Death - bereavement - advice & support
Some practical advice on what to do at this sad time.
If a death occurs at home there are two options:
- If the deceased has been seen by a doctor in the last two weeks contact the doctor, who will confirm the death and issue a death certificate
- The other option is to inform the local coroner's office on 01604 624732
In a hospital, the attending doctor will issue the certificate either directly or through the hospitals administration department.
The next step is for either the next of kin or person making the funeral arrangements to take the death certificate to the Registrar of Births and Deaths within 5 days (if possible also take the deceased's medical card, birth and marriage certificates). Contact the Registrars Office in Corby for an appointment.
Where the Coroner is involved and an inquest is to be held the Coroner will issue a form to the registrar to allow the funeral to proceed (Form E for cremation or Coroners Order for Burial). If there is no inquest the Coroner will confirm the cause of death to the Registrar and the death can then be registered in the usual manner.
It is advisable to obtain any extra copies of the registration certificate at this time, for insurance claims, banks, and social security purposes.
Finding a Funeral Director
It is your choice to use any funeral director or indeed not to use a funeral director.
The funeral directors role is to organise a funeral according to the wishes of the executor or person arranging the funeral. They can arrange and carry out all aspects of a funeral service on the family's behalf except for the actual registration of the death. Carrying out these services relieves the bereaved from doing what they may feel are unpleasant and difficult tasks. The service provided includes, the type of service, coffin, and transport arrangements. Most funerals are sold as a package which include all disbursements (ministers, doctors, cemetery and/or crematorium fees), and obituaries. The office of fair-trading has suggested that price transparency should apply to charges allowing families to select the aspects of the service they require.
Floral tributes, coffins and memorials can be obtained without going to a funeral director. Please speak to your local Bereavement Services office for further information.
It is important to remember that the funeral director is there to guide through the arrangements however the actual details are personal choice and time should be taken to consider exactly what your wishes are.
Paying for the funeral
Under common law whoever orders the funeral becomes liable for the funeral costs regardless of their relationship to the deceased. It is wise to obtain quotations before deciding on a particular firm. Where an element is not satisfactory the payment of the account may be disputed, however the disbursements are not part of the funeral directors charges and must be paid. Most funeral directors should be able to supply an estimate of a basic funeral and should not be used if unable to do so.
It is possible to get assistance with the cost of a funeral under certain circumstances, click here for information on this. Age concern also has a fact sheet 'arranging a funeral' and will offer advice as will the Citizens Advice Bureau.
Some people alleviate the worry of paying for a funeral by purchasing a funeral plan. There are a number of options available and if you feel this would be beneficial, it is advisable to look carefully at all the options. It is necessary to choose a burial or cremation package that meets your need. Companies operate these plans in different ways some allow disbursement costs up to a set amount with any additional expenses payable at the time of the funeral. Others may have a fixed price for a set package which will not vary (i.e. Hearse plus one limousine only or no facility for press notices). They can be paid by instalments or lump sum and will be at current prices. It is advisable to check exactly what is included to ensure the plan is to your requirements.
It is also possible to purchase some items in advance i.e. grave, which will reduce the cost of the funeral. This can be done through a funeral director or directly with the cemetery office.
A new type of 'green' funeral director is emerging, promoting bio-degradable coffins and a more personal approach. Funeral facilitators are also appearing. They are people who will assist the bereaved in organising a funeral for a fee. They may offer a vehicle to carry the coffin and assist in handling the body. Other people such as nurses may offer laying-out or body preparation services, to avoid people having to do this themselves. This may be particularly relevant when a person dies at home with a 'hospice at home' scheme. These changes are evidence of a return to the past when various members of the community helped in the completion of a funeral.
The majority of people choose a religious type of ceremony which follows their cultural traditions, and this can be arranged through your local religious leader (Priest, Vicar etc). This can be held at your place of worship or at the cemetery or crematorium of your choice.
If you wish to have a non-religious funeral, the British Humanist Association runs a helpline (0990 168122) who will put you in touch with a local officiant. You may however wish to conduct the service yourself. The choice of music (if any) and wording should be discussed with the cemetery or crematorium to ensure enough time is available to perform the ceremony reverently. It is quite acceptable to bring the deceased to the cemetery and crematorium without having a service if you so wish.
Some people find environmental issues important and wish to consider the impact of disposal on the environment. Woodland burial is an option which may be chosen. This entails burial to a single depth in an area in which there are no memorials but will be landscaped as a woodland area. The area is usually maintained as a wildlife area - grass being left long and generally wild flowers seeds are sown. Some areas permit normal coffin's to be interred others only allow cardboard, or willow coffins/containers, or shrouds.
Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors
1 Ferdinand Place
Telephone: 0207 267 6777
National Association of Funeral Directors
618 Warwick Road
Telephone: 0121 711 1343
1268 London Road
Telephone: 0208 679 8000
Natural Death Centre
20 Heber Road
Telephone: 0208 208 2853