Please note that our ways of working have had to temporarily change while we are in the period of coronavirus lockdown. Please see our “What to Do” page for upto date information.

Frequently Asked Questions

Finding yourself in the position of arranging someone’s funeral can be daunting, as well as emotionally draining. Our advice: don’t be rushed into making any decisions, do your research and think about what you want.

Below are some of the questions we get asked frequently, we hope they are of some help. Please feel free to contact us also if you need more advice.

Where is the best place to look for practical information on what has to happen when someone dies?

Start with the Government website which will explain that you need to register the death and how to do this. They will then suggest contacting a funeral director to arrange a funeral. This is where you can leave their website and look at some broader and more enlightened advice. Don’t panic! There is no rush.

We suggest you start with: The Natural Death Centre, The Good Funeral Guide and Final Fling and this Bereavement Advice website

If you do want to use a funeral director, they will be able to refer you to good, independent advice in your area.

If you want to go it alone, they will tell you how you can – impartially, legally and practically.

If you aren’t sure, contact us and we can talk you through your options – whether you end up using our services or not. It’s important to get this right.

What’s legally allowed?

There is a law that says a body must be disposed of. But there is no law that requires you to have a funeral ceremony.

(‘Disposal means disposal by burial, cremation or any other means’ – source Births and Deaths Registration Act, 1953.)

The Good Funeral Guide has the best information on what’s legally required and what’s optional.

If you aren’t sure, contact us and we can talk you through your options – whether you end up using our services or not. It’s important to get this right.

Where can I find out what choices are available?

There are very few rules. You don’t even have to have a funeral. You will need to make a decision about burial or cremation to dispose of the body. But the rest is up to you.

If you want, we can organise the burial or the cremation leaving you to concentrate on the funeral itself. You could have a memorial service at a church, or a party in a pub, a picnic.

Choose a place that has meaning for you and your family. Celebrate the life of the person you have lost. Do this before the cremation or burial with the coffin present. Or afterwards with the ashes. Do it with music, poems and stories, films and pictures, food and friends. It’s even possible these days to share the event via webcast with friends or relatives who can’t travel but wish they could be present.

How can I plan a funeral when I don’t know what the person who died wanted?

If the person who’s died has not made their wishes clear, then it’s worth remembering that a funeral is, in truth, for the people who are left behind.

Our advice would be to think about who will want to be involved, talk to them about their memories of the person and ask for their thoughts on what sort of ceremony and location would best reflect their life.

Our approach is to help families and friends to draw together these thoughts, and to put forward options which help them create something unique and meaningful. It may also be useful to contact a celebrant at this point who can help you think through some ideas on how to bring the memories of the person to life on the day. We know some lovely celebrants who could help.

Does a person have to be embalmed?

No, there is no legal requirement for embalming to be carried out. You can still spend time with a person who has died but who has not been embalmed.

Embalming involves replacing the liquids in the body with chemicals in order to delay the decomposition process and improve the appearance of the person who has died. Embalming products have evolved over the years and it is possible to use a more natural mix of products today.

If a body needs to be transported over long distances, or is being viewed over a long period of time it may be desirable. Having a body embalmed is an invasive procedure though se we believe it’s important to explain what it involves to families before they make a choice.

Some natural burial grounds will not accept embalmed bodies for burial because of the chemicals used. 

If you are opposed to embalming, it may be advisable to expressly forbid it. At A Natural Undertaking we will only embalm if it is expressly requested, or the situation, such as repatriation, requires it.

Can I keep the body at home before the funeral?

In most cases, this will be possible. It will depend on how the person has died, the condition they were in at the moment of death, and how long it will be before the funeral.

With the right advice and support it is usually possible to bring the person home at least for a short time. This can be incredibly helpful in coming to terms with the loss, and is a tradition carried out by families that we have somewhat lost. We can talk you through the possibilities honestly and will help where we can.

In the meantime: The Good Funeral Guide which is listed by the National Home Funeral Alliance has lots of information, photos and points to consider. And our friend Claire Turnham has some excellent advice on her website  as does the Natural Death Centre.

Do we have to have a coffin?

There is no law insisting that a coffin be used, just that the body be covered when transported in public. Some crematoria will however require that a coffin be used for a cremation, and obviously it’s a pretty good way to transport a body and has been considered as such for thousands of years.

But you can choose exactly the kind of coffin you want, or even make it yourself. We don’t mind if you find your own. Here’s a list of suppliers who will deal with the public – some still only deal with funeral directors.

And if you want, we can help you find what you’re looking for. The options are immense and sometimes pretty awesome!

Shrouds also are worth considering and are becoming more popular. They are a simple but beautiful alternative, and Gordon Tulley at Respect EveryBody shrouds sells some beautiful ones.

One thing you need to be careful of though before you buy anything is to ensure your crematorium will accept the coffin you have chosen. Always ask them before you buy one.

What can/can’t we do with the ashes?

Again, not many rules here. But some places are really not keen on people just scattering ashes willy-nilly. The lovely people at Scattering Ashes have a good guide.

You may want to keep the ashes at home, turn a treasured (or even humorous) ornament or item of crockery into a vessel or have the ashes turned into jewellery or art.

There are some beautiful and creative memorial options available which we can share with you – you may even have some ideas of your own.

What’s a natural burial ground?

Natural Burial is becoming a really popular choice as Local Authority cemeteries are filling up and as more people begin to feel that cremation ceremonies are rushed and much like a conveyer belt.

Natural burial sites can vary tremendously, but all offer a beautiful and peaceful alternative which many families prefer. The Natural Death Centre charity keep a list and can help you choose.

There are two astonishingly lovely sites within fairly easy reach of Birmingham- so just because you live in the City don’t think this isn’t an option!

These are : Westall Park and Sun Rising

Let us know if you would like us to take you to see them.

How can I keep the costs down?

We don’t have expensive premises or a fleet of hearses to maintain. This means we can operate at lower cost and essentially pass those savings onto you. We also believe that people should only pay for what they need. A big challenge today is that people think they are expected to do certain things, such as hire a limousine, pay for pallbearers and such like. For us, there are no expectations. People should do what they feel is necessary to mark the life of the person who has died in a way which is appropriate and meaningful for them.

Sadly some of the costs are unavoidable. The cost of a local authority burial or cremation can depend on whether you are resident or not. A grave or ashes plot in a natural burial ground will still need paying for.

But there are ways you can save money AND at the same time create genuine and meaningful ceremonies. Our Spend Less page contains ideas on how to keep the costs down.

 

Are you part of a large company?

No – we are completely independent: two friends keen to take our knowledge and creativity to make a big difference to the families and friends we meet.

CALL US

Anytime on 0121 444 0437

READ WHAT PEOPLE SAY

Reviews on Google

A Natural Undertaking
5.0
Based on 22 reviews
powered by Google
Chris Hallmark
Chris Hallmark
08:38 07 Mar 20
Carrie and Fran have built a business that feels genuinely different. They were warm,... friendly and very responsive. They wanted to help us create the funeral that was right for our family, and to remember Dad in our warm and slightly quirky way. They even indulged us with the custard jokes. I cannot recommend them more highly and wish them every success with their alternative take on remembrance.read more
Gillian Washington
Gillian Washington
18:06 29 Jan 20
A Natural Undertaking is an undertakers with a difference. No stuffy offices with men in... black suits. Just lovely helpful and caring people. Lots of choices were available and nothing was too much trouble. We did not feel pressurised or rushed into making decisions. Our whole experience was dealt with total empathy and efficiency. Would highly recommend them. Definitely 5 stars.read more
Amanda Smart
Amanda Smart
18:50 20 Jan 20
We were so thankful for all that Carrie, Zed and Fran did to help us through the period... following the devastation of Oliver's death. The sense that they really empathised with the pain of what we were going through and their way of guiding us, while encouraging us to do what was most helpful and most reflected Oliver's life was so empowering. You can't re-do a funeral! It was so important to us that it was 'right' and they made that easier at a time when we were struggling to think clearly. The service they provided was so personal and sensitive. Thank you!read more
James MacLaren
James MacLaren
16:04 11 Dec 19
Carrie, Fran and everyone at A Natural Undertaking were fantastic in arranging my Mum's... funeral. Carrie was keen right from the start to make sure that everything was just so, despite the fact that we were working on a budget. Everything was clear and well explained (in fact, from beginning to end, communication was exemplary). Fran was fantastic in putting together the order or service as well. They communicated with all of the relevant parties, such that everything came together seamlessly. I hope that I never need to, but if I need to arrange a funeral again, I won't hesitate to give them a call.read more
Elizabeth Logan
Elizabeth Logan
06:40 12 Nov 19
I can't speak highly enough of Carrie, Fran and the entire Natural Undertaking team. ... Their compassion and professionalism were outstanding. The funeral and the celebration of life for my Father-in-Law were just what he and the family wanted, we couldn't have asked for better. The Natural Undertaking team were there for us from the start, from their calm reception area to their suggestions for flowers, locations and support with all those little details - they just smoothed the way. I would recommend them in a heartbeat.read more
Rachel Gregory
Rachel Gregory
06:45 12 Oct 19
Absolutely wonderful company. Understood our family’s wishes completely. Ethical and... their pricing is incredibly fair. Thank you so much for making a difficult time much easier for us.read more
Rachel Plant
Rachel Plant
11:40 08 Oct 19
From start to finish Carrie, Fran and zed were the most wonderful undertakers we could... have asked for. They were so much more than just funeral directors, they were supportive, respectful and inspiring. Our family had an idea of what we wanted for Holly's funeral and everyone at A Natural Undertaking helped guide us with her wishes. Holly wanted a natural burial and it was in her quirky nature to have a creative and diverse farewell which is exactly what she got. Death and grief is extremely hard especially when a loved one is so young. We felt like we had an opportunity to help others through this process as a result of everything they had to offer us. Our family, our children & friends were all involved (as per our wishes) thanks to the huge effort and organisation of these wonderful people at A Natural Burial. Thank you so much for everything you did for Holly and family. We will hold you in our hearts forever xread more
Lisa Small
Lisa Small
09:19 02 Jul 19
From our first meeting with Fran to the day of our son's funeral, we were treated with... care, empathy, dignity and understanding. The whole team at A Natural Undertaking, Fran, Zed and Carrie, paid attention to the smallest of details in the planning of his funeral, carefully explaining everything to us in a way which was clear but sensitive. Their handling of the arrangements ensured that he had a beautiful and fitting send off. We could not have been given a better level of care, and we would highly recommend them to anyone who wants to give their loved one a unique, individually tailored farewell.read more
Linda Higgins
Linda Higgins
18:07 06 May 19
We would like to congratulate Fran and Cassie for looking after our dear friend... Joan. From the start to finish the care, kindness and attention to detail was second to non. We were given help and support with all the arrangements and we felt that the stress, of loosing a loved one so suddenly, had been taken off our shoulders. They helped to turn the day into a wonderful tribute to Joan. We would highly recommend this wonderful service!read more
Chris Lee
Chris Lee
15:50 15 Apr 19
The service provided by a Natural Undertaking was perfect. Fran and Carrie advised and... guided us through both the process and the decisions that we needed to make for my father’s funeral with thought and understanding. They advised us what was possible and made constructive suggestions without pressure. They then calmly undertook the organisation of the service itself with calm efficiency despite late inputs from ourselves. The resulting service was both personal and appropriate to say goodbye to my father from myself, our family and his friends. I was specifically appreciated that Carrie found time to discuss in general the workings of the undertaking business which one at other times have little time or inclination to investigate. It certainly helped me during this time. I whole heartedly recommend this company.read more
Jane Arstall
Jane Arstall
17:19 14 Apr 19
Carrie and Fran are amazing! Nothing is too much trouble for them and they go the extra... mile to make sure that people get exactly the funeral they want. We had a big funeral at Cambridge Road Methodist Church and wanted to use a YouTube clip of my husband playing the Birmingham Town Hall organ which had been his special 60th birthday treat. Carrie managed to arrange an audio clip so that everyone heard Mark playing at his own funeral, which made the service really special. I know Mark would have loved the service. Thanks Carrie and Fran - I would recommend you to anyone.read more
Kamala Kay Mann
Kamala Kay Mann
05:50 09 Apr 19
Carrie and Frances bought a heart centred approach to a very sad and difficult time with... the death of my brother. They organised the funeral in a week and it ran so seemlessly, so smoothly that the image I get when summing up how I feel about their services is a beautiful Swan gently gliding through water. Thier compassion, kindness and ability to listen, guide and respond softens my heart as I write this. Their attention to detail and having everything covered was such a massive weight off the family’s shoulders. We felt completely held. It seems strange to write this but they were a breath of fresh air to what is in essence is a very difficult time. Thank you so much Carrie and Frances - just like Swans gliding through water, you made a very difficult time seem like a heart centred natural undertaking. K Mannread more
Giles Darby
Giles Darby
13:40 19 Feb 19
Professional, sensitive, efficient and compassionate from start to finish. Their... personal, alternative and fresh approach was exactly what we wanted yet without compromising all the finer arrangement details, which were dealt with perfectly. I can’t recommend them highly enough at what is always a difficult time.read more
Mike Abrams
Mike Abrams
17:59 30 Dec 18
A Natural Undertaking were recommended to us following the death of my wife, by a friend... who had used them previously. From our first meeting, we felt we were in good hands with a team that could talk us through the complexities of the arrangements and discuss the range of options available to us in a personal and very caring way. Working together we planned a service that included a number of unique elements that reflected the exceptional individual who sadly we were having to lay to rest. On the day, the arrangements worked perfectly and the feedback from friends and relatives who attended has been very positive. I am so glad we worked with A Natural Undertaking - we received a very personal and caring service and the whole team were a pleasure to deal with.read more
Simon Wilkes
Simon Wilkes
15:16 20 Dec 18
As a family we decided to go forward with a direct cremation and hold our own service... outside a church environment. Even though this was with our fathers wishes it is sometimes easy to think you must follow the 'traditional' route. Fran & Carrie were both supportive in helping us ensure the day was the right mix of sadness and celebration. It was the little caring things which made the difference. So if you want the right service without feeling you are still in the 1950s then Natural Undertaking will provide a first class service whether its a simple option like ours or a full bespoke option.read more
Nerina Villa
Nerina Villa
11:02 20 Sep 18
Right from my first phone call Fran at A Natural Undertaking was amazing. She was kind,... warm and comforting at a time when that is exactly what you need. She gave me wonderful advice and made sure that we were able to create the most wonderful, individual funeral for my mum that still makes me smile when I think of it. They were there at every step of the way with support, advice and practical help. Thank you so much.read more
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Our Prices

Direct Cremation: £995 + cremation fee
Simple Cremation / Burial: £1,695
Creative Funeral: £1,395 plus options
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News / Events

Interested in joining us at a Death Cafe? Learn about our news and the events we’re involved with.
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Tweets

Living in these times we will all be faced with decisions and situations that seem unthinkable.

Our newsletter has some resources which can help with

Writing a will
Making decisions about your care
Caring for someone at home who is dying
#comcomcovid

https://us13.campaign-archive.com/?u=9c02f83a95f7cab87b3c54141&id=63e1b5a0bf

Navigating grief in our current landscape is even harder than it usually is. I am going to be facilitating some online space on a weekly basis to talk grief and our missing loved ones. For more details and times, see here:

https://navigatingthewilderness.com/2020/04/01/navigating-grief-in-the-landscape-of-covid-19-zoom-support-calls/

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