Do-it-yourself funerals

For those who seek either a truly personalised final journey, or perhaps wish to arrange a funeral owing to more limited financial means, the choice of a Do-It-Yourself funeral proves to be an ever more popular choice. This may well be unsurprising as the need for Governmental help for the many who pass away without means to pay for their funeral continues to rise, with the £700 grant usually being woefully inadequate to cover the costs of even a modest funeral. Further, with around 50% of such applications rejected, it’s little wonder that many of us look to a Do-it-yourself funeral as a cost-effective and yet still considered option for our loved ones (The Guardian 2014).

The elements of a funeral

Here’s a summary of the elements that must be considered when handling a funeral yourself.

Before the service


Instructions as to whether to bring flowers or contribute to a collection at the end of the service

Notifying the press

Care of the body: The care of the body will differ from situation to situation, and will be reliant upon factors such as the place of death, the circumstances of death and whether there will be a post mortem. For transportation from home to hospital and back again it may be necessary for a public ambulance, with the return journey either undertaken by a relative, or (if you wish) an undertaker (who can either take the body to a funeral home, or to a named person’s home). The time to arrange a funeral generally tends to be around 3 weeks, and so for this element at least the advisable option is use a professional funeral home’s services.

Preparation of the body: Preparing the body is, for those who seek a DIY funeral for emotional reasons, very often an important task in which the very last tasks can be performed for the deceased. It generally involves the washing and dressing of the body, general grooming tasks, such as cutting the nails and, dependent upon the timing, may require the closing of the eyes and mouth. If this seems an intimidating process, but one that you wish to undertake, seek help from medically trained, or professional carers, amongst your family and friends who may have often have had to encounter and care for the deceased.

Purchasing the coffin: Today there is a wide array of coffins that can be purchased online, with prices that range from around £150 upwards.

The service

The venue: This may be a church or crematory, with charges differing drastically as according to whether the deceased is to be cremated or buried; speak with the venue directly to gain a fixed cost of their services.

The time: Whilst you have a choice of time slots during anytime of the working day, you may choose to have a funeral earlier if cost is a consideration, as morning services tend to garner lower charges.

The hearse: It’s quite legal for a body to be transported in private transport (in a hired hearse, van or estate vehicle, for example). Although, once more, you may wish to arrange this element of the funeral through professional services.

Following the service

The wake: This may be as understated or as extravagant as you wish. You may choose to simply hire a pub room, or host the wake yourself, with the catering options being either self-arranged, or provided by a caterer or the pub.

A note upon legalities

Whether you choose to Do-It-yourself, or opt for the help of a funeral director, the legal responsibilities that go hand in hand with a person’s passing remain the same.

You can gain a complete overview of just what must be taken care of from our guide on what to do after someone dies.

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