Arranging a Funeral How We Can Help You
Funerals tend to be a taboo subject which the public do not generally discuss. Consequently there are many old wives tales or wrong ideas about funerals. Very often a simple question to an experienced funeral director will save a lot of worry and apprehension. If you have never had to organise a funeral before it can be quite a daunting task. It is important that you know there is help available to make the occasion run as smoothly as possible. We are all here to serve you and will be pleased to answer any questions on unusual procedures, unusual requests etc, at no obligation to yourself and of course, in the strictest confidence. Often a telephone call will avoid a hasty decision that might later be regretted.
The following is not a comprehensive guide to funeral directing but is intended to be a thought provoking guideline to help you make the right decision
- What happens when someone dies in hospital?
- How am I going to cope with all the things that have to be done?
- Are there any special Instructions?
- Burial or Cremation?
- Where will the funeral take place?
- Who will conduct the service?
- How do we plan the service?
- What is an address?
- What music can we have?
- Should we view at the Chapel of Repose?
- Who will carry the coffin?
- What transport will we need?
- How will the funeral proceed?
- Are there any differences in procedure for a church service?
- How do we get home after the funeral?
- What will a funeral cost?
- What do we know about flowers?
- What do we do about donations?
- How do we place a newspaper notice?
- What will the mourners do after the funeral?
- How do we pay for the funeral?
- Dealing With the estate?
- Bereavement Careline
- Special topics
What happens when someone dies in hospital?
- You will normally be informed by the hospital.
- Please contact us to let us know as soon as possible.
- We will inform you of the best procedure.
- We will arrange a convenient time to sit down and discuss the funeral arrangements.
How am I going to cope with all the things that have to be done?
- Don’t worry.
- We are only a phone call away to help you make some order of the disorder.
- Please feel free to contact us.
- We will be pleased to offer friendly, professional advice.
Are there any special Instructions?
- You may have recently talked to the person that died about special requests.
- There may be specific requests in their Will which is probably held by a solicitor or bank.
- perhaps a pre-paid funeral plan has been purchased in which case you’ll know some of their wishes.
- Sometimes you may have to make the decision yourself.
Burial or Cremation?
- A burial is often more expensive than a cremation
- If burial is chosen: Which Cemetery or Churchyard is preferred?
- Will it be a new grave? These are usually opened to allow space for two people sometimes three.
- Is there an existing family grave to be re-opened? We will need details of the last interment so that we can locate the grave.
- A cremation is often less expensive than a burial.
- If cremation is chosen: which crematorium is preferred? There are two in Plymouth, Efford and Weston Mill.
- How will I remember the person who has died after cremation? There are many options including Books of Remembrance, rose bushes and commemorative plaques.
- What will I do with cremated remains (ashes) afterwards? There are two alternatives: They can either be scattered or buried. It is then the question of where?
- You may decide to purchase a new cremated remains plot at the crematorium and have a memorial tablet with an inscription so that you have somewhere to visit afterwards.
- They could be buried at sea, which we can arrange, or by the Royal Navy if there are Naval connections.
- Or you may decide to take them and bury them in your own garden.
Scattering of cremated remains
- If they are scattered, it may be on an existing family grave in a cemetery.
- In the garden of remembrance at the crematorium.
- Scattered at sea, by yourself or with the help of a friend who has a boat.
- Or scattered in a favourite place, perhaps your own garden with a seat or favourite plant sited for remembrance.
If any of the above is confusing or not appropriate please do not rush into a wrong decision. We will always be pleased to hold the cremated remains at our premises to allow you the time to think about and settle on the right decision. A choice of containers is available.[ Top of page ]
Where will the funeral take place?
- The majority of funerals take place in a church, or in a cemetery or crematorium chapel or at the graveside in a cemetery or churchyard.
- Some religions would hold a service at a synagogue, temple or mosque or even a village hall.
- Unlike weddings, funerals can be held almost anywhere, even at a private residence.
Who will conduct the service?
- At a church service the clergyman will normally conduct the funeral service and stipulate what can or cannot be done within his church. As a general rule and following consultation, the minister will be
- quite happy for relatives or friends to participate in the funeral service.
- In other places anyone may be asked to conduct a funeral service, a religious minister of any denomination, a non-religious minister, a humanist, the funeral director, a friend or relative or a member of a connected club or organisation.
- We will be pleased to contact the minister on your behalf or advise and work with you to construct the most appropriate form of service.
How do we plan the service?
- It is important that you have the sort of service you feel most comfortable with. When a clergyman is involved he would normally contact the next of kin and arrange to meet in order to plan and discuss the most appropriate form of funeral service.
- This is the time to mention any special music, readings, poems or tributes you may want during the funeral service. You may like a tribute of personal memories spoken by a close personal friend.
- Remember that each service is unique and a tribute to the person who has died.
What is an address?
- The address is a short history, a speech about the person who has died. Usually delivered by the minister at a funeral service but sometimes by a relative or friend.
- It is important to give this some thought before the funeral. It gives a personal touch to the service.
- How did he or she like to be known? Perhaps they always used their middle name, or a nickname. A short history of their life. Childhood, family connections, clubs or associations, likes and dislikes of golf, gardening or sport in fact anything that says, “That’s him!”.
- Most importantly their character. Did they tell terrible jokes? Were they happy and bubbly? Often a humourous family story can make all the difference to a funeral service.
What music can we have?
- Almost any music can be used. Organ music, musical instruments, personally taped music or CDs.
- At a church there is usually an organist. Arrange the music and hymns in conjunction with the minister. Remember that some hymns have more than one tune.
- At a crematorium we are limited to time but it is possible to play two or three pieces of music, or a double service time can be booked.
- We will be pleased to help and advise on music to be played during the service.
Should we view at the Chapel of Repose?
- This is a personal choice.
- Many people gain considerable comfort in visiting to pay their final respects, whilst others prefer to keep their personal memories of happier times.
- You can ask for the coffin to be brought home so you can pay your respects there if you wish, or it may rest at our Chapel of Repose.
- We normally supply a dressing gown styled robe to dress the person who has died.
- You may prefer to supply us with some personal clothes.
- Certainly, spectacles or dentures if normally used help us to present a more natural appearance.
- Artefacts such as photographs or cards, perhaps a small flower may be placed in the coffin.
- You may need to decide whether items of jewellery should be left on or returned to the family.
- If you wish to visit our Chapel of Repose we ask you to telephone to make a mutually convenient appointment.
Who will carry the coffin?
- We provide bearers in all cases.
- Members of the family or friends may wish to assist. This is possible but they will probably need some simple instructions beforehand.
What transport will we need?
- The only essential vehicle required for a funeral is a hearse. We provide
- a hearse with all our funerals. Special hearses pulled by horses are available but at an additional cost.
- Most of our funerals provide one limousine for the family. Each limousine seats six passengers.
- Additional limousines are available at an extra cost, but most families choose to follow the cortege in their own cars.
- Our limousines are equipped with umbrellas for your use in inclement weather.
How will the funeral proceed?
Most families choose the address at which the family will assemble before the funeral service. There are three options.
- The funeral procession may leave from the family house. This is the most traditional method.
- The limousine can collect the family from a chosen address and travel directly to the place of service.
- You could meet the funeral at the place of service.
Are there any differences in procedure for a church service?
As well as the choices above, there are even more options available for a church service.
- You may wish that the coffin is received into church before the service starts so that when you arrive it is similar to the way in which you would start a normal Sunday service.
- After a church service, you may not want to go to the crematorium for the committal. We can liaise with the minister and perhaps arrange for the service and committal to take place in church. This alleviates the necessity of attending the crematorium leaving you at the church to meet the people who have attended the service. Sometimes we can arrange to leave the flowers at the church too.
- You may want to attend the committal as a small private family unit and have a large thanksgiving service to follow. This can be achieved by arranging a back to front funeral, when a private committal service takes place before the thanksgiving service. This leaves you far more flexibility to arrange a convenient time for the thanksgiving service at the church with the minister.
- There are many options and we would be pleased to advise in other circumstances.
How do we get home after the funeral?
- Our limousines will return the family to the home address or some other local address afterwards.
What will a funeral cost?
The cost of a funeral is made up of three parts.
- The Funeral.
- Any additional charges.
To determine the total cost of the funeral the three separate parts have to be added together.
- These are fees that the funeral director pays on your behalf.
- Fees at the crematorium or cemetery, the minister’s fee or fees for a church service, the organist’s fee and for a cremation the doctor’s fees for completing the statutory cremation forms.
What do we know about flowers?
If you decide that floral tributes are appropriate, in memory of the person who has died, you may invite people to send flowers in a variety of ways. Essentially there are four options:-
- All flowers - anyone who would like to send flowers can send them to our office.
- Family flowers only with donations to a charity of your choice.
- Either flowers or donations - giving people a choice.
Some people request no flowers at all, and people may donate to a charity if they wish.
We will gladly order flowers for the immediate family or recommend a florist.
- A record of those who send flowers to our premises is kept and Walter C. Parson provide a list of floral tributes for the family.
- After the funeral we are often asked to take cut flowers to a local nursing home or hospice.
What do we do about donations?
- If you decide that donations are appropriate the family nominate a charity and invite people to donate to that charity in memory of the person who has died.
- We are pleased to collect the donations on behalf of the family.
- We normally acknowledge receipt of donations to the donor.
- The total amount collected is passed to the nominated charity.
- The family is provided with a list of donors approximately one month after the funeral.
How do we place a newspaper notice?
- You can contact the paper directly or we can assist you.
- Our funeral directors will be pleased to assist you to draft a newspaper notice and can provide suitable words, quotes or verses if required.
- You may like to announce the funeral and the choice of flowers or donations
- You need to give some thought to the paper in which you would like the notice to appear.
- We can place the notice for you in any local or national newspaper.
- We will submit thanks notices after the funeral if requested.
What will the mourners do after the funeral?
- Family members and friends usually get together after a funeral.
- This may be at their house, a village or church hall, a hotel or sometimes a club or public house.
- We will be pleased to recommend venues or caterers to provide your requirements.
How do we pay for the funeral?
- Credit Card
- From the deceased’s estate
- In certain conditions, assistance may be obtained from the Department of Social Security towards the payment of funeral expenses.
Can I get help from the D.S.S towards the cost of a funeral?
- You will need to get Form SF 200 from the D.S.S. which needs to be completed and returned within three months of the funeral.
- You may qualify for assistance if the person responsible for arranging the funeral is receiving:- + Income Support: + Income based jobseekers allowance + Housing Benefit + Council Tax Benefit + Family Credit or Disability Working Allowance.
Dealing With the estate?
Depending on the size of the estate and if a will has been left, the Probate Office, telephone: 01208 - 72279 may need to be contacted, or legal advice obtained. The Department of Social Security issue a very useful booklet entitled “What to do after a Death” (D49) which can be obtained free of charge from any of their offices.[ Top of page ]
Bereavement can take many shapes and forms at many different times and affects individual people in different ways. We will always be here to care, but we understand that people, on occasions, may wish to talk anonymously and at any time of the day and night, about how they feel.
Through our association with the NAFD we have a Careline available which can be contacted by any relative or friend at any time. The Careline provides access to bereavement counselling, professional advice on inheritance tax and handling estates and Wills as well as information on various welfare benefits.
Contact can be made by calling 08705-234659 at any time, day or night, and all calls are in the strictest of confidence. Your local clergy will also always be available for support.[ Top of page ]
We will be pleased to give advice or arrange the memorial if requested.[ Top of page ]
We practice temporary preservation (embalming) under modern hygienic conditions. We believe all progressive funeral directors should do this as part of the service they offer. Besides the benefits to health both for you and all our staff it also allows visits to the chapel of rest until the day of the funeral.
Dress varies according to the style of an individual funeral, today more variation is allowed without being considered disrespectful. Most people show comfortable respect in their dress at funerals. Our own staff wear morning suits.
If the deceased is fitted with a heart pacemaker, this should be removed. For a cremation this is compulsory, and for a burial this will avoid a charge from the National Health Service. If a pacemaker, or any similar implant is fitted, it is important that you advise us. We will then remove and return it to the local Health Authority for you.
We regularly give talks to explain and to answer questions on funerals to clubs, groups, training courses etc.