Arrange a funeral
When someone dies there are several arrangements that need to be made, and there are statutory and non-statutory forms to be completed.
The responsibility for these arrangements normally falls to the Executor, or the nearest surviving relative. They may wish to approach a professional funeral director to undertake some of the various tasks on their behalf.
Or they can contact our Bereavement Services Team for information on the range of funeral services we provide.
It's also necessary to register the death. A funeral director will assist with this or families can do this themselves, find out more on the GOV.UK website, register a death page.
A funeral can be arranged without the services of a funeral director - the Executor, or nearest surviving relative, may arrange the cremation or burial service themselves.
Download handy guides
To assist families make the right choice at such a difficult time, we have produced a series of booklets offering advice on all aspects of arranging a funeral.
- Guide to burials [PDF, 110kB]
- Guide to cremation [PDF, 38kB]
- Appointing a funeral director [PDF, 125kB]
The choice of funeral director is important - you should feel comfortable and confident with them. They may be known to you personally, may be recommended by a friend, your GP or religious adviser, or may just have a good reputation in your area.
Or, you can contact our Bereavement Services Team for information on the range of funeral services we provide.
You can find a funeral director on one of these websites:
- National Association of Funeral Directors
- National Federation of Funeral Directors
- Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors
- Funeral Choice comparison website. Enter your postcode to find the best local funeral directors and assess their prices.
- funeralmap.co.uk website offer impartial advice and guidance, including contact details for various local services
All funeral directors have a code of practice and should give you an estimate of costs - both their own and the fees they will pay on your behalf and add to your final bill. You can ask for this estimate in advance and it's a good idea to ask different firms to quote so that you can compare costs.
Your funeral director can make all the arrangements for the funeral, burial or cremation, religious or secular service. They can also advise on all the procedures and documents needed to register the death.
Types of funeral
Funeral arrangements can differ depending on the faith of the deceased:
Christian: Usually, a funeral director will be appointed to help with funeral arrangements.
Islamic communities usually appoint one person to be responsible for making funeral arrangements. It will be his or her job to advise on the rules and to select a suitable funeral director.
Hinduism has many variations of rites, which depend on their form of Hinduism. The Asian Funeral Service can give advice on and arrange Hindu funerals.
Jewish funerals are usually arranged by a dedicated Jewish Funeral Agency, or the local community may have a contract with a Gentile funeral service, which will be carried out under strict rabbinical control. The Jewish Bereavement Counselling Service offers support.
Unique faiths: if their faith is different to your own, you should contact the equivalent of the local priest of the denomination to find out what needs to be done.
You don't have to have a religious ceremony - or any kind of ceremony - at a funeral. Some people believe that religion isn't important, or have made a decision to live their lives without it - they may prefer a 'humanist' ceremony.
This type of ceremony is not intended to oppose a religious funeral, but to provide a dignified and respectful celebration of the life of the deceased.
At this type of funeral, the services of an 'officiant' - a minister or celebrant - are commonly used. They will conduct the proceedings which can involve readings of appropriate prose, playing of appropriate music and tributes said by attendees or the officiant.
The British Humanist Association offer advice on all aspects of humanist ceremonies, as well as a booklet: 'Funerals Without God: A practical guide to non-religious funerals', which you can buy for £5 (including post and packaging) from them.
'Celebrants' are trained professionals who can officiate at funerals, weddings, naming ceremonies or any other rite of passage. For more information on celebrancy visit The Institute of Civil Funerals.
Funerals without a ceremony
If you don't want a ceremony, members of the family or close friends can attend the committal, which can be in silence or with your choice of music.
Cremation has become the preferred method of disposal in Britain. Approximately 72% of all recorded deaths are now followed by cremation.
All Christian denominations, including the Roman Catholic Church, allow cremation. Cremation is also acceptable to Sikhs, Hindus, Parsees and Buddhists, but Orthodox Jews and Muslims forbid it.
The following matters can be discussed in more detail with our Bereavement Services team, who can also accompany you on a visit to the crematorium.
- Go to the Cambridge Crematorium page to find out what happens on the day of a funeral there.
- Go to the Cambridge Crematorium page to download necessary forms to make arrangements for a cremation.
Selecting cremation as the method of disposal
Clear written instructions should be given to the person who will be responsible for making the funeral arrangements.
Such instructions are not binding in law and it will therefore be necessary to ensure that the person instructed is someone who is likely to carry out the wishes of the deceased. The final decision will rest on the Executors.
Is cremation more expensive than burial?
No. Generally the cost of burial is higher than the fee charged for cremation.
Cremation usually requires medical certificates, for which there is a fee payable to the doctors providing the certificates. However, these certificates are not required if the death has been referred to and investigated by a coroner or when a burial is required.
There may be other costs associated with both cremation and burial, including memorials, buying of a grave plot and their maintenance.
Go to our fees for Cambridge cemeteries and crematorium for a list of fees for funeral and burial services.
When do relatives need to decide about the disposal of ashes?
The funeral director will discuss the alternative arrangements, which may be adopted for the disposal of ashes.
A 'form of authority' must be signed advising the crematorium of the wishes of the family. If the family are undecided, the ashes can be held at the crematorium or at the funeral director's premises, until a decision is made.
Options for the disposal of ashes
Our crematorium has a garden of remembrance where ashes can be scattered. We also offer a range of memorial options for a lasting symbol of remembrance.
Ashes can be taken from the crematorium for disposal elsewhere. This might include placing in a grave at a cemetery, scattering at another crematorium or privately in a particular area selected by the family. Suitable permission should be obtained from the appropriate authority in these cases.
Facilities provided at gardens of remembrance
Our gardens of remembrance are special areas set aside for the scattering of ashes. As they are used all year round for this purpose, it might not be possible or appropriate to mark or identify the exact location of an individual's ashes. We offer a range of locations and ways to remember loved ones, find out more in our choose a memorial section.