A pink journal with a pink pen and embroidery for writing DIY funerals.

What is a DIY Funeral?

A DIY funeral is a funeral organised by yourself with minimal help from a Funeral Director

DIY funerals are not for the faint-hearted but they are totally do-able with the right advice.

orange square with pen and cup of tea in turquoise. 'difficult yes' 'impossible no'

Funeral Directors

An Undertaker is the original and more appropriate term for a Funeral Director and both are relatively recent concepts. The original purpose of the ‘undertaker’ was to ‘undertake’ certain tasks so that you don’t have to, which is great, but overtime this has changed.  Independent Funeral Directors still often take this approach. However, the bigger companies have become more ‘directive’ at times than they need to be.

Working with a Funeral Director you trust is the easiest way to organise a funeral but many people prefer the freedom afforded them by going it alone. Some also save money this way. So is a DIY funeral ceremony for you?

How is a DIY Funeral different to using professionals?

With a DIY funeral you get to choose how to proceed on your own terms because, obviously, you are doing it yourself. With this type of funeral there is no interference and no uneccessary costs from Funeral Directors. You also decide not to take advantage of their often considerable expertise and skill OR, you can work with them to help you to do it yourself.

You will need to decide how to take care of your person’s body, book venues, decide upon transport options and organise all of the logistics. But you might find that it isn’t as hard as it sounds or as difficult as you think! Doing it all yourself can be cathartic for some families and friends.

Jess May Brighton Funeral Celebrant on a beach wearing turquoise top and black leggings and holding an orange notebook for creating DIY funerals.

6 things to consider for a DIY funeral


  1. The body of your person
  2. Paperwork, who to call!
  3. The people in your ‘team’
  4. Ceremony & Reception
  5. The logistics: date, time, attendees
  6. Transport
An orange notebook on a pebble beach with a pen and crystals. The notebook has been placed ready for someone to write and create a funeral.

1 The Body of your person

Immediately after your person dies you might be anxious about what to do with their body. Rule number one is to make sure that you don’t do anything in a hurry. There are no legal requirements to do anything immediately. You do not have to move your person or have them taken away. You don’t have to do anything! You can make tea, cry, call your people or go for a nap. Try to understand your own needs even though this can be really hard.

Furthermore, you don’t need to make any decisions. Funeral Directors work to a short timeframe and it suits their needs for your to make quick decisions. It is really important that you take your time.  This is your person and they do not belong to anyone else. Don’t feel that you need to call a Funeral Director.


A pink floral funeral tribute made from lilies with a cinnamon bun on a plate.

When you are ready you need to call your Dr as you will need to have a Medical Professional come to confirm that your person has died. Even calling your Dr can wait until morning. You might be forgiven for thinking that you now have to have them taken away. This is not the case and you can keep them at home with you. You do not have to have them taken away unless for practical reasons you need to do so.


Old fashioned Red vintage push button phone


It is still not necessary even at this stage to call a Funeral Director but you do need to make a decision. You need to decide whether to keep your person with you or have them taken into the care of another person or taken to a different place. Often at this point a person’s body will be taken to a mortuary or a chapel of rest but they can stay with you. In the past this was always what would happen and people were not ‘taken away.

two pieces of chocolate cake and two lattes in nice cups

Whether you decide to keep them at home with you or have them taken into the care of an Undertaker you need to know that both are totally legal. Do what is right for you.

With the right advice and support, sometimes, you can keep your person with you at home for a week or more, sometimes considerably longer, as long as you find a way to keep their body cool.

2 Paperwork for a DIY funeral


As soon as you reasonably can you will need to register the death. You can find out how to do so here:

So, you’ve decided to do it yourself. Now you need to decide upon who is going to help you with your DIY funeral.

packaged Keepsake copy of a script with a turquoise ribbon in a bow and thistles behind it on a table outdoors

3 The People on your DIY Funeral team

When creating your DIY Funeral it is important to work out who the people are who can help you because in reality no one can do this completely on their own.

Once you have decided that you want to do it yourself, call those whom you trust and who you know will understand your decision. Some people will not understand your decision and so you need to choose people who are honest but have no agenda. Make sure they are not simply projecting their own fears onto you or trying to protect you without good reason.


A turquoise jigsaw puzzle piece with 'help' written on it on an orange background.

You are going to have to ask for help! Taking on the task of creating a funeral ceremony means that you will need to choose people who are unafraid of death and trust you to know your own needs. Choose people who have time to support you with practical concerns.

By practical concerns I mean logistics. You will probably need: an Organiser, a Technical person, a Creative person, a practical person, a Writer/confident Speaker. Gather your people and start to chat about what you need

4 Ceremony & Reception for DIY Funerals Ceremonies


What about the ceremony and the reception? You may have no idea what you want for either the funeral ceremony or the reception, or you may have clear ideas.

Again, the best place to start is with the person who died, where were their favourite places? Who they were and what they loved. But you also need to think about you and the people left behind, who are you and what do you need?

Orange, pink and turquoise beach huts. The blue/turquoise and the pink have vertical stripes. The wooden rooves are pale turquoise. they have a sea side feel like a holiday.


Many people are choosing DIY funerals because of budgetary constraints. Therefore it is important that you take time to work out your budget and where you want to spend it. For example, your budget will determine your venue. Will you have the funeral ceremony outside or inside, in the back garden or at the pub?


In the UK the weather will play a large part in decisions around venues, what is the weather likely to be like? Heavy rain, freezing cold and boiling hot sun are never conducive to healthy grieving and so you should always ensure that there is somewhere with shelter and water if it is hot.

Two children under a pastel coloured rainbow umbrella, the boy has white hair and a turquoise coat and the girl is wearing pink. They are laughin.

5 The Logistics: Date, time, attendees

So much of creating a Funeral involves practical matters. Now that you know what kind of event you want you can firm up the details.


Choose a date, but don’t assume it must be mid-week just because they are usually all that is offered. This suits Funeral Director’s diaries and the Crematoria, but not necessarily you!

A bright turquoise back ground with a clock and a calendar with a rainbow coloured sticky post its.

If you are having a ‘Direct Cremation’ (click here to learn more) you will have more flexibility. However, even if you are not having a Direct Cremation you can still have plenty of time if you need to delay the funeral for a few weeks until it suits the majority of people involved.

Decide who you want to attend and build a time and date around those people. Choose a time that suits you and your people and make that happen for you. Don’t be told you must have it midweek in a crematorium between 9am and 5pm and don’t be told that you must have it next week…


6 Transport

You will need to decide upon your budget for transport and this will be determined by the kind of ceremony you have chosen. Some people will use the family estate care, others opt for motorbike sidecars and I have even seen one with a bicycle! Your decisions around transport will be associated with the life of the person who has died, their personality and the amount of people who need transport. You also need to consider parking at the chosen venue.

A cool Harley Davidson style motorcycle. It is orange and red

I hope you found this helpful! I wish you well with your DIY funeral and you know where I am if you need me!

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with thanks to Charlotte Burn Photography