Arranging a funeral is a daunting task especially as you will also be grieving. At MOSS we will guide you through the options and help you make the important decisions.
If you are responsible for arranging a funeral, it can be an emotional period of your life as it is likely the deceased is a family member or a close friend. By arranging a suitable and respectful service you are helping both yourself and other people close to the deceased with their bereavement.
Each funeral is a very personal and unique celebration of the deceased’s life, many people prefer unique additions such as a eulogy to be read or certain music to be played or performed at the service.
It is important that you take all the time you need to reach a decision. Do not be embarrassed to discuss any issues with us as we understand that many people have no knowledge of funerals until they have to take responsibility for arranging one. There are many decisions to be made, but you will probably find that you intuitively know the answers to many of the questions we will asks. Other family members and friends will contribute their knowledge and ideas too. It can be helpful to listen to the views of people of the same generation as the person who died especially if the person who died did not talk about what they would have wanted during their lifetime.
One of the first decisions to make
The first decision to be made for any funeral service is whether it shall be a burial or a cremation. You will also need to decide where the service will be held, this may be at a church or place of worship, at a crematorium, at the graveside or somewhere else. In the case of cremation there can be a service at a church combined with a shorter service at the crematorium’s chapel.
The decision on whether there will be a burial or a cremation may have already been made.
We work closely with all the local churches and Ministers. If you are having hymns or religious readings, you can ask to see the actual text that will be spoken as there may be different translations/versions. Many hymns can be sung to different tunes, but minister of religion will be able to advise you. Many ministers will agree to incorporate a personal element into a funeral, such as recorded music or a non-religious reading. A period of silence as well as formal prayers may also be appropriate.
A growing number of people are finding that a civil funeral ceremony is an appropriate choice for them to make. We are able to provide advice and guidance on choosing a Celebrant
Sometimes the person may not have been particularly religious but there is a wish to have some religious content. Civil funerals are able to include words and music of all kinds including a prayer or a hymn (or both) and by including a period of silence during which those who wish to pray may do so.
A civil funeral ceremony focuses on celebrating the life of the person who has died. It is created by a professional celebrant who will come and talk to you about the wide range of choices for content and the style of the ceremony.
Tribute or eulogy
A central feature of the funeral ceremony is the tribute or eulogy for the person who has died. This may be delivered by the minister or celebrant, one member of the family or a close friend or may comprise several short pieces by various people.
It is very helpful to whoever delivers the tribute to ask family members and friends to note down particular aspects of the character of the deceased which they would want highlighted or particular anecdotes. This helps the person delivering the tribute, especially if they did not know the deceased personally, to create a realistic portrait of him or her.
If family or friends deliver the eulogy it is a good idea for them to have written notes to be able to pass to someone else such as the minister in case the person becomes too distressed to speak in public during the ceremony.
Personal contributions are often very moving and are emotionally demanding, but can be very rewarding for the people delivering them. Gentle humour is often included which helps with the sense of celebration of and gratitude for the life of the person being remembered.
What happens at a funeral
If you haven’t been to a funeral before it can be quite daunting, even if you are not immediate family. It is often helpful to know what to expect in advance, and you will find an explanation of what happens whether you are going to a cremation, burial or green (woodland) funeral.
Any form of ceremony can take place at the crematorium within the time allowed for each funeral, which is usually between 20 and 30 minutes. Alternatively, a service may take place in any separate building such as a hall or place of worship, followed by a short ceremony (called a committal) at the crematorium. MOSS Chapel can be used for this purpose. Or you could have the committal at the crematorium before a more public event following the crematorium ceremony.
The mourners will normally gather at the crematorium close to the entrance of the chapel a few minutes before the appointed time of the funeral service.
When the main family members are ready, the coffin will be taken into the chapel by MOSS staff, unless family bearers are helping to carry the coffin. The coffin will be placed in the chapel and the ceremony will start.
Different crematoria have different arrangements for the moment in the ceremony when the coffin is traditionally removed from view. It is possible for the coffin to remain in place until after mourners leave if this is what the family prefer. The committal usually takes place fairly near the end of the ceremony.
Usually the person leading the service will invite mourners to join the family for any refreshments that have been arranged and at the close of the ceremony the funeral director will indicate the door out of the chapel often different from where people came in. Any flowers are usually placed on display and there is a brief period where mourners can express their sympathy to the immediate family.
If you have arranged a burial preceded by a ceremony in a religious building or cemetery chapel, then people will gather in the building first for the minister to lead the service. The coffin will then be taken to the churchyard or cemetery and everyone will follow and stand around the grave as the coffin is lowered.
The minister will say some appropriate words at this time and afterwards the family and mourners may throw some earth into the grave before they depart.
Sometimes the whole service is conducted at a graveside and if this is the case, do consider whether the use of MOSS gazebo and seating are needed for elderly or disabled people who may find it difficult standing for so long.
A ‘green’ funeral is a term often used to describe a simple ceremony followed by burial in a grave in a woodland or meadowed area. Often for these funerals the use of a biodegradable coffin is considered more environmentally friendly.
Woodland burial sites usually plant trees or wild flowers on or near graves instead of having a headstone, eventually turning the site into permanent woodland, providing a habitat for wildlife and woodland walks. A record is kept of all grave locations, often marked with a microchip. A new tree does not always mark graves but the whole area is eventually turned into natural woodland.
There are approximately 200 such sites across the UK, run by a variety of individuals and organisations such as farmers, local authorities, wildlife charities and private trusts. Funeral ceremonies at these sites can take whatever form you prefer, either conducted by a religious minister or a celebrant.