Types of Funeral Services

Choosing the right funeral service really boils down to what type of send off you want and essentially what happens to your body.

At the end of the day something has to happen to it so it may as well be your decision. After all, you have spent a lifetime making important decisions based on your personal choices so why stop now?

There are a variety of funeral services available; from cremation to burials; humanist to religious, the options available to you are varied. Depending on your cultural background, religion, family tradition or perhaps your environmental views, this may be an easy choice. For others, choosing a funeral service may be more about budget or ease, so it does make sense to look at the options available to you.

And don't forget, if you are looking to arrange everything yourself and thinking about paying for a funeral in advance a prepaid funeral plans may be worth considering.


Cremation - the nations favourite! Around 70% of us opt for cremation, possibly because of price and the convenience of not having to find a burial plot which can be difficult and expensive these days.

So what is involved in the cremation process? You can choose to have either a religious or non religious funeral service at the Crematorium or hold the service elsewhere, perhaps a church, before going to the Crematorium for a short ceremony.

Things to consider:

  • Cremation is cheaper than a burial in most cases
  • You can personalise the ceremony by including your choice of funeral music, readings, poems etc
  • You will usually have around 45 minutes for the cremation service. Whilst most people believe this is long enough, some can feel as though they are on a conveyer belt. Having said that, more time can probably be arranged beforehand at an additional cost
  • You can decide whether the ashes are kept in an urn, scattered or buried

Direct Cremation

This is a fairly new low cost alternative to the more traditional cremation offered by a few funeral directors. There is no service to attend, funeral cortege or hearse; the person who has died is simply placed in a coffin and transported by the funeral director to the crematorium. The family are then given the ashes in an urn or casket to scatter, bury or keep as they choose.

The no frills approach means direct cremations are starting to appeal to people on a tight budget but they are also proving a more attractive option to families who don’t want the upset of a service with the coffin present and prefer to hold a memorial service once the cremation has taken place.


A traditional burial will usually be in a Churchyard where the type of ceremony will be dictated by the faith practiced by the Church, or Cemetery which may or may not be associated with any religion. The big thing to think about here is the burial plot?

Understandably it’s probably something that you haven’t given much thought to but as an ever expanding country, we are struggling to find burial space. The upshot of this shortage of space is that burial plots can be expensive, may be in limited supply and might only be available through leasehold (usually between 50 to 75 years).

Burial plots can be bought in advance so if you do prefer to be buried, it would be worth getting in touch either with your local authority or church to see what is available.

Things to consider:

  • Is there an existing family grave or plot that can be used?
  • Burial plots can be reserved for individuals or families if you want to be buried together
  • Rights to a plot could expire after a period of time so would have to be renewed for the plot to remain intact
  • Many people choose a burial so there is somewhere for friends and relatives to visit after the funeral (this can also be achieved by burying or scattering ashes)

Green Burials

Often referred to as a natural burial or woodland burial, green burials offer an environmentally friendly alternative to traditional burials or cremations and are available in many areas throughout the UK.

As a result of their growing popularity, more green burial options are becoming available with an increasing number of woodland burial sites appearing throughout the UK.

Keeping things natural, you would need to choose a coffin that is biodegradable, made from either cardboard, bamboo, willow, seagrass or sustainable wood. No chemicals are used and whilst headstones also aren’t allowed, often a tree or shrub can be planted instead.

Things to consider:

  • Not all natural woodland burial grounds will have a building where the funeral service can be held so this will need to be organised elsewhere
  • Check how long the rights to the plot last and what happens once these run out
  • Can memorials in the form of trees or wooden plaques be used?

If you are interested in finding out more about green funeral plans, visit the Golden Leaves website.

Humanist Funerals

An alternative to more traditional religious funeral services, a humanist ceremony is a non religious funeral that focuses on the person who has died; celebrates and pays tribute to their life and allows friends and family to express their feelings and share memories.

Growing in popularity, humanist funerals may be more appropriate for people who have not lived according to religious principles or do not believe in religious views on death.

For more information on Humanist Funerals, visit the British Humanism Association.

Alternative Funerals

It’s surprising but there are a lot of preconceived ideas about what you can or can’t do when someone dies.

For example, did you know that you don’t legally have to hold any form of funeral service, or that you can be buried on private land as long as it’s with the owner’s permission? A word of caution though; if you are now considering being buried in the back garden, think about what will happen when your family come to sell the house!

The traditional face of funerals is changing. People are opting for more elaborate funeral services that suit the life they have led, veering away from the traditional black clothes, mimed hymns and eulogies read by total strangers who have never even met the person they are so sincerely talking about!

There are a number of organisations out there who can help if you are looking for something a little different:

  • Sea Burials are fairly rare in this country but do offer an alternative to land. They are quite complicated to arrange, locations are limited and they aren’t cheap. For more information click here
  • DIY funerals without the help of a funeral director are possibly not for the faint hearted and do take a lot of thinking through and planning.
  • Living funerals are a stark contrast to traditional funerals as the person the religious or non religious funeral service is focused on is still alive. Understandably living funerals are often held by people with a terminal illness or giving them the opportunity to plan and take control.
Compare funeral plans

Donating your body to science

People donate their body to science for a number of reasons; to help others, for the good of science, or possibly because they don’t like the thought or cost of a funeral.

The process is highly regulated by the Human Tissue Act (HTA) who license and inspect organisations that use the donations such as medical schools. The bodies are used for research, to teach students and train surgeons and other healthcare professionals.

To donate, written and witnessed consent for anatomical examination must be given prior to death. The consent forms can be obtained from your nearest medical school and a copy should be kept with your Will.

A decision like this can have a big impact on your friends and family so it is worth discussing it with them and also with your GP.
For more information visit the HTA

Organ Donation

Around 30% of the UK has joined the organ donation register, helping change the life of over 3,000 people every year. In fact one organ donor can save the life of several people, restore the sight of two others and improve the quality of life for many others. Isn’t that something to be proud of!

The percentage of people living to an old age is much higher and expected to have a huge impact on the demand for transplants so new organ donors are welcomed with open arms, regardless of age, nationality and in most cases health issues.

The decision to become a donor is very personal so it is good to know all the facts. To read more about it and register to become an organ donor, visit the NHS Organ Donation website.

It is also important to tell close family and friends of your decision so they are aware of your wishes.pre-plans may be just telling your partner or family that you wish to be cremated to much more detailed plans about the type of funeral services you would like including music, transport and readings etc.

Have you lost a loved one?

Arranging a funeral at this time is stressful.

More & more people are now pre-arranging their funeral as it can save their families a great deal of stress and significant financial costs.

When the time comes one phone call will take care of everything.

You can find out more information and compare funeral plans on this site.

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