What is a vigil?

A vigil is a way to show respect for a person who has died or is dying. It’s a time when people come together to be with the person in their last moments or in the first few days after they’ve died. They might read prayers and share memories, or simply say nothing at all. It’s sometimes called standing vigil or holding vigil.

Types of vigil

There are different ways to hold a vigil. Often they take place after someone has died but sometimes they happen when someone is dying. These are the most common types of vigil:

How long does a vigil last?

Vigils can last a few hours or a few days. It’s not unusual for people to sit up through the night before a funeral. In Judaism, for example, watching over the body of someone who has died is known as shemira, which means “watching” or “guarding”. In Jewish tradition, people were expected to guard and protect the body until the funeral could take place.

Who can go to a vigil?

If the vigil is in someone’s home or in a chapel of rest, it’s usually only close family and friends who will attend. For vigils that take place in public, anyone can join in. If in doubt, you can always ask the person who’s organising it.

For some very formal funerals, such as state funerals, there are rules about who should stand vigil. For example, the Vigil of the Princes is a specific part of a royal funeral ceremony in the UK. As part of this, the king or queen’s children and grandchildren must stand vigil over the coffin. Traditionally, only male royals took part in the Vigil of the Princes. But when Queen Elizabeth II died, her daughter Anne, Princess Royal, as well as her 4 granddaughters, all stood vigil.

How to organise a vigil

If you want to sit and spend time with someone who has died:

If you want to organise a public vigil, you’ll usually need to get permission from your local council to hold a large event.

What to wear to a vigil

There aren’t any rules about what to wear for a vigil. If you’re holding vigil in your home or in a chapel of rest, these tend to be informal gatherings, so wearing casual but comfortable clothing should be fine. If you’re going to a public vigil you might want to wear smart clothes in dark colours as a mark of respect.

If you’re not sure what to wear, speak with the person who’s organising the vigil. And if you’re in any doubt, choosing smart casual clothes in dark colours is usually a safe option.

You can find more advice about planning a funeral and celebrating your loved one in our funeral planning advice hub.

Photo by Andre Ouellet 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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Funeral Choice charity donation

To redeem the £20 charity donation all you have to do is select the charity from the dropdown list in the Make Contact form. Once you have confirmed arrangements with that funeral director send us an email to info@yourfuneralchoice.com confirming the service has been arranged. After we receive this email we will make the donation to the chosen charity and confirm back to you.

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