If you outsource everything to your funeral director, this is what they’ll do.

You can, of course, do any or all of these things yourself.

Take the call announcing a death and where that death has taken place – home, hospital, hospice, nursing home. Arrange to collect the body at a mutually convenient time. If the person has died at home or in a nursing home, the body may well have to be collected in the middle of the night. Some heavy lifting required and, possibly, difficult stairs to be negotiated

Measure body for coffin

See family representative and make arrangements for burial or cremation—date and time. Engage a minister or celebrant. Check vehicle availability and hire in if necessary

Sell ancillary services – coffin, limousines, flowers, catering, etc. Choose coffin.

Wash the body

Embalm (optional).

Close eyes and mouth. Shave men. Do hair. Apply makeup


Put body in coffin

Put it in a fridge

Do paperwork – application for cremation or burial

Engage pallbearers

Arrange flower delivery

Get the order of service to the printer

Make body presentable in chapel of rest or venue of choice if family want to come and visit

On the day of the funeral, screw the coffin lid down, put it in the hearse and head off to the church or crematorium. (Sometimes the coffin will go the church the evening before.)

Superintend bearers or family and friends of the person who has died and ensure that the coffin is carried in safely

Superintend seating

Collect donations

Take chief mourners to wake/after-event refreshments (optional)