Free Help and Guidance with Organising a Funeral in Bedford or Bedfordshire
Our aim is to help you organise a funeral in Bedford or the surrounding areas by guiding you through what can be a confusing and stressful time, and explaining what happens when someone dies, and what you need to do.
There are some things that you are required to do by law, and then you have a number of choices to make about the kind of funeral that you want, the type of service you want, and how you want to remember the person who has passed away.
You will already be experiencing a difficult and traumatic enough time without having to try and work out what you need to do next, and the choices that are available to you, and so we have created this free guide to help you.
Probably the easiest thing for you to do is to take your time reading the information below, and then once you have an idea of what you want and, when you are ready, you can contact your local Bedfordshire based Funeral Directors to help you to organise everything.
Please take your time, and we hope that our free guide below helps you.
Yes, it IS possible to get a cheap funeral when you choose a direct cremation
Everything is taken care of and covered in the very reasonable costs of less than £1200, the cremation costs and the doctors fees are all included too.
If you offer cheap funerals and cremations and would like to promote your services here, please contact us.
Arranging a Funeral
Just thinking about how to plan a funeral can seem very daunting, especially at a time that you are already finding difficult.
Knowing the different steps that you need to take, and decisions that you need to make can help to make the process as easy as possible.
Among the main decisions that you will need to make are the kind of funeral service that you would like, such as a cremation, burial, or even a green or environmentally friendly funeral, and where you would like the funeral to take place.
Once that you have made these decisions you can think about the route you would like the funeral procession to take, and whether you would like the person who has died to wear specific items of clothing.
You may also have a preference for the kind of clothing the mourners will wear, and you may also like to arrange for the mourners to meet somewhere prior to, or after the funeral has taken place.
You will also want to consider the funeral music for the service, memorials, flowers and funeral wreaths, stationary, and even any charities that friends and family may wish to donate to.
The aim is to help you to recognise and remember the life of your loved one, the funeral represents the opportunity to say farewell and to begin the healing process after the shock and sadness that bereavement brings.
The ceremony allows you to come to terms with your loss, and gives friends and family the chance to remember shared memories, express emotion, and comfort and support one another.
This is all part of the healing process and most people find that it brings comfort and helps them to come to terms with their loss.
There are no right or wrong choices about how you celebrate the life of a loved one who has died, you are free to create a unique ceremony using the music, location, words, and tributes that are meaningful to you and your family.
For some people a traditional religious funeral in a church or other place of worship with traditional funeral rites and hymns helps them to find peace more easily, whereas others may prefer a less formal setting in a place that has meaning and perhaps holds memories related to their loved one.
Today more and more people are opting for a more contemporary, less religious funeral, with “humanist” funerals and green funerals becoming increasingly popular.
Whichever choice you make you can personalise the funeral service with funeral quotes, readings, music, and even a speech to make it totally unique to the person who you are saying goodbye to.
It is a very personal experience, the most important thing is that you do what is right for you, and that represents the deceased’s wishes and values.
Types of Funeral
Besides the traditional form of funeral that involve burials or cremation, it is also possible to opt for Humanist funerals and green, environmentally friendly funerals. There is more information on each of these below.
If the person who has died had a funeral plan, or left a will or record of wishes then they will have specified whether their wishes were to be buried or cremated.
If they haven’t done this then you will need to decide between a cremation or a burial if they have not expressed their wishes to you.
There are things to consider for each, which are explained below, but generally speaking a cremation costs less than a burial.
In some cases it may be possible to get help with funeral costs, you should speak to your funeral director who will have a detailed understanding of your situation.
Things to Consider when Choosing a Burial
In some areas it can be very difficult to find a space for a burial and the cost of purchasing a plot can be prohibitive. If you already have a family grave then a burial will be much easier to arrange.
Before a burial in a family grave the memorial masonry has to be inspected and then removed prior to the service.
Your new memorial or headstone will be fitted after the ground has settled, which is usually six to twelve months after the burial has taken place. It is possible to arrange a memorial service to mark this event if you wish.
Alternatively woodland or green burials are becoming increasingly popular and they are now available across the UK.
For these kinds of burials there are restrictions on the materials that the coffin can be made from (they need to be bio-degradable to maintain the integrity of the natural surroundings), and on whether the deceased can be embalmed.
Your funeral director will be able to advise you on the requirements specific to your choices.
Burial at Sea
Although less common, if your loved one has spent part of their lives at sea then you may wish for a burial at sea, although this kind of burial is available to anyone.
This can either be a full body committal or the scattering of ashes after a cremation.
There are some considerations for this type of burial, such as the requirements for the coffin, but there are specialists who can advise and give help to arrange the committal, necessary permissions, and procurement of a boat, etc.
Another alternative that some families choose is to scatter the ashes at a freshwater site, perhaps in a natural, peaceful environment.
Things to Consider When Choosing a Cremation
Cremations generally cost less than a burial, and while most people don’t like to think solely about costs at such a sensitive time it is unrealistic not to consider the financial aspects of what can be a very expensive time.
It is possible today to organise a direct cremation. These are simple funerals and can even be arranged so that there are no mourners present, which provides a cheap cremation service if this is what you need to budget for.
If you choose a cremation then the crematorium can serve as the venue for the funeral service, or you may wish to opt for a service beforehand at a church or other significant place that has a special meaning for you.
One thing to bear in mind is that the crematorium will impose a time limit on your service; this and the cost of cremation will depend on the individual crematorium and the local authority that it serves.
The basic cremation costs tend to be similar across the UK in terms of the actual fees charged by different crematoria, the major differences in price will of course be determined by the type of funeral service that you want, the funeral cars, type of hearse, flowers, and other choices that you make.
After the cremation you can choose to scatter the ashes, perhaps in a garden of remembrance or at another location that has meaning for you or the person who has died.
You can also choose to bury or intern them at a cemetery, the crematorium, or a woodland burial site, or you could keep them in a memorial urn at your home.
You could also incorporate the ashes into memorial or cremation jewellery or keepsakes, or even have them converted into a diamond.
Other options include dispersal of the ashes from the air or by firework.
It is also worth pointing out that you are not limited to one of these choices, you can choose various ways to disperse your loved ones ashes to produce more than one memorial.
Funeral Flowers, Sympathy Flowers, and Wreaths
We have a whole page dedicated to helping you to choose from the vast selection of beautiful, breathtaking, and imaginative floral tributes that are available today.
From bouquets and wreaths, to heart shaped (or any other shape you want really) arrangements, flowers offer a touching and heartfelt way to reflect the personality and tastes of the person who has died.
Sending sympathy flowers to the family, friends, colleagues or loved ones also helps you to show how much you care for them and to show that you are thinking of them at what must be a very difficult time for them.
Floral tributes and sympathy flower arrangements are available at a range of prices, they don't need to cost the earth but they could mean the world to someone who is important to you.
Humanist or non-Religious Funerals
A Humanist funeral is a funeral and memorial service that does not follow a “traditional” religious ceremony, it is in essence a non religious funeral.
It offers a personal and touching way to celebrate the life of a person who has died, who did not have strong religious beliefs or wishes for a religious funeral.
Humanist funerals allow friends and family to come together to express sadness at their loss, but also to celebrate the life that the person lived, and their memories of them and shared times and experiences.
The type of service and the place that you wish to hold a Humanist service is completely your choice, many people find that a Humanist funeral is a more personal and less traumatic experience than a traditional service.
What is a funeral celebrant?
Humanist funerals usually use a Funeral Celebrant to conduct the service.
A Celebrant is a person who does not belong to any form of clergy, and who are usually not tied to any specific religion, or spiritual beliefs such as the afterlife.
The Celebrant aims to deliver a unique and dignified high quality funeral service that meets with your wishes and reflects the life and values of the person who has died.
In order to provide the most fitting service possible, the Celebrant will meet with you and family members and friends to learn about the person and their life so that the funeral reflects the person and the life they lived.
The Celebrant will also give you advice on burials and cremations, and the funeral order of service suggesting suitable music, funeral songs and readings, and even funeral poems if you are not sure, and suggest ideas that may be appropriate based on their experience
Green and Environmentally Friendly Funerals
More and more people today are choosing a natural “green” or environmentally friendly funeral, such as a woodland burial to reflect their concern for the environment and their desire to be at one with nature.
Many people find this kind of funeral to be a more fitting and uplifting experience than a traditional funeral, and it can also be helpful with the grieving process when visiting the grave of the person who has died in such a peaceful, natural setting.
If you opt for a natural burial then there are some requirements such as the construction of the coffin being made from bio-degradable materials (such as cardboard coffins), but these are minimal and for many people a burial in a natural environment is preferable to a traditional burial or cremation.
One thing to point out is that crematoria in some regions to choose a greener cremation, designed to have a lower carbon footprint than a traditional cremation and to have less impact on the environment.
The costs of a green funeral vary depending on where you wish the burial to take place, but consist of your funeral directors fees, the coffin, and other third-party fees like the cost of the grave itself.
Also remember that woodland burial grounds want to keep the environment as natural as possible, and so it is not usually possible to erect headstones and memorials, although it is possible to plant a tree to mark the grave.
This can be a fitting and touching tribute to the person who has died, and is of course in keeping with their desire to have a natural, green burial, and environmentally friendly funeral service.
Get Help With Grief - Grief & Bereavement Counselling
When you experience the death of someone close to you, you may find it difficult to adjust to the changes in your life. Grief exhibits itself in different ways. Some people feel anger, others feel numb, some people become withdrawn, and in some cases grief can turn into depression.
Grief or bereavement counselling may be able to help you at this very difficult time. Talking helps you to realease the emotions and pain that you may keep bottled up, helping you to come to terms with what has happened and to find peace of mind and adjust to your new life.
Local Grief and Bereavement Counsellors
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Touching Ideas to Celebrate The Life of Your Loved One
Because funerals don’t have to be as formal as they once were, it is now possible to remember your loved one in a number of unique ways, from a motorcycle hearse for biking enthusiasts, to the more traditional horse drawn hearse.
Below are a handful of ideas that may give you inspiration.
Families who want a more traditional style of funeral that adds a moving dignified touch may want to consider a horse drawn funeral.
There are numerous companies offering horse drawn hearses who specialise in providing a high class, moving and memorable aspect to the funeral, that comes with all of the tradition, ceremony, and appearance of this age old traditional service.
Motorcycle funerals are more popular than you might think, and are a touching tribute to loved ones who had a passion and interest in motorbikes and motorcycle sports.
They can evoke memories of shared trips and experiences on happy summers days, and allow for an individual expression of the life and interests of the person who has passed away.
For those families who enjoyed holidays together or breaks away in a VW camper van, it is possible to hire a Volkswagon that has been converted into a hearse.
This is a unique and touching way to remember someone that is sure to evoke highly personal and happy memories that are special to you. You really can make a funeral as personal as you like.
Families who want to symbolise the letting go of their loved one can choose to incorporate the release of white doves at either the funeral or the service.
Many people find this to be a touching tribute to the person who has died, and it can also help you to find peace of mind by adding a symbolic element of being released or freed into a very personal moment.
How much do funerals cost?
According to a survey in 2014 the average cost of a funeral in the UK was £7600 with funeral prices having risen by 80% in the 10 years from 2004 (source).
This average funeral cost was calculated from the cost of a burial or cremation (including non-discretionary fees) of almost £3500, plus the cost of memorials, funeral flowers & wreaths, and catering of roughly £2000, plus discretionary estate admin costs of over £2,100.
It was estimated that these funeral costs would leave 100,000 people in the UK struggling to pay the bill.
It is perhaps because of these ever rising costs that prepaid funeral plans seem to be more popular than ever, where you can pay now or in instalments and have a kind of funeral insurance policy that will guarantee to cover certain parts of your funeral bills;
And also why there are more and more funeral directors offering low cost funerals to cater against the expense of typical funeral prices.
Low Cost Funerals
The lowest cost funeral that is available today is a direct cremation service, where the body of the deceased is escorted to the crematorium by the funeral director and then the cremation takes place.
These simple funerals do not involve a service of remembrance, flowers, hymns, songs, readings, or – perhaps critically – mourners, it is simply a delivery of the body of the person who has died to a crematorium where they are cremated, and their ashes collected.
Perhaps this is a sad indictment of society in general, when the end of a life of a Human Being is reduced to a simple process without ceremony, purely on a cost basis because of financial necessity.
It is worth pointing out that even though these are classed as the lowest cost type of funeral, I suppose what you could call “cheap funerals”, this type of funeral will still probably cost in excess of £1000, which isn’t “cheap” at all by most people’s standards.
The cost of these funerals is made up partly of the charges from the crematorium, which will vary depending on where the cremation takes place, since it is set by the local council, plus doctors fees (they charge for issuing a death certificate), and some other sundry unavoidable costs.
Of course the funeral director also has to cover their costs and this also adds to the final bill.
So to answer the question of how much is a funeral, how much does it cost?
The total price depends entirely on the choices that you make, the flowers, the wreaths, whether you choose a burial or cremation, the type of hearse (horse drawn, motorbike, motor car, etc), the type of headstone and memorials, and all of the other options that are available to you.
These include things like the type of coffin, if you would like the releasing of doves at the funeral, if you would like memorial (cremation) jewellery, the place where the funeral and service will take place, catering, stationery, and everything else that you might decide on.
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What do you need to do when someone dies?
Your Funeral Director will be able to help and guide you through the formalities and legal requirements that you will face when someone dies.
Some of these formalities may take place before you contact your local Funeral Director, and there may be others that you will need to deal with.
Knowing what needs to happen will make it easier for you, this is explained below.
Planning a funeral may seem like a daunting task, but the process will not be as difficult as you imagine, and your funeral director will help and assist you through it all.
Registering a death – What You Need to Know and Do
Before you can register a death a medical certificate of the cause of death needs to be obtained, the process is slightly different depending on whether a person dies at home or in a hospital or nursing home.
When someone dies at home
When someone passes away at home their doctor (GP) needs to be informed as soon as possible.
The GP will usually visit the home and should be able to issue a certificate giving the cause of death if the death was expected.
If you are not sure who their GP was then you should call an ambulance instead.
If the GP is unsure about the cause of death then they will not be able to issue the certificate, in this case the coroner must be informed.
The body of the person who has died will then be taken to a hospital mortuary where a post mortem may need to take place.
When someone dies in hospital
If a person dies in hospital, a hospital doctor will issue the certificate of cause of death.
The remains of the person who has died will be taken to the hospital mortuary while you arrange for a funeral director to collect them.
If the doctor is unsure about the cause of death then they will not be able to issue the certificate, in this case the coroner will be informed and they may order a post mortem examination.
A death usually needs to be registered within 5 days and in the register office covering the area where the person lived, unless the person died in a hospital or nursing home in which case it should be the office covering that address.
Registration can be extended for a further 9 days if a medical certificate has been issued, however if the coroner is involved then you cannot register the death until these investigations are completed.
The death can be registered by any of the following people:
- a relative of the person who has died;
- a person present when the person died;
- a relative living in the district where the person died;a
- a person who owns or lived at the place where the person died;
- the person arranging the funeral, but this cannot be the funeral director;
You will need to provide the medical certificate of the cause of death, and if possible their birth certificate and marriage or civil partnership certificate, and also if possible their NHS medical card;
The registrar will also need to know:
- The date and place that the person died;
- The full name of the person (including maiden name);
- Their address;
- Their date of birth;
- The persons occupation and, for married or widowed women, the full name and occupation of her husband;
- Detail of a pension or benefits that the person was receiving;
When you have registered the death, the registrar will give you a green form to give to your funeral director. This is the certificate authorising a burial or cremation service.
The registrar will also give you a certificate of the registration of a death to send to the Department for Work and Pensions or local Social Security office.
The death certificate is also needed to close bank accounts and insurance, and to deal with property and the will of the deceased so it is advisable to purchase several copies from the registrar.
What happens when someone dies abroad?
It can be a traumatic time when a UK citizen dies abroad, since you will have to deal with the legal requirements of the country in which the person died, which may be very different to the process in the UK.
Fortunately the British authorities will help you.
The British Consulate, Embassy, or Commission in the country where the person has died will need to be informed, and they will ask the Police in the UK to inform the next-of- kin. They will also help you and give you advice on what you need to do.
They will also help you with registering the death, since all deaths have to be registered in the country where the person passed away, it is also necessary to report the death to the Foreign and Commonwealth office in the UK.
To register a death abroad you will need to provide certain information about yourself and the person who has died, which includes full name and date of birth, details of next of kin, passport number and where the passport was issued.
In many cases the family of the deceased will want to have the remains of the person returned to the UK for a family funeral, although it is possible for the funeral to take place in the country where the person died.
Bringing the person home is known as international repatriation and is organised and carried out by specialised funeral directors or undertakers who will guide and advise you on the necessary requirements.
In order to satisfy these requirements you will need a number of documents which include an English translation death certificate, permission to remove the persons body from the country, and a certificate of embalming.
These additional expenses can significantly increase the overall funeral costs and so it is advisable to see if the person had travel insurance that can help with the costs of repatriation.
The British Consulate or an international undertaker will advise you on how to obtain the necessary documentation.
You will need to obtain a certificate from the registrar before the person can be buried, and for a cremation you need to obtain permission from the Home Office.
Some funeral directors will be able to help you with all of the required steps including dealing with the authorities and even booking the flight to return your loved one home.
What happens when a foreign national dies in the UK?
In this case you will be required to register the death in the UK and follow the procedures laid out by the UK authorities.
You can then arrange with a funeral director to repatriate the person back to their home country as above.
Planning Ahead - Helping Your Family to Choose the Funeral that You Want
In this final section is some advice on planning ahead so that your family know what your wishes were, and can give you the send off that you wanted. There are 2 main ways to plan your funeral in advance, these are a record of wishes, and pre-paid funeral insurance plans. You should also consider making a will.
Record of Wishes
It is a stressful and traumatic enough time when someone you love dies, and this can be made far worse if your loved ones do not know what your wishes are regarding your funeral.
A record of wishes is a free service offered by many funeral directors and organisations that allow you to record your wishes in advance, so that your loved ones can have peace of mind that they have carried out the funeral and service that you wanted.
http://www.dyingmatters.org provide this service free of charge.
Prepaid funeral plans are funeral insurance plans that allow you to choose the funeral and service that you want, and to pay for it in advance so that you don’t leave your family with a financial burden that they may find difficult to bear.
One of the main advantages is that your money is held in an independently controlled and audited trust so that it is completely safe, and they usually have a guarantee that your plan will cover rising funeral costs so that it covers at least a significant portion of the cost of your funeral at a later date.
Additionally by choosing your funeral it gives you the peace of mind that your wishes will be known and respected, and it also brings comfort to your family at a difficult time by removing the burden of trying to make the choices that they think you would have wanted.
You are in effect planning your own funeral (for want of a better way of putting it).
Costs that are covered
With pre paid funerals the rising costs that a funeral director will charge over time are accounted for, the inflation proof guarantee means that these costs are guaranteed to be covered.
Other costs which may increase over time like doctors fees, crematoria fees, etc (these are known as disbursements) cannot be guaranteed since they are outside the control of your funeral director.
Prepaid funerals make a contribution towards these costs, and you can opt to pay more towards them if you prefer so that you know that they should be covered.
These funeral payment plans are designed to be flexible and so you can opt to either pay a lump sum, or to pay in instalments, it really is down to your personal preference and circumstances, but it is usually possible to accommodate any requirements that you may have.
Remember though that if you are paying in instalments and you die before you have made the final payment, then your plan will only cover the costs of part of your funeral. You can apply for a funeral plan here.
Am I too old to take out a funeral plan?
No! There is no age limit, and there are also no intrusive questions about your health or other personal matters, but instalment plans tend to cost more overall, and generally speaking funeral plans cost more the older you are, prices may vary greatly depending on your age.
If you change your mind or need to cancel your plan then you will usually be able to obtain a refund, although there may be an administrative charge that you will need to take into account.
For many people in many different circumstances, paying for your funeral in advance can be a fantastic idea, since it not only means that you could save a tremendous amount of money on the eventual cost of your funeral, but more importantly for most people it gives you and your loved ones the total peace of mind that you wishes will be met, and that there will be no financial struggle for the people that you leave behind.
Making a Will
It is a difficult enough time for your family having to deal with their emotions and arrange your funeral, without them then having to contend with what happens afterwards if you haven't made a will.
If this happens (it's called dying intestate) then the law will decide how your money and assets are divided among your relatives, no matter what you wished, or the state of your relationships before you passed away.
For this reason it is very important that you sort out your affairs with a will sooner rather than later, and when you consider that it takes very little time and costs relatively little then it makes sense to make a will.
On top of that remember that most wills are read after the funeral, so if your wishes regarding your funeral are contained in your will then it may cause further distress if your loved ones later discover that they did not observe your wishes.
Frequently Asked Questions and Further Information
Planning a funeral is a confusing and stressful experience, at a time when you could do without any extra worries or difficult to understand hurdles to contend with.
This website aims to help and guide you through the steps that you have to take (as required by law), and then to show you other options and choices that you could make when planning the funeral in Bedford and the surrounding areas.
We are not advising you on what to do, merely presenting information about what you should and can do.
All of the information on this website is free to use and is provided in good faith, but we make no claims to the accuracy of the information and recommend that you seek professional help.
Please see our website terms and conditions here for further clarification.
No, we are not Funeral Directors and are not trying to sell anything to you nor offer any services to you, and nor can we.
We produced this website after experiencing a bereavement ourselves and finding the process difficult, traumatic and confusing, and so we wanted to produce a guide that could help people in a similar position that we found ourselves in.
On top of that we worked with a Funeral Director commercially and so we have a solid understanding of what happens from the other side of the equation, and the common things that people struggle with and need help with.
Unfortunately we can’t.
We are not offering a commercial service to families of the bereaved, and nor are we able or qualified to.
We are offering general information that you may find useful and that applies to most people, but your circumstances and requirements may not be “normal” and so you really need to contact and take advice from your local funeral directors or other funeral oriented professionals.
While we want to help people during a difficult time, we cannot offer any kind of one-to-one or specific advice.
You can get direct help and advice from these:
Funeral Directors in Bedford
Molyneux Jones Funeral Directors 37a St. Cuthberts Street Bedford MK40 3JG 01234 363 191 http://www.molyneuxjones.co.uk
Neville Funeral Service 48a Roff Avenue Bedford MK41 7TE 01234 359 529 http://www.nevillefuneralservice.com
Garlick Bros 50 Roff Avenue Bedford MK41 7TF 01582 347785
John Goode 360 Goldington Road Bedford MK41 9NS 01234 356 999
The Co-operative Funeralcare 341 Goldington Road Bedford MK41 9PA 01234 218324
Kempston Funeral Services Ltd 97a High Street Bedford MK42 7BS 01234 840 005 http://www.ifh-funerals.co.uk/
Clarabut & Plumbe Funeral Directors 6 Bedford Rd Bedford MK42 8AD 01234 860038
A L & G Abbott 150a Bedford Road Bedford MK42 8BH 01234 843 222 http://www.abbott-funerals.co.uk
Clarabut & Plumbe Funeral Directors 11 Kingsway Bedford MK42 9BJ 01234 354 547
The Co-operative Funeralcare 80 Ampthill Rd Bedford MK42 9HP 01234 345045
Bedfordshire Funeral Services Ltd 22 Gostwick Road Bedford MK42 9XD 0800 612 1212 http://www.bfsfunerals.co.uk
Kenneth Brandon 6a Bridge End Bedford MK43 7LP 01234 720 277
Neville Funeral Service Flitwick Road, Ampthill Bedford MK45 2NT 01525 406 132 http://www.nevillefuneralservice.com
You can get help and advice from a number of professional organisations and bodies:
The UK Government
https://www.gov.uk/funeral-payments/overview (regarding payments)
https://www.gov.uk/after-a-death/arrange-the-funeral (regarding arranging a funeral)
https://www.gov.uk/browse/benefits/bereavement (regarding benefits)