Saying Goodbye: Every culture has rituals and customs that are important for this Service in honour of their ‘loved-one’ and in celebration of their life. This is a particularly difficult thing to deal with if the death is ‘sudden, violent and traumatic’. This service is a time when the reality of what has happened can start to sink in, along with a terrible sense of shock…it can be upsetting to say the least, but is a time for saying ‘goodbye’ to the person that has been taken from us.
Whatever happens the Funeral Service is a ’monumental event‘…it is important that it is meaningful to you, and the rest of the grieving family. That later, in time… you will remember this last act for your ‘loved-one’ with joy and celebration in ‘honour of their life’ and the special times they spent with you!
Funeral Timing: The funeral can take place only following the Coroner’s permission, unfortunately in cases of ‘Murder and Manslaughter’…the Funeral may be some time after the actual ‘time of death’. This time is perhaps a time that thoughts could be given to how the Funeral would best honour the loved-one:
* Did the person ever express any firm wishes about a funeral services?
* What sort of Service do you or the rest of the family feel at peace with? A quiet gathering, or an elaborate ceremony?
* Religious or modern…Church, Burial or Crematorium or other type ceremony?
Funeral Arrangements: You do not have to use a Funeral Director to organise the funeral, you could make your own arrangements. For further information contact your nearest local authority or obtain advice from the Natural Death Centre - Telephone 01962 712 690 www.naturaldeath.org.uk
However, a Funeral Director will take the burden of the arrangements. Choosing a Funeral Director can be made simple if you have been given a recommendation by a friend or used one before.
If however, you have no knowledge of local Undertakers or their reputations, you may contact the ‘Trade Associations’ and ask for their help:
* The National Association of Funeral Directors
* The Society of Allied & Independent Funeral Directors
These associations have ‘Codes of Practise’ to cover, providing information on prices to guarantee that a funeral will not cost more than any written estimate given to you. It is important that you get this ‘estimate’ in advance, also get more than one written estimate from different Undertakers.
Most people will require the following services as a minimum:
* Take control of all necessary arrangements.
* Provide appropriate staff.
* Provide a suitable coffin.
* Transfer the ‘loved-one’ from where they are lying to the Funeral Director’s ‘Chapel of Rest’.
* Care for the person prior to the Funeral
* Provide a Hearse to the chosen place of Service…Church, Crematorium or other ‘Place of Worship’.
* Arrange for the Burial or Cremation (as appropriate).
Other Funeral Information: If you are unable to pay for a funeral, speak to your local Council or Hospital as soon as possible. If you are unable to pay for the funeral when the bill is received, contact your local Citizens Advice Centre. Go to: www.citizensadvice.org.uk
Help from the Social Fund: If the deceased person did not have any funds and your are claiming benefits (for example Income Support, Housing Benefit, Council Tax Benefit, Jobseeker's Allowsance, Working Tax Criedit, Child Tax Credit or Disabled Person's Tax Credit), you may be able to apply for a funeral payment from the Social Fund to cover the costs of a simple, respectful funeral.
To apply...contact the Department of Work & Pensions and ask for the SF200 form. It's important to note that a 'funeral payment' must be claimed within 3 months of the date of the funeral. For further information a Social Fund Payment speak with your Funeral Director, your local Jobcentre Plus Office or your local Citizens Advice Bureau.
Help from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme (CICS): The Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme (CICS) may also refund the cost of reasoable funteral expenses. However, not until any criminal proceedings are complete. If you are arranging the funeral, make sure that you keep all the receipts for funeral expenses to include with your claim.
The Will, the Estate and Other Payments: Regardless of where the death occurred, it is important to find out if the person or loved-one left a Will. The Will ways what should happen to the money, property and possessions (known as the Estate). The person dealing with the Will a the Estate 'the personal representative' is responsible for making sure that what is specified in the Will is carried out.
The personal representative is sometimes referred to as the Executor or the Administrator. If the Will specifies a 'personal representative' they are called the Ececutor. If there is no Executor named or is there is no Will...they are referred to as the Administrator. The Administrator is normally the 'next of Kin'.
What is the Personal Representative responsible for? The main tasks of the 'personal representative' are to:
* Gather information about the Assets in the Estate
* Receive and deal with any payments for the person who has died
* Pay any debts or expenses
* Discontinue any utilities and pay any outstanding bills
* Explain to relatives how the Estate is to be divided as instructed by the Will
* Administrate and share out the Estate as the Will instructs.
If there is no Will...the 'personal representative' has to follow the instructions given by the 'next of Kin'.
Guidance can be found on the DirectGov website: www.direct.gov.uk/en/Governmentcitizensandrights/Death/Preparation/DG_10029802
Clarifying the Rights of the Newly Bereaved: A quote from Teresa Evans..."Had I been given the right information when I lost some close family members, more recently my son, I would have been better equipped to make informed decisions. I would not be left feeling that I could have done more when completing the last loving act that I could for them and saying my goodbyes. I am not alone with these thoughts." www.evansaboveonline.co.uk