Planning and organising a funeral can be an overwhelming and stressful experience for anyone. Even if a death was expected, it can often feel difficult to know where to start, and what the necessary arrangements should be. 

At Harold Wood Funeral Services, we have been offering a helping hand through the funeral arranging process for more than seven decades. In entrusting your loved ones to us, you can rest assured that we will guide you through the various funeral choices available to you, and ensure that no detail is missed. 


Registering a Death

One of the first tasks that should be completed when someone passes away is to register their death.

You do not need to have registered a death at the appropriate Registrars in order to begin making funeral arrangements with us. However, we will need the certificate for burial or cremation (green form) as soon as you have registered with us. If the coroner becomes involved, we’ll advise you as to whether we might be able to collect the necessary forms on your behalf.

What about any other paperwork?

We can provide you with an invoice in advance so that it can be taken directly to the Deceased’s bank with a Death Certificate. This can allow for the release of funeral expenses, and means you will be eligible for an early payment discount. 

When you are making your funeral plans, it will be easier to decide on a definite date if you already have a time booked to visit a Registrar. Paperwork deadlines can sometimes dictate when a funeral takes place, and though they do vary, these deadlines are commonly around a week after submission. 

When it comes to filling out and signing our paperwork, we usually require two signatures for our own forms. It may be worth considering which responsible person you are going to take with you to sign the paperwork. One of the individuals responsible for signing the paperwork should be an executor or next of kin, and must be at least 18 years of age. Please let us know if the next of kin is in receipt of DWP benefits or is in full-time education, or not a UK resident, so we can give you the most accurate advice.

Will my funeral choices include a burial or a cremation?

Deciding whether to opt for a burial or a cremation is a very personal decision. Sometimes the decision will be taken out of your hands due to the wishes left behind by your loved ones. On other occasions, the decision will fall to you. 

We can answer questions such as:

  • Whether there is an existing grave you would like to use, and whether permission is available from the grave owner
  • What type of coffin or casket you would like to choose (You can look at our website page in advance for different designs)
  • Whether anyone in the family like to view the Deceased in an open coffin in a chapel of rest

Whatever your decision, we will offer advice and insights into both types of funerals so that you can choose the best option for you and your family.

Choosing a type of funeral service

These days there are so many options available to you when it comes to organising a funeral service and we can help you choose the type of service that best suits your needs and your loved one’s wishes. Though we do organise services that are religious in nature, these are not the only types of services that we can organise for you. Non-religious funerals, woodland burials and funerals unattended by mourners are some of the options available that we can discuss with you. 

As well as discussing different types of service choices with you, we can answer questions like:

If you have a celebrant or minister in mind, what sort of person would you like to lead the service? 

  • Where would you like the service to be held, and would you like it longer than 30 minutes?
  • Do family and friends want to make a spoken or read contribution at the service?
  • Do you want a donations box made available at the service for charitable contributions?

If your loved one has left behind specific wishes for a specific funeral service that you are not knowledgeable about, we can explain these details to you and your family.

Choosing a time of day for the funeral service

While you are planning your funeral service, one of the funeral choices you’ll have to make is the time of day you wish it to take place. It’s possible that you will be limited to certain times of day based on the travel commitments of those attending the funeral, especially if they live relatively far away. 

However, here are some of the considerations to keep in mind when arranging a time for your funeral:

  • Cremation services often start any time from 8.30am to 4.30pm
  • Burials usually start from 9.45am to 3pm depending on the access to daylight
  • Funerals can cost considerably less if they start by 10,30am or before, especially for cremations. If you know that your guests will be able to attend an earlier funeral with ease, this could be a good way of keeping costs down.

Some costs are also increased for the following reasons:

  • If you have a service that lasts longer than 30 minutes
  • If you have a service in a church, and then go on to a cemetery or crematorium a distance away
  • If you choose a weekend service

The time you choose for your funeral service will largely depend on how many people you have in attendance, what your budget is and whether you have plans to host any kind of buffet or lunch afterwards. For example, a late morning service would make more sense than an early service if you are planning on eating afterwards, and a service starting some time after lunch will be good if you only want to feed your mourners once in the day,

Choosing travel arrangements for the funeral service

When making your funeral choices, it is a good idea to think about your travel arrangements such as:

  • Where would you like our Mercedes hearse to meet you and your family
  • Whether you need any limousines (each seats 7 people comfortably)
  • Where you plan to go when the service is over

By planning these details with us in advance, you can ensure that you won’t be running late or wanting for anything, and that the experience is as stress-free as possible – freeing you to focus on your loved ones and your family. 

Choosing the right music for the funeral service

Music is often a central element of a funeral service, and will likely be one of your most personal funeral choices. After all, every individual and every family has a song or composition that is particularly special and meaningful to them and their loved ones. 

Questions we may ask around music include:

  • What kind of music would you like within the service? Perhaps your loved one had a favourite song or instrument that held a special place in their heart?
  • Would you like different music played at different points during the service?
  • Would you like to sing hymns during the service? Or listen to sung hymns?
  • Would you like live music or recorded music? High quality recorded music of your choice is often provided at crematorium chapels, but organists or musicians can also be arranged. These may come at an extra cost. 
  • Many of our local crematorium chapels have access to UK published music, but not music only available on Youtube due to copyright matters.
  • People often choose from 2 to 4 pieces of music, and sometimes leave the choices up to the minister, celebrant or organist (or other musician).

Whatever your queries or concerns about your funeral choices and plans, we are here to offer a helping hand, making the process as smooth and unobtrusive as possible for your family and friends.


We are a family-led business offering funeral services in Essex since 1958.

Please contact us at any of our four funeral homes, Harold Hill, Hainault, Harold Wood, Collier Row, for any queries, support or advice regarding the funeral planning process.