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How to arrange a DIY funeral

A true DIY funeral requires lots of thought and preparation. There are some aspects of arranging a funeral that most people would prefer not to have to deal with, especially at such an emotional time. Some typical DIY funeral arrangements include:

- Organising care and transportation of the deceased
- Booking a cremation or burial date
- Completing the correct paperwork and submitting it on time
- Purchasing a coffin or casket
- Arranging any funeral service you may wish to hold

Simplicity offers you a compromise by taking care of all of the practicalities allowing you to focus on arranging a fitting farewell for your loved one.


How to arrange a funeral yourself

Most funerals in the UK are organised by a Funeral Director, although there is no legal requirement to do so.

Arranging a funeral yourself can be an effective way of managing your grief, but a 'do it yourself' funeral might not be as simple as you believe. If you're looking at arranging a funeral without a Funeral Director, there are a number of things you might not have yet considered.

Before making any arrangements, you will need to arrange a team of family and friends to help you. These people will need to be both physically and emotionally able to meet the demands that will be placed on them.

When you're arranging a funeral yourself, the most important consideration is deciding where your loved one will rest until the day of the funeral. Warm temperatures can adversely affect the speed at which a body decomposes, so keeping the body in a cool room is of vital importance. A Funeral Home will typically have specialist refrigeration facilities; as it is unlikely you will have these facilities available to you, you may want to consider hiring a portable air-conditioning unit if you are keeping the body at home. It is not recommended to keep the body at home for longer than one week.

If you can arrange for the body to be kept in a mortuary until the day of the funeral, the staff may help you dressing and placing your loved one into the coffin. If your loved one had any cannulas or catheters, they may also be happy to remove these for you.

Please note, if the death is referred to the coroner, you will be unable to care for your loved one at home.


Other things to consider for a DIY funeral:

Buying a coffin or shroud

There are a number of suppliers who are willing to sell coffins to the public, although there are a few things you should consider before ordering the coffin. Depending on whether your loved one is to be buried or cremated, a different type of coffin may be required. Please check the requirements with the operator of the Crematorium or Cemetery prior to ordering.

If your loved one is resting at a mortuary, the staff may be able to measure the body so you can order a coffin that is the right size and can safely accommodate the weight of your loved one. You should allow for a few extra inches all around the body, also considering that the feet should be laid flat as opposed to standing when placed in the coffin.

You will need to order a coffin with load bearing handles to ensure family and friends can safely carry the coffin.


Booking a cremation at your preferred crematorium

If you wish for your loved one to be cremated, you should remember:

- Not all crematoria operators will be comfortable engaging with you without a Funeral Director, please check with the crematorium beforehand.
- Any pacemakers will need to be removed.
- Check with the crematoria any guidelines on the type of coffin, clothing or footwear.
- Nothing should be placed in the coffin that can melt, stick or cause any kind of explosion.

Most crematoria will offer music and audio-visual (video) facilities. You should speak to the operators to discuss your options before the day of the funeral.

Before the cremation can take place, you will need to provide the following paperwork.

- A cremation certificate – also known as the 'Green Form'. You should get this when you register the death.
- Cremation application – referred to as 'Form 1' in England and Wales and 'Form A' in Scotland. This form should be completed by a relative or close friend of the deceased and sent to the Cremation Authority, authorising the cremation to take place.
- Medical certificates – the Cremation Authority will often require two medical certificates from two separate doctors. If the death was referred to a coroner, you will not be required to provide medical certificates. Instead, you will be given 'Form 6' in England and Wales and 'Form E' in Scotland.


Securing a burial plot

There are no restrictions on arranging a burial yourself if this is what you would prefer to do, although some cemeteries may be obstructive as this is not how they are traditionally arranged.

As with cremation, there is specific paperwork that needs to be complete before a burial can take place.

- A burial certificate – also known as the 'Green Form'. This can be obtained when you register the death.
- Burial plot application form – you will need to sign an application form issued by your local council or cemetery if you wish to purchase a new grave or re-open an existing burial plot. A burial plot can normally only be purchased for a certain number of years and will have conditions attached to it.
- An order for burial ('Form 101') – if a coroner holds an inquest, this form will be issued in place of the burial certificate ('Green Form').


Hiring a gravedigger if your chosen funeral is a burial

When arranging a DIY funeral, the cemetery may not provide a gravedigger within the costs of the burial. If this is the case, you will need to engage with the services of a professional gravedigger. Each cemetery may have different rules for how the grave should be dug, so it’s best to check with your chosen cemetery beforehand.


Transportation of the deceased

It is important to consider how you will transport your loved one to the crematorium or cemetery on the day; an estate car or van will usually be suitable. Another option is to hire a ‘carriage-master’, a hearse and a driver to transport your loved one.

The crematorium or cemetery will not provide pallbearers, so you must also ensure you have a team of family and friends to carry the coffin into the crematorium or lower the coffin into the grave.


Hiring a minister or officiant to conduct a service

It is perfectly acceptable for the funeral service to be led by a family member or friend, although you may wish to engage with the services of a minister or officiant. You should not feel pressured into arranging a funeral service as this is not a requirement.


Will a DIY funeral save money?

In short, yes it could. Arranging a funeral yourself is likely to offer increased control of costs and considerable savings in comparison to a traditional funeral arranged with a Funeral Director. A Funeral Director spends several hours arranging each funeral, which is inevitably reflected in their charges.

Along with lowering funeral costs, choosing a DIY funeral offers you the freedom to arrange a highly personalised ceremony for your loved one. Some people even find that organising the funeral helps with the grieving process; they feel a sense of closure as they are doing one final thing for their loved one.

Learn more about how to arrange a low cost funeral.


Arranging a Simplicity Cremation

In their lifetime, most people will only arrange one funeral so it’s easy to think that doing so without a Funeral Director could be a difficult process. With Simplicity we make it simple. All of the funeral arrangements can be made over the phone with the help of our experienced funeral arrangers every step of the way.

Unlike a typical ‘DIY funeral’ where you would take on all of the arrangements yourself, Simplicity can take care of all of the essential and practical elements of the cremation leaving you to focus on arranging a service or memorial if you wish.

A Simplicity Cremation is an alternative to a DIY funeral which still gives you the flexibility to organise a fitting goodbye for your loved one, whether that be at the crematorium on the day of the cremation or at a separate event later on.

Although our unattended funeral is our cheapest funeral option, cost is not always the driving factor for those families that choose it. For those looking for a DIY funeral option, it is often because they prefer the lack of fuss and formality that direct cremation offers, or the opportunity to lead proceedings themselves.

If you’d prefer to arrange a funeral that allows a larger group of family and friends to attend, our attended funeral may be what you are looking for. 

All of our funerals cover cremation and doctor’s fees, provision of a simple coffin, care at one of our high quality mortuary facilities and transportation in a specialised funeral vehicle.


Arrange a personalised funeral service with our attended funeral option

One of the most popular reasons families decide to manage the funeral arrangements themselves is to lead a fitting funeral service. Our attended funeral allows you to do just that.

The funeral will take place at one of our crematoria local to the place of rest, at an available time and date that suits you and your family.

We’ll ensure your loved one is cared for prior to the cremation and safely transported to the chapel on the day. You will be able to arrange a ceremony in the chapel by choosing the exact arrangements you want for your loved one including the music, visual tributes and any readings. 

You will also want to consider who will lead the funeral service. This can be a friend or family member, or a religious figure if you’d like it to be. We can advise on engaging with the services of a minister or officiant in your area if you wish.

For more ideas on arranging a unique funeral service for your loved one, you may find our guide helpful.


To arrange a DIY funeral for someone who has passed away, please call our team on 0800 484 0260. We are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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