Funeral Planning and Process
The Christian faith and tradition is rich in texts which express sorrow at the death and passing of the believer, and faith in the saving love of God made known in Jesus Christ our lord.
Each Christian church will have its own proper texts and they will differ. However a selection of prayers is presented here, drawn from the liturgical and devotional traditions of the various Christian Churches around the world.
You can also find the outlines of the funeral services for various Christian traditions, together with links to their fuller content, and a list of hymns which may be appropriate.
Many of our funeral plan providers follow the traditional Christian faith and offer a funeral service which is personal to them.
The service will follow a clear plan. The focus moves from earth to heaven as the service moves from greeting the mourners, to remembering the one who has died all the while asking for God’s comfort and then committing your loved one into God’s care.
Arranging a funeral: what to do when someone dies
If you’re lucky enough to have never lost anyone close to you may not have experienced the process of what to do when someone dies. Despite feeling alternately numbed and grief-struck, there are a number of practical considerations which need to be taken care of more or less straight away. Although you may be thinking of the funeral and what to do, there are many steps which need to be taken first as a priority. If you ever find yourself in the position of having to deal with a death, you will be given lots of guidance and support. However, here’s a brief overview of what needs to be done.
Getting a medical certificate of death
If your loved one died in hospital, this step will be taken care of automatically for you and a medical certificate of death issued.If the individual died at home you will need to make the arrangements to get the medical certificate of death yourself. This will normally mean contacting your GP who can issue a certificate straight away if the cause is obvious and straight forward.
If a death is more complicated, or unexpected, the doctor may ask the coroner to become involved. This doesn’t mean that foul play is necessarily suspected, but that the doctor cannot immediately ascertain what’s happened and why.This medical certificate is required in order to go on to formally register the death.
There is a lot more to arrange for a funeral than just the flowers!
Registration of death
Like births, all deaths must be recorded in a national register and this requires a physical appointment with a local registrar. It’s not possible to register a death online or over the telephone.Most registrar offices suggest making an appointment rather than turning up unannounced as each registration typically takes around half an hour.You will need to take the medical certificate of death with you along with the birth certificate, NHS card and marriage certificate of the deceased, if they are available.
The death should ideally be registered within 5 days but the next of kin doesn’t have to be the person registering the death. Any individual present at the death, the person organising the funeral, relatives, or a hospital administrator can register the death.
During the registration process, a number of key facts will need to be taken such as:
- The full name being used at the date of death, plus any previous names
- Their address
- Their date and place of birth
- Their occupation
- The name, date of birth and occupation of any surviving/last spouse or civil partner
- Any state benefits they were receiving, such as a state pension
Once the registration is complete, a certificate of registration of death will be issued – this is a blank form requiring completion that must be sent to the Department for Work and Pensions – plus a certificate granting approval for burial or cremation.
In addition, you will be provided with an extract from the register; this is often referred to as the death certificate. Insurers, banks or building societies will typically ask to see this. If you have lots of organisations to inform about the death, you may want to pay to get some additional copies of this document from the registrar. Photocopies are not acceptable as proof, only the original extracts issued by the registrar.
Once you’ve completed the formalities of registration, you can then move on to informing all the organisations and bodies that need to know about the death. There can be a surprising number of people that need to be told so it’s a good idea to make a list and work through it methodically.
Here are a few suggestions about who you might need to tell:
- Banks and building societies
- Mortgage provider
- Insurance companies
- Department of Work and Pension
- Local authority (for blue badge holders or those receiving social care)
- TV licencing organisation
- Pension providers
- Loan or credit card companies
- Royal Mail
- Utility companies
- Employer or school
If you’re not the next of kin you can inform these organisations but you may not be entitled to receive any information, such as refunds due. If there is a spouse still living in the property, you need to make it clear that utilities etc. shouldn’t be disconnected.
The death needs to be registered in the country in which it occurred, even if you plan on bringing the body back home to the UK. The process and requirements differ depending on the country, but the British Consulate will be able to provide advice and guidance in each case. They will also be able to assist with the arrangements to bring the body back to the UK.
In order to bring the body into the UK, you will need permission from a coroner plus a certified translated death certificate. If the individual held travel insurance, there may be some additional help available, including financial provisions to cover the cost.
If there’s no cover in place to pay for the repatriation, family members or friends will have to find the money to cover the costs of bringing the body to the UK. Once in the UK, the translated certificate should be taken to the registrar who will issue a “certificate of no liability to register” which will then allow you to make suitable funeral arrangements.
Amidst all these practical requirements is the emotional need of those closest to the deceased. Although there’s a pressing need to register the death and to inform those organisations that need to know, the process can be made so much harder because of how you may be feeling.
It’s always important to grieve properly the death of a loved one
Grief can manifest in many different ways: anger, sorrow, numbness, confusion, resentment and depression are all common reactions and entirely understandable. Bereavement counselling can be a good way to come to terms with the loss. Even if you think you are fine, grief has a funny way of creeping up on you, particularly when your life is full of reminders of that individual. Birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas…that little ornament on the shelf they bought for you….a TV programme you both loved…there’s so many things that give cause a little jolt of sorrow when you least expect it.
If you choose not to see a bereavement counsellor, it’s important that you feel able to talk to those who are close to you about how you are feeling. As time passes, you will gradually feel better able to deal with the feelings of loss, even though you may always miss the person you love.