Funeral Experts

How to Arrange a Wake

How To Arrange a Wake

Once the last song has been sung, the curtains have closed, the flowers have been seen, it’s hard to know what to do next. Here’s our guide on how to Arrange a Wake.

 

  1. Decide what you want from a ‘Wake’.

    A wake is an informal event that takes place after a ‘traditional’ funeral service. Where a funeral (typically combining the ‘Service’ and the ‘Committal’) is generally a more formal occasion, the Wake serves as a gathering of the deceased’s friends and relatives to come together, chat and reminisce.

    If you’re having a less-formal funeral for your person, where people are welcome to chat and mingle during the ‘service’ anyway, you may not feel the need for another gathering.

    If, however, you’re going down the ‘traditional’ route, a Wake can be a great way to let off steam. Given the more intimate, familiar nature of this event, it’s more likely that Uncle Dave will share that story about Dad that he promised to “tell you when you’re older”…!

  2. Where shall we meet?

    Pick a venue.

    You’ve got a few options. Naturally, there’s pros and cons to each.

    – Down the Local
    – In a hall
    – At home
    – Outdoors

  3. To Feed, or not To Feed…

    This will likely depend on the time of day the funeral is. Here’s a rough guide to etiquette, and things to take into consideration…:

    MORNING – 9am – 11am

    – Tea, coffee & pastries
    – ‘Proper’ lunch

    MIDDAY – 11am – 2pm

    – Light buffet lunch
    – Sit-down meal
    – Canapes

    AFTERNOON – 2pm – 4pm

    – Afternoon tea
    – Dinner/evening meal
    – Drinks

  4. Extra Touches

    Regardless of how the wake takes shape, perhaps you’d like to try the following:

    – A picture collage of your loved one – incorporate a “Guess The Year” game (from rocking the classic Farrah Fawcett ‘do, to carbon dating by the size of shoulder pads…?)

    – A playlist of all their favourite music

    – A Guestbook for people to sign with a memory of your loved one

    – A collection pot for your person’s charity

About FuneralExperts.com

FuneralExperts.com helps you to compare funeral directors based on:

  • Their location
  • Their standardised fees 

We do not endorse or make recommendations about individual funeral directors, but we do offer you the tools to make those decisions yourself. 

We’ll guide you through the very first steps of any funeral arrangement, outlining the decisions you’ll have and the different options for each. We’ll help by:

  • By collecting yours and your loved ones’ details
  • Laying out the pros and cons between a burial or cremation
  • Offering the decisions you’ll make to help choose where you’d like the burial or cremation to happen
  • Working out what your preferred date and time for the funeral will be
  • Sharing the assessment tools you might use to choose which Funeral Director to entrust your funeral to

Our aim is to pair as many families as possible to the best funeral director for their individual needs. 

As much as we’re a funeral price comparison service, we also aim to educate the public on the funeral industry as a whole. When the time inevitably comes that the funeral industry is needed, our clients are well-equipped with the language and understanding they need to give their loved one the best funeral possible. 

About Eco Funerals

About Eco Funerals

An eco-friendly funeral is an alternative to traditional burials and funeral services. These funerals produce less harmful materials and waste during the burial process.
 
Apart from being environmentally friendly, these funerals offer a more natural and outdoor setting for the memorial service. Probably somewhere that your loved one may have held dear to them before they passed.

Environmental Impact of the "Traditional" Funeral

In the UK today, 77% of deaths are followed by Cremation. As well as being a cost-effective method of committal compared to burial, it’s popularity is also due to how flexible you can be in terms of memorialisation after the fact, and – among Britons in the 60’s – became hugely popular after The Pope lifted the ban on cremations for Roman Catholics.

 

However, environmentally, cremation is a disaster. Each cremation releases 400kg of CO2 into the atmosphere, along with a host of other fumes (caused by prosthetics, common coffin materials, and the treasures left in with the deceased at point of cremation). 

 

As for traditional burials – that are arguably harmless on a the emissions front – cause environmental issues themselves. Embalming fluids have been known to leak into groundwater from those who have been embalmed before burial. Burial space is limited, particularly in urban areas, causing overcrowding. 

 

Eco Funerals: The Premise

The premise of Eco-Funerals is to mitigate the environmental impact of the committal of a body after death. Right away, this usually involves a Burial (however, there are alternatives as we’ll explore below…).

Eco-Funerals are gaining popularity as society at large becomes more aware of its impact on the environment. We want to lead lives that are environmentally conscious, making little changes to improve our relationship with the environment. It affects our choice of transportation (Electric car, over petrol. Bus, over car. Walk, over bus!), food and drink (people who identify as vegan has quadrupled between 2014 and 2019), and even the clothes we wear (sustainable fashion brands have grown – while still only a small share of the market, its’ revenue has doubled since 2014). 

 

Our funerals should be a reflection of our lives. Indeed, in 2017, one in seven funerals in the UK were eco/woodland funerals. 

 

Not only is the committal itself a source of consideration when it comes to eco-funerals, transportation is worth thinking about. Does your funeral director offer a horse-drawn hearse, or motor hearses run on electricity? Is the funeral directors’ premises run on sustainable sources of energy?

Eco-Funeral: Committal in a Natural Burial Ground

To meet the rising demand for eco-funerals, private land has been converted into meadows and fields suitable for burial,and woodland landscaping (either privately owned by companies or funeral directors themselves). We now have over 360 of them in the UK!

 

Natural burial grounds as above tend to have strict rules about memorialisation and materials used than municipal cemeteries. For example, most will only permit simple wooden grave markers, instead of large headstones.

 

Often, only coffins made from natural, easily degradable materials will be permitted (such as wicker/willow, bamboo, cardboard), although some families opt not to have a coffin at all (the deceased is instead wrapped in a shroud; note that a coffin is not always necessary for a traditional funeral, either!)

In municipal cemeteries, graves are dug using heavy machinery. In natural/woodland burial ground, graves are dug by hand. 

 

Embalming is also discouraged. 

Alternatives to Natural Burial

  • If you’d like to go ahead with a cremation, you can choose to inter the ashes in a biodegradable urn – sometimes they come with wildflower seeds scattered in the walls (there are coffins available made of the same material). It’s a nice thought to have your loved ones’ ashes be part of the growth of something beautiful.
  • Resomation/Alkaline Hydrolysis is a process of reducing the body to bones by dissolving and treating the soft tissue around it. The bones are then dried and broken down – much like in cremation. It’s been gaining traction in the USA, but as yet there is only one provider in the UK (the by-products of the process need filtering into the water system, and this has not been permitted as yet).
  • You could donate your body to a medical school or for research. Although there are strict rules about how a person dies and how they are kept before they can be accepted by a school, it’s an option worth exploring.

    After the research/training has been carried out, the remains are often cremated, or allowed to be returned to the family.

    Students will often hold a memorial service for those they have been working with at the end of the school year to commemorate those who have kindly made their donation.

In the future, have a look out for…:

  • Human Composting
  • Mushroom Suits
  • Promession

About FuneralExperts.com

FuneralExperts.com helps you to compare funeral directors based on:

  • Their location
  • Their standardised fees 

We do not endorse or make recommendations about individual funeral directors, but we do offer you the tools to make those decisions yourself. 

We’ll guide you through the very first steps of any funeral arrangement, outlining the decisions you’ll have and the different options for each. We’ll help by:

  • By collecting yours and your loved ones’ details
  • Laying out the pros and cons between a burial or cremation
  • Offering the decisions you’ll make to help choose where you’d like the burial or cremation to happen
  • Working out what your preferred date and time for the funeral will be
  • Sharing the assessment tools you might use to choose which Funeral Director to entrust your funeral to

Our aim is to pair as many families as possible to the best funeral director for their individual needs. 

As much as we’re a funeral price comparison service, we also aim to educate the public on the funeral industry as a whole. When the time inevitably comes that the funeral industry is needed, our clients are well-equipped with the language and understanding they need to give their loved one the best funeral possible. 

How to Use Our Comparison Tool

Using Our Comparison Tool

FuneralExperts.com 

Our goal is to offer those in need a simple, effective way of comparing funeral directors. 

 

Let us show you how to use our comparison tool.

 

So often once someone you love has died, you are inundated with family, friends and well-wishers offering advice and recommendation for which funeral director to choose. At this stage, you’re in a whirlwind of emotion, not sure what’s up or down, and it’s easy to be swept into choosing a funeral director based on this recommendation alone – without even thinking about what your own financial position might be, compared – say – to the person making the recommendation. 

 

And, while the funeral director recommended by your friend/relation/whoever may have been the best fit for them and their needs, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re best suited for you and yours. 

 

That’s where we come in.

 

We offer an independent, unbiased way of comparing funeral directors from the comfort and serenity of your own home. 

Tell us what your needs are, and we’ll show you funeral directors in your local area in order of:

– Cost (based on the legally-required Standardised Price List)

– Distance – from you, or from where your loved one is currently resting

Step One - Your Details

Step 1 - Your Details

When you use our comparison tool, this is the first page you’re greeted with – once you’ve clicked through to “Compare”.

 

This is the information we collect about you. Don’t worry, we will only make your information visible to the funeral director you choose.  

Step Two - Your Loved One's Details

Here, you’ll tell us a little bit about the person who has died. 

If you’re not sure about any of the information we’ve asked (it can sometimes be tough to think about what religion someone has if they weren’t practicing up to their death, for example), don’t worry. Your chosen funeral director will double-check all this information with you when you speak.

Step Three - Funeral Details

Step 3 - Let's get some detail...

Now we start to define what sort of funeral it is you’ve got in mind for your loved one. 

 

You’re not tied to any of the decisions you make here, but it’s a good starting point. If you’re confused by anything you’re being asked, use the helpful info in the ‘?’ bubbles. 

 

  • Will people be attending the funeral?
    You’ll recall from our “Do You Even Want a Funeral” post, you can separate out the ‘Service’ from the ‘Committal’. This question asks whether or not people will be attending the committal – a combined Service & Committal.

  • Maximum Budget
    This is a rough estimate, including the cost of the cremation/burial, and the funeral directors’ fees. 
    This won’t affect the quotes you’ll be shown, but it will help inform the chat you’ll have with your chosen funeral director a little way down the line. 

  • Type of Hearse
    As well as the standard motor hearse, some funeral directors offer specialist vehicles to transport your loved one. From horse-drawn carriage hearses, to motorbike hearses and vintage classic cars. This indicates whether or not you’d be interested in hearing more about these specialist vehicles.

  • Is Mourner Transport Required?
    Otherwise – do you need any limousines to pick you up before the funeral and take you home/to another venue after the service.

  • Funeral Leadership
    Do you want a minister/celebrant to lead the funeral service, or will you be taking the service yourself?

  • Type of Funeral
    A key decision. If you’re unsure, make sure you check out our “Burial or Cremation?” to assess the pros and cons… 

  • Finance Required?
    You may already know that your loved one has enough money in their account to pay the total cost of the funeral – or maybe just a substantial chunk. You may not know this, but the funeral bill is the first priority of any bills that need paying out of the deceased’s bank account. Your chosen funeral director will be able to tell you more, and about any other financial options that may be available to you. 

  • Type of Coffin
    Most of our readers will have never had to think about this question before in their lives. We’ll be doing a whole post on describing the different types of coffin, but for now, you can indicate a preference of the ones currently on offer. 

 

 

 

Important Note About "Funeral Details"

All of these “extra” features we’re thinking about in “Funeral Details” won’t form part of the quotes offered by funeral directors. At time of writing (September 2022), funeral directors are not required to provide a complete list of their services. They are only legally obligated to share the cost of a “standard” set of fees. These “standard” fees are what you’ll see when you use our comparison tool. 

Step Four - Funeral Location

Here you’ll have listed all of the local crematoria (if you’ve chosen a Cremation) and all the local cemeteries (if you’ve chosen a Burial). 

 

We’ve included the basic cost of each, and these will be reflected in the total funeral cost in the funeral directors results page, next… 

Step Five - Your Results

You can choose to display your Funeral Director results based on ‘Price’ (Low to High), or ‘Location’ (closest to furthest), based on your address or that of the person who has died. 

The results page collates local funeral directors’ CMA-legislated, Standardised Price List. The Competition and Markets Authority made it a legal requirement for Funeral Directors to list a standard catalogue of services that are offered by all funeral businesses. 

 

You tend to find that most funeral directors in an area will charge pretty similarly for their services generally, but will differ on the cost of individual components. Some funeral directors offer a higher quality coffin as standard, for example, and therefore may charge more for the “Coffin” element of their pricing. Some may have a newer fleet of vehicles, or have been trading for a longer time, so you’ll pay more for their experience and expertise. It’s important to take these factors into account, and think about what’s most important to you when making a decision as to what funeral director to choose. 

About FuneralExperts.com

 

FuneralExperts.com helps you to compare funeral directors based on:

  • Their location
  • Their standardised fees 

We do not endorse or make recommendations about individual funeral directors, but we do offer you the tools to make those decisions yourself. 

We’ll guide you through the very first steps of any funeral arrangement, outlining the decisions you’ll have and the different options for each. We’ll help by:

  • By collecting yours and your loved ones’ details
  • Laying out the pros and cons between a burial or cremation
  • Offering the decisions you’ll make to help choose where you’d like the burial or cremation to happen
  • Working out what your preferred date and time for the funeral will be
  • Sharing the assessment tools you might use to choose which Funeral Director to entrust your funeral to

Our aim is to pair as many families as possible to the best funeral director for their individual needs. 

As much as we’re a funeral price comparison service, we also aim to educate the public on the funeral industry as a whole. When the time inevitably comes that the funeral industry is needed, our clients are well-equipped with the language and understanding they need to give their loved one the best funeral possible. 

Talking With Relatives

Arranging a Funeral With Relatives

Most funeral directors would like to speak with ‘The Lead Mourner’; the family member that will sign-off on arrangements and act as their Client.


Often, this job falls to:

 

  • The husband/wife of the person who has died
  • The eldest child
  • The eldest grandchild

    Or, where the person who has died has no family

     

  • The friend/well-wisher who would like to arrange the funeral.

    (This will also usually be the person who signs up to be responsible for paying for the funeral at the end).

Although it’s best to have one single point of contact liaising with the Funeral Director, the whole family can have input into the funeral arrangements. 

 

Whether it’s just two of you responsible for the funeral arrangements, or there’s half a dozen people to consult or more, we’ll help you navigate some of the challenges you’re likely to face.

 

Below, we list the conversations to be had – either at the funeral director’s office or, ideally, before you attend…     

Which Funeral Director Should We Use?

“Dave said that his missus’ used Joe Bloggs & Son for her Mum. Let’s go with them.” 
“You’re having a laugh – Gaz knows a fella down the pub who worked for them and he’s said they’re a nightmare…”
“I don’t much like the look of their place, it’s a bit spooky…”

 

 

Why not let FuneralExperts.com help with this one…?

 

Simply set your budget, your initial needs and we’ll show you a list of local funeral directors, ranked in order of location and affordability. Give them a call, see how you warm to them and go from there. 

No false recommendations. No fluff, no faff.    

What's Our Budget? Splitting the Cost vs Sharing The Workload

Depending on where you are in the country, an attended funeral with cremation costs £3,290, and a burial costs £4,383 on average. 

 

While it’s worth remembering that the funeral is the first charge against the estate of the person who has died (meaning: that before outstanding bills or debts or anything else gets paid out of the deceased’s bank account, you can pay for the funeral first), you should have an idea about how you’re going to pay for the funeral. 

 

If the person had a pre-paid funeral plan, there will – more than likely – be a shortfall that you (the client) will need to pay. 

 

Whether the total bill comes to mere hundreds of pounds or runs into the many thousands, it’s best to have a practical conversation about money in the first instance. 

 

 

 

An Example...

Let’s say there’s three children arranging the funeral. 

 

The eldest is on benefits and cannot be reasonably expected to put their money in their pocket for the funeral, but has a fair bit of time they can spare to do practical things – like registering the death, for example. Sibling 2 is a high-flyer with a well-paid job but not a lot of time spare. And Sibling 3 has a family and a side-hustle; they’re arty and creative. 

 

The funeral bill for their parents’ funeral comes to £3500; between the three of them, they’ve chosen the basic service with a Hearse and One Limousine, at 9.30am, midweek at the local crematorium.

 

Sibling 2 and 3 have said that they will pay for the funeral, 70% – 30%, respectively. Sibling 2 won’t be able to be around between now and the funeral, so Sibling 1 is:

 

  • Registering the death
  • Dropping paperwork off to and fro the various places that need it
  • Liaising with the funeral director
  • Getting the parent’s clothes ready
  • Dealing with the bank and the pension people 

Sibling 1 and 3 is meeting with the minister/celebrant, with Sibling 2 on Zoom. After the meeting, Sibling 3 is going to put together the Order of Service (the booklet with the running order, music, readings etc that are handed out to people attending the funeral). They, their children and their partner are going to speak with the florist and draw pictures and write letters to go in the coffin with their parent. 

 

While they’ve not all contributed financially to dealing with their parents’ death and subsequent funeral, they’ve each played an important part in the funeral arrangements. Because Sibling 1 is the easiest to get hold of, the Funeral Director has them down as their main point of contact. All three children trust each other to carry out their respective roles to get the job done.  

 

Not all siblings will be able to get on with each other as well as these three. But you get the gist. 

One Wants One Thing, Another Wants Another

No matter how close you are as a family, how in-sync you might be, there are bound to be some disagreements when it comes to something as important as funeral arrangements. It’s common in large, close-knit families for different members to have different priorities when it comes to saying goodbye.

 

  • Where one family member may think having the flashiest coffin is the most important expense on the funeral, another may prefer to spend that money on a horse and carriage
  • One family member may be totally against visiting their loved one in the chapel of rest, another may be adamant about doing so
  • Someone might want all their loved ones’ jewellery to go with the deceased, another might want it to be distributed to family members as heirlooms

It’s really tough in these situations to work out what should take priority. Sometimes, it’s a simple black-and-white, yes-or-no, this-or-that decision. Most of the time though, there’s a way of compromising. This is where choosing the right funeral director can really help. 

 

How Can Your Funeral Director Help?

Whoever you choose, your funeral director should not be making decisions for you. Their job is to offer you a range of options, explain the benefits of each, and for you to make your own mind up on which to go with. 

 

The very best funeral directors simply facilitate your wishes. No agenda, no worries – just a guide to help you arrange the funeral that’s right for you and your family.

 

While the funeral directors’ ultimate responsibility is to carry out the wishes of their Client, they can be very helpful to facilitate a space for you to work out amongst yourselves which decision to go with. 

 

With everything else that goes on when a loved one dies, it’s good to know that there’s a neutral space, away from the home, away from distraction, to go to to discuss the finer matters of the funeral.

 

The best Funeral Directors would be happy to offer their arranging room (subject to availability, of course), or other designated space, for you and your family to meet to discuss funeral arrangements privately. Some may even permit you to meet with your minister/celebrant – whoever is leading the funeral – to organise the content of the service.

Remember: When comparing funeral directors, it’s not just about the cost. 

Attended v. Unattended (Committal)

As we discussed in a previous blog post, it’s helpful to think of the funeral as being made up of two parts: The Committal and The Service. 

 

Before speaking to the Funeral Director, it’s a good idea to decide whether or not you’d like to attend the committal part of the funeral. This will help inform the rest of your decision-making process, including things like:

 

* What vehicles you may need

* Where you would like the committal to happen

* Whether or not you need a celebrant/minister to help run a service

 

At the end of the day...

Start all your decisions by thinking of your needs and requirements, and by thinking about the person who has died. By going in with your meeting with the funeral director with these two things in mind, you can’t go far wrong. 

    Whichever your decision, you’ll do what’s right for you, your family and your loved one. The decision you make will be the right decision for you with the information you’ve got to hand.

    We wish you our very best for the next stage of your funeral arrangement journey.

    About FuneralExperts.com

    FuneralExperts.com helps you to compare funeral directors based on:

    • Their location
    • Their standardised fees 

    We do not endorse or make recommendations about individual funeral directors, but we do offer you the tools to make those decisions yourself. 

    We’ll guide you through the very first steps of any funeral arrangement, outlining the decisions you’ll have and the different options for each. We’ll help by:

    • By collecting yours and your loved ones’ details
    • Laying out the pros and cons between a burial or cremation
    • Offering the decisions you’ll make to help choose where you’d like the burial or cremation to happen
    • Working out what your preferred date and time for the funeral will be
    • Sharing the assessment tools you might use to choose which Funeral Director to entrust your funeral to

    Our aim is to pair as many families as possible to the best funeral director for their individual needs. 

    As much as we’re a funeral price comparison service, we also aim to educate the public on the funeral industry as a whole. When the time inevitably comes that the funeral industry is needed, our clients are well-equipped with the language and understanding they need to give their loved one the best funeral possible. 

    Burial or Cremation?

    Burial or Cremation?

    Content Statement

    This article covers the topic of your loved ones’ final resting place – the “final bit” of a funeral. We’ll discuss – with sensitivity, of course – some of the practical elements of laying the deceased to rest. We aim to be as factual as possible, but you may find some of the terms used somewhat upsetting. 

     

    The 'Last Bit' of a Funeral

    “Laying the body to rest”

    “Disposal of the remains”

    “Committing the body to the ground”

    “The final disposition” 

     

    There are all sorts of ways of describing the element of the funeral service that manages the body of the person who has died. In the UK, there are currently two main modes: the person’s body can be buried, or it can be cremated. Even if you choose other methods of in the interim – such as donating your body to medical science, or cryomation (if that’s your bag) – eventually, all that remains will be either buried or cremated.

    Although those are the two modes, the methods of delivery, and the reasoning behind them, like most things Funeral-related, are many and varied…

    About Burials

    Burying the dead was the done-thing in the UK for centuries. 

     

    Burials can be quite costly. Not least because when you plan to bury someone. With burials, rather than buying a plot of land indefinitely, you are buying an “Exclusive Right to Burial”, which is on lease for a number of years at a time. Depending on the Burial Authority, this could last for as long as 100 years, or as few as 25. After that time, you’ll have the option to renew your lease, or else the grave is repurposed for another burial.

    In addition to buying the Exclusive Right of Burial – which you can purchase at any time, even before you need to use the grave – you will also pay an “Interment Fee”. Essentially, this is the fee to use the grave; it’s the cost of digging the grave and readying the ground for burial. 

     

    Sometimes, the first interment is included in the cost of purchasing the new grave. However, more often than not, it is a separate charge.

     

    Burial Fees

    Burial fees also vary depending on whether or not the deceased was a tax-paying resident of the area the cemetery is in. Local authorities will offer discounted rates on new grave purchases and interment fees to residents who have lived in their area for five years or more, often at rates of up to 50%. The argument is that in so doing, the person will have contributed towards the running costs of maintaining the sites through their council tax payments, in that non-residents will not. Burial authorities will sometimes ask for proof of residency, so it’s a good idea to have this on hand when you go to your Funeral Director to make arrangements (they’ll take a copy for you and submit it to the cemetery with the rest of your statutory paperwork).

     

    The cost of buying and using a grave varies greatly up and down the country. In London, for example, graves on cost around 40% more than the national average. Because of the dense population in London and the reduced availability of new graves, there’s a huge premium on the cost of burial land. 

    Of course, there are alternatives to the traditional cemeteries…

     

    Churchyards

    For avid church-goers, the churchyard of their favourite place of worship is an ideal resting place. There are a couple of ways in which burial in a churchyard differs from burial in a municipal cemetery; firstly, the grave and all burial rights will continue to be owned by the church. Churchyards tend to have stricter rules on what sort of memorials can be placed at the head of the grave, often only allowing plain headstones with minimal personalisation. Churchyards are also usually reserved for members of the parish.

    Natural Burial Grounds

    Natural Burial Grounds are becoming more and more popular. For those who loved long walks in the woods in life, where better to rest in death than in a forest?

     

    These specialist areas of land have been curated within ancient woodland, often with several different areas of meadowland, bluebell lawns and tree-lined avenues. They’re protected from development by trusts, often with longer grave-ownership leases than some of their municipal counterparts. 

     

    Like with Churchyards, there are more restrictions; most burial grounds will specify that coffins only made of natural materials can be used, they may not allow the burial of people who have been embalmed, and indeed will only allow wooden memorials/grave markers. Where in other burial grounds, members of the same family may be buried 2 – 3 deep in one grave, this may not be possible in natural burial grounds; graves aren’t always able to be dug as deep to take into account the growth of tree roots. You may also be restricted from placing personal items on the grave – like teddy bears, or balloons – as they may interfere with the natural landscape. 

     

    They’re a wonderful choice for the environmentally conscious.

    What about the back garden?

    You can bury someone in private land. You’ll need to have permission from the landowner, and it’s also helpful to have a survey carried out by the Environment Agency to ensure the burial is safe and legal. There are restrictions about how close you can bury someone to bodies of running water, plumbing lines and so on. You’ll also need to be mindful of the fact that your loved one will in all likelihood need to stay there if/when you move home, or who will inherit your home when you yourself pass on. Alternatively, you may wish to exhume your loved one – but this comes with considerable time and deliberation.

    About Cremation

    Since being approved by the Catholic church in 1964 as a method of ‘disposal’ (and, providing that the cremation is being carried out not in spite of the belief in resurrection), cremation has seen a surge in popularity and now accounts for 74% of all committals in the UK.

    Cremation Costs - What's Included, What's Not Included

    Cremation offers significant advantages to burial in a number of ways. Firstly, cost. The cremation fee is a single payment and often accounts for:

    • Hire of the crematorium ‘chapel’/service hall for the funeral 
    • Running the cremator
    • Music and (some) media services 
    • Processing the cremated remains
    • Limited-time storage of the cremated remains
    • (Optional) scattering/interment of the cremated remains

     

    Crematoria will often offer reduced fees for:

    • Unattended cremation services
      There is no need to include the hire of their crematorium chapel, nor to run the media services. The service itself needs to be tended to by fewer staff.

     

    • Shorter services that take place early in the day (usually before 10am).
      There is better availability during these times.

    Cremation Myth - Busted!

    How often have you heard the myth that coffins get reused once they’re at the crematorium? This is completely false: individuals are cremated alone, and in the coffin or shroud they are brought to the crematorium in.

     

    Your funeral director will be able to help you select a coffin that is best-suited to cremation, and offer alternatives based on your needs. They will also advise you what can and cannot be placed in a coffin with the person who has died, with the cremation in mind (you’ll find this advice will include that you mustn’t place anything with a battery in with the deceased or alcohol/deodorants – these items can cause explosions that damage the crematory!). 

    What Do I Do With the Ashes?

    At the point of arrangement, you’ll work with your funeral director to complete Cremation Form 1. This is a legal form that authorises the cremation to take place (if you’re the one signing the form, you’re making a statement that you would like the cremation to happen, that no one else has any rights over instructing a cremation to take place and, if they do, that no one disagrees with the cremation taking place), and also confirms your instructions for the remains from the cremation process. These remains are known as “ashes”. 

     

    You’ll be given three options. 

     

     

    Three Options...

    The first, is for the crematorium to scatter or inter the ashes on your behalf. This will usually be in the crematorium grounds. You can choose to be present for this, or you can allow the crematorium to take care of this for you. They will record where the ashes are scattered for your information.

     

     

    The second option, is for you or your appointed representative to collect the ashes from the crematorium on your behalf. This could be a named relative, or your funeral director. 

     

     

    The third option is for the crematorium simply to hold onto the ashes for you, until you make a decision about what you’d like to happen next. They will usually contact you after a period of time offering further options, or they will contact you after a number of months to start charging a fee for storing your loved ones’ ashes longer-term. 

     

     

    Oftentimes, you’ll be encouraged to let the Funeral Director collect the ashes on your behalf. While some may charge a fee for this, others will not and will hold the ashes indefinitely for you. It’s best to have an idea about what you would like to do with them at this early stage of making funeral arrangements, just so you’ve an idea about what the next steps will look like. 

     

    Food For Thought - How Much Will I Get and What Should I Do With Them?

    For an adult cremation, there will often be up to 3 litres of cremated remains. While some people may want to keep all of the ashes together, others may like the idea of them being separated out so that a little bit if their person goes to all the people/places they possibly can. The fact that ashes are portable is a huge benefit to cremation.

     

    1. Keep the ashes in a container – a special wooden box or decorative ornament – in the home
      “I found it so lonely being at home without the old git in his chair, watching telly. When I got his ashes back, I popped them on his little coffee table and put the remote next to him. I feel so much better having him there next to me – I’ve told the kids to mix us both up when I go!”

    2. Inter (bury) the ashes – at the crematorium, or another special place
      Some people like to have a gathering place, away from home, where they can go to spend protected time with their loved one. Having a little distance can create space and a sense of ritual of spending time with someone, rather than having them as a constant presence in the home. You’ve got the opportunity to add a memorial, that you can personalise and decorate according to the rules, but also to the season and special occasions. It can be an important meeting place for friends and relatives on birthdays and anniversaries, or midday on a rainy Tuesday. For some, it brings comfort to know there’s a special place all of their own to share with their much-loved person.
       
    3. Scatter the ashes at the seaside, in the woods, on holiday, out the window of the Orient Express…
      By scattering the ashes in special places, there’s a sense of letting your person go in a place that they loved. It can be comforting to think of them enjoying themselves there, and to create a parallel to draw you back to happier times.

    4. Memorial Jewellery, Tattoos, Vinyl Records, Shot into Space…
      There are all sorts of things you can do with ashes – traditional, modern, classic and innovative. You’ll see a whole article on What To Do With Ashes very soon… 

    Whichever your decision, you’ll do what’s right for you, your family and your loved one. Your decision will be the right one, for you, with the information you’ve got to hand.

    We wish you our very best for the next stage of your funeral arrangement journey.

    About FuneralExperts.com

    FuneralExperts.com helps you to compare funeral directors based on:

    • Their location
    • Their standardised fees 

    We do not endorse or make recommendations about individual funeral directors, but we do offer you the tools to make those decisions yourself. 

    We’ll guide you through the very first steps of any funeral arrangement, outlining the decisions you’ll have and the different options for each. We’ll help by:

    • By collecting yours and your loved ones’ details
    • Laying out the pros and cons between a burial or cremation
    • Offering the decisions you’ll make to help choose where you’d like the burial or cremation to happen
    • Working out what your preferred date and time for the funeral will be
    • Sharing the assessment tools you might use to choose which Funeral Director to entrust your funeral to

    Our aim is to pair as many families as possible to the best funeral director for their individual needs. 

    As much as we’re a funeral price comparison service, we also aim to educate the public on the funeral industry as a whole. When the time inevitably comes that the funeral industry is needed, our clients are well-equipped with the language and understanding they need to give their loved one the best funeral possible. 

    Do You Even Want a Funeral?

    Do You Even Want a Funeral?

    Before engaging the services of a Funeral Director, there’s a few key decisions it helps to make before you arrive. 

    Namely, and firstly: 

    Do you even want a Funeral Service for your person?

    When we talk about funerals, people generally think of the service that’s held at the cemetery/crematorium:

    Traditionally, and on average, a funeral service is between 20 and 40 mins long. This usually includes music, a reading or two, a prayer or two, and the Committal is either incorporated during the middle of the service (as in, the curtains close around the coffin at a crematorium), or else is carried out at the end (as in, the coffin gets lowered into the ground at a cemetery).

    So often, a traditional funeral service as outlined can feel a little… flat. Generic. ‘The done thing’. For most, there’s little room for personalisation, except for maybe in choosing the music you have for when the coffin comes into the chapel, for during the committal, and for when the congregation leaves at the end. Guaranteed, the last funeral you went to included one – if not all – of these tropes…:

     

    • Opening the service with “My Way” by Frank Sinatra (“She certainly did do it her way…!”, said of the ‘unconventional’ grandparent coming down the aisle…);
    • Words of Welcome from the Minister – who almost certainly never met the person they’re speaking about in life, and barely met with their family long enough to truly understand the person’s last 6 months, let alone whole, rich octo-generic life;
    • “Time To Say Goodbye” by Andrea Bocelli (the version in English, of course. Uncle Bob never went abroad in his life.)
    • “The Lord’s My Shepherd” – in some iteration, as a reading or the recording from the opening of the ‘Vicar of Dibley’
    • Closing Words from the Minister – “our lives were certainly changed for this person  being in it…”
    • The Lord’s Prayer, because “No, she wasn’t religious, but we just think we ought to have it, you know?”
    • The next funeral party is coming in as you’re all piling out…

    In the end, you’re left feeling a little … flat. Not least because you’ve just said goodbye to your Person, but because it all felt a bit… maybe a bit inadequate.

     

    It seems so wrong that someone who was such an important part of your life is gone. And to commemorate that fact – the fact that someone who’s been there since birth – be that your own birth, or the birth of your relationship, the births of your own children, the birth of a beautiful friendship – the fact that that venous, throbbing life force is gone, has been diluted into a 30 min half-baked muted showreel. Rushed. Dull. And so very unlike them. 

     

    We’re here to tell you that there is another way.

     

    Often, you can be more flexible, personal and involved with saying a proper goodbye to your person when you separate the “Service” from the “Committal” elements of a funeral. 

     

    The ‘Committal’ is as simple (as these things possibly can be!) as choosing between a burial or a cremation for your loved one (a matter we discuss [here]) 

     

    The Service can be as fizzy or as controlled as the person who has died. Truly, it can be whatever you like, held wherever you like and can go on for as long as you like! It doesn’t have to be held at a cemetery or a crematorium. It needn’t be held at a church, either – unless you feel that’s what makes sense for you and your family, of course. You needn’t have a service at all.

    For example...

    Your Auntie was a colourful hippie-sort, known for her open-house policy and estate-wide legendary parties?
    The ‘Funeral Service’ could be an all-nighter at her place, catered by Iceland’s finest party platters and a case of Frosty Jacks.


    Dad’s known for being a man of few words, for liking a flutter on the horses and a pint on a Sunday afternoon?

    The ‘Funeral Service’ is made up of a gathering down the local with a pint of left on the bar, then poured down the alley at the side of the pub at kicking out time. It includes a bet on the three-legged animal running the 3 o clock at Cheltenham. It’s Bazza the Builder getting sloshed and telling the story of the time your Dad fell through the ceiling of the new-build they were working on because he hadn’t put the floorboards down in the loft yet.


    Traditionally, the coffin of the person who has died is on display throughout the Funeral Service; sat quietly waiting for the cremation or burial.


    For either of the examples mentioned, does the body of the person who has died really need  to be there? 


    It’s certainly possible they could be – lying in repose the night before the committal, perhaps. We, or your chosen funeral director, can advise on how best to take care of your loved one while they’re resting somewhere that’s not the funeral director’s premises. 


    Otherwise – what’s stopping the committal happening the week before?


    A small gathering of immediate family to lay the body to rest in the family plot at the local cemetery. 


    Or, a direct cremation, where the funeral directors take care of the committal, privately and with dignity.


    “They didn’t really look like themselves the last time we saw them, their body wasn’t really theirs anymore.”

    Often, where a burial or cremation take place without mourners in attendance, you can make considerable savings on the cost of using a funeral director. In addition, most crematoria offer significantly reduced cremation fees for completely unattended services, or services that have very few mourner numbers and ake place first thing in the morning (usually before 10am, and no earlier than 8am). 

     

    You’re less restricted by time, and you may want to wait for a significant date to roll around before initiating your gathering – on what would have been their next birthday, for example.

     

    Where the cremation takes place separately from the ‘funeral’, you could incorporate the cremated remains instead of the person’s coffin as a symbol of that person. As in Dad’s service above, the cremated remains could be popped on the bar for the night. Or, their favourite hat and glasses instead. For the wacky Aunt, her ashes could stay in their box on the side in the hallway, for people to pat the top of on their way in, covered in glitter and confetti as she would’ve been at the party when she was alive.

    Funerals are events for the living. Mum might’ve hated being the centre of attention, said something along the lines of  “just roll me up in a carpet and chuck me off the end of Clacton Pier”. Other iterations of this sentiment include, but are not limited to: “Put me in a cardboard box and be done with it”, “leave me for the cats to get” and “do you mind, I’m trying to eat my tea?!”. (A quick aside on this: cardboard coffins tend to be quite expensive when buying from a funeral director (find out Here [coffin types piece]). 

     

    Rightly so however, you think she was a brilliant, caring, kind, loving woman who deserves the earth. While you might not have been allowed to show her all the ways you’re grateful for her in life, in death you need a way to commemorate her and share who she is with others. Funerals are a wonderful occasion to acknowledge the profound impact your loved ones have had on your life.

    The long and the short of it is, funeral services are cathartic things and serve different purposes depending on the person. They can be:

     

    • A quiet, private goodbye,
    • The untying of shoelaces at the end of a long, hard day at work,
    • The last party on behalf of the town’s biggest party animal!
    • A ‘good riddance’ to someone who wasn’t very nice in life,
    • A massive “thank you!” celebration that the person lived and was a part of our lives at all.
    • All of the above at once, and none of them at all, and something else entirely.

    Mum doesn’t want a fuss? Why not arrange a Direct Cremation, and have a cup of tea at home with the cats at the proposed time of cremation? (The best funeral directors will be able to tell you what time a cremation will be, even if there are no members of the public due to attend – see more about our “How to Assess Your Funeral Director”). 

     

    Whether you choose to go down the Traditional Funeral Service route – your person was a traditionalist, after all! – or, you choose to separate out your Funeral Service from the Committal, your Funeral Director should be willing and happy to discuss all the choices that are available to you. 

     

    At FuneralExperts.com, we will help you by sharing the contact details of Funeral Directors that are closest to you by location, and also by the costs advertised on their Standardised Price List. We’ll collate all your initial decisions in one place, so that you can focus on speaking to your chosen funeral director about the little things that really matter.

     

    We hope that this has been helpful, and wish you the very best during the next stages of the funeral arrangement process. 

    Choosing a Funeral Director

    Choosing a Funeral Director

    Choosing a Funeral Director

    The CMA is The Competitions and Markets Authority. Their job is to ensure that individual businesses providing the same service do not band together to collectively increase their prices across the board, (making excessive, unfair sums of money from consumers.)

     

    They launched an investigation into the funerals industry to make sure that funeral directors are operating competitive businesses that offer fair, value-for-money services. 

     

    The CMA found that consumers – rightfully – didn’t always engage with the funeral arranging process. Having commonly never needed to arrange a funeral themselves before, and therefore having no prior experience of what to expect from the process, they weren’t able to engage and scrutinise the service they were getting. Most often, they would select funeral directors based:

     

    • Recommendation from someone else – close friends or relatives who have recently gone through the arrangement process before
    • Convention: using the same undertakers their family had used for generations. 

    Generally, they found that affordability rarely came into the question: most people want to make sure their loved one get the best possible send-off, regardless of how much it costs. That said, while clients want value for their money, most people have no idea how to assess this when it comes to funerals.

    That’s where we come in!

     

    When tragedy strikes, we tend to gravitate toward the familiar. We hark back to the customs and traditions of our parents, grandparents and extended families. We’re swept up in the confusion and tumult of grief – we so often simply cannot fathom making decisions and why on earth would we try doing anything different than the norm when we’ve got all this to deal with?!

    While totally understandable, we’re here to show you that you have choices. Take a breath, sit with us, and in this post we’ll give you some of the tools to assess which funeral director to entrust yourselves – and your loved one – with.

    Option 1 - Using the same Funeral Director We’ve Always Used

    “Oh use [THIS PARTICULAR UNDERTAKER]. They were simply wonderful with my Mum when Great-Aunt Mildred died in 1962…”

    Did you know that many funeral directors that were local independent funeral directors a generation or two ago, are now being run by big, multi-national funeral groups? Large funeral ‘chains’ often keep the original name above the door of a funeral directors, but operate as part of a big group. Although as a family you may have used the same funeral director for generations, it’s entirely possible they’re being run by a completely new set of faces, without the same values and principals as the original family who set up the company to begin with.

     

     

    The CMA found that, overwhelmingly, clients that were in need of a funeral director tended to choose firms that had been personally recommended. While generally it’s a good bet to use tradespeople that friends and relatives have used before, where funerals are concerned, their assessments are being made during a time of heightened emotion, about an industry that has been shrouded in mystery and intrigue since its inception. While you can get a good gut feeling for an establishment, when your guts are all over the place with grief, it helps to have a FuneralExperts.com on hand to help you with a little discernment.

    Option 2 - Assess Funeral Directors On Their Own Merit

    Apart from registering the person’s death, there are no time limits on planning a funeral. There may be some practical aspects you may need to consider – such as whether or not you would like to spend time with the body of the person who has died (‘Viewing’ the deceased) – that may influence your decision. But choosing a Funeral Director is not one of them.

    1 - Establish Your Initial Ideas Before Starting Your Search

    While it’s a good idea to take on the advice given to you by experts, ultimately the funeral is about what’s right for you, your family and your loved one. You’ll be surprised about how much you’ve already got sorted – or at least in mind – once you’ve looked through this list below…:

     

    a) Are you arranging a burial or cremation for your loved one?

    Over 70% of funerals in the UK today are cremations. A number of factors influence this – including the cost and low availability of usable new burial space. If you or your loved one have your heart set on burial, but the cost is worry, consider using churchyards, or speak to cemeteries run by local authorities/groups that offer re-purposed and/or public graves.


    b) Do you know what crematorium/cemetery you would like to use for the service?


    For example, do you have a family burial plot you would like to use? Where’s the closest crematorium? Who runs them? What are their facilities like?


    c) What’s your budget for the funeral?


    The national average cost of a burial service is £4383 (not including the purchase of the grave itself, nor any stonemasonry), and for a cremation it’s £3,290. This absolutely depends on what region of the country you live in, and indeed whether or not you choose an Attended or an Unattended funeral service.


    d) Aside from the car your loved one will be travelling in (the Hearse), will you or others need transport from where you’re staying, to the funeral?


    Do you need any limousines? Typically they can carry up to 6 mourners (including children: check individual Funeral Directors’ policies for fitting car/booster seats). Will you make your own way to the funeral – will the funeral director meet you there? Do you need a lift to the wake venue or back home after the service?

    2 - Get quotes from local funeral directors for the services you’ve decided on above

    FuneralExperts.com will collate all these decisions for you, along with your contact details and those of your loved one. We’ll present a list of local funeral directors, arranged in price order, based on the costs advertised by them on their Standardised Price List.

    Remember: the Standardised Price List is a CMA-mandated legal requirement that all funeral directors must display prominently in their premises and on their websites. It won’t include all of the services a funeral director may offer, but can be a good indicator of their general costliness.

    It’s also a good idea to remember that low cost doesn’t always equal good value: a generally expensive funeral director won’t necessarily provide the best service, and vice versa.

    Once you’ve chosen your funeral director, they will give you a call to discuss your wishes in more detail. There is no obligation to sign up to anything at this stage. It is sometimes helpful to speak to a number of funeral directors and get a feel for them.

    Think about:

    • How did they greet you on the phone?
    • Were they helpful with your enquiries? 
    • Do you get a good impression from the people you spoke with?
    • Were they open with you about their availability?

    3 - What extras does your chosen funeral director offer?

    Once you’ve chosen your funeral director with FuneralExperts.com, you can start exploring personalisation options with them.

     

    a) Can your funeral director facilitate out of hours visits, if you think you may need them?

     

    b) Will your funeral director meet you at your own home? Will they arrange the funeral remotely, if needed?

     

    c) If you do go into their offices to meet with them, are the reception areas clean and well maintained? Is the person you meet friendly, well-kempt and polite?

     

    d) Can you pick and choose which of their services you need from them, and can they offer support on the aspects of the funeral you’d like to arrange yourself?

     

    e) Are they members of any regulatory bodies, such as the NAFD, SAIF, BAFD or others?

     

    f) (Even if you don’t actually want to), would they let me look around the behind-the-scenes areas? Are they open to a tour of the premises

     

    g) Do they have their own in-house florist, or will I need to find my own?

     

    h) Do they offer their own Order of Service printing?

     

    i) Do they have embalmers on-staff, or do they hire in? Can they tell you where your loved one will be being kept until the funeral?

     

    Remember: don’t be put-off if a funeral director does not keep your loved one with them at their office the entire time their services are engaged. Some funeral directors’ premises are very small. While they may not have anywhere on-site to keep people for longer than a day or so, or when they’ve not been embalmed, are they open with where your loved one will be off-site?

    j) Are they happy to spend time talking me through the different options I’ve got with regards to my loved one’s cremated remains?

     

    k) Are they generally supportive of my ideas about what I’d like for my loved ones’ funeral?

     

     

    4 - Although we hope you won’t need to, do bear in mind that you can change your mind about your funeral director at any time

    When you’ve chosen your funeral director, you will usually sign an agreement stating that you agree to the fees they’ve outlined, and that you’re formally instructing them to start delivering their service. 


    That said, there will be a clause in the agreement or the funeral director’s Ts and Cs saying that there’s a cooling-off period. If at any time you feel unhappy with the service you’re being provided, you can refer the funeral director to the trade body they’re a part of (if applicable), and choose another funeral director to finish up your loved one’s care. However, you will have to pay for services already carried out by the original funeral director – often the fee to collect your person from where they died, and some – if not all – of the administration fee.

    FuneralExperts.com helps you to compare funeral directors based on:

    • Their location
    • Their standardised fees 

     

    We do not endorse or make recommendations about individual funeral directors, but we do offer you the tools to make those decisions yourself. 

     

    We’ll guide you through the very first steps of any funeral arrangement, outlining the decisions you’ll have and the different options for each. We’ll help by:

    • By collecting yours and your loved ones’ details
    • Laying out the pros and cons between a burial or cremation
    • Offering the decisions you’ll make to help choose where you’d like the burial or cremation to happen
    • Working out what your preferred date and time for the funeral will be
    • Sharing the assessment tools you might use to choose which Funeral Director to entrust your funeral to

     

    Our aim is to pair as many families as possible to the best funeral director for their individual needs. 

    As much as we’re a funeral price comparison service, we also aim to educate the public on the funeral industry as a whole. When the time inevitably comes that the funeral industry is needed, our clients are well-equipped with the language and understanding they need to give their loved one the best funeral possible. 

     

    We hope this guide is useful to you, and wish you well with your next steps.