When to hold a funeral

How long after death should a funeral be held

Last updated: 28 March 2019

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How long is it between a death and a funeral?

How long a funeral is held after the death of a loved one is largely down to how long it takes the family to make the necessary funeral arrangements. If a post-mortem or inquest has been requested by either a doctor, the coroner or, if you are in Scotland, a procurator fiscal, then funeral plans might be delayed.

With more families and close relations living further apart than ever before, it can take time for mourners to make arrangements to return to pay their respects. Faith and religious beliefs can also play a large part in what timeframe is chosen for a funeral.

Places of worship and crematoria have more in demand and quieter periods which will also affect finding the right time to hold a funeral service. Generally Fridays are in higher demand and if you want a weekend funeral, you will need to factor in extra costs. If no plans for a burial have been made prior to death, then finding an appropriate plot may also take time.

If you or a loved one has made a funeral plan or set out their funeral wishes prior to death, then organising a funeral will be a lot easier as several of the more difficult decisions will have already been made.

How long after death is a funeral in the UK?

Typically a funeral will take place between one and two weeks after a death, but if you need longer that can be arranged as well. How long you wait between a death and a funeral in the UK might vary, but you must obtain a death certificate within five days if you are in England, Wales or Northern Ireland and within eight days if you are in Scotland.

A strict time frame for when to have a funeral is an important feature of a number of religious funerals.

How long can you wait to bury someone?

You can wait as long as it takes for you to make the necessary arrangements before you bury someone. With proper funeral care and the help of a good funeral director, you shouldn’t have to wait any longer than a week to two weeks. If there are reasons you need to wait longer, you can also do so and your funeral director will be able to advise on the best way to do so.

You can buy a church burial or a woodland burial plot as soon as the death occurs, or you might have already reserved one. You’ll still have to wait until a death certificate has been issued before a burial can take place and your funeral director will be able to help you organise that.

If you need more time to let relatives and friends arrive from around the country, a funeral director will be able to help arrange a suitable reservation for you.

How long can you keep a body at home after death?

There is no legal upper limit to the amount of time you can keep a body at home. There are some choices that need to be made though and if you choose to lay out a body at home for an extended period, a funeral director can talk you through options for embalming and dressing your loved one.

How long can you keep a body in the mortuary?

A person can be held in a mortuary for a length of time that allows you to make further arrangements. If a person dies in a hospital or care home, they are often moved to the on site mortuary temporarily. As these facilities have limited space, they will often arrange for a funeral director to move the person to a private mortuary.

Whether you are making funeral arrangements yourself or working with a funeral director, you’ll need to make sure your loved one is moved from a mortuary to a place of rest in a reasonable amount of time.

Can you have a funeral on Saturday or Sunday?

A funeral can be held any day of the week but it’s common for burial grounds and crematoria to charge extra for weekend services. With weekends being traditional days for other types of religious services, a minister may not be available for funerals on Saturday or Sunday. Even when planning a non-religious service, some humanist and alternative celebrants might not offer weekend services or may charge extra for them.

You can get buried on a Sunday, though Sunday funerals tend to be the most expensive days and the toughest to organise for Christian ceremonies as Christian ministers will have regular services to conduct on a Sunday.

What time does a funeral usually start?

Funerals will usually begin between mid-morning and early afternoon. This is due to the fact that the professionals involved generally keep normal business hours. Most crematoria staff, cemetery workers and funeral directors work between 9am and 5pm from Monday to Friday. Funerals can take place outside of these times, by appointment, but they are less common.

Can funerals be held at night?

Funerals can be held at night but this generally needs to be specially requested as arranging all of the necessary staff to work outside of business hours can be difficult. If there are specific reasons a night time funeral needs to take place, a funeral director will certainly be able to help; but most will usually advise against it unless completely necessary.