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Tell me about it.
we had lots of financial help from extended family though which was nice, it's sooo expensive. had to make about 5 million cups of tea as well for people who dropped by to pay respects
Not single handedly, but I've helped with arranging two. 'Tell me about it' is a bit vague, what part of it are you looking for advice on?
Top tip is don't be afraid to shop around funeral directors. If you go it to meet with one and it just doesn't feel right, don't be afraid to say you need to think about it then go and find another. The same applies if you need to choose a burial ground. If the deceased didn't leave specific instructions, don't be afraid to visit a few and don't feel obliged to choose one that you don't like.
If you want a religious ceremony, of course your local vicar (or whoever) will help. If you want something non religious, go here http://www.humanism.org.uk/ceremonies/humanist-funerals-memorials and click 'find a humanist celebrant'. Don't worry, they're mostly not actively humanist in a hippy sense, just people who will stand up and organise the readings and so on like a vicar would do, but without the religion.
If you have any specific questions I'll do my best to answer.
and it was brilliantly done. They basically celebrated the life of the deceased person, and in the middle said "xxx wasn't a religious man, but there will now be a few minutes for you to remember him in the manner of your choosing" - can't remember the exact words but it was actually put in a much nicer way than that. The woman who did this was excellent, and like the above poster says, there's nothing hippyish about it at all. It's what I'll have for my funeral, for sure.
I had to arrange my mum's funeral. I'd never been to one before, just seen them on tv and films, and I was actually so pleased how it turned out, it was as lovely as it possibly could have been.
My family are atheists so we looked for where we could have a non-religious service locally. It was great to find out that we could do everything exactly as we wanted - no-one who wasn't a friend or family there (a family friend officiated), no hearses or wearing black etc. It was basically the same as a religious funeral - songs, readings, flowers etc - but without the religion.
Actually, my mum's funeral is still the case study on the website of the place where we had it if you fancy a look and don't find it too weird: http://www.matarafuneralgatherings.co.uk/alternative_funerals.html
Hope the one you're organising goes ok. This one was so brilliant it really helped all of us.
The question was prompted by watching six feet under and thinking 'oh god I'll probably have to do this at some point'
Good answers though. The atheist stuff sounds really good.
One day it'll probably be necessary. Better to know in advance than when you're in the middle of it.