Should I choose burial or cremation?
If your loved one hasn't specified a preference then this can be a tricky one. Think about who the deceased was in life and try to get some clues to help you reach a decision. Did they love the countryside in which case maybe you'd like to consider a natural burial? Were they afraid of the dark in which case maybe you'd like to avoid a burial altogether? Were they passionate about the environment in which case they maybe wouldn't want a cremation? If this doesn't help then make the decision for yourself. Do you want to be able to visit a grave? Or, if you live many miles away and won't be in a position to regularly visit or tend a grave then maybe cremation is for the best. Or maybe you like the idea of your loved one being laid to rest somewhere beautiful and peaceful. Whatever you decide, as long as you feel happy that you've made your decision for the best reasons you should stop worrying about it. If your loved one had had a strong preference then they would, in all likelihood, have let you know.
What happens at a cremation?
The invited mourners gather at the crematorium at an arranged time. When the coffin arrives, the close family will follow it into the chapel, followed by everyone else, and an usher will usually direct you to your seats. The coffin will be placed on a platform and the service will start.
Towards the end of the service, the coffin will usually be hidden from view by curtains or be taken out of the chapel. Alternatively, the coffin can simply remain on view until everyone has left the chapel.
At the end of the service, the funeral director will lead the family out of the chapel, followed by the other mourners. You will have an opportunity to look at the floral tributes and the family will have time to thank people for coming.A close member of the family may witness the cremation if required. Please let us know when making the funeral arrangements if you'd like us to arrange this. The coffin is placed into the cremator. The heat is very intense and it takes about 90 minutes for the body to be reduced to small amounts of bone. These are removed from the cremator, cooled and placed in a machine which reduces them to ashes. These are the cremated remains which are then placed in the chosen container.
How can I pay?
Payment for a funeral can be made in cash, by cheque or by all major debit or credit cards. A surcharge of 1.5% is added if your account is settled by credit card. If you are interested in pre-paying for a funeral see our information on this in the 'Planning Ahead' section of our web site.
Is there financial help available?
In certain circumstances the next-of-kin can receive help with the cost of the funeral from the Social Fund. Claims must be made within three months of death. Ask your funeral director for further information on death benefits. Your financial circumstances may now have changed and you could be eligible for various state grants; to find out more call Social Security on freephone 0800 666 555. Your local Citizens' Advice Bureau can also help you.
How do I explain bereavement to children and should they attend the funeral?
There are a number of excellent charities who can help with all matters to do with bereaved children. See Winston's Wish at www.winstonswish.org.uk and The Child Bereavement Trust at www.childbereavement.org.uk.
What should I wear?
This is usually determined by the family of the deceased but, if in doubt, play safe and go for black or at least dark colours. However, if the family has specified a dress code, then please do respect their wishes. The main thing is to look presentable and to dress appropriately as a mark of respect for the deceased.
If you are the family, then deciding what to wear and whether or not to specify a dress code for the occasion is a purely personal matter. You should decide on the basis of what you feel your loved one would have wanted and what makes you feel most comfortable.
How should I behave/what is expected of me?
This, of course, depends on who you are. If you are the spouse/parent/child of the loved one no one will have any real expectations of you, although adult children will probably be looked to to provide a bereaved parent with lots of support on the day.
However, there are some basic principles around good manners and appropriate behaviour which are best observed to avoid unfortunate incidences.
- Remain sober
- Don't bad mouth the deceased under any circumstances
- Don't start speculating about the will
- Don't get into an argument with anyone about anything
- Don't get into an argument with anyone about anything
- Be on time
- Be polite and considerate to everyone
- If you are invited to the wake and there is an expectation that you will attend, then go, even if you don't want to, unless you have a really good and genuine reason why you can't. If you really don't want to be there then still go and only stay for a short time, but at least half an hour, then make your excuses.
What should I say to my bereaved friend and how can I help?
There are lots of suggestions on how to support a grieving friend or family member, many of which have been put forward by bereaved people as things they would have liked to have experienced during their own period of mourning, at the Centre for the Grief Journey at www.griefjourney.com.
How long does it take to arrange and complete a funeral?
This varies. Some funerals, to comply with particular faiths, have to be arranged and completed within 24 hours. In other cases, funerals take longer to happen perhaps because the coroner has to be involved or the proposed venue is fully booked. Usually though, from the time of death to the funeral, the average length of time is around 7-10 days.