9 types of funerals to have in Norfolk 

A funeral in covid

A graveside service by Thornalley Funeral Services - Credit: Thornalley Funeral Services

It is a subject that makes many of us feel uneasy - but passing away is something that we will eventually all share.

Although a sad fact that death comes to us all, it does mean planning a funeral becomes a significant milestone. 

Whether driven by a need to care for a deceased loved one or the surviving family, the bereaved will no doubt want to perfect a lasting legacy.

A funeral

A funeral - Credit: CHRIS BISHOP

This could mean planning a fitting tribute or creating closure for friends and family members, or it could mean something entirely different. 

Here are some of the ways available in Norfolk and Waveney to say a final goodbye.

1. Burial

Often an individual’s beliefs or family tradition will play a part in the choice of a burial. The location of a plot will need to be considered and in particular, whether the ground is consecrated or unconsecrated – meaning if it is made or declared sacred.

A funeral

A graveside service by Thornalley Funeral Services - Credit: Thornalley Funeral Services

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There is sometimes the option of reserving additional space alongside a plot for future family burials. There are a number of rules and regulations surrounding burial grounds and churchyards can have rigid rules regarding headstone choices including size, material, and inscriptions. 

2. Cremation 

Cremations are often held in a crematorium and are the main alternative to holding a funeral in church. Although crematoria have space to hold a service, it is not unusual for a funeral service to be held elsewhere, such as a church, followed by a shorter service - known as a committal – at the crematorium. 

Social distancing at a funeral with the number of mourners limited.

Cremation with mourners - Credit: Rosedale Funeral Home

There are restrictions about what may be cremated with the person who has died due to regulations around emissions. For example, shoes, aerosols, and items containing glass are forbidden. 

3. Direct cremation

Direct cremation is a relatively new concept in England. It is a low-cost, unattended cremation without a funeral ceremony. 

There is no visit to the person who has died in the funeral home, no hearse, no procession, and no service in the crematorium. The coffin is cremated without a ceremony and without any family or friends in attendance. 

4. Eco friendly

In 2009, the Association of Green Funeral Directors was formed to encourage funeral directors to help bring natural funerals into the mainstream. 

Bring Your Dog To Work Day 2018: Simon Beckett-Allen and Thor at work together at Rosedale Funeral H

Simon Beckett-Allen and dog Thor at work together at Rosedale Funeral Home Ltd - Credit: Rosedale Funeral Home Ltd

Environmentally friendly options include reducing a carbon footprint by using local suppliers, sustainable resources, and ensuring Fairtrade for all. Traditional coffins made with wood from sustainable sources, cardboard, bamboo, pine, willow, or wild pineapple leaf can be used. Some suppliers may weave coffins from locally grown willow and involve the family in the process. 

There are also environmentally friendly ashes caskets, which are made from materials including paper mache, cardboard, willow, dissolvable salt urns, and bamboo, as well as traditional wooden urns made from sustainable sources.

5. Carbon-neutral 

Independent Norfolk and Suffolk-based Rosedale Funeral Home, a family-run business, led the way in becoming the country’s first funeral directors to offer carbon-neutral funerals.

Funeral homes are workling to accommodate family requests despite extreme limitations due to coronav

Funeral homes have worked hard to accommodate family requests during coronavirus guidelines - Credit: Rosedale Funeral Home

Richard Barber - Historian/Author

Anne and Simon Beckett-Allen of Rosedale - Credit: Richard Barber - Historian/Author & Sylvaine Poitau Photography 2013

Arrangements will be as low carbon as possible with consideration taken for each funeral component such as the venue, coffin, floral tributes, catering, and printing. Carbon elements are then calculated and offset via a charity. 

6. Repatriation 

Repatriation is the return of a loved one to their home country.

Funeral arrangements incorporate an international dimension that involves the transportation of the coffin or casket containing the deceased or the cremated remains.  

There will be lots of people involved behind the scenes and time frames and local procedures vary from one country to another.

7. Woodland and natural 

Woodland burial grounds are becoming a popular and natural alternative to conventional burial and cremation.

Sites in Norfolk include GreenAcres Woodland Burial Park at Colney, near Norwich, where burials take place in circles around trees in the mature woodland setting. Cremations can also be carried out. All memorials are biodegradable. 

Colney Woodland Burial Park. Picture: Sonya Brown

Colney Woodland Burial Park. Picture: Sonya Brown - Credit: Archant

At Norfolk Bluebell Wood Burial Ground at Hainford, also near Norwich, a natural burial can be held to honour someone’s life in the countryside landscape. People of all faiths and denominations or none are welcomed. Whether a burial, ash interment, or ash scattering, a living legacy to celebrate a person's life is an option here. 

A quiet spot for reflection at the multi-habitat Norfolk Bluebell Wood Burial Park.

A quiet spot for reflection at the multi-habitat Norfolk Bluebell Wood Burial Park. - Credit: Norfolk Bluebell Wood Burial Park

Norfolk Bluebell Wood Burial Park.

Norfolk Bluebell Wood Burial Park. - Credit: Norfolk Bluebell Wood Burial Park.

Funerals can be led by the family, a member of the clergy, or a celebrant or humanist. Loved ones are free to wander around the park. The aim at the wood is to create an environmentally sustainable ecosystem where new life arises from the old. 

8. Bequeathing a body for medical research

Anyone can express a wish during their lifetime for their body to be used for teaching, training, and research when they die. This decision must be witnessed by a friend or relative to act as a witness when a donation form is completed. 

Universities UK’s recommendations for tackling racism were partly based on examples of good practi

The University of East Anglia - Credit: Archant

The Norwich Medical School at the University of East Anglia is licensed under the Human Tissue Act (2004) to accept whole body donations to undertake anatomical examinations. 

The school has a plot in Colney Woodland Burial Ground where the ashes of their donors are scattered. Each autumn a memorial service is held for students to show their appreciation. Relatives of the are welcome to attend.  

It is also possible to return ashes to relatives, or for relatives to organise a personal burial or cremation.

9. Private land burial 

The number of private land burials which take place each year in the UK is small but they are relatively straightforward and free from many restrictions and legal hurdles.  

Rules and regulations include having the land owner’s consent, checking for restrictive covenants attached to the deeds, and satisfying the Environment Agency that the burial will not take place within certain distances of specific types of water. There also needs to be a minimum depth between the settled soil level and the top of the coffin and a Certificate of Authority for Burial needs to be obtained. 

There are no environmental implications for the burial of cremated ashes. 

- To view all obituaries and tributes join the Facebook group Norfolk's Loved & Lost.

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