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When a loved one passes away, it can be hard to focus on the practical steps of arranging the funeral and making sure everything is taken care of. Alleviate some of the stress by following our simple funeral checklist that will help you prepare and organise a funeral.

Planning and arranging a funeral can be emotional and exhausting. It can be made even harder if you are unsure how it works or don’t know what to do at different points of the process. We have created this funeral guide and checklist – to effectively walk you through every stage, from the initial steps after the bereavement all the way to the on-the-day arrangements.

Funeral Checklist

  • Register the death
  • Select a Funeral Director
  • Decide whether to arrange a family viewing
  • Decide what the deceased should wear
  • Choose type of funeral, whether it will be a burial and cremation
  • Location of funeral & date, such as a green funeral or burial at sea
  • Arrange for obituary to be written and listed
  • Decide who will attend the funeral and send invitations
  • Selection of coffin or urn
  • Arrange hearse and limousines
  • Organise flowers
  • Confirm Order of Service for the funeral
  • Decide on music & hymns
  • Select scriptures to be read
  • Select friends or family to perform the eulogy
  • Chose a photograph to be displayed at the funeral
  • Organise pallbearers
  • Confirm appropriate clothing for the funeral
  • Arrange the funeral wake & food

After the bereavement

When a loved one has passed, the first thing to do is register the death. Nowadays, this can be done very quickly and simply through the website or can be arranged by a Registrar. When visiting the Registrar, there are a number of things that they will need to know about the person who has died, including their date and place of birth, their full name, the date of death and where it happened, their occupation, their home address, whether they were married and if they had a pension or allowance.

Things to bring along to the meeting will include the Medical Certificate of the Cause of Death, their birth certificate, marriage certificate (if they were married) and their National Health Service medical card, if you have it.

The Registrar will issue a certificate for burial or cremation, which will need to be kept to present to the Funeral Director or at any memorial services you are organising yourself.

Planning the funeral

A funeral is a very personal event, beneficial both for the family and friends of your loved one and for preserving their memory.

It is a good idea to consult a Funeral Director when organising a funeral, since they will walk you through all the decisions to be made, and organise the majority of the necessary arrangements. This can be daunting since there are many decisions that need to be made on the spot, but many Funeral Directors are very accommodating and may even come to your house to discuss all the details in a more comfortable environment if you prefer.

If your loved one made requests for their funeral, such as whether they would prefer burial or cremation, or any preferred music or flowers they wanted included, these can be a good starting point. Sometimes, a loved one may have made arrangements prior to their death through a funeral plan which can make things a lot easier for the relatives.

If there isn’t a pre existing funeral plan in place, these are the main things you will need to decide and arrange before the day of the funeral:

Type of Funeral

There are a number of different types of funeral available, including traditional cremation or burial. Accompanying these options are also religious funerals, woodland or green funerals, or burial at sea, although these can only be conducted from certain locations in the UK and will need a license. For some people, a ‘celebration of life’ can feel more fitting than a traditional funeral – which is an occasion less about the conventions of the ceremony and more to do with the personal touch.


Choosing flowers and decorations for the venue of the funeral and the coffin itself can be a great way of adding a personal touch. Choose  your loved one’s favourite blooms, or if they didn’t have much time for flowers, other decorations could take their place, such as their prized collection of silk scarves or a selection of photographs detailing their life.


The Funeral Director will often offer the use of a number of black cars to follow the hearse to the chosen place of rest. Nowadays, this may be a less necessary arrangement, since it can be easier for everyone to use their own cars to travel and may feel more comfortable to arrive in a familiar mode of transport.

Order of service

The printed order of service will be the emotional focus for the event, given to every attendee as a guide for what will happen and as a representation of the person being remembered. You can personalise these if you want to; it could play on your loved one’s sense of humour, or feature images of them in the design.


Music is a great way to commemorate your loved one and conjure memories of them. You could choose to play music through an audio system, or you could do something out of the ordinary and book a band or musician to play the style of music that the person being remembered loved. You can find a musician or band at short notice here.

Other things to consider


Although it is customary to wear black to a funeral, you might decide that wearing a different colour would suit the personality of your loved one better. Or, you could dress to draw awareness to a special cause, such as pink to support breast cancer awareness.

The wake

There is no obligation to hold a wake after the funeral service, but should you want to, you could choose to hold it at the home of a friend or family member, or at a local venue like a community hall, hotel or restaurant. You could decorate the space with meaningful items, such as photographs or a screen showing your loved one’s favourite film, anything that will bring to mind happy memories for your guests. The most important role of a wake is for people to celebrate the life of the person being remembered with love and warmth. 


If you are providing food, feel free to keep it simple. While it is lovely for people to offer to help you make arrangements, it may be a little overwhelming. If so, ask people to bake something to bring. That way, they feel like they have helped, and you have less food to think about on the day.

If you prefer for your family and friends to be able to avoid the stress of arranging and paying for a funeral, why not contact us to create a prepaid funeral plan in advance? We are here to help.

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