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How to arrange a funeral

How to arrange a funeral

We understand that it can be very difficult to suddenly need to make funeral arrangements and believe that easy access to the right information can make everything seem much more manageable and less bewildering.

You may have experience of arranging funerals and feel confident about your choices and what you do and do not want.  You may also know the wishes of the person who has died, which is usually very helpful because the act of fulfilling those wishes can feel like an important gift to the person who has died (and it helps if there is any uncertainty about what they would have wanted).

Or, this may be the first time that you find yourself needing to make arrangements.  There are often many practical tasks that run in parallel to the more emotional ones – and finding the time and concentration to do both can be demanding.

We would strongly recommend that you consider a few different funeral directors before making your final choice.  You might phone them to ask a few questions to confirm that you feel that they are the right person to support you.  You may want to choose a funeral director recommended by The Good Funeral Guide or Natural Death Centre, or check what people have said about them on external reviewing sites.

We have also provided more detailed guidance about the immediate actions to take after someone has died and are available 24/7 for support and guidance – please contact us if you need any help.

Start with what you already know

We would strongly encourage you to start by spending a little time thinking about the person who has died.  What is important to them?  What do you think of when you think of them?  What do you know of their wishes?  Did they ever comment about a funeral they attended – about something they liked about it?

You may also want to consider for whom the funeral is an important event.  You might not want to include everyone is every decision, but it can be helpful to have them in mind so that you can consider them if you would like to.

We have listed a few questions that we think are a useful starting point.  Once you have decided on these key parts of the arrangement then many other choices are easier to visualise, and everything starts to “fit into place”.  We would also encourage you to look at our choices and prices page as it shares some idea of the range of possibilities, and you may also find our funeral arranging podcast or funeral arranging guide informative.

Timing and tone

Some people prefer for the funeral to take place soon whereas others would like to take some more time to make the decisions and therefore have the funeral a little later.  Once you have been given the “go ahead” to make arrangements then the timescale should be decided by you.

Similarly, people have different views on the tone that they would like for the funeral.  Some people feel that the event should be relatively serious and formal whereas others would rather than it be informal or even celebratory.


The committal location is the place where the person who has died will be brought to.  Do you think that burial or cremation are most appropriate?  Do you know your preferred location?  This may also be where you choose to have a service but that is not compulsory.  You may prefer a direct cremation, or for a service to take place elsewhere.

Service location

If you would like to have a service, then this could take place in the same place as the committal (like at the crematorium) or may take place elsewhere.  You might also consider whether you would like the coffin present at the service.  For some people this is important whereas others choose to have a private committal followed by a larger memorial service.


Once you have decided where the committal and service are going to take place then you can decide the order that you would like.  You may choose to have a service and committal in one place (for example at the crematorium), service followed by a committal (for example a church service followed by a committal at the crematorium) or a committal followed by a service.

When the service and committal are taking place at various places then you can decide how much time you would like there to be between the two events.  Some people prefer for them to follow eachother immediately whereas others prefer for them to take place on different days.

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Other places to find helpful information

We have created a range of resources to help you find out more information about key aspects of the funeral.  You may find information about green or alternative funeral choices interesting and helpful.

Guidance about registration and financial affairs, decisions about whether to spend time with someone who has died and some further thoughts about funeral choices can be found by following the links.

You may also find some of the websites below helpful.


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