When someone dies, we often have lots of questions. Do we have a choice as to what kind of funeral they have? For instance does the funeral have to be conducted by our local vicar or priest although the person who has died was not particularly religious?
The answer to these questions is ‘Yes’ you do have a choice and ‘No’ you do not have to have a religious minister if you do not want to. Some families/friends choose to create and conduct parts of, or even the whole ceremony themselves. There are also Funeral Celebrants who can do this for you. Or you may want no service at all.
Who can conduct a funeral?
A Civil Funeral Celebrant is a person who will create and deliver the type of funeral that you want. It is essentially non-religious but it may have a hymn or prayer included if you wish. It is a professional, dignified ceremony that includes a tribute or eulogy to the deceased person and is highly personal reflecting their life and their favourite music, poetry and readings. Anything can be included as long as it is not immoral, abusive or illegal! You choose the ceremony content and who conducts the ceremony. You can ask for a celebrant by name if you know one or you can ask your funeral director to recommend someone who fits your preferences (there is no legal requirement to use a funeral director but the vast majority of people find it helpful to have professional support for planning the logistics).
Funeral Venue & Transport
If you are not having a religious funeral, then the venue can also be of your choosing. For example, a hall or arena or even at home. From wherever the funeral is held, the body will have to be transported to a burial or crematorium as a final act. Even this method can be of your choosing: you could use your own car if suitable, a trailer, a bike and sidecar, or a horse-drawn carriage for example.
You can also choose what type of coffin you have. These days there are several options of wicker baskets, eco-friendly and colourful coffins or just a shroud. You don’t have to have flowers, hearses, or cars. You can choose what is done with cremated remains i.e. the ashes and you can choose where you are buried. Natural burial grounds are increasingly being chosen over council run cemeteries. Occasionally private land is chosen or even donating the body to science or burial at sea.
For those left behind, the task of making a lot of choices like this can seem overwhelming but with some forethought and help it can be done. By writing down or talking about your own wishes for your funeral when the time comes, you can really help those left behind with making decisions. So start to look at what choices you have and what you would like to happen.
For more information about death and dying well, contact:
or visit the website of The Natural Death Centre