Guidance and resources for planning a funeral and a look at alternatives.
Do you really need to have a funeral? Read this informative guide.
Did you know it’s possible, in the UK at least, to bury or cremate the body without having a funeral first? This could be an option if money is short, a funeral is meaningless to you or you’d prefer to honour and celebrate the life of your friend in another way.
Funeral Costs Help – a UK resource helping you understand funeral costs
Arranging a funeral can bring some focus to what might be a very bewildering and chaotic time and can help in the grieving process. Funerals can be powerful occasions to help bring closure to your relationship with a loved one (at least in their physical form). Ideally he/she will have left instructions or some guidance as to what they would like for their final send off – see Planning for the End of Life. Otherwise you will need to intuit what they would like. Funerals provide an opportunity to show your love for your friend, remember their individual qualities and to create a personalised ritual.
Funerals vary greatly from culture to culture and according to religious and spiritual traditions. The video on Burial, Cremation or Other shows the funeral – known as a Death Celebration of an Osho sannyasin at the Meditation Resort in Pune, India. Live music, dancing and humming is to give them a joyful send-off.
If you are unable to attend the funeral, perhaps because you live too far away, it can be helpful to have your own ritual of honouring and closure – possibly done at the same time as the funeral. This could be as simple as lighting a candle by a photo. On hearing of the death of her young son’s Indian father in India, one Osho sannyasin friend in the UK had a bonfire in the garden with close family. She invited her son to pour ghee (clarified butter traditionally used on funeral pyres in India) onto the firewood and help light the fire, before singing death-celebration songs and meditating.
In addition or instead of a funeral, you may like to organise a special party or event to celebrate your loved one. Having it perhaps a month or so after the funeral gives more friends the chance to gather and honour their friend. See Celebrating the life of a loved one.
The resources below relate primarily to the UK but contain many creative and helpful ideas useful elsewhere. For specific legislation and service providers in other countries, local research will be required.
The Good Funeral Guide website and book is an excellent, all-round resource and also provides recommendations for service providers in the UK.
The Natural Death Centre Handbook: information about approaching the end of life and organising funerals.
We need to talk about the Funeral: 101 practical ways to commemorate and celebrate life: informs about the wide choices available when arranging a funeral.
A stress-free guide to planning a funeral
Features independent funeral advice that includes funeral choices outside of the mainstream; demystifying the traditional funeral; encouragement for people to have the kind of funerals they want, and helping create an opportunity for new rituals to emerge. Includes information on green burials.
Organise a funeral – guidance and a helpful checklist from Final Fling in the UK
UK directory of services
When someone dies checklist – some practical guidance from Final Fling in the UK
A UK company set up to provide a highly specialised music service to the bereavement community. Webcasts allow funeral services to be broadcast to those unable to attend.
Top 10 popular funeral music – recent favourites in the UK
Funeral group image by Tom Coady