Types of Funeral

Funerals are very personal occasions and therefore funeral directors are pleased to be able to offer families a lot of different choices. Careful consideration should be given to the type of funeral that is chosen. In Britain, a number of different types of funeral are available.

Religious Funerals

If the deceased had a strong spiritual belief during their life, a religious funeral is the most natural choice. Church of England funerals are still the most common type of funerals that are performed in the United Kingdom. The Church of England will perform religious ceremonies for any deceased person who had previously lived within the parish, regardless of whether or not the deceased attended that church during their lifetime. However, the Church of England is not required to bury all parishioners within the parish graveyard.

Many of the other religions which are practiced within the United Kingdom have their own specific rites and rituals associated with the death of a member of their faith. A faith-based funeral is normally planned and organised with the help of a local religious leader. They may work independently or with the assistance of a funeral director to make sure that the appropriate rites are observed. If you wish to have a non-Christian religious funeral for your loved one, you should be prepared to act quickly because some ceremonies are time-sensitive.

Non-Religious or Humanist Ceremonies

Non-religious ceremonies are becoming more popular as the number of practicing Christians continues to fall in the United Kingdom. Although these ceremonies can include a few religious elements, they are largely non-denominational. These ceremonies can be described as person-centred or celebrations of life. They can be held at almost any location, including the crematorium, graveside, deceased’s home or another favoured spot.

With a non-religious ceremony, there is more freedom in the format of the ceremony, which enables loved ones to tailor the ceremony to meet their own needs. Non-religious music, including pop songs, can be used in the ceremony. Readings, passages or speeches can be read which reflected the life of the deceased. Most ceremonies will also involve the sharing of memories about the deceased.


Since the turn of the century, almost 70% of funerals have involved cremation of the deceased rather than burial. During cremation, the body of the deceased is incinerated so that the remains become ashes. These ashes can then be returned to the next of kin. Ashes may be kept in a ceremonial urn or they may be scattered by the family, within the grounds of the law.

Most crematoria have a small chapel or function room on site where a service can be held, although it is possible to transport the body to a crematorium after a service elsewhere. An external celebrant can be brought in to lead the service. Crematoria, especially those in city locations, can be in high demand, so there may be more time constraints on their use.

Green or Natural Funerals

More and more people are now choosing green or eco funerals for their loved ones. These funerals and burial ceremonies are designed to minimise the environmental impact associated with traditional funerals or cremations. Alternative types of coffins or urns are used to have a positive environmental impact. These alternative coffin types include; cardboard, wool, wicker and sea grass. The deceased may be wrapped in a decomposable shroud to help their remains to decompose more easily. Religious ceremonies and non-religious ceremonies can both include elements of green or natural funerals.

There are also a growing number of alternative burial grounds located within the United Kingdom. These grounds are not normally consecrated in the same way that religious grounds are. They may include; trees, wildflowers and grazing animals. Some areas for consideration include; woodland, pasture and meadow burial grounds. It is illegal to be buried outside of a designated burial area unless additional licenses can be obtained. It is not easy to obtain alternative licenses.

Burial at Sea

Every year, a small handful of people are buried at sea. This option is normally only pursued by the next of kin if the deceased had previously expressed a desire for this to occur. Although ashes can be scattered at sea without a license, it is much harder to arrange for a body to be buried at a sea location. There are three main locations in the United Kingdom for burials at sea; an area of the East Sussex coastline near Newhaven, off of The Needles at the isle of Wight, and Tynemouth in North Tyneside. It may be possible to perform a burial elsewhere with the permission of the Marine Management Organisation (MMO). For any burial at sea, the deceased must be laid to rest in an evenly weighted biodegradable coffin which meets MMO standards.