A DIY funeral, or ‘do it yourself funeral’, requires a lot of planning and preparation.
Before you choose to arrange a DIY funeral for a loved one, you should be sure that you can handle the responsibilities involved, both practically and emotionally. 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
Whatever your reason may be for arranging a DIY funeral, it should be given considerable thought. Some find it stressful and overwhelming to organise everything themselves, especially at an already difficult time.
Things to consider before arranging a DIY funeral
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 planning on arranging a funeral without a Funeral Director, there are a number of things you need to consider and be aware of upfront.
Before making any arrangements, you will need to assemble 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.
Firstly, consider 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.
If the death is referred to the coroner, you will be unable to care for your loved one at home.
How to do I arrange a DIY funeral?
Whether that be a DIY burial or cremation, there are many elements you will need to arrange.
You will need to organise each element of the funeral including the transport, committal and a service if you want one. This will require speaking directly with providers such as crematoria, coffin manufacturers and religious organisations (should you want to contact someone to lead a service). You will also need you have the right paperwork for a cremation or burial to go ahead.
To arrange a DIY funeral, you will need to:
Buy a coffin or shroud
There are suppliers who are willing to sell coffins to the public, although there are a few things you should consider before placing an order. 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. You will also need to ensure you have a team of family and friends to carry the coffin into the crematorium or church, on the day of the funeral.
Book 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 prior to the cremation.
- 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 certificate of cause of death – the Cremation Authority will often require a medical certificate signed by a doctor. 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.
Secure a burial plot
If your loved one wanted to be buried, there are no restrictions on arranging a burial yourself, 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').
Hire 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.
Arrange transportation of the deceased
It is important to consider how you will transport your loved one to the crematorium or cemetery on the day of the funeral; an estate car or van will usually be suitable as long as the coffin is carefully secured. 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.
Hire a minister or officiant to conduct a service, if you want one
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?
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 the cost of the funeral. So yes, in comparison to a traditional funeral, a DIY funeral does have the potential to save you money.
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 themselves helps with the grieving process; they feel a sense of closure as they are doing one final thing for their loved one.
Whether you choose a DIY funeral to help save on funeral costs or for the increased freedom it offers, it may be sensible to call on the help of professionals for certain services – such as looking after the person’s body in the time between their death and the funeral, for transportation of the deceased or the supply of a coffin.
If you have decided that a DIY funeral may not be right for you, there are still many ways you could save money, by choosing a low cost funeral provider, such as Simplicity Cremations. Our funerals start from just £995, and include everything you need for a simple funeral.
Arranging a Simplicity Cremation
Having learnt what arranging a DIY funeral entails, you may now be reconsidering the practicalities of arranging a funeral yourself. In their lifetime, most people will only arrange one funeral so it is understandable why doing so without a Funeral Director may be a confusing process. At Simplicity, we can help.
Unlike a typical ‘DIY funeral’ where you would take care of all of the arrangements yourself, we will take care of all of the essential and practical elements of the cremation such as the care of your loved one until the day of the cremation and their transportation to the crematorium, 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.
The funeral arrangements can be made over the phone with the help of our experienced funeral arrangers, who are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. There will be no need for you to visit a funeral home or for several, sometimes lengthy meetings with a Funeral Director.
Our funerals cover the essential elements of a cremation including:
- Cremation fees
- Doctor’s fees
- Provision of a simple wood-effect coffin
- Care at one of our high quality, temperature-controlled mortuary facilities
- Transportation of the deceased in a specialised funeral vehicle
- 24/7 telephone support from our expert team
We offer three simple funeral options, which allow you to remember your loved one in the way that suits you and your family:
Unattended Funeral from £995
The Unattended Funeral is our cheapest funeral option, which provides a dignified direct cremation without a service or procession beforehand, and without any mourners present. Despite the low price of this 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 arrange a personalised memorial service or celebration of life themselves, at a time and place away from the crematorium.
Intimate Funeral from £1,395
If you would like to arrange a short funeral, for a small group of family and friends to attend, our Intimate Funeral will suit your requirements. This funeral option allows for up to 10 minutes in the chapel for up to 12 people. You will have the freedom to say a few words, play music or reflect as you wish.
Attended Funeral from £1,895
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. This funeral option allows for a full-length service in the crematorium chapel, with a ceremony arranged by the family. The Attended Funeral most closely represents what people may expect from a traditional funeral, but without a procession before the service.
Arranging a family-led funeral service
One of the most popular reasons families decide to manage the funeral arrangements themselves is because they want the option to lead the 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. As the Attended Funeral is arranged without any face to face interaction from a Funeral Director, there is no procession, hearse or limousines. Instead, the focus of the funeral is the service, arranged by you and your family.
You will be able to arrange a ceremony in the chapel by choosing the exact arrangements you want for your loved one. A typical funeral service may include funeral music, eulogies and funeral poems and readings read by family and friends, but you may have other ideas, especially if your loved one had any special hobbies or interests.
You will also need to consider who will lead the funeral service. Although most funerals in the UK are lead by a celebrant or minister, anyone can in fact perform a funeral service, so you can choose for a friend or family member, to lead the service if you’d like. If you'd like a religious figure to lead the ceremony or something a bit more formal, we can also provide guidance on finding a minister or officiant.
You may find our guide to planning a funeral service useful.