Do I Have a Choice?

When someone dies, do I have a choice as to what kind of funeral they have?

Do I have to have my local vicar or priest although the person who has died was not particularly religious?

The answer to these questions is ‘Yes’ you do have a choice and ‘No’ you do not have to have a religious minister if you do not want to.  Some families/friends choose to create and conduct parts of, or even the whole ceremony themselves. There are also funeral celebrants who can do this for you or you may want no service at all.

A Civil Funeral Celebrant is a person who will create and deliver the type of funeral that you want. It is essentially non religious but it may have a hymn or prayer included, if you wish. It is a professional, dignified, ceremony that includes a tribute or eulogy to the deceased person and is highly personal reflecting their life and their favourite music, poetry and readings. Anything can be included as long as it is not immoral, abusive or illegal! So the choice of ceremony content is yours and who conducts it is yours and the venue is yours. You can ask for a celebrant by name if you know one or you can ask your funeral director to match one to your style.

If you are not having a religious funeral then the venue can also be of your choosing. For example, a hall or arena or even at home. The body will have to be buried or cremated as a final act and whilst there is no legal requirement to use a funeral director the vast majority of people find it helpful to have professional support.

You can also choose what type of coffin you have. These days there are options of wicker baskets, eco friendly and colourful coffins or just a shroud. You don’t have to have flowers, hearses, or cars. You can choose what is done with the cremated remains, i.e. the ashes and you can choose where you are buried. Natural burial grounds are increasingly being chosen over council run cemeteries. Occasionally private land is chosen or donating the body to science or burial at sea.

For those left behind, the task of making a lot of choices can seem overwhelming but with some forethought and help it can be done. By writing down or talking about your own wishes for your funeral when the time comes, you can really help those left behind with making decisions. So start to look at what choices you have and what you would like to happen.

For more information about death and dying well speak to Susan Holden civil funeral celebrant 01793 978617 or look at


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