How to arrange a funeral from a distance

A relative or friend lives at the other end of the country and you are responsible for planning the funeral. A daunting and difficult task perhaps, especially when you are also dealing with the loss yourself. If you are wondering how to arrange the funeral from a distance, the Internet does make things easier and you will find that everyone you speak to about the funeral on the phone, or in person when you are in the area, will go out of their way to help you.

How to arrange a funeral if you live abroad

If you live abroad it can make the process even harder, as you will need to arrange flights to the country your loved one was living in at the time of their passing. Again, the Internet will be a great help and if you have any friends or family living in the same country, it would be worth asking if they can do any phoning around for you until you can be in the same country, to save on worrying about call charges and time differences.

Why is a funeral planned from a long distance different from arranging a funeral locally?

Some differences might be:

  • That you don’t know the local funeral directors or their reputation
  • You may have lived in the area many years before but things may have changed. For example, you may think you know where the register office is, but it has now moved! There may also be new choices available in the area, such as new natural burial grounds (most of which have appeared in the last 10 years).
  • You don’t know where the local crematorium or cemeteries are.
  • When you get to the area to make the arrangements your time is limited, you are tired, and there is a lot to do in a short space of time.

Here’s what we suggest if you live far away or abroad:

  1. Work out if you can stay in the area, who with and how long you will be there.If possible, try to extend your stay so you’re not adding undue stress onto yourself.
  2. Make a list of the places you need to go before making any appointments. This may include some of the following:
  • The home, hospital, nursing home or hospice where the person died.
  • The doctor's surgery, to collect the death certificate
  • The register office to register the death
  • The funeral director’s premises
  • Crematorium, cemetery or woodland burial site to choose where to hold the funeral
  • Meet with the celebrant or religious minister who might conduct the funeral
  • Meet with friends and relatives
  1. Locate the places you need to go on funeralmap and work out the most efficient route. Plan from this what times would suit you best to see them.
  2. Call the people you need to see and ask them if they can see you at the time it works best for you. Start with the people you MUST see at your first visit to the area, (likely to be the top 4 in the list above).
  3. Book appointments and ask each person how long they expect the appointment to take so you can leave enough time to get to the following appointment. Ask what happens if you do run late (do they close for lunch, what time do they close for the day?). Give them a telephone number to contact when you are in the area.
  4. Write out a list to take with you showing who you are seeing at what time and where. Add in the names of those people you are seeing and contact telephone numbers, just in case.