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Arranging a Funeral

If someone dies at home you must call your doctor who will sign a medical certificate confirming the cause of death, unless it is decided to refer the matter to the Coroner.

If the death occurs in hospital the doctor there will normally be able to issue a certificate. The medical certificate must be taken to the Registrar of Births and Deaths within 5 days of the death. The Registrar will require personal details of the deceased such as their date and place of birth and death, a marriage certificate, if available and details of any pension or benefits they were receiving.

Once a death has been registered with the Registrar of Births and Deaths and you are in possession of the Registrar's Green Disposal Certificate and either a Coroner's 'E' Form for Cremation or a Coroner's Order for Burial Arrangements can be made for the funeral.

Dependant upon your choice of burial or cremation, various forms will need to be completed before the funeral can go ahead.

The staff at the cemetery and crematoria offices will be available to help you and supply you with the necessary forms for completion.

For more information visit the'What to do after someone dies' page on the national government website.

Other useful contact details

Coroner's Office (Birmingham & Solihull) 0121 303 3228
email: coroner@birmingham.gov.uk

Registrar of Births & Deaths (Birmingham Holliday Street) 0121 675 1004
email: register.office@birmingham.gov.uk

Funeral Directors and Independent Funeral Arrangements

The responsibility for arranging the funeral normally falls on the Executor or the nearest surviving relative who may wish to approach a professional Funeral Director who will undertake some of the various tasks on their behalf and offer guidance. The Funeral Director will discuss with the family their requirements concerning the funeral arrangements and will assist in completing the necessary statutory and non-statutory forms. The Funeral Director will make the practical arrangements for the collection of the body and will obtain the necessary medical certificates. The Funeral Director will advise on the procedure for registering the death.

Birmingham City Council is not promoting any particular type of arrangement. Funeral Directors offer an all inclusive service to the bereaved, however following the death of a loved one, family and friends may wish to have more control over the funeral arrangements.

This can make a funeral more personal and meaningful and can help them work through the grieving process. In these cases families may choose to limit involvement of a Funeral Director or not use one at all.

It is important to remember that an Independent Funeral will require the family to spend time making the arrangements which include:

  • Preparation and storage of the body
  • Provision of a casket or coffin
  • Arranging a vehicle to collect and transport the coffin
  • Supplying people to act as bearers (people who carry the coffin into the chapel or to the graveside)

The staff at the Cemeteries and Crematoria Offices can offer advice regarding some of these arrangements.

The Funeral Service

Families should not feel that they have to take on all of the funeral arrangements, just because they want to personalise the service. Funeral Directors have a wealth of experience in helping to make funerals very personal occasions. It should be noted that traditional funeral patterns do not have to be followed and it may be that a secular (non-religious) ceremony is desired.

Family and friends may wish to devise their own very personal funeral service with readings, poems, songs, music or perhaps silent contemplation.

Families who have been closely involved with devising a service for a loved one have found it a very emotional and moving experience which can be quite different from the formal service many people experience.

Families could choose to have a religious service followed with a few minutes of their own ceremony. Some ministers will perform a part secular, part religious ceremony if those attending the funeral are of various beliefs.

There is also the opportunity for families to personalise the service or ceremony with their favourite pieces of music or poetry with facilities for CDs or tapes to be played in the chapels.

Hymn books and service books are available to be used during the service in the crematoria chapels and at Handsworth and Witton Cemeteries where the chapel facilities may be used for a service prior to interment.