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Arranging a funeral - a step by step guide

Updated: Oct 27, 2020

Kindly prepared by the Rev Dr Peter Jupp with professional advice from Caroline Peacock of Peterborough City Hospital Bereavement Care Centre, Tom Johnston of E. M. Dorman Funeral Directors and Dr Brian Parsons of Funeral Training (London).

Sooner or later, each one of us will die. Our own funeral will be the last occasion at which we will be physically present and when our relatives and friends will say their final ‘Farewell’ to us.

Whether we are facing our own death or of that of someone we love or respect, the funeral is a special occasion and needs to be organised with care.

This paper is addressed to anyone who is preparing ahead for their own funeral or who may be faced with the responsibility of arranging a funeral for someone else. The paper is prepared under these main headings:

· The purpose of a funeral

· Changes in British funerals

· When death occurs

· The Medical Certificate of Cause of Death

· The role of the Coroner

· Registering the death

· Arranging for the funeral

· Funeral choices and decisions

· Funeral costs

· The ‘Tell Us Once’ service

· Whom else to inform after a death

· Contact details: The Coroner, Registrars and Funeral Directors


The purpose of a funeral

The funeral has five main purposes:

(1) to dispose of a dead body in a way that shows respect for the person who has died;

(2) to address the facts of the particular death and the loss it has caused;

(3) to commemorate, with words and music, the life of the person who has died, giving thanks for their achievements, their character and their experiences.

(4) to symbolise the transition of the person who has died to a life beyond, according to their religious beliefs, or to symbolise the ending of a life for one who had no belief in life after death;

(5) to help the bereaved to come to terms with their loss and prepare for a future without the one they loved.