Whilst it’s a sad fact that funeral costs are rising year-on-year (and many families struggle to meet these often unplanned expenses) there are many ways that families can look to manage the overall cost of funerals. We believe that, with a little research and creativity, families can arrange a respectful and fitting funeral for as little as £2,000.
My advice to families who are concerned about funerals costs would be as follows:
1. Focus on the ceremonial aspects of the funeral and not on the physical display Some of the best funerals I’ve attended have been the simplest ones where the focus is on the content and not the money. Whilst many funeral directors will try to convince you otherwise, it’s just not necessary to have fleets of limousines, ornate solid oak coffins and vast floral displays to have a respectful and loving farewell. What is important is the intention behind everything that is done - by this I mean love.
It’s far more meaningful to concentrate on the actual content of the funeral service – having photographs of the deceased person on display at the venue, having favourite pieces of music or clips from films playing, having family and close friends sharing their own favourite memories and everyone having the opportunity to say goodbye in the own way.
Instead of a traditional coffin, why not have a cardboard coffin and allow everyone to come and write their own farewell message on the coffin with marker pens during the funeral ceremony? Or, why not create time before the funeral to invite friends and family to decorate the coffin, either at home or at your funeral directors. This can be a very healing time in the grieving process as it encourages people to talk, to work through their feelings and share stories. The decoration doesn't have to be expertly undertaken, but what does matter is the love that goes into the process.
Instead of buying expensive floral displays, why not collect flowers from your garden and create the floral displays yourself with friends and family. Again this gives people the opportunity to talk and share their feelings and memories.
Remember, it is the intention of love that matters, not the display of financial outlay.
2. Do your homework and shop around Like anything, the cost of funerals, and the amount that funeral directors charge, can vary considerably for exactly the same service. Many funeral directors now have their price list available to view on their website. If they don’t (or if you don’t have access to the internet) then don’t feel afraid to ask – there’s nothing disrespectful in getting the best deal and not being ripped off. Ask for a full breakdown of the charges so you can compare like for like with different funeral directors. Ask for details of their professional fee AND what they are going to charge you for things like coffins, flowers, orders of service etc.
Likewise with both crematoriums and cemeteries, prices can vary considerably so make sure you find out the full cost before committing to a venue.
3. Beware of the extras Particularly, here I’m thinking of embalming (or “hygienic treatment” as many funeral directors like to call it) but this also refers to other “extras” offered by the funeral director. Before agreeing to any “extras” ask the funeral director what’s involved and if it’s really necessary. In our experience, embalming is a particularly invasive and unpleasant process which is hardly ever necessary and certainly adds to the overall costs.
4. Consider a direct cremation (or burial) A direct cremation is a practical and lower-cost option, which separates the actual cremation process from the funeral ceremony. A cremation is held without any service or mourners present at the crematorium and this can help reduce costs significantly. The ceremony can be held almost anywhere; a church, a village hall or even at home and can take place either before or after the cremation – there are no rules and you won’t be limited for time. But, once again, it’s important to do your research as not all funeral directors (or crematoriums) offer this option.
5. Do some of the work yourself There’s no legal or morale reason to even use a funeral director and some families are now choosing to go completely DIY. Much of the cost associated with arranging funerals can be the time involved in completing the necessary paperwork and arranging the diaries of the many different parties involved. If families are willing to undertake some (or all) of this work then costs can be reduced significantly.
Most funeral directors offer only “all or nothing” packaged services but some funeral directors may be willing to support families that want to be more involved in the arrangements. Once again, it’s important to shop around and ask funeral directors if they are able to help support your DIY funeral.
One small thing you can do. Instead of relying on paid pall bearers, encourage family and friends to carry the coffin. If you don’t fancy shouldering the coffin, choose a coffin with strong rope handles that can be used to carry it or maybe use a decorated bier or trolley and wheel the coffin to the funeral.
If you would like more information about this topic, or any other funeral related advice, please feel free to contact us without obligation.