You can do everything yourself. Some people find it hard to imagine arranging a funeral. Take your time, don’t rush, ask for advice. It’s a straightforward, logical process and often families feel a great sense of achievement and satisfaction when they do this final act on their own as a family, rather than handing it all over to strangers. You will need to fill out the paperwork and take on the practical aspects of handling the body and coffin and, if you wish, co-ordinate a ceremony. Ask family and friends to help with transport, catering, carrying, flowers and general moral support!
Evelyn’s Funerals is glad to offer advice, show you where to find a coffin or shroud, or you can buy one from us, or we can supply any other help if you decide you need it.
You will find lots of practical help and advice on how to arrange a cremation or burial, both online or by phone. Good resources are freely available from:
The Natural Death Centre
The Good Funeral Guide
These are also books so you can borrow or buy copies and they will guide you every step of the way.
There are other resources available online such as this one from Crossings – Caring for our own after death.
If you are arranging a cremation contact your chosen crematorium or, in the case of a burial, your local council and they will be able to give you help and advice – many have adopted the Charter for the Bereaved issued by the Institute of Burial and Cremation Administration and are in a position to help private individuals to arrange a funeral themselves. Natural burial grounds are also able to advise on the procedures to follow.
If you are thinking of buying a coffin online – please be aware that they are not all the same quality, and for cremations they must be compliant with crematorium regulations. They also can have a high delivery charge and VAT on top. Check The Natural Death Centre and The Good Funeral Guide for recommendations of reputable suppliers.
DIY – You do everything yourself – example checklist and costs for a cremation service:
- A doctor will need to confirm the death, if at home call your GP or the out of hours service.
- Obtain doctors’ medical certificates: Forms CR4 and CR5 (Needed for cremation and cost £164 . These are arranged by your GP if the person died at home, or from the hospital if the death happened there.)
- If the Coroner is involved he/she will issue a release form to you, and a Form CR6 direct to the crematorium, for which there is no charge and it replaces Forms CR4 and CR5
- Register the death (fees payable for copy death certificates) and obtain the ‘Green Form’ from the Registrar which is the permission certificate to go ahead with the cremation or burial. Take a copy of the Green Form*
- Once you have the medical forms, and the green form from the Registrar you can think about booking the crematorium (and/or other ceremony venue)
- Liaise with and book a minister or celebrant at this stage if you would like someone to conduct the ceremony for you
- Liaise with the venue about music – do you need to take a cd/iPod or do they have a digital music system such as Wesley Media or Obitus?
- Complete an Application for Cremation Form CR1 – also available from the crematorium. Guidance on completing the form is available here
- Pay the crematorium the fee, deliver the Application for Cremation Form CR1, the Doctors’ forms CR4 and CR5 , or the Coroner Form 6, and the green form from the Registrar to the crematorium. There will be various other forms on which the crematorium will require signatures – such as: Instructions for Cremated Remains, Music Choices, Memorial Options, Consent to Recycle Metals (Artificial joints, coffin screws)
- Buy or make a coffin or shroud
- Collect the body from the hospital taking with you the Coroner’s release form or the *copy of the Green Form.
- Place the body in the coffin and/or wrap in the shroud
- Transport the coffin or shrouded body to the crematorium
- On the funeral day carry the coffin into the crematorium (Advisable to liaise with staff about timing.)
- Create and lead the ceremony yourself or with a minister or celebrant (Include for example: silence, contemplation, music, tributes, eulogy, poetry, reminiscences, photo slideshow, singing, stories – inspiration at Funeral Helper)
- Ashes collected or perhaps scattered at the crematorium
Cost example £1,264.00
Based on a weekday ceremony at Easthampstead Park Crematorium £800.00
Doctors’ fees £164.00
Coffin from £300.00
Burials can usually be arranged more quickly, because you do not need to co-ordinate so many forms CR1, CR4, Cr5. You just need the Green Form from the registrar and to complete an application form for the burial ground/cemetery. Burials generally incur higher costs – see the price estimator ‘Burial – cost of a grave’ section with natural burial grounds generally having lower costs than council owned ones. Council cemeteries can be very expensive if the person who died did not live in the Borough. Reading Borough Council, for example, triples the grave fee for non residents. Bracknell Forest doubles the fee for non residents.
Some crematoria offer a ‘coffin to catafalque’ service – where you take the coffin early on the day of the funeral and it will be placed on the catafalque in the chapel at the time of the service to await your arrival. This means you wouldn’t need to find bearers to carry it on the day.
Easthampstead Park Crematorium is unique in this area, because it has its own mortuary where you can take the coffin and it will be kept cool and safe for several days, if necessary, until the funeral, for a small fee (£25.00 a day.)
If you would prefer to bring the body home from hospice or hospital, you can use ice packs wrapped in towels to cool the body or the Flexmort Mini Cooling System may provide a solution. Read ‘A Family’s Farewell’ on page 17 in this issue of the Natural Death Centre’s Magazine ‘more to death’ to see how one family used this innovative system. Taking care of someone at home can be the most natural and normal way to continue caring and loving until you all feel ready for the funeral.