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Arranging a funeral

Choosing a funeral director

Funeral directors will manage funeral arrangements on your behalf and provide advice and support. It is advisable to check if the funeral director you choose belongs to a trade association. This requires them to provide full information about their service and prices.

These factors may influence your choice:

  • Location of the funeral directors premises
  • Range of services provided
  • The way you are treated by the staff
  • Cost of providing the service
  • Recommendations from people who have used the service
  • Ownership (is it a small family business or a large firm)

What does a funeral director do?

Most people would probably require the funeral director to provide the following services as a minimum:

  • Make all the necessary funeral service arrangements
  • Provide an appropriate amount of staff
  • Provide a suitable coffin
  • Transfer of the deceased from the place of death to the funeral directors premises
  • Care for the deceased prior to the funeral
  • Provision of a hearse to the nearest crematorium or cemetery
  • Arrange for cremation or burial as appropriate

Embalming, viewing of the deceased, or provision of a limousine for mourners are normally optional extras.

Making a complaint

Most funerals are conducted well, but if you have a justified complaint, you should contact your funeral director. If you are not satisfied with the response provided, you can complain to whichever of the three trade associations your funeral director may belong to:

  • The National Association of Funeral Directors (NAFD)
  • The National Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors (SAIF)
  • Funeral Standards Council (FSC)

Independent funerals

It is often assumed, quite wrongly, that funerals can be completed only with the use of a funeral director.

The majority of people choose to make their funeral arrangements through a funeral director. However, some people see independent funerals as more personal and less expensive.

If this approach appeals, and you have the time to research and prepare for your personal requirements, please contact us and we will help you.

You could also get information from the Natural Death Centre. Some funeral directors may also be willing to assist in arranging such funerals.

Independent funerals

Some people do not wish to use a funeral director. This can be for a wide variety of reasons:

  • They may feel that passing the body of a loved one over to strangers is wrong
  • Some feel that personally organising a funeral is their final tribute to the deceased person
  • Others may simply wish to save money by doing everything themselves or may have used a funeral director on a previous occasion and found the experience unsatisfactory
  • Some may feel that funerals arranged with a funeral director are routine and processed, and some may desire an innovative and different approach

It is, of course, your right to make this decision without giving a reason.

Organising an independent funeral

The entire funeral can be handled by the bereaved family and we can help you with this. Such a funeral is referred to as 'personalised' or 'independent'.

These funerals will be different because traditional funeral elements may be unobtainable. Currently, many funeral directors will not sell coffins separately, neither will they offer a hearse for use, unless the entire funeral package is purchased.

Consequently, personalised funeral arrangers use their own vehicles or hire vans in lieu of a hearse. They may also make their own coffin or use a biodegradable type.

New approaches

It is possible that the dominant and traditional role of funeral directors is diminishing, as new approaches are sought.

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 within a "hospice at home" scheme. These changes are evidence of a return to past times, when various members of the community helped in the completion of a funeral.

Please see our Financial help with funeral costs

  • It is your right to organise a funeral without the use of a funeral director.
  • It is your right, as executor (or next of kin) to be given the body by a mortuary, hospital, etc., in order to carry out a funeral without a funeral director.
  • It is your right to obtain a coffin (minimum biodegradable type) via your Charter member (South Tyneside Council).
  • It is your right to obtain a Personalised or Independent funeral leaflet form your Charter member describing how to arrange a funeral without a funeral director.

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