Organising a Funeral
Losing a loved one is a shock even for the best prepared. Nothing is certain but death and taxes, the saying goes – there is a definite process you have to go through on the death of your loved one, and you have to hit the ground running. This piece looks at what you must do and the options open to you in arranging a funeral.
As soon is practicable you must inform the local Register of Births and Deaths of the death. Use this Gov.uk Register a Death Tool as a good first step. Also, use this Gov.uk website to find the contact details of your local Register Office. Some religions require that the deceased is buried within 24 hours of death but UK law requires that you register the death first. It is important to note that if the death is subject to an inquest by a Coroner, you will not be able to register the death without the Coroner's Office's permission.
Subject to certain terms and conditions, if you and your partner were on a low income when they died you may qualify for a Funeral Payment from the government to help cover the costs of their death. Have a look at the Gov.uk website here for details.
You may also qualify for a sum of money from the government for 12 months called Bereavement Benefit. Have a look at the Gov.uk website here for details.
You should consult the deceased's Will as soon as possible. They may have paid for and arranged their funeral in advance. This will reduce your stress load considerably and you can focus on the other parts of their departing that they cannot.
They have made specific requests about who to attend the funeral and in what format it should take place. Being their Last Will and Testament it is very important to look into this so you know they are dealt with in the best possible way.
Family and friends
You need to consult the deceased's Will to see whether anyone has been expressly invited or disinvited to their funeral. You then must inform their friends and loved ones about the death. It would help to draw up a list of known loved ones and close friends. This will give an idea of the size of funeral to go for – you don't want people standing in the aisles on this emotionally wrought occasion.
With all the stress and running about, it may help to hire a Funeral Director to help arrange the funeral and ceremony. They won't be in an emotional state and funerals are what they do, so you will be assured of the best possible send off for your loved one with no errors that could cause irritation among the deceased's loved ones.
Have a look here for the two major trade organisations of Funeral Directors. Members have to obey a Code of Conduct and will ensure that your loved one's burial or cremation is dealt with sensitively and flawlessly.
Muslims and Jews are required by tradition to be buried within 24 hours of their death. Sikhs and Hindus are cremated. If unsure about your loved one's religious traditions over death, it is important to consult their religious leader for advice as to what needs to be done in the right way.
Humanist funerals can be done according to the will of the deceased. Have a look at this website for ideas as to how to bury your humanist loved one.
Types of funeral
Where some religions are very prescriptive as to the way a deceased body is disposed of, other traditions are far more flexible. For example, Christians and humanists are more flexible, with cremation and burial accepted within that faith.
The deceased may have wished for an eco burial. You might not have the faintest idea how to tackle this effectively due to differences in the way you lead your life. Have a look at the Natural Death Centre website for advice and suggestions as to how to properly bury or cremate your loved one in this way.
Finally, share the load!
The whole process can be fraught and stressful from beginning to end. Do try to share the job with another member of your family or close friends. In sharing the load so you will be able to go through the process with minimal stress. Though you are being strong for your children, for example, having a partner in crime to organise the process of reporting the death and arranging the funeral will enable you to have a shoulder to cry on in the moments you can.