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Funerals that you 'do yourself'

What you need to know if you are considering a 'DIY' funeral.

DIY funerals are becoming more popular. They are particularly appropriate for woodland burials and green funerals.

A funeral is a complex event to do yourself. It takes time and expert (and willing) assistance. You will get more help from the manager of the woodland burial site or the funeral director helping to provide a green funeral than from a more traditional funeral director.

If the death has already occurred or is imminent, then it is almost certainly too late to organise a DIY funeral. It is better to discuss with your chosen funeral director those elements you can do yourself.

Reasons to 'do it yourself'

  • Cost - without using a funeral director, or limiting the use to a minimum, the cost will be far less;
  • Closure - some people find that organising a funeral helps them come to terms with their loss.

How to 'DIY'

Laying out
With information from the hospital or funeral director, you can lay out the body after death. 

This is the most critical problem of the entire process and requires refrigeration. If the death occurs at a hospital, they may be able to look after the person for a day or two. At a care home, this is not possible as they have no refrigeration. So contact a local funeral director to rent space in their storage cabinets.

The legally binding forms that must be completed for the cemetery or crematorium are available from the cemetery/crematorium office and staff there will help you to fill them in.

The initial Registration is done by the family in all circumstances.

Medical Certificates 
For burial, you need the medical certificate signed by the GP or hospital doctor. For cremation you need to involve two independent doctors. The hospital morgue may be able to help you locate GPs to do this, or your own GP can contact colleagues.

Payment is due to each doctor. The fees doctors charge for this is known as 'Ash Cash'.

Booking the crematorium, cemetery, minister or celebrant
When booking the place of the funeral and the minister or celebrant, give yourself a couple of extra days for preparation and to get the paperwork correct.

When organising the time at the crematorium or cemetery, tell the staff you are doing a family 'DIY' - they will usually be helpful but be prepared for some resistance.

Make sure the minister or officiant you wish to use for the service/ceremony is free. If they are busy they can recommend a colleague. A close family member or friend can take the funeral.

A large estate car or van can do the job so if necessary hire or borrow one. Make sure that you have four strong people to lift the coffin or if the person was heavy and the coffin is wooden, you may need six.

Ask the crem or cemetery what their rules are. There is no reason you cannot build the coffin yourself, but it may be cheaper to buy a coffin direct from the supplier. 

Advance planning essential

Before deciding on a DIY funeral for your own send off do consider the huge, and not always welcome, responsibility you will be placing on your executor(s) and your closest family.

So you should discuss this with the person you have made your executor, and with close family members as they may not be willing to organise and carry out your funeral.

A DIY funeral entails great planning and attention to detail. So it will be worth making the plans in advance with your executor and close family members. Put these in your Lifebox along with your other funeral wishes

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