1. How do I know if the death has occurred?

Look for movement in the chest. Can you feel a pulse? Does a mirror mist over if held to the mouth? Does the person respond to a pain stimulus?
If you are at all unsure then immediately ring 999 for an ambulance.

In all circumstances, you must call either a Doctor or the emergency services to confirm the death and to provide the “Certificate of cause of death” which you will need to provide to the Registrar within 5 days

2. Does the body need to be moved by a funeral director?

No. A body may be safely kept at home in cool conditions for a few days if you wish. You may want to call a funeral director for reassurance or technical advice but you can close the eyes, put a small towel rolled under the chin to keep the mouth closed and keep the room as cool as possible without a fan or windows open; wrapped freezer packs will help cool the body quicker, and keep it stable.

3. Where is the body kept once it has been moved?

The body will be kept in the funeral director’s mortuary (sometimes referred to as the ‘chapel of rest’), using refrigeration to help preserve the body; it will remain here until the funeral. You may, of course, visit the body by arrangement with the funeral director.

4. What do I do next?

You will need to collect the medical death certificate that the doctor has signed – usually from the doctors’ surgery or hospital bereavement office.
Call the registrars’ office in the area where the death occurred and make an appointment, and make sure you take this medical certificate with you.
If you are unable to visit the registrar in the area where the death occurred, ask for a registration ‘By Declaration’. This relies on the Royal Mail or courier so allow extra time for this to take place.

5. How many copies of the death certificate will I need?

The Registrar will issue you with one copy. You will need another 3-5 copies to be able to send one each to the bank, solicitors etc. They currently cost £4.00 each if purchased during the meeting when you register the death.
Costs for additional copies will rise to £7.00 each if you ask for further copies at a later date (within 28 days), so it is always best to buy as many copies as you think you will need at the time.    Additional copies at a later date will cost £10 each (+£1.00 postage if ordered online or by phone)
The Registrar will help you to understand how many copies you are likely to require.

6. How long do I have in which to register the death?

Deaths in England and Wales or Northern Ireland should be registered within 5 days – if this is not going to be possible, you should inform the Registrar.

7. How soon can the funeral take place?

It is best to allow between 5 to 10 days for a cremation; in particular circumstances with a burial, the funeral can take place within 24 hours of the death, though 3-5 days is more usual.
However, there is no restriction on how long after the death a funeral must take place.  It’s not uncommon to hold the cremation or burial up to 4-6 weeks after the death on occasion – particularly if family or guests need to make long distance travel arrangements.
If there is likely to be a delay of more than 3 or 4 weeks before the funeral can take place, embalming of the body may be advisable.  We will always advise you if we feel this may be required.

8. What is a ‘chapel of rest’?

This is a room which allows families to privately visit and spend time with the person who has died before the funeral takes place.
This can be an important step in the process of grief but is not always suitable for everyone.  We will always support you fully in your choices at this difficult and emotional time.

9. What will the body look like?

Obviously it depends – but it is often said that the person ‘looks very peaceful’. We will have washed and dressed the person in clothes you will have provided; often this visit is recalled as an important part of the process of accepting that a person has actually died, and is no longer ‘here’.

10. Can I assist with the dressing ?

Yes, we welcome any family members that may want to assist with this process..

11. Am I able to put personal items into the coffin?

Yes. However due to cremation regulations no metal, glass, plastic, or PVC items. Rings are OK.

For these reasons we recommend leaving off most shoes.

12. What is embalming?

Embalming (sometimes referred to as “Hygienic Treatment”) is a temporary preservation technique that involves introducing a chemical preservative through the vascular system. It is sometimes extremely useful, but is invasive, and we only suggest this option when a body is to be kept for some time, exported by air or if the coffin is to remain open during a church service. We will only embalm someone with a very good reason, and will always seek your permission.

13. Burial or Cremation?

In the UK almost three quarters of all funerals involve cremation. Cremation is generally cheaper than a burial as it does not involve an expensive headstone. Cremations are carried out one at a time and the ashes (sometimes called ‘cremated remains’) are completely collected before the next coffin is introduced into the cremator. Cremated remains can be scattered in the Garden of Remembrance at the crematorium, strewn (poured under a turf), buried loose or in an urn or casket in a grave or taken away by the funeral director (or the family) to be interred or scattered at a later date.

14. Do I have to have a religious ceremony?

No, not at all.
Many funerals in the UK no longer follow traditional religious practices and a non-religious ‘civil ceremony’ is increasingly common, with a typical service in a crematorium chapel taking approximately 20 minutes. This might include poetry, music and an appreciation of the person’s life. We are always able to help you to arrange a good humanist or independent secular celebrant for you.

If more time is needed to avoid feeling rushed, a ‘double’ slot may be booked at the crematorium, which will extend the service to 50 minutes or more.
Church services are usually no more than 40-45 minutes – though in some cases they may extend to over an hour.
The Institute of Civil Funerals
Humanist Funerals and Memorials
Funeral Information from The Catholic Church
Funeral Information from The Church of England
Funeral Information from The Methodist Church
Funeral Information from The Baptist Church
Funeral Information for Sikhs
Funeral Information for Muslims
Funeral Information for the Jewish Community

15. Can members of the family carry the coffin?

Most certainly – men and women as well, of course. We would give a quick briefing to ensure that all are prepared, and will be on hand to help at all times. It is generally considered an honour to be asked to carry the coffin as a last act of service to the person who has died.
It is important to all keep in step, and we always start off on the left foot.

16. Is there any other mode of transportation apart from the hearse?

We can organise horse-drawn carriages, a horse and wagon, a motorcycle trailer or sidecar hearse, or a vintage lorry. We have access to a vintage Daimler 420, a LWB Landrover hearse fleet, and a classic VW fleet. You can also use our own estate car – or your own family estate vehicle. We can accommodate most requests as long as they are safe.

17. How soon can I collect the cremated remains after the funeral?

You are able to collect the cremated remains the next working day. It is also sometimes possible to have them back on the same day of the funeral if the service takes place first thing in the morning.

18. Is the coffin cremated with the deceased?

Yes. Once the coffin has left the funeral directors the deceased cannot be removed from it.

19. How do I know that the cremated remains I receive back are those of my loved ones?

The cremation process is governed by strict rules and regulations. The crematoria know that this is a widespread concern, so the crematorium authorities take great care to ensure that every individual cremation is kept completely separate. You can always arrange to visit a local crematorium to see exactly what they do if you wish.

20. How much will the funeral cost?

Generally, a simple funeral through Oak Funeral Services in 2015 will cost about £2,300. There are several factors that determine the cost of a funeral – particularly the choice of coffin, newspaper notices, requirements for flowers, limousines etc. We will always discuss costs with you, and provide an itemised estimate in advance of the funeral.
A recent survey by Ipsos MORI showed the UK average funeral to cost £3,600, though costs were consistently higher for the large funeral groups – such as Dignity or Co-Op

21. Terms of Payment?

A detailed invoice is sent out the week after the funeral – for the balance to be settled within two weeks of the date of the invoice.

How to Pay:

The banks will freeze a person’s account upon being informed of their death. However, costs associated with the funeral can be paid from this same account on submission of an funeral invoice by the executor/next of kin.

As we do not take credit/debit cards currently, cash, cheque or bank transfer (BACS) is the best way of paying.

22. What if I cannot pay?

If you are having trouble paying for a funeral that you have to arrange, it is very important to discuss this with us in advance: we will try and work out a payment plan with you.

You may be able to get a Social Fund Funeral Payment to help you with some of the cost; however, it is not a set figure, each case is looked at individually, and any payment only covers a portion of the total cost.
More detailed information can be found via the Department for Works and Pensions – Funeral Payments:   www.gov.uk/funeral-payments/overview

23. Is it worth paying for my funeral in advance?

Given that funeral costs have increased by almost 10% p.a, and return on savings rate is below 5%, it would seem a good idea – despite the £199 administrative fee to cover the funeral plan company’s initial set-up costs.

You decide the kind of funeral you would like. We work out the cost at today’s rates. The rates paid hold good until the funeral – whenever it happens, although there may be a small top up if the costs of the ‘disbursements’ increase by more than the Retail Price Index, or if the family request additional services.

One great advantage of Oak Funeral Services funeral plan supplier (Golden Charter) is that they will allow for a completely personal and ‘bespoke’ funeral plan, rather than the ‘Westminster ‘, the ‘Buckingham ‘, or the ‘Windsor Way’ type plans on offer by other providers.
and you don’t have to pay for the entire funeral in advance if you don’t wish to. Simply decide how much you would like to set aside and we will arrange for this to be saved in the funeral plan for you

We are also very happy to come and talk with you in advance of the need for a funeral, even if you do not want to pay in advance.

Other questions?

We hope this has been helpful.
There may well be other questions we have not addressed here – so please contact us – we will do our best to answer any concerns or address any areas of death, dying, and funerals that we can. There is nothing you cannot ask us!