Ask The Undertaker - Part 3, The Funeral Service

In a three part blog we’ll be answering some common questions we get asked by families we work with…

We’re not a religious family, do we have to have a vicar to take the ceremony?

If you’re not a religious family there are many alternatives and you can create a very personal funeral service involving friends and family members (who could even lead the funeral themselves). There are many wonderful celebrants we work with, with styles ranging from Humanist (with no religious content) to New Age Spirituality. These celebrants specialise in arranging and leading funerals that are meaningful, personalized, and truly reflective of the person who has passed away. Of course if you do want a priest of a particular faith but aren’t part of a religious community yourself, we can help you find the right person to lead the service – we also work with some wonderful priests and ministers who are happy to include as much personal content as families wish. Really the service should be exactly as you want, and we can help you find the right person to help you with that.

What should be in the service?

Your priest or celebrant will help you put together the content but the things to start thinking about are:

Music – traditionally there is entry music, exit music, and a song in the middle for reflection or to accompany a slideshow or visual tribute. However you could have many more if you have an hour service, or if you would rather music feature more heavily. There are no set rules on what should and can be done. Some people even choose to have live music, from a choir, a band, or a soloist.

Readings – this could be poems, extracts from books, eulogies or tributes that people have written.

The Eulogy – this is the part of the service that tells the life story, character, and impact on the mourners gathered that the person who has died has had. This can be written by the celebrant or priest with the notes and events you tell them, or it can be written by you, and read by whoever you choose. It is usually given near the beginning of the service, with other tributes from friends and family coming afterwards.

How much does a funeral cost?

Funeral costs can vary depending on your budget and needs. Costs can range anywhere from £1,500 to £10,000. As funeral directors we work diligently to make sure your expectations and budget are met, and can make suggestions based on this to make sure you create the service that you want. We understand that not everyone has thousands of pounds readily available, often with no warning, so there are avenues we can explore to help you find the funds you need.

What are green funerals and woodland burials?

Green funerals aim to have a low carbon footprint and minimal environmental impact, with an ethos of returning the body to the earth and to nature. This can be achieved by having no embalming, using a biodegradable coffin made from natural materials such as a wicker, cardboard, or reclaimed timber, having limited travel distances, and using a natural burial ground. Natural or Woodland Burial Grounds usually have small or no grave markers, or perhaps a tree or plant there instead of a headstone. In terms of environmental conservation, natural burial grounds have a very positive impact. The fields or woodland becomes a haven protected from urbanisation, where nature and an ecosystem is allowed to thrive. They can also be a much gentler place for children to attend burials. Natural burial sites vary a great deal in terms of facilities, memorialisation options, and access for those less able to get around, so we always recommend to visit first before you make a decision.

Mourners walking through woodland to the graveside at a natural burial ground

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