Funerals - A Brief Overview & Introduction

Funerals, as we know them today are a Victorian invention and this is also when the commercial involvement in death was developed which lead to the greater use of the funeral director with the hearse, coffin and black attire.
Prior to that time (the latter part of the 1700's) funerals were organised through individuals, such as a carpenter, a gravedigger and the clergy, followed by a churchyard burial.
The funeral director developed the role of the organiser, providing the furnishings and the transport to carry out a funeral and they have hardly altered in the intervening period, as even now they are still steeped in Victorian tradition and ceremony.

horse-drawn hearse and coachmanThe solemnity and ceremonial ritual of a horse drawn hearse leading a huge procession of mourners has long since been replaced by the use of motorised vehicles, but the old Victorian principles and attitudes still mostly remain.

The predominance of men in the Victorian period remains unchanged and there are currently very few women acting as funeral directors or bearers, although some people are now exploring various alternatives with regards to funeral services, generally speaking, most people still prefer to keep the service traditional because this is what they are more familiar with.

A traditional horse drawn hearse funeral is still a viable option today and all funeral directors are able to provide this service, although they will almost always have to bring in a company that specialises in this type of funeral transportation because the stable that once housed their horses is now the garage for their limousines.

Funeral directors "traditional package" 

black and white wedding photograph in a heart shaped frameThe executor or the person arranging the funeral telephones the funeral director, who will arrange to see them and discuss the funeral arrangements.
The funeral director will collect the body, either from home, a mortuary or a nursing or funeral home. They will prepare it for viewing if this service is requested, which may include routine embalming (cosmetic treatment).
A choice of coffins is usually offered and the deceased can be viewed, by appointment, in a chapel of rest.
On some occasions, the coffined body will be taken back to the deceased's home, if the family so wish.
The funeral director will contact the cemetery or crematorium and arrange the date and time of the funeral, he will also ensure that the certificates and forms are completed and taken to the cemetery or crematorium office.
Details will be given about the form of service and the music, if required.
The funeral director will pay the various fees involved, called disbursements. These include the cemetery or cremation fees, ministers, fee, etc. The provision of floral tributes and newspaper obituaries, if required, will also be arranged.
autumn leafA hearse and following limousines will be provided and the funeral will take place under the guidance of the funeral director. Subsequently, an account will be sent after the funeral. The account should be itemised and should clearly define the disbursements paid on behalf of the person arranging the funeral. Many funeral directing companies now ask for a deposit before making any arrangements, the deposit is normally the full cost of all disbursements.

Please use the links in the side menu which will direct you to more detailed information.
Because there are many practical issues to manage when someone dies,
The Bereavement Advice CentreSadly we no longer feel comfortable to recommend The Bereavement Advice Centre, therefore we have removed the Bereavement Resources link to their website. advises people on what they need to do after a death, as does Directgov - Death and Bereavement, also Cruse Bereavement Care unconditionally provides a broad range of advice and support to the bereaved.

See the links page for a comprehensive list of useful resources. Good websites offering help with clear and honest funeral advice are unfortunately few and far between.  The Good Funeral Guide website is where you will find an excellent range of helpful advice, in particular the links in the blog lead to some very useful resources.

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