will.

There's no guarantee that the university will be able to take your body at the time, so it's important to make sure you have alternative arrangements in case your donation can't be accepted.

2. Your coffin

For both burial and cremation, it's usual to have a coffin. There are many types of coffin, including:

  • wood
  • veneer
  • cardboard
  • wicker
  • wool

Some are decorated with pictures. Some are designed to be more environmentally friendly.

Prices can vary widely. It's important you think about whether your decision should be based more on appearance, environmental impact or cost.

3. How you'll be dressed

You might want to choose how you'll be dressed in your coffin. Some people choose a shroud, while others prefer to be dressed in their own clothes.

4. Viewings

This can be arranged at either a funeral home or your own home.

If you choose to do this, you should think about whether you want the viewing to be restricted. For example, you could choose to restrict this to family members.

5. The funeral service

Funerals have changed a lot in recent years. You can choose to have a funeral service which is:

  • religious or secular
  • traditional or contemporary
  • a celebration of a life or a simple committal

A funeral service can also be held in lots of different places, including a:

  • church or other religious place
  • funeral home
  • crematorium
  • graveside

A funeral service could also be held in another place of your choosing.

Sometimes more than one service is held, for example at a funeral home and then graveside.

It's important you discuss with your family or friends:

  • what kind of service you want, if any
  • where you want your funeral to take place
  • who you want to lead the service
  • who else you want to speak or take part

You might also want to discuss whether you want people to be able to gather informally afterwards for refreshments and a chance to share memories.

Sharing memories can be supportive for your family, but may also be seen as stressful.

Not having a funeral service

Some people prefer to have no formal service, in this case you can choose to have a 'direct cremation' or a 'direct burial'.

A direct cremation is where the funeral director collects your body, and takes it to the crematorium to be cremated with no family or friends present. Your ashes are then delivered to your family afterwards.

A direct burial is where the funeral director collects your body, and takes it to the cemetery to be buried with no family or friends present.

Your family can still choose to arrange their own event to mark the death either at the time, or later on.

Other funeral service things to think about

You can also make your wishes known about other things for your funeral. For example:

  • your choice of hearse and cars
  • ideas about what you want people to wear to a service
  • particular pieces of music or readings you would like included
  • donations you would like people to make to a chosen charity

Please feel free to add as much, or as little, as you wish to the Planning Your Own Funeral form below.



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