Discussion about a funeral has to happen very soon after the death of your loved one - quite likely in the day or so after the death. This is hard and only made easier if your loved one has left instructions. However, there are people to help and you should never be afraid to ask. Your Funeral Director will guide you and if you are involved in a church, the minister will also be able to talk you through the service which follows a format called a 'funeral rite'. If you would prefer to have a non religious service, you can use a Civil Celebrant. You can search for a civil celebrant in your area here.

If you have a friend or family member with you, so much the better. A funeral is an opportunity to create a special tribute to your loved one and whilst painful, can also be memorable and a positive experience. If you have young people in your family, try to involve them in some way, however small. Give them the option to attend or not and change their mind later. You can find some very helpful advice about how to support bereaved young people and how to help them prepare for a funeral on this page. How to support a bereaved young person

If you are supporting a bereaved family, talk to the family to try and gather information for a tribute or resume of the person’s life and their character that can be included in the service is important. This is especially important if you don’t know the family well. Ask the family what the person who died was like to help you talk about them in a personal way.

Discussing burials and cremations

You will probably discuss with the funeral director whether a burial or cremation is more appropriate.

Be aware that if you  choose a burial, the site can become a bit of a physical fixation, if not for you then other family members; if you are likely to move they can feel that they are leaving their loved one behind. Cremations, however, can cause issues around the scattering of the ashes, with family members having different views on what should happen. Collectively, it can be very hard to decide, and as time goes on it becomes a bigger deal. If they wish to discuss the topic with you, help them decide upfront – before the funeral – how they wish to deal with the ashes so that it is a less painful decision after.

The service

When preparing for the service, be imaginative: what do you and the family need at this time? It’s important to have a positive experience. Make sure that your loved one is remembered accurately and would have liked the service; this will make you and the family feel that the person has been honoured.

If your service is in a crematorium, then the range of songs and music available is likely to be wider as they can acquire most music requested. Try to include songs that you feel are appropriate and your loved one liked, even if some of these are secular. If few people are likely to know the hymns, keep them short and only pick one. Popular choices tend to be “The Lord’s My Shepherd”, “Abide with Me”, or songs with tunes that they might already know. Include readings that they have requested; they don’t all need to be from the Bible. There are fewer restrictions on readings in a crematorium service.

Funeral Directors

Most funeral directors provide full information about funerals on their websites. Funeral directors have a great deal of experience, are best placed to provide you with information. Please do your own research to find the funeral director that best suits your needs and financial circumstances.

If you are struggling to cover the cost of a funeral please visit Down to Earth, a Quaker Social Action project that helps individuals with financial challenges cover the cost of a funeral.