How to do more yourself while planning a funeral

How to do more yourself when planning a funeral | funeral planning | poppy's funerals

Five minute read

There are so many different ways to get involved in planning a funeral and make the whole experience feel more personal. While funeral directors are always there to help, we want you to be empowered to do more if that feels right.

Here’s our guide to doing more on your own, whether than means carrying the coffin or designing the entire funeral from scratch.

Do we have to use a funeral director?

There’s no legal requirement to use a funeral director. You’re completely within your rights to handle every part of the process yourself – from caring for the person who has died, to buying what you need, to using your own vehicle as a hearse.

While taking care of all the planning won’t be right for everyone, this approach can be very powerful. If this is the route you’d like to follow, having a friend or family member to offer support can be a great help.

There’s also nothing strange about wanting help making arrangements, and using a funeral director doesn’t mean you should feel less in control. We’re here to create a funeral that works for you, whether you want to be involved every step of the way or just the parts which feel most important.

Contact us to find out how we can help you.

Can we carry Dad ourselves?

In the past, family, friends and the local community were usually responsible for carrying the coffin. It’s also completely normal to want to take part yourself with your family and friends. In fact, we’re often told that carrying the coffin was one of the most powerful moments of the funeral.

While people sometimes worry about height differences or physical strength, we can usually find a way for everyone to take part. In some cases, this might mean walking alongside or putting your hand on the coffin while the weight is taken by somebody else.

Of course, funeral directors will also be able to supply a team to carry the coffin or provide some support for the other bearers. Whatever works best for you is a good choice, but don’t miss this opportunity if you do want to get involved.

Read our 'how to' guide about carrying and lowering a coffin.

Do funerals have to be in a church or crematorium?

It may be helpful to keep in mind that funerals don’t have to be held in a crematorium, cemetery, or religious building. They can take place absolutely anywhere as long as you have permission from whoever owns the land or building. You could consider the local pub, a village hall, a favourite restaurant or your own back garden — the list is endless.

For many people, the crematorium or cemetery is the easiest place to hold a funeral because it’s set up for that purpose. But it may not be the most meaningful place so you should always feel free to consider all the options. A funeral director can help walk you through different ideas to find a place that’s right for you.

Use our guide to choosing a funeral venue for inspiration.

How can I save money?

The cost of a funeral has absolutely no relation to how meaningful the day will be. In fact, the more that family members and friends get involved, the more personal and affordable it becomes. The most cost-effective choice will usually be a direct cremation. There are lots of slightly different versions of this on offer — read more about our direct and simple cremations.

There’s usually no service with direct cremation, which can make it a good option if simplicity or privacy are important. The ashes are usually available 48 hours after the cremation takes place, which means you can organise something more meaningful in time, if that is something you’d like to do.

But there’s no need to choose direct cremation if it doesn’t feel right. There are lots of other ways to stretch a small budget by doing more yourself.

This could mean choosing an early morning booking at the crematorium, printing orders of service yourselves, picking flowers from your garden or using your own family car as the hearse. These thoughtful touches are a wonderful way to make a funeral feel more personal.

Read our full guide to having a lower cost funeral.

How can I plan an environmentally friendly funeral?

If treading gently on the planet is a priority, cremation and traditional cemetery burial may not be your best options. Natural burial is the greenest choice that’s available right now in the UK. This is where someone is buried in green space, such as a meadow or wood, using fully biodegradable materials and without anything to slow down decomposition.

There are lots of different natural burial grounds, so try to do some research to find one that’s right for you. The Natural Death Centre, which gives independent advice, is a good place to start.

There are also many other ways to help make a funeral more eco-friendly, from using an electric vehicle to choosing a biodegradable urn. You can also pick a coffin made of a locally-grown sustainable material like Somerset willow, reclaimed wood or recycled cardboard. We guide you through the options, so do ask questions if you’d like some support.

Do I need a celebrant?

While religious or secular celebrants play an important role for many people, leading the ceremony yourself can also be an empowering choice. You know the person who has died best and can absolutely find the right way to say goodbye.

If you do choose a celebrant, try to find someone who will add to the overall feeling of the funeral you’re planning. For example, are you looking for someone who will bring a light touch or a more traditional feel?

You can contact a celebrant yourself or we can recommend someone who we think would be a good match.

Read our guide to choosing a funeral celebrant.

How else can I get involved?

There are lots of creative ways to add meaningful touches to a funeral. This could involve gathering flowers from your garden or allotment, painting your mum’s nails, and even building or decorating the coffin yourself.

Whether you want to take charge of all the planning or just some elements, getting involved in a funeral can be a powerful experience.

We’re always happy to talk more about these questions and how we can help, so please get in touch.

To stay in touch with all the latest news and updates from Poppy's by email, sign up here.

Discover more articles