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In the UK, it typically takes 7-14 days to organise a funeral after someone dies. But it’s possible to organise a funeral more quickly if you need to. Let’s look at how soon you can organise a funeral below, and what other factors might affect this.

How long after death is a funeral in the UK?

The average time between death and the funeral in the UK is 7-14 days. Though in some cases, it will take place sooner. For example, traditional Jewish funerals usually take place within 24 hours of the death and Muslim funerals usually take place within 3 days.

Sometimes, a funeral could take longer than 14 days to organise. This could be the case if:

  • The coroner needs to investigate how the person died
  • You want to hold the funeral on a specific day, especially a weekend
  • You have specific requests for the funeral, such as a particular theme, venue or coffin, that will take longer to arrange
  • The body of the person who has died needs to be repatriated (brought home) from abroad

How quickly can a funeral be arranged?

It’s possible to arrange a funeral within a few days of death if you need to for religious reasons.

If you need to organise a funeral quickly:

  • Register the death as soon as possible. You must do this before you can have the funeral. Many register offices have an out-of-hours service when a funeral needs to take place quickly for religious reasons.
  • Contact your rabbi or imam if you’re organising a Jewish or Muslim funeral. Your faith leader will be able to give you advice about the steps you need to take and may also be able to help you with some of the arrangements.
  • Contact a funeral director as soon as possible (if you need one). Most funeral directors have a 24-hour helpline you can call. Make sure you explain to them how soon you need the funeral to take place.
  • Contact the burial ground so that they can prepare. Your funeral director or faith leader may be able to help with this step.

You could also consider an unattended or simple funeral

As well as the steps above, if you want to organise a funeral more quickly, you could consider a simple funeral service or a funeral without a service (known as an unattended funeral). Because both these options are simpler than a traditional funeral, they’re often quicker to organise. Of course, it depends on your religious or cultural needs whether this feels like the right choice for you.

How long does it take to arrange a funeral with a funeral director?

If you’re using a funeral director to help you organise the funeral, you’ll usually meet with them face-to-face to talk about what you want for the service. This meeting will be around 2 hours long.

Afterwards, the funeral director will spend time organising everything you need, from the venue to the coffin, as well as things like flowers or the order of service. They’ll also make sure all the paperwork is in order. Learn more about what a funeral director does.

If you’re having a faith leader or celebrant to lead the funeral, you’ll usually meet with them separately too. This is so that you can talk about the details of the service such as the eulogy or music.

What if I need more time to organise the funeral?

If you need more than 2 weeks to organise the funeral, that’s okay. It’s important not to feel rushed, especially if you need more time to decide what you’d like for the service. Or if you need to give friends and family time to travel to the funeral. It can also give you a bit more time to decide how to pay for the funeral, if you’re unsure if you can cover all the costs.

When you meet with the funeral director, explain that you’d like a bit more time to organise everything. They’ll be able to suggest a date that’s 3 or even 4 weeks away, so you have more time to plan.

Photo by Mayron Oliveira on Unsplash.