There can be many reasons to organise a funeral without the aid of a professional funeral director not the least of which may be saving several hundred pounds, ensuring every detail is to your liking, honouring the deceased, and using the process as a way to come to terms with your own grief. However, this does not mean that doing it yourself will be easy. The days leading up to the funeral of a loved one are usually quite emotional, and the added stress of organising the funeral is enough to bring some people to the breaking point. Always check with your local requirements to find out about legal requirements regarding funerals, burials and/or cremations and use this checklist of general items for DIY funerals to lighten your load and make sure that you haven’t forgotten anything obvious.
Registering the Death
- Have you contacted the local office of the General Register Office (England and Wales), General Register Office (Northern Ireland) or Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages (Scotland) to find out your deadline for registering the death and what you will need to bring with you?
- Have you checked that you (specifically) will be able to register the death, or will someone else need to do it?
- Have you gathered essential documents such as the medical certificate with the cause of death listed, the deceased’s birth and marriage certificates, the deceased’s NHS identification, details of any public pensions and any other documents required for registering the death?
- Have you received the certificates authorising burial or cremation after properly registering the death?
Checking the Will
- Have you located the deceased’s will either in his/her personal papers or with his/her solicitor?
- Have you read the deceased’s will and discovered if there are any pre-arranged aspects or desires for the funeral/burial/cremation?
- Have you determined who is the executor of the estate and decided if this person should be arranging the funeral?
Arranging for a Burial Plot or Cremation
- Have you contacted your local council to find out about purchasing a burial plot or scheduling a cremation?
- Have you contacted the religious body with which the deceased was affiliated to find out about service/burial/cremation requirements?
- Have you ordered the coffin or urn for the remains?
- Have you arranged for the embalming and viewing of the body (if needed)?
- Have you arranged for transportation for the remains?
Announcing the Funeral
- Have you notified family and friends of the death?
- Have you written an obituary?
- Have you placed an announcement in the local paper, online, in the deceased’s workplace and/or in newsletters for the deceased’s school/church, etc.?
Organising the Service
- Have you scheduled a location for the funeral service?
- Have you arranged for a celebrant for the funeral service?
- Have you selected readings for the funeral service?
- Have you selected speakers for the funeral service?
- Have you written or asked some to write a eulogy?
- Have you selected music, musicians and/or vocalists for the funeral service?
- Have you arranged for programmes to be printed for the funeral service?
- Have you arranged for flowers for the funeral service, coffin and/or grave site?
- Have you selected and announced details of a charity to which donations can be made in honour of the deceased?
- Have you decided what to do with flowers or other donations after the funeral service?
- Have you arranged for photographs of the deceased for the funeral service (if desired)?
- Have you arranged for pall bearers (as needed)?
- Have you checked on any religious requirements that may be needed for a funeral service?
- Have you decided what will occur at the grave site (if needed)?
Hosting the Reception or Wake
- Have you arranged for a location for the reception or wake?
- Have you decided how to announce details of the reception or wake?
- Have you decided who you would like to be present at the reception or wake?
- Have you decided what types of food and drink to serve at the reception or wake?
- Have you decided if there will be any specific decorations at the reception or wake?
- Have you decided if there will be any specific activities, such as a slideshow or home video viewing, at the reception or wake?
- Have you arranged for thank you notes to send out afterwards?