DIY funerals can be a more affordable, personalised way of arranging a funeral.
But with the added stress and emotional strain that it can put you under, is arranging a funeral yourself the right option for you?
Here’s what you need to know about arranging a DIY funeral.
What is a DIY funeral?
A DIY or "Direct It Yourself" funeral puts you in the driver's seat to create a meaningful ceremony that honors your loved one's life.
Rather than a cookie-cutter service, you can craft a personal tribute from start to finish.
From picking out their favorite music to displaying cherished photos, you decide what matters most.
While emotional and daunting, with thoughtful preparation you can pull off a beautiful DIY funeral.
Things to consider before arranging a DIY funeral
While DIY funerals can sound appealing, they also need to be rigorously planned and can cause heaps of added stress and strain.
You will need to assess whether you and your loved ones are able to organise the funeral of a loved one between you, what the most cost-effective way of doing it is and whether you are collectively in the right state of mind to arrange it.
If you're arranging a funeral yourself, you will also need to plan for:
how to organise the care and transport of the deceased
whether you would prefer a burial or cremation, can pay for the costs associated and are able to make the right arrangements in time
organising a funeral service
the paperwork required for burials
any existing funeral wishes of the deceased
whether you all agree on what the burial plans for the deceased should be
Can you hold a DIY funeral at home?
When bidding farewell to a loved one, you may desire a more intimate, personal setting than a traditional funeral home.
Holding part or all of the service in your home can provide comfort, convenience, and savings.
The living room easily transforms into a chapel for memorials with eulogies, music, and memories.
Your backyard could offer a serene spot to scatter ashes under a favourite tree.
Even hosting a reception or celebration of life at home after a cremation or burial provides grieving family and friends a casual, cozy space to support each other.
Arranging a funeral without a funeral director
There is no legal obligation to arrange a funeral through a director, but many choose to do so.
In exchange for a fee, a funeral director will take care of many of the elements involved in arranging funerals.
However, many people feel that arranging a DIY funeral themselves might be more affordable and might also represent a final tribute to their loved one.
Ultimately, whether or not you choose to arrange a funeral without a funeral director is a personal and familial choice.
Do DIY funerals save money?
Funeral director fees are the biggest cost of arranging a funeral, meaning that without a director, you could save money.
However, this doesn’t mean funerals are cheap. Organising venues, plots of land, buying the right caskets and coffins costs a lot of money, so be sure to plan ahead where possible if you’re looking to organise a funeral yourself.
Can a funeral director help you plan some parts of a funeral?
Some funeral directors will still be able to help you plan some aspects of the funeral, even if you choose to organise some others yourself.
For example, if you’re looking to have a cremation, some crematoriums may prefer you to organise this through a funeral director, especially as you’ll need to be filling in administrative documents in the process.
Taking care of some aspects of a funeral, while letting a director take care of some other parts could be a cost-effective way to take responsibility of the more personal side of arranging DIY funeral arrangements, rather than assuming the tasks associated with paperwork and administration.
How to arrange a funeral yourself
Choosing a burial or cremation
You’ll need to decide if you want your loved one to be buried or cremated.
Whatever you choose, you will need to find and buy the right coffin, casket or urn.
Prices for these will vary depending on the material and the decoration of the coffin, but a standard cardboard coffin will usually be between £250 and £700.
Urns will again vary depending on the specifics but can usually be found for no more than £100.
You will then need to make arrangements for the funeral itself.
If you’ll be burying your loved one, you will need to secure a burial plot.
You will need a certificate for burial, also known as a green form, and the means to be able to pay for burial fees.
The average cost of a burial in 2019 was £4,975, although costs will vary depending on local availability.
If you’re looking to arrange a cremation, you will need to find a crematorium.
The average cost of a cremation in the UK is around £813.75, but again, costs will vary.
You should pay close attention to whether or not costs include the returning of the ashes, as this may not always come with every arrangement.
Arranging a ceremony
If you’re choosing to arrange a funeral ceremony, you will need to decide whether or not you want to have a smaller ceremony or a larger, more widely attended event.
Many crematoriums and burial grounds may have some on-site facilities, but if not, you will need to find a venue close to the resting place of your choosing.
If you’re organising a DIY religious funeral, you could explore options through your local place of worship as they may have some facilities for you to use, although be mindful these may not always be open to everyone.
You might choose to host a more private ceremony instead, inviting just a small group of loved ones to a get-together.
You will also need to arrange transport for a loved one if you’re deciding to go ahead with a burial.
From horse-drawn carriages to a modern motor car hearse, there are a few different ways for you to transport a coffin.
You could choose to work with a funeral director to arrange this, or you could hire a hearse yourself.
The hearses will take the individual from a temporary resting place to the burial ground.
You may also want to consider whether you want to offer transport for attendees of the funeral.
If you’d like to add-on extra vehicles to transport attendees, this can often cost more than £250 per vehicle.
It’s traditional to provide catering at a funeral or wake.
You could choose to hire a catering service, prepare the food yourself – although be mindful of additional stress brought by this responsibility – or you could also head to a pub or restaurant afterwards.
The type of catering on offer will reflect the type of DIY funeral you are arranging, but it’s common for catering to include simple foods like sandwiches, salads, dips, crisps and bowls. Both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks could be offered.