Advice and guidance
A funeral is a very important ceremony which remembers and honours a person’s life, and celebrates that life in death. An appropriate service is important to recognise their passing, and the start of a new chapter in the lives of those who loved them, and who are left to continue their paths.
The first choice you will need to make is whether you would like your loved one to be buried or cremated. We will be pleased to discuss the options with you. Once this choice is made, we will be able to put the necessary documentation in place on your behalf to enable the funeral to take place.
If the death is expected and the doctor is able to issue a death certificate, you will need to collect the death certificate from either the hospital or from the doctor’s surgery and make an appointment to register the death at the registration office in the area in which the death took place. In Hampshire and Wiltshire, the death can be registered in any registry office in the respective county with the exception of deaths that occur in Portsmouth or Southampton. These must be registered in that specific area. You will need to know the place and date of your loved one’s birth and, in the case of a lady, her maiden name and her father‘s occupation. It would help to take the birth certificate and medical card if possible. You will be given a white certificate for the DWP (formerly known as the DSS), a green certificate for the funeral director and as many copies of the Death Certificate as you need, currently costing £4.00 per copy: three copies are advised as if you need more later, they may cost you more and be delayed.
If the death is not expected and a doctor is not able to issue a death certificate, then the coroner will be consulted. On occasion, the coroner will refer the death back to the doctor with the request he or she issues a certificate. More often, a post mortem examination will take place at the hospital. When a cause of death has been established, then the necessary documents will be sent directly to the registrar’s office in the area where the death took place. You will then need to make an appointment with that office to register the death. Again, it would help to take the birth certificate and medical card if possible. You will be issued with a white certificate for the DWP, in the case of burial a green certificate for the funeral director (if cremation is chosen, the document will be sent directly to the crematorium), and as many copies of the Death Certificates as you need.
Occasionally, the death will be deemed to be not of natural causes; for instance, in the case of accidents or industrial diseases. If this is the case, then the death will be subject to an inquest. This will be opened and adjourned following a post mortem examination. You will not be expected to attend this adjournment. The death will then be investigated and upon conclusion, a hearing will be held in the courts to establish the cause of death. The coroner’s office will keep you advised regarding when this will be and invite you to attend. You will not need to register the death in this instance. The coroner’s office will issue Interim Certificates for purposes of insurance and bank accounts as soon as the inquest has been adjourned, and the registrar will contact you once the inquest has been heard regarding how many copies of the Death Certificates you need. There may be three to four months before the inquest is heard.
The Funeral You will be asked to make a number of decisions regarding the funeral. These include whether you would like burial or cremation, a religious or non-religious funeral, if the cortege should leave from your home or meet at the church or crematorium, if you would like a limousine or to use your own cars, notices in the paper (national and local), hymns and music (CDs can be accommodated where appropriate), floral tributes or donations to a specified charity (please note all donations should be made by cheque directly to the charity or charities of your choice and we cannot accept donations by debit or credit cards), service sheets and, if appropriate, a memorial of some sort. There is also the option of a horse drawn hearse or a motorcycle hearse. We can arrange all this on your behalf.
Nowadays, there is a lot more flexibility as to what happens during the funeral. Sometimes, only the family and close friends go to the committal, be it a cremation or burial in a cemetery, churchyard (where available) or woodland burial ground. Alternatively, the committal can happen first, with just the family and close friends in attendance, and then be followed by a Service of Thanksgiving in the local church, either the same day or at any point afterwards. The same minister would usually officiate at both services. If you choose a cremation, the coffin need not necessarily go from your sight. It can stay in the chapel until everyone has left. If you choose to do this, please consider the long term implications before confirming your choice. Although in the short term it may not hurt so much not to see the coffin go, this is a journey your loved one has to take, and to walk away from them in the chapel may leave you with a feeling of unfinished business. You can also release doves or balloons at the committal as a symbolic gesture.
You will also need to select a coffin. We will discuss the options with you, but please bear in mind your financial situation and suitability of the coffin. We offer traditional coffins and also ecologically friendly choices, such as the willow, bamboo, Pandanus (sea grass) and cardboard. You will also need to consider the destination of the cremated remains, although this is a decision that can be deferred for a while. We will be willing to discuss the options with you .
One of the big choices will certainly be whether you would like to visit your loved one in the Chapel of Rest. We will not deny that the thought of this visit can be distressing, but often, despite reservations, this can be a very peaceful and rewarding experience. If you’re not sure, then we would advise that you do make the visit, even if it’s for a short time. It’s far better to regret what you have done than what you haven’t done, and forever is a long time to regret something you cannot change. We advise that, when appropriate, your loved one is embalmed, as this will extend the window of opportunity and improve the appearance and colour and, possibly, make the visit less distressing. If you decide against visiting the chapel, please be assured that you loved one will be treated with dignity and respect at all times, that they, and their hair, will be washed, and that their eyes and mouth will be closed. Whether or not you wish to visit the chapel, they can be dressed in their own clothes or in one of our gowns. Personal items can also be placed in the coffin, although these may be limited in the case of cremation.
On the conclusion of the arrangements, you will be given an estimate of our costs and a detailed confirmation of the arrangements. You will be asked to sign this to confirm your agreement of these arrangements and of your acceptance of your responsibility for the costs involved. We ask, if possible, for a deposit of 50% prior to the funeral, but understand this is not always possible.
Our aim is for you to look back on the funeral and say ‘That was a good day’. There are few limits as to what can be done. Ultimately, it is your day and a unique celebration of each person’s life and should be reflected as such. We will take you through each stage of the arrangements with detailed consultation and respect for your individuality, to make each funeral a celebration of the love and life of your loved one, as it should be.