Funerals - Planning The Details
by Michael Russell
In our previous article, we talked about the basic decisions
which have to be made when planning a funeral. We covered the
venue, whether or not the service would be religious and the
choice of coffin and interim resting place for the body.
To begin, we'll stay with the funeral director. A decent one
will be guiding you though the maze of choices you have to make
with the minimum of fuss.
You will need to tell him whether you want his staff to carry
the coffin or whether you have male friends or relatives who
wish to do this. In any event, the undertaker should provide
sufficient manpower in case any of the bearers don't feel up to
the task on the day.
You must decide what funeral cars you want, apart from the
hearse. You don't have to have any, of course, as these add to
the cost quite considerably, but if would be quite normal to
only have a car for the immediate family of the deceased. These
cars usually hold about six passengers.
Announcing the funeral in the press can be tricky. In these
unfortunate times, criminals often take advantage of a
householder's absence at a funeral to burgle their house. If you
do want to announce the funeral, it may be as well to ask a
friend to house sit while you are out.
Flowers are another difficult one. People like to send flowers
but they soon fade and you may choose for people to donate what
they would have spent on flowers to a charity of your choice.
The undertaker should administer this and keep a record of those
who donated so that you can send thank you letters. Normally,
people will quite understand if you ask for family flowers only
or just have one large arrangement for the coffin.
Finally, if there's to be a burial, you will need a memorial
stone of some kind. If there will be a cremation, you may have
the opportunity to adopt a rose, have the ashes buried or
scattered or have an entry in a memorial book.
Away from the funeral director, you will need to meet or, at the
very least, speak to whomever is going to officiate at the
service, if any. This is relatively easy if you've chosen your
local church but if there will be a cremation and you don't want
the duty priest, you will need to ask your vicar or whoever,
whether they are able to attend another venue.
You will have to provide some detail of the deceased so that the
official can say appropriate words. Don't forget to advise what
their preferred form of address was. For example if the deceased
was called Jennifer but always insisted that it was shortened to
Jen, tell whoever is conducting the service.
You may want someone other than the official to provide a eulogy
or read a poem or whatever but don't forget to check that they
are willing to do it. You will also need to choose music. For a
church service this will be one or two hymns and maybe another
favourite piece. Cremations are usually so time limited that one
hymn or piece of music will probably be all that there's time
Lastly, you'll need to decide what to do about a wake but we'll
discuss that in another article.
Your Independent guide to Funerals
article re-published 10 October 2006