A Step by Step Guide to Planning a Funeral

Category: Planning A Funeral


It’s never an easy time when a loved one passes away. No matter whether it was expected or a sudden shock, losing a treasured friend or family member is a traumatic experience.

Legal formalities and funeral arrangements will seem low on your list of priorities following the death of a loved one. Nevertheless, planning a funeral service can help your family to carry out their wishes and provide a fitting tribute, allowing family and friends to bid a fond farewell in their own unique way.

It’s important to remember that our experienced and compassionate funeral directors are on hand to offer emotional support and expert advice and practical assistance for all your loved one’s funeral arrangements.

If you have never planned a funeral before, it can seem like a daunting task. Particularly when you are in the midst of grieving the loss of your loved one. Our step-by-step guide to funeral arrangements below will help you to understand what’s required to create the perfect send-off.

1. Burials and cremations

Choosing between a burial and cremation is likely to be the first decision you will have to make – unless your loved one had already intimated a preference in their own funeral wishes. Typically, burials are a more expensive option than a cremation once you have factored in the cost of a new grave plot.

Some people prefer burials as it provides close family with a place to visit and remember their loved one. Meanwhile others prefer cremations and the chance to scatter their loved one’s ashes in a special place. There is no right or wrong decision here. It’s important to make a choice that suits you and your family.

2. Choosing a date and time for the funeral service

The time lapse between the death of a loved one and their funeral can differ greatly depending on several factors. Sometimes a medical examination will be necessary to obtain a certificate of death and in other instances an autopsy may be required which can add further delays to funeral arrangements.

When the time comes to choose a specific date and time for your loved one’s funeral, you’ll want to make sure that you pick a day and time that ensures as many people as possible can come and pay their respects and show their support for the bereaved.

3. Newspaper obituaries and notices

Even in the 21stcentury, obituaries and death notices still have an important place in society. Placing a death notice within a local newspaper remains an effective way to notify friends and acquaintances about the passing of a loved one.

A death notice is also useful to spread the word about the confirmed date, time and location of your loved one’s funeral. This will enable people that are outside of your current social circle to go to the service and pay their respects to your family and the deceased. Your experienced Central England Co-operative Funeralcare director can help with preparing and submitting a death notice or obituary to the local newspaper.

We also offer the option of creating online obituaries that can be shared via social media and allow people that live far and wide to view your announcement.

4. Choosing the type of funeral ceremony

Unless your loved one has already stipulated the type of funeral ceremony they wish to have, you will be tasked with selecting an appropriate service and the right person to officiate the ceremony.

If your loved one has not stipulated the type of service they would like and they had proud religious beliefs, it would make sense to ask their local priest to officiate the service in church. Of course, if your loved one had atheist beliefs, it is also possible for them to have a humanist ceremony; or have it officiated by a family relative or friend. The service can be as personal and unique as you wish.

5. Selecting service music, hymns and readings

Choosing entrance and exit funeral music for your loved one’s ceremony can be an emotional task. Listening to songs that remind you of them will no doubt stir up memories and feelings of years gone by. However, selecting these kinds of songs will help to make their service unique and reflect your loved one’s personality to a tee.

Church-based services can have a number of hymns and readings. Your local priest can help you decide the best choices for your loved one. Alternatively, we can talk you through some of the most popular choices and make suggestions based on our years of experience.

6. Writing a eulogy

Writing and presenting a eulogy is a chance to celebrate and pay tribute to the life your loved one led. In a sense, a eulogy helps to bring the person to life in the minds of all those present at the service. However, even if you are used to speaking in public, finding the right words to say can be difficult given the unique circumstances.

Try to keep your eulogy brief. One that can be delivered in five-to-ten minutes is ideal. Incorporate funny or charming stories about the times you shared with your loved one, making sure to get across the type of person they were.

Writing a eulogy can be a joint effort between family members – it can help share the emotional burden and give people a chance to have their say if they so wish.

7. Funeral service stationery

The most common piece of funeral service stationery is an Order of Service. This lets guests know what to expect throughout the ceremony and also acts as a cherished memento of the day.

An Order of Service can be designed however you wish. Our experienced funeral directors can work with you to agree on designs, colour schemes, fonts and even the inclusion of significant words, sayings or photographs that can truly personalise an Order of Service.

8. Floral tributes and charitable donations

Finally, floral bouquets and tributes can provide an extra layer of personalisation to your loved one’s funeral. As part of their funeral arrangements, you might decide to request for flowers exclusively in your loved one’s favourite colours – or choose a unique bouquet or design that has a special meaning.

Alternatively, if you don’t wish for floral tributes at the ceremony, you could request that donations are made to a charity of your choice instead. You can place collection envelopes or pots at the ceremony to allow guests to add donations at their discretion.