Organising a Funeral the GreenAcres Way… A Simple Guide
At GreenAcres we believe a funeral is an opportunity to celebrate a life lived as well as to mourn a life lost. When a loved one dies there are many things to do, often at a time of great personal distress and we feel least able to manage. Our simple guide gives brief, practical information about what to do and where to go for more help and advice.
1. NOTIFY FRIENDS AND FAMILY
You may want to notify close friends and family immediately (some may want to visit the person who’s died one last time). You may want to wait until arrangements for the funeral are in place before you contact less immediate friends and family.
2. REGISTERING THE DEATH
You must register the death with the Registrar of Births, Marriages and Deaths for the district where the death occurred. You need to do this within five days of the death (eight days in Scotland), unless it has been referred to the coroner.
3. PLANNING THE FUNERAL
Before you start planning the funeral it is always a good option to get an idea of the funds you have access to and the overall funeral costs involved as well as how the funeral will be paid for. The deceased may have a funeral plan which may cover a proportion of the costs, or there may be some specific wishes which will need to be costed.
You don’t need the death certificate to start thinking about and planning the final goodbye and if you want to get the date for the funeral in people’s diaries, you can go ahead and start making arrangements if there is no reason not to. Take your time to think about what you want and shop around – you certainly don’t need to feel pressured into making decisions. It’s worth noting that the funeral can wait weeks if you’d rather. This decision may be guided by your beliefs but there’s no legal requirement to rush it.
4. BURIAL OR CREMATION?
72% of people now opt for cremation but it’s just a matter of personal preference and sometimes what’s easiest locally. You may want to check with the family lawyer to see if there’s a lair certificate or deeds for a pre-paid burial plot for a burial ground.
If your loved one dies in hospital you will need to inform the hospital of your preference almost immediately to enable them to complete the correct certification. The signature of two Doctors is required on an additional certificate if cremation is selected. This costs around £150 and if you are using a Funeral Director, they can organise this and pay for it, charging for this disbursement or fee to someone else, as part of your invoice, for their services. The crematorium needs this certificate 24 hours before the cremation. If you are using a Funeral Director, they can liaise with the hospital and crematorium on your behalf.
5. CHOOSING A FUNERAL DIRECTOR
You can choose to organise the funeral yourself, or alternatively a Funeral Director will help you with the arrangements. We work very closely with our local Funeral Directors who know us very well and in partnership with them we can ensure you get the final goodbye you would like. We have compiled a directory of Funeral Directors to help you decide which one to choose.
Funeral Directors will help you decide on things such as type of coffin or urn, embalming, if you want funeral transport to the crematorium before or after the service at the woodland or, if it’s a full burial, how long you think you might need with us.
6. DECIDE ON THE WHO MIGHT LEAD THE FUNERAL
You can arrange a religious funeral ceremony, a Civil Funeral, with or without religious content and led by a Civil Funeral Celebrant, or a Humanist Funeral with no religious content led by a Humanist Officiant, or you might even decide to lead the funeral ceremony yourself. There is no legal requirement for this, in fact there is surprisingly little legality when planning a funeral. You decide whatever you feel is most suitable.
7. DATES AND TIMES
Consider the date and time that would be suitable with an alternative date in mind if your first choice is not available.
Remember, very often there is no need to make all of these decisions in one day and unless there are special or religious considerations you can take your time to ensure that you are satisfied with the final goodbye. Many of our families take time to reflect during the days of the arrangements and can visit us as often as they like to discuss their plans or concerns.
8. VISIT THE PARK AND DISCUSS YOUR OPTIONS
Once you have chosen your Funeral Director and decided on a woodland burial visit the park and discuss your options. We are open 365 days a year and one of our team is available to discuss options with you at the following times:
OFFICE OPENING HOURS
|Monday to Friday||8.30am – 5.00pm|
|Saturday||9.00am – 4.00pm|
|Sunday||9.00am – 1.00pm|
|Thursday late night opening (May to August)*||8.30am – 6.00pm|
|Christmas Day, Boxing Day & Easter Sunday||Closed|
|Bank Holidays||8.30am – 1.00pm|
PARK OPENING HOURS**
|Monday to Friday||8.00am – 4.00pm|
|Saturday||9.00am – 4.00pm|
|Sunday||9.00am – 4.00pm|
|Thursday late night opening (May to August)||8.00am – 8.00pm|
|Christmas Day, Boxing Day & Easter Sunday||9.00am – 4.00pm|
|Bank Holidays||8.30am – 4.00pm|
*Between 5.00pm-6.00pm by appointment only | **Service Team and facilities only available during office opening times.
Last entry into the park is 30 minutes prior to the gates closing.
On your first visit we can discuss all of your options and when you are ready you can choose the exact place and burial tree for a full burial or ashes interment and plan the outline of the service should you choose to hold one with us. We will also explain what to expect on the day.
9. DECIDE ON THE ARRANGEMENTS FOR THE DAY
The best way to start planning a ceremony for a funeral or celebration of life is getting the structure of the day together. It’s worth asking, family and workmates for contributions – memories, highlights, favourite songs or music. . Even partners of many years will have parts of their life that the other doesn’t know well: early years, working life, a club or hobby. We offer a wide selection of suitable poems and readings for both religious and secular Memorial Services.
If you are using a crematorium, there will be tight timing to work within, usually half an hour from arrival to departure, which is why we encourage many of the families we meet to consider holding a longer service either before or after the cremation so that people have the time they need to say goodbye.
Once you know how long you would like the buildings for, please let us know. Prices start from £195 for an hour.
Please also let us know about the order of service and eulogies for the day and any special arrangements that you may need us to provide; perhaps you may need to use one of our electric buggies for any of your guests who are not particularly mobile.
We can supply printed material for you to post or email to your guests showing them the map of the park, directions and information about what to expect on the day.
We will also liaise with your chosen Funeral Director at each step of the way ensuring that all the arrangements come together for you on the day.
Once arrangements are in place – venue, date, time, gathering afterwards – you can invite friends, family, work colleagues and neighbours to attend and ask for any contributions they might like to make to the ceremony. You may want to specify any special requests, such as – wear bright clothes, carry a particular flower, no flowers or possibly notify attendees of a preferred charity for donations.
10. DISCUSS AND DECIDE ON YOUR MEMORIAL OPTIONS
There are so many ways that you might want to remember your loved ones that, like the funeral or service, is completely personal.
You can choose a simple wooden memorial post or a bespoke woodcarving from one of our local woodcarvers to mark the grave of a full burial or ashes interment. You can also make an entry in our Book of Remembrance which is also viewable on-line as well as being held in a glass case in our Colney, Epping Forest and Chiltern parks.
You may like to consider some of our other options which include living memorials such as sponsoring a bird, bat or owl box or even a whole tree. Owing to the nature of the woodland, sponsorship varies between parks but you can view a summary of options or visit the individual park site that you are considering to see what is currently available there. All our prices for each memorial option is the same across all the parks.