The decision to organise the funeral yourself should not be taken lightly, however. It should normally be an arrangement discussed at length with the family and the dying person and the details described in the form of a ‘living will’. Making a Living Will helps the organiser immensely and will reduce the likelihood of disagreements within the family. We can provide you with an outline of a living will that may help in this process.

What are the advantages of a 'do it yourself' funeral?

The advantages of a ‘do it yourself’ funeral are many. You may have complete control of events so the wishes of the deceased can be achieved exactly. Costs can be kept to an absolute minimum and the deep personal involvement of the family may help the grieving process in ways that other arrangements may not.

There are several elements to consider when organising a funeral yourself:

  • What happens to the body prior to the funeral?
  • What legal obligations do you have?
  • What happens at the Cemetery or Crematorium?

One of the best sources of information is 'The Natural Death Handbook' published by The Natural Death Centre (0208 208 2853), copies of which are available to read at our offices at Phoenix House, Tiverton, see Contact details and opening hours.

Registering the death

Legal arrangements

You will need to register the death with the local registrar of Births, Marriages and Deaths, see Devon Registration Service - Register a death. Several copies of the death certificate will need to be obtained for banks and other institutions when dealing with the estate. If the body is to be cremated you will need to get three forms from the crematorium which they should help you to complete. You will also need two doctors’ certificates.

Care of the deceased person

If the person dies at home, you can normally keep the body in a cool, well ventilated room for a couple of days. If death occurred in a hospital, the ward sister should sign a release form; you may then make arrangements with the hospital mortuary to collect the body.

Do I have to use a coffin?

You don't have to use a coffin, but you should talk to the Crematorium or Cemetery as there's much variation in their regulations. We are happy to receive coffins, shrouds and cremated remains at our Cemeteries. Coffins can be of the regular variety, or plain wood, cardboard or most other environmentally low-impact materials.

Booking an interment at Crediton or Tiverton Cemetery

We can provide an interment three working days after taking a booking. To book an interment at a Mid Devon Cemetery you should complete and return our Notice of Interment form. You should obtain and read all of the advice leaflets offered by us in order to determine what sort of funeral and service you wish to organise. You're welcome to call us to discuss your arrangements; we are committed to helping you achieve your ideal funeral within the boundaries of our rules and regulations. Please note: Exclusive Rights of Burial must be purchased before any future interments can take place.

Both of our cemeteries have chapels that can be used for services of remembrance/celebrations of life, etc. Both have mains electricity and you may bring CD/tape players or musical instruments. Please bear in mind that at all times there may be others visiting the cemetery whose idea of grieving is different to yours and that their space and views should be respected.

Secular services

We're compiling lists of celebrants who may help you organise a meaningful service. Alternatively, the Natural Death Centre may be able to help you.

We're constantly developing this area of our service, please Contact us about your requirements so that we can provide you with up-to-date information and advice.

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