Funeral Options in the UK
Updated: Apr 22
Can you be buried without a coffin? What is the cheapest funeral you can have in the UK? What are the alternatives to burial and cremation?
This article outlines funeral options available to you in the UK including alternative options to the traditional burial and cremation services.
Your Will is one way in which you can make known your funeral wishes or how your body is to be used.
An important note to make from the outset is that any funeral wishes you include in your Will are not binding on your executors or personal representatives.
You can learn more about who has the legal right to deal with your body after your die here.
It is more important for practical purposes to make known your funeral wishes to your family in your lifetime, so they are aware and can prepare themselves accordingly.
How you wish to be remembered through your funeral service may be influenced by a range of factors.
You may even wish for your body to be used to benefit future generations, through donating parts for transplant or anatomical examination.
This article outlines the funeral services and donation options available to you in the UK.
As mentioned above, it is your executors and personal representatives who have the right to decide what happens to your body.
It used to be the case that executors could not cremate a body if the person had left a written declaration forbidding this.
However, it is now no longer unlawful to cremate the corpse of a person who has left contrary wishes.
In fact, cremations have risen in popularity with 77% of all funerals in the UK being cremations, rather than burials.
What happens at a cremation service?
Intense heat is used to turn the remains of a deceased person into ashes.
After, small amounts of bone will remain, which are taken from the cremator, cooled and placed in a machine which reduces the bone to ashes.
These are then placed in a container and your family will then have a choice to receive your ashes.
It is common for the family to then scatter the ashes over a poignant or memorable location.
This may be chosen for personal, religious or cultural reasons.
They may even choose to keep your ashes in their house or placed in safekeeps or items such as jewellery or ornaments.
A burial service is normally a short ceremony which takes place after a main funeral service has been conducted.
What happens at a burial service?
At the burial service the coffin is lowered into the ground.
Mourners (who are generally family, friends, associates or anyone else who personally knew the deceased) are often invited to attend the burial.
The burial service can be personalised to include short readings and prayers, depending on any religious beliefs you may have.
Once the coffin has been lowered, it is common tradition to scatter soil onto the coffin, whilst other people may choose to throw funeral flowers into the grave.
Family and friends can also place floral tributes near the grave at the end of the ceremony.
You can opt to purchase a new grave or re-open an existing burial plot.
A burial service can take place in a churchyard, cemetery or woodland burial site.
Religious funerals deviate from the traditional burial or cremation services in the sense that they have unique traditions based on religious beliefs and cultures.
The decision to have a funeral or a cremation may even be determined by your religious beliefs.
If you wish to have a religious funeral, it is important to work with a funeral home which offers facilities for ritual washing or any additional religious funeral support.
For this reason, we work with Dignity, one of the UK’s most trusted providers of Funeral Services and Prepaid Funeral Plans, serving over 800 local communities nationwide.
You can read more about the prepaid funeral plans available here.
All of Dignity’s funeral homes across the UK offer a professional and caring service and will accommodate to your cultural and religious requirements.
We can always reflect any religious or cultural funeral wishes you may have in your Will and include any prepaid funeral plan you may have therein.
Woodland Burials and Green Funerals
There has been a rising trend in greener funeral options, as a result of the growing trend towards green living and increasing focus on the environment.
The number of woodland burial sites has also increased in line with the popularity of natural burials.
Many are attracted to the idea of peacefully laying loved ones to rest in the vicinity of trees and wildflower as a meaningful way to say goodbye.
What is a woodland burial?
A woodland burial is also known as a ‘green funeral’ or ‘natural burial’.
It is simply an environmentally-friendly alternative to the more traditional burial and cremation services outlined above.
The environmental impact is minimised by utilising a more natural style of funeral through sustainable options.
This may include biodegradable coffins and not allowing any embalming.
Rather than a traditional headstone or other memorial, woodland burial sites generally mark graves with natural memorials, such as plants or trees.
A woodland burial site is often a natural setting, such as a wooded area, forest or meadow.
We can draft a clause in your Will outlining your woodland burial wishes and outline the details of whom to contact regarding natural burial sites and how your grave is to be marked.