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Some key decisions

If there are no clear instructions left in either a funeral plan or funeral instruction service such as A Dozen Final Wishes, there will be a need to make some decisions surrounding the final goodbye that you would like to give. We have made some suggestions here based on our experience with the families we have worked with.

1. NOTIFY FRIENDS AND FAMILY

You may want to notify close friends and family immediately (some may want to visit the person who’s died one last time). You may want to wait until arrangements for any funeral are in place before you contact less immediate friends and family.

You don’t need the death certificate to start thinking and planning the final goodbye and if you want to get the date for the funeral in people’s diaries, you can go ahead and start making arrangements if there is no reason not to. Equally, you can take your time to think about what you want and shop around – you certainly don’t need to be bounced into decisions. It’s worth noting the funeral can wait weeks if you’d rather. This may be guided by your beliefs but there’s no legal requirement to rush it.

2. DECIDE WHO IS TO ORGANISE THE FUNERAL WITH YOU

You can choose to organise the funeral yourself, or alternatively a funeral director will help you with the arrangements.

Once high level arrangements are in place – venue, date, time, gathering afterwards, you can invite friends, family, work colleagues, neighbours to attend and invite any contributions to the ceremony. You may want to specify any special requests like – wear bright clothes, carry a flower or no flowers or notify of a preferred charity for donations.

Remember to share out tasks: you may be in a muddled state, not to mention under pressure for time so share the load to keep on top of phoning and tracking who’s attending, getting numbers for catering, orchestrating contributions and sharing finalised plans for the ceremony.

Funeral Director’s will help you decide on things like type or coffin or urn, embalming, if you want transport to the crematorium before or after the service at the woodland or if it’s a full burial how long you think you might need with us.

3. BURIAL OR CREMATION?

72% of people now opt for cremation but it’s just a matter of personal preference and sometimes what’s easiest locally. You may want to check with the family lawyer to see if there’s a lair certificate or deeds for a pre-paid burial plot for a burial ground.

The hospital needs to know your preference almost immediately for the death certificate. Two doctors have to sign a second certificate if it’s a cremation. This costs around £150 and if you are using a funeral director, they can organise this and pay for it, charging for this disbursement or fee to someone else as part of your bill for their services. The crematorium needs this certificate 24 hours before the cremation. If you are using a funeral director, they can liaise on this with the hospital and crematorium.

4. DECIDE ON THE WHO MIGHT LEAD THE FUNERAL

You can arrange a religious funeral ceremony, a Civil Funeral, with or without religious content and led by a Civil Funeral Celebrant, or a Humanist Funeral with no religious content led by a Humanist Officiant, or you might even decide to lead the funeral ceremony yourself. There is no legal requirement on this, in fact there is surprisingly little legality when planning a funeral. You decide whatever you feel is most suitable.

5. DATES AND TIMES

Consider the date and time that would be suitable with an alternative if your first choice is not available.

Remember, very often there is no need to make all these decisions in one day and unless there are special or religious considerations you can take your time to ensure that you are satisfied with the final goodbye. Many of our families take time to reflect during the days of the arrangements and can visit us as often as they like to discuss their plans or concerns.