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Different types of funeral explained

27th April 2016   Advice Funerals

There are a number of different types of funeral that can legally take place in the UK. At ISCA Funerals in Exeter, our team of funeral directors aims to support you to have the exact funeral that you want. A funeral that reflects the person who has died is a helpful way of supporting those left behind and helping them to move on.

The two main options you have for your funeral are essentially burial and cremation. However, within those two funeral types there are a lot of different options. For example, you can opt for a woodland burial or having your ashes scattered in a particular place. You can also opt for a variety of religious or secular services, depending on your preference. Don’t forget that many people like to have a wake or memorial service in addition to the funeral event, in order to remember the deceased in their own way. This can often be at a completely different time to the funeral and death itself.

Different funeral typesFuneral services

Many people opt for a more conventional type of funeral. This usually consists of either a religious or secular service of some kind to commemorate the deceased, followed by either burial or cremation.

If you’re opting for a religious service, this will normally be run by a religious leader such as a priest, vicar or rabbi, within the traditions of that faith. If the deceased was a regular worshipper, the religious leader may know them already, meaning they will be able to offer a personal touch. For a secular funeral, a professional celebrant or registrar will usually run the service. They are less likely to know the deceased personally but they are often very experienced at running these services and tend to be very professional.

Memorial services

Memorial services are events where the deceased is remembered. They are usually held separately from a funeral, sometimes because the body is not available. This can occur if a coroner is involved or if the body is missing, such as at sea. These can be religious or secular events and can be very similar to a funeral, but without the presence of a body.

Simple funerals

We also respect the fact that some people prefer to keep their funeral as simple as possible. We offer an option for a non-attended cremation (without visitors). Many people who donate their body to science opt for this type of funeral. It’s a cheap and simple option which many people favour out of personal modesty.

Disposal of ashes

Following cremation, you have the option of scattering ashes or keeping them. Many families choose to retain the ashes of their loved one in some kind of container, such as an urn. They may choose to scatter the ashes at a later date, once they feel ready. It’s important not to feel hurried to dispose of the ashes, and it can take time to gather the family. It’s common for the family to handle the disposal of ashes by themselves at a private informal event, without the help of a religious leader or celebrant.

Unconventional options

It’s increasingly common for people to opt for less conventional methods of funerals and disposing of their remains. For example, we often get requests for woodland burials or scattering of ashes in unusual places such as football grounds. Religious leaders and celebrants are normally quite accustomed to being asked to conduct different kinds of funerals; for instance, it’s quite common for families to ask for donations to a charity in lieu of flowers, or to ask people to wear bright colours to commemorate a loved one.

Read more about Alternative Funerals 

We’ve also seen bereaved people choosing to have some of their loved ones’ ashes made into jewellery items, so they can keep a part of them close by. This can help with the grieving process. We also see people opting to have their remains sent into space – a so-called ‘space burial’. If you’re considering this as an option, be sure to discuss it with your family ahead of your death.

Plan ahead

Although many people don’t care to think of death before it happens, as funeral directors we often see grieving families left unsure of their loved one’s wishes. It’s a good idea to understand what your loved one would want for their funeral if they were to be taken from you suddenly. It’s a way of helping them with the practical arrangements should the unexpected happen.


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