What is a silent funeral service?

row pf people wearing black formal clothing at a silent funeral

What is a silent funeral service?

You might think silent funerals have no readings, music or singing. Sometimes this is true – people will sit in silence throughout the service. Other times, they’re mostly silent but people can speak if they want to. And some funerals include times for silent reflection as part of longer, more structured ceremonies.

Let’s look at several kinds of funerals that take place completely – or partially – in silence.

Completely silent funerals

Completely silent funerals aren’t very common in the UK. While some groups practise silent funerals as part of their cultural traditions, most people who choose a completely silent funeral do so for personal reasons.

Perhaps the person who has died just didn’t want a lot of fuss. Maybe they thought that readings and hymns would be too much, but they wanted some sort of service that family and friends could go to.

Or perhaps the person simply appreciated the beauty of silence. If you’re arranging a funeral for someone who loved meditation or quiet nature walks, a silent funeral might feel like a fitting tribute.

A silent woodland burial

London funeral director Poetic Endings shared a story about a man whose wife had died. The death was unexpected and he was deeply shocked and upset. He couldn’t think of any words to express his grief, so he chose to avoid words and music altogether – a simple, silent burial ‘said it all’.

The funeral took place beside his wife’s grave at a natural burial site near their family home.

<blockquote>’At the graveside, the mourners stood in silence for ten minutes. No words were spoken; the only sound came from the breeze rustling through the trees, gentle birdsong and crying – the soundtrack to the family’s grief.'</blockquote>

Quaker funerals

A Quaker funeral is a type of Christian funeral. However, while most Christian funerals have hymns, Bible readings and a spoken eulogy, Quaker funerals can be almost completely silent.

Quaker funerals aren’t led by a priest or celebrant. A ‘Friend’ (member) of the church will arrange the funeral, but they won’t do much speaking. Instead, people sit and quietly reflect on their relationship with God and the person who has died.

If someone feels like speaking, they’re allowed to. But this doesn’t always happen. Sometimes, people will sit in silence for an hour or more, before the person arranging the funeral decides to bring it to a close.

This silence might feel unusual – and even uncomfortable – if you’re not used to it. However, sitting in silence for funerals and other occasions is an important part of Quaker tradition. Quakers believe that gathering in silence is a better way to connect with God than singing hymns or doing other types of religious ritual.

Silent reflection as part of a funeral

 Some types of funeral include a part where people can reflect in silence. Unlike Quaker services, which are unstructured and mostly silent, these funerals follow a set structure and include things like music and tributes. The silent section is just one part of a longer order of service.

This moment for reflection could be held in complete silence or include soft background music.

Here are some examples of funerals that have opportunities for quiet reflection:

Quiet visits for direct cremations and burials

Silent funeral is sometimes used as another name for an unattended funeral. These types of direct cremations and burials are becoming more popular. If you choose this type of funeral, the person who has died will be cremated or buried without a funeral service.

Many funeral directors give people a chance to visit the person who has died before they’re put to rest. The body will be prepared for viewing and placed in an open casket in the chapel of rest. Then a few family members or friends will be allowed to view the person and say goodbye in their own way.

How to arrange a silent funeral

The best way to arrange a silent funeral depends on the kind of funeral you want.

If you’re arranging a silent funeral for personal reasons, it’s worth looking for a funeral director who’s open to different kinds of funerals. You could use our free funeral director search tool to find options near you.

If you need help arranging a Quaker funeral, talk to fellow Quakers at your local Friends meeting house. You could also look for funeral directors with experience in Quaker funerals.

If you’d like an informal visitation before a direct burial or cremation, you’ll need to find a funeral director who offers this service. It’s a good idea to talk to a few funeral directors about how they can help before you make your choice.

Learn about other types of funerals

 

Funeral Choice helps people find and compare funeral directors for free. For more support, visit our funeral advice centre.

 

Photo by Pedro Lima on Unsplash

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Funeral Director fees

The price quoted contains the Funeral Director fees for a simple funeral. This includes:

  • Funeral Director fees for meetings, paperwork and running the funeral
  • Collection of the deceased and care prior to funeral
  • Hearse or appropriate vehicle for transport to the funeral
  • Basic coffin

The Funeral Director fees quoted do not include third party costs (often called disbursements). The Funeral Director will guide you through your options. These costs are:

  • Cremation or burial fees
  • Medical certificate for cremation
  • Clergy or officiant fee for conducting the ceremony

In addition to the disbursements you may want to discuss optional costs with your Funeral Director - these could include:

  • Funeral flowers
  • Memorial (venue hire, catering etc)
  • Memorial headstone
  • Orders of service
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What is a Direct Cremation?

A Direct Cremation is an alternative to the traditional funeral. This involves the cremation of the deceased without a funeral service. A Direct Cremation is generally the most economic option because costs of the coffin, preparation of the body, funeral service and expensive transportation are not included. However, many people choose Direct Cremations for reasons other than expense, for example:

  • - Wanting to have a memorial at a different time to the cremation
  • - Expressed desire from the deceased to not have a ceremony
  • - Individuals with relatives who face big physical or geographical challenges in coming together for a ceremony

The prices quoted for Direct Cremations include:

  • All charges, meetings and paperwork for the cremation
  • Collection of deceased and care prior to cremation
  • A simple coffin and urn for the ashes
  • Cremation fees and delivery of ashes to the family
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Attended funeral

This is Funeral Choice’s best estimate of this Funeral Director’s fees for an Attended Funeral, which is where family and friends have a ceremony or service for the deceased person at the same time as they attend their burial or cremation.

This price includes the following:

  • Taking care of all necessary legal and administrative arrangements
  • Collecting and transporting the deceased person from the place of death (normally within 15 miles of the funeral director’s premises) into the funeral director’s care
  • Care of the deceased person before the funeral in appropriate facilities.
  • Providing a suitable coffin
  • Optional viewing of the deceased person for family and friends, by appointment with the funeral director
  • At a date and time you agree with the funeral director, taking the deceased person direct to the agreed cemetery or crematorium (normally within 20 miles of the funeral director’s premises) in a hearse or other appropriate vehicle

In addition to the Funeral Director’s fee, there will be third party costs to consider (sometimes called disbursements) to cover the other aspects of a funeral (such as the crematorium or burial fees). Your chosen Funeral Director will be able to provide these for you.

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Unattended funeral

This is Funeral Choice’s best estimate of this Funeral Director’s fees and the crematorium fee for an Unattended Funeral, which is where family and friends may choose to have a ceremony, event or service for the deceased person, but they do not attend the burial or cremation itself. This is also known as a Direct Cremation.

This price includes the following:

  • Funeral Director's fees
  • Crematorium fee (for an unattended funeral) as selected by the Funeral Director

In addition to this fee, there might be additional third party costs to consider (sometimes called disbursements). Your chosen Funeral Director will be able to explain these for you.

If you wish to attend the funeral, you should view the “Attended Funeral” price instead.

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Why is this price Estimated?

We work hard to ensure the Funeral Director Fees we display are accurate and up to date. However, unlike with our partners, we cannot guarantee this price is correct today.

Funeral Director fees

The price quoted contains the Funeral Director fees for a simple funeral. This includes:

  • Funeral Director fees for meetings, paperwork and running the funeral
  • Collection of the deceased and care prior to funeral
  • Hearse or appropriate vehicle for transport to the funeral
  • Basic coffin

The Funeral Director fees quoted do not include third party costs (often called disbursements). The Funeral Director will guide you through your options. These costs are:

  • Cremation or burial fees
  • Medical certificate for cremation
  • Clergy or officiant fee for conducting the ceremony

In addition to the disbursements you may want to discuss optional costs with your Funeral Director - these could include:

  • Funeral flowers
  • Memorial (venue hire, catering etc)
  • Memorial headstone
  • Orders of service
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