Do it your way – A guide to DIY funeral planning

Funerals are by their very nature sad and sombre occasions. If you’ve ever returned home after attending a funeral feeling drained and empty, it’s worth remembering that it doesn’t have to be this way. A good funeral has the potential to do a lot of a good, but to create a truly memorable celebration of a life well lived, will require a lot of effort and hard work.

A DIY funeral can involve as much or as little input from a funeral professional as you want. However, if it’s important to you to be able to feel in complete control over the proceedings, you shouldn’t let others do for you what you’re able to do for yourself. When it’s all over, although there will still be grief and sadness, you’ll also be left with a real sense of achievement.

The direction that a DIY funeral will take is usually determined by whether you want a faith funeral. If the funeral is to have a religious element, a faith leader will often to be involved with the planning. Religious funeral ceremonies are based upon a fixed format which is known as a liturgy and whilst there is some room for personalisation within a religious funeral service, this will be limited.

In the early stages of funeral planning you’ll need to think about whether you want a funeral service or a memorial service. The person who has died is present at a funeral service whilst a memorial service is an event to commemorate the life of the deceased after the body has been buried or cremated. In some cases people decide to have a funeral service and a memorial service.

If you’re in the Leeds, UK area, then you can visit a Leeds funeral director with a difference, in the form of Full Circle Funerals who will be able to help you with all sorts of alternate ways to organise a funeral.

Leeds Funeral DirectorWhilst opting for a non-religious funeral service is a very personal choice, choosing a non-religious funeral offers the opportunity to do exactly as you like. A good DIY funeral is designed to be as individual and unique as the life of the deceased and this is one of the reasons why non-religious funerals are becoming increasingly popular.

Funerals are unusual as they are one of the few events which do not need the expertise of professionals to be a success. The whole idea of a DIY funeral is that it should be designed and carried out to suit the traditions, culture and customs of your family. There is no law to say that you have to follow convention; just do what you feel is right and the funeral will make a fitting tribute to the deceased.

It’s OK to inject an element of humour into a funeral and although jokes can’t or shouldn’t replace grief, an account of someone’s life if more than likely to include at least a couple of funny anecdotes. Happy memories will always make people smile so don’t be afraid of humour.

Non-religious funeral celebrants are now widely available throughout the UK and if you’d like someone to lead the funeral; you’ll need to find a celebrant who you feel you can work with. Get in touch with a few celebrants as this is the best way to find the one who’s most suitable and don’t forget that you’re in charge.


Funeral finance plans – are they worth it?

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With the average funeral costing around £3000, many people worry about how they will cover the cost of paying for their funeral. Of course the majority of people pay for their funeral directly from their estate but if you’re concerned that you won’t have sufficient funds, a funeral finance plan could be the solution.
There are a number of designated funeral finance plan providers operating in the UK offering schemes designed to be paid into in advance, either for your own funeral or someone else’s such as your spouse. The alternative to paying into a funeral finance plan is to open a savings account but with interest rates currently so low, a pre-paid funeral plan could be the best choice if you are looking for peace of mind.
So what is a funeral finance plan and how do they work? Put simply, a funeral finance plan is a way to pay for your funeral costs in advance. Funeral finance schemes are operated by specialist plan providers and some funeral directors also offer schemes. Money is either paid into the scheme in instalments or a lump sum, this money is then either invested into a trust fund which is managed by trustees, or an insurance policy and the money is paid out for the funeral whenever it takes place.
It is worth noting that funeral finance plans are not authorised or regulated by the Financial Services Authority which means that the FSA’s compensation and complaints procedures do not apply if things go wrong. Funeral finance plan providers can, if they agree to meet the requirements, register their services with the Funeral Planning Authority although they are under no obligation to do this. The Funeral Planning Authority’s website contains a list of FPA registered providers.
Before signing up for a funeral finance plan, it’s a good idea to consider a few important issues. For example, will your chosen plan allow you to use the funeral director of your choice? What will happen if you die overseas? What will happen if there are extra expenses for arranging your funeral? Can the plan be cancelled and will there be any charges for this? How long will you have to pay into the plan and what happens if you die whilst payments are still due? Any reputable funeral finance service will be more than happy to answer your questions and if you have any concerns, contacting the Funeral Planning Authority for advice is a sensible course of action.
If you do decide that a funeral finance plan is right for you, make sure that you let your next of kin know. You should be given a written record of the arrangements for your funeral plan; keep these records safe and let your family or friends know where this documentation is kept. Whilst a funeral finance plan is not for everyone, having the peace of mind to know that the cost of your funeral has been covered can be a great source of comfort and reassurance.

Planning a Green Funeral

What makes a green funeral?

According to Leeds based funeral directors, increasing numbers of people are considering a green funeral and with increasing pressure on overcrowded cemeteries, churchyards and crematorium, consideration for the environment is becoming an important element of funeral planning.

Choosing to be buried in a natural burial ground is not for everyone and if you think it could be right for you, it’s important to visit a couple of natural burial grounds before making a decision. It’s much harder to make decisions in the immediate aftermath of someone’s death so to minimise the pressure on your loved ones, letting them know about your plans is vital. There are around three hundred natural burial grounds currently open in the UK with the number growing and the association of Natural Burial Grounds can be contacted for more information.

It’s interesting to note that the use of a coffin in a funeral in not required in UK law. Whilst it goes without saying that dead bodies should be covered in public, it is entirely up to you whether you are buried in a coffin, basket or a simple shroud. The options for different coffin designs are very wide and if you’re looking for an environmentally friendly design, willow coffins fit the bill perfectly. It is also possible to buy coffins made from 100% environmentally friendly wood, complete with biodegradable lining and handles.

Natural funeral flowers are a lovely way to add a beautiful finishing touch to a green funeral and natural, wildflower arrangements are becoming increasingly popular. The best funeral flowers are those that reflect the personality of the deceased and sadly most of the traditional funeral wreaths and displays that are available from many florists are simply too formal. Natural funeral flowers look as though they have just been picked from a garden or wild flower meadow and the flowers used are seasonal and native to the UK. It is even possible to buy natural funeral arrangements made from fruit or vegetables – perfect for commemorating the life of a keen gardener!

When it comes to planning a green funeral you’ll find that there is a wide – and growing – choice of different options. Funerals should be as unique as the person who is died and to make your green funeral as special as possible, you could add a range of unusual finishing touches. If the environment is important to you, why not consider a greener alternative to the traditional funeral transport of a hearse and fleet of funeral? A number of companies now offer a horse drawn carriage hearse whilst it is also possible to have your coffin transported using bicycle power!

How you plan your funeral isn’t restricted by rules and regulations and the details of your final send-off are entirely up to you. Planning a greener funeral is simply about having a funeral that is as natural as possible and how you go about that is your decision: whether you opt for a coffin made from recycled materials or to be buried in a shroud the range of choices is huge.

Are there any alternatives to traditional burial or cremation?

The decision on what is to be done with a body after death is always a sensitive one. In the past, a traditional burial or cremations were the only options available, but with huge pressure on overcrowded church graveyards and cemeteries, many people are looking for other options when planning their funeral.
Whilst a traditional burial is still the most popular option in the UK, the range of alternatives is beginning to grow and range from the practical or environmentally friendly, through to some which are more unusual.
In the UK, a traditional burial means the internment of a body in the ground, either in a churchyard or cemetery. Most cemeteries are non-denominational which means that a range of different religious funeral services can be carried out in them and churchyards, obviously, belong to the denomination of the church they are joined to. It is possible to pre-buy a plot in a cemetery and if someone owns a plot, a Deed of Grant is required to prove this. The price of a plot will vary enormously and depends on the location; it’s important to note that many plots, particularly those in major cities are sold on a lease basis which normally expires after around 75 years, up to a maximum of 100 years.
The plot system in consecrated churchyards is slightly different as anyone who is a parishioner of that church has a right to be buried in the graveyard as long as there is sufficient space available. The right to be buried in a churchyard is also extended to anyone who is on the electoral roll of the parish at the time of their death. Anyone who wishes to be buried in a particular churchyard but doesn’t fit one of these categories has to seek permission of the church authority whose decision will be final. It’s also worth mentioning that some churchyards have restrictions on the size or shape of grave memorials and headstones so it’s important to check before making arrangements.
Cremation now exceeds burials as the most popular option in the UK and current data shows that approximately 70% of all funerals now consist of a cremation. Although this rise has helped to ease the burden on increasingly overcrowded graveyards, many crematoriums in the UK are now incredibly busy, resulting in an impersonal, ‘conveyor-belt’ feel to some cremation ceremonies. The majority of Christian denominations permit cremations, however it is not allowed by Muslims and Orthodox Jews. Cremation is the usual method of body disposal for the Buddhist, Sikh and Hindu religions.
Whilst these are the most usual forms of body disposal in the UK, there are a couple of other options for those who are interested in finding something more unusual. Despite popular belief, it is possible to be buried at home, provided that particular health and safety issues or public health risks are assessed first. There are a number of issues to consider if you’re interested in a home burial, not least a planning permission requirement to change your garden from a garden to a ‘burial ground’ and the potential impact that a grave in your back garden could have on the future sale value of the property.
Another option and one which is still rarely used in the UK, is body donation. Body donation is different to organ donation: organ donation is very simple and millions of people have signed up to the Organ Donor scheme. However body donation is much more complicated and calls for pre-planning before it can be arranged. The ideal option for those for whom creation or burial has no appeal, body donation offers a low-cost, low-fuss solution.

Advice on Planning and Arranging a Funeral

Arranging a funeral can be incredibly difficult and because arrangements have to be made when you are at your lowest ebb, is likely to be one of the most stressful things you’ll ever have to do. A number of important decisions will have to be made and all at a time when you least feel like it.
Thankfully planning a funeral is not something most of us have to do very often but this means that many people simply don’t know where to begin when it comes to making arrangements. This article contains some basic information to get you started and, hopefully, take some of the stress out of the initial stages of funeral planning.
Some people take a great deal of care and time over the planning of their own funeral and if you’re arranging a funeral for someone who has already left instructions, many of the decisions which need to be made will be taken out of your hands which makes things a little easier. However, if prior arrangements have not been made, you’ll need to begin by deciding on a cremation or burial.
A UK based or funeral directors will be happy to help you with decisions such as this but many people prefer to arrange all aspects of a funeral themselves. It’s worth bearing in mind that there are no laws, regulations or legislation to cover funeral arrangements or ceremonies. The different types of funeral ceremony available in the UK are divided into three main categories: a religious funeral ceremony, a ceremony led by a civil funeral celebrant (this can be religious/non-religious as preferred) or a humanist ceremony which does not have any religious content. The type of funeral you arrange is entirely up to you. Your local funeral director will be able to offer advice on the different types of ceremony which are available in your area and they can talk through the various options with you.
Other details to consider when planning a funeral are funeral flowers, music, poetry and/or readings. Again a funeral director will be happy to help with these aspects but if you’d prefer to make the arrangements yourself, it’s entirely up to you do what you feel is fitting for the person who has died. Funeral flowers can be arranged through your local florist and a wide range of arrangements are used at funerals, including wreaths, floral sprays and casket sprays designed to be displayed on the top of the coffin.
Donations at funerals can be used as a way for people to give money to a particular charity in memory of the person who has died. There are thousands of charities in the UK and you may already have a particular charity in mind but if not, if can be helpful to think about which charities the deceased may have supported themselves. Funeral directors can assist with charity donations and information on where and how to send donations can be printed on the back of the funeral order of service.
When it comes to funeral music the choice is almost limitless and whatever you choose, music can prove to be incredibly powerful and emotive. Depending on where you have chosen to have the funeral, you’ll need to discuss your choices with the church minister, crematorium staff or funeral celebrant as they will help ensure that it’s played at the right time during the service.
As with funeral music, poems and readings can be used to reflect on and celebrate the life of the deceased. You could choose a poem which you know was a particular favourite of the deceased or ask around friends and family for ideas. There are a number of websites full of content and ideas for funeral readings and poetry if you feel you need a little inspiration.


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