Majority of this Information regarding keeping costs to a minimum, I have taken from The Natural Death Centre Site.
I would advocate the idea of choices rather than the general packages that are usually offered.
1 Coffins. –You don’t have to have a traditional wooden coffin.
The options are endless: willow, bamboo, cardboard, a shroud or you can even make or decorate the coffin yourself!
Choose a basic coffin or make one yourself. Or choose to use a shroud for the person who died instead. There is no legal requirement to use a coffin for burial. You can also order a coffin yourself and supply it to the funeral director. If they are not happy with this or wish to charge a substantial ‘handling fee’, you may want to consider choosing another funeral director. For cremation, there are requirements.
2 Embalming.- The body does not have to be embalmed or sutured.
These highly invasive procedures are not necessary. The body can be left in its natural state. This is often called ‘hygienic treatment’ by the funeral arranger, but contrary to most people’s understanding, it is an invasive, toxic procedure.
3. Vehicles. – You don’t have to use a traditional black hearse.
It can be any vehicle, even a family estate car.
Ask the funeral director what alternatives they can offer, or arrange to collect the body of the person who died in your own vehicle from the funeral director’s premises. If the funeral director is unwilling to allow this you may want to consider choosing another company. You do not need to use limousines – follow the vehicle carrying the coffin in your own cars, or meet at the funeral venue.
4. Visiting. Check whether a fee will be charged for spending time with the deceased at the undertaker’s premises. If it is going to be important for the family to visit the person who died several times, you might want to choose a different company.
5. Flowers. ‘Floral tributes’ can be extraordinarily expensive. Why not pick hand held bunches from the garden or just have each mourner holding one seasonal bloom? Conventional arrangements also produce a lot of non-compostable waste.
6. Officiant. Unless the service is to be a religious one, it is possible to conduct the service yourself or find someone within the family who can act as a Master of Ceremonies, calling on the other speakers and introducing the choices of music for example.
7. Orders of service. Print your own order of service or parts of service e.g poems, hymns and other parts of the ceremony that the family have chosen.
8. Memorial. If you choose a natural burial site where a tree is planted instead of a headstone, there could be substantial savings.
9. Venue. Unless the service is religious, you might like to hold the ceremony at home or at another venue.
10. Pall Bearers. You could provide these yourselves. If the person who died is not very big there is no reason why four women can’t carry the coffin. You do not have to carry the coffin on your shoulders, you can carry it at waist height, which is far less daunting. Ask the funeral director if he/she would be happy with this and if the costs would be reduced by not requiring four additional staff members present – if the answer is no, you may want to consider choosing another company.
11. Grave digging. Some cemeteries or the natural burial grounds may allow you, under supervision or not, to dig the grave yourselves; this may cut this cost down, and make this a personal service if you are considering this.
12 The body can stay at home.
If this feels right for you, this is absolutely possible with advice and guidance.
13 Home Burial. There is no law preventing you from being buried on your own land or that of a friend. As long as no money changes hands you do not need planning permission. There are potential problems with home burial, so please get in contact with the Natural Death Centre for guidance if you are considering this option. The site needs to be away from the water table and needs to be registered.
14 Catering. It is common for friends and acquaintances to make contact after a death asking if there is anything they can do – please say YES! It is comforting for everyone affected by a death to feel like they are doing something to help or contribute, so why not get them to rally round and do the sandwiches, cakes, provide the cutlery, organise the tea and coffee for example. Catering for 50 people can quickly cost much more than £500, so be a good delegator.
15 There is no legal obligation to use a funeral director.
You can take charge of some, or all, of the funeral arrangements yourself.
16. Many independent-looking funeral directors are not independent.
This is important work. Make sure you know who you’re employing.
17. The body is rarely kept at the funeral director’s high street shop.
Many funeral directors operate large ‘hub’ mortuaries, often located many miles from the high street branches they serve. Ask where the body will be cared for.
18. Funerals don’t have to be expensive.
Shop around or ask a friend to do so on your behalf. Make sure you’re not sold products or services you don’t want or need.
20. Euphemisms aren’t helpful.
If you’re not sure what the funeral director is trying to tell you, ask them to clarify what they’re saying.
21. Funeral directors don’t know best.
Families do. A good funeral director will support a family to have the funeral that’s right for them.