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What do you say to someone who has lost someone dear to them?

Many people feel uncomfortable talking to someone who has recently lost a loved one.

There is always the worry that mentioning their loss will cause upset, but avoiding mentioning their loved one's name can often be seen to be hurtful and insensitive.

In our personal experiences we have found that it is good to talk about the person who has passed away. After all they have lived a life and acknowledging this and dwelling on the happier memories is all part of the healing process.

Can I put keepsakes in the coffin?

You may wish to place special keepsakes in your loved one's coffin. These can include photographs, letters, ornaments and books.

However, if you have chosen a cremation, no flammable or metal items or devices with batteries may be placed in the coffin.

If you have any special requests we will be on hand to advise you.

Can I have an eco-friendly coffin?

We have chosen our traditional wooden coffins to be as sustainable as possible and by keeping a select range we are able to cut down on unnecessary transportation and minimise our carbon footprint.

For anyone looking for a more eco-friendly option we are also able to offer a number of coffins including wicker and cardboard. However, not all of these may be accepted by parish cemeteries or by the crematorium. 

Please contact us and we can check if your choice will be suitable for your needs.

Should we hold a funeral service?

A funeral acknowledges that death has occurred and also that a life has been lived. Therefore, a funeral can help the bereaved family to accept the loss.

The funeral is a ceremony of proven worth and value for those who mourn the loss of a loved one. It provides an opportunity for the relatives and others who share in the loss to express their love, respect and grief and enables them to face openly and realistically the many problems and questions that death presents. Through the funeral, bereaved relatives, friends, and colleagues take that first step towards adjustment to their loss.

You do not have to have a funeral, but at some point you will need the services of a funeral director to assist in dealing with the deceased and we are here to help.

Should a funeral service be left as a private event?

It is not usual, but of course it is possible. However, while you may feel it is better to remember your loved one privately, it is likely others will want to remember them as well. Death touches and affects relatives, friends, and others in a variety of ways. The funeral can provide everyone with an opportunity to acknowledge and to respond to the change that death has brought about, together.

Can and should children attend a funeral service?

This is a question we are often asked. Children of any age can certainly attend funeral services, but the child must be prepared so they know what to expect. Time must be given to answer their questions both before and after the funeral. It is important that the child is asked whether they want to attend.

What type of clothing is usually worn to a funeral service?

Most funerals are dignified occasions with elements of formality, however smart and yet informal attire is becoming more common. Families may request less formal attire or sometimes the wearing of bright colours. The funeral notice will usually guide your choice of what to wear.

Who issues the Death Certificates?

H.M. Greffier issues the formal death certificates, but we usually organise the ordering of the certificates, gathering all the respective information from the doctors and family, so you have one less thing to worry about.

Why would a post-mortem be necessary?

If the cause of death is not clear a post-mortem examination may be carried out. This is a detailed examination of the body to establish more accurately what caused the death. In these instances, we will liaise with the Family and the relevant authorities on behalf of the Family.

What is an inquest and when would one be necessary?

An inquest is an enquiry into the medical cause and circumstances of the death, held if the death was violent or unnatural, caused by industrial diseases, or if the cause of death remains uncertain after post-mortem examination. As the inquest is public, relatives can attend. H.M. Procureur decides whether there will be an inquest and the police arrange the date and time with H.M. Greffier.

If the death follows an accident or circumstances which may lead to compensation, it is advisable to have legal representation. Permission may be given for burial or cremation before the inquest is concluded if it is likely to take some time.

What about embalming?

Embalming uses preservative solutions to slow down the effects of natural deterioration and can help make the person appear more peaceful and relaxed.

Embalming is not required by law, unless your loved one needs to be sent abroad for the funeral. Otherwise, it is down to your personal choice.

We can advise you on whether or not embalming is recommended for the funeral you are planning.

What if a death occurs away from home (i.e., abroad)?

Arrangements to repatriate the deceased can be complex but Beckfords is experienced in repatriation to the island from all areas of the world as well as repatriation of a deceased if they have died while visiting the Island.

Repatriation will be to the desired home location into the care of family’s local funeral director or alternatively, we will advise on a suitably qualified and reputable funeral director in that area and contact them on your behalf as part of the necessary arrangements.

If a family has no church affiliation, who can officiate at the service?

If there were a preferred religious service, we would normally use a local minister but if you require a non-religious service we can help you in making the arrangements, perhaps using a celebrant. Beckfords will ensure that any service will be in accordance with your wishes.

Is there a fee for the person leading the funeral, such as the Minister or Celebrant, or the use of the church or place of funeral?

Yes. All of these are separate costs which we will advise you of during the arrangements and then include in the total cost billed.

Can a Roman Catholic be cremated?

Yes. Cremation has been permitted by the Vatican since 1963.

Roman Catholics are encouraged to take part in a Funeral Mass before the deceased is cremated and it is important that a resting place is reserved for the ashes. Catholics are not permitted to retain ashes in the family home, nor are they permitted to scatter cremated remains.

What is done with cremated remains?

Cremated remains may be left with the crematorium for scattering or burial or may be returned to the next-of-kin. However, many families choose to have the cremated remains buried, often after suitable prayers, in a family plot or specially designated sections of a cemetery or churchyard. Some families also prefer to retain all or some cremated remains in an urn or appropriate container. We will be able to explain the various options available to you and will also hold the cremated remains for a short time until the family has decided.

Is it necessary to have a coffin for cremation?

A coffin is the preferred choice for funerals in Guernsey. The type of coffin you can choose from will be determined by Le Foulon, if you have opted for cremation, or the cemetery authorities ,if you have selected burial. Within those requirements we will help you decide on one that matches your preference.

Does anyone have to witness the cremation?

A witness is not necessary but it can be arranged if requested.

Bringing back cremated remains for burial.

The ashes of a cremated person who died in the U.K. may be interred in Guernsey and although you don’t have to use a funeral director to do this, you may find it easier to have us help you with the process.

Initial requirements include: a cremation certificate that must accompany the ashes, permission sought and granted by the relevant cemetery committee, informing the gravedigger of the cemetery concerned in advance and paying a small charge for opening a family grave.

What is a memorial service?

A memorial service is a service conducted by a minister or lay person in a church, chapel, or other venue, such as our beautiful premises, where the deceased person’s body is not present. The family is usually present at this service which is customarily held sometime after the funeral.

What are the funeral arrangements for a stillborn or newly born baby?

Planning a funeral for a baby is one of the most traumatic things a parent can experience and we are here to help with advice and compassionate care throughout.

If the baby was stillborn after 24 completed weeks of pregnancy, or was born alive at any stage of pregnancy and then died, he or she must, by law, be formally buried or cremated. If the baby was born dead before 24 weeks you can also have a funeral, but it is not required by law.

We can help arranging a funeral and memorial in accordance with parents’ wishes and beliefs. The charges will depend on the services required but most churches do not make a charge for the funeral of a child under 12 months and other fees and charges are often reduced and sometimes waived. This is the practise for Beckfords in the case of our own charges.

Le Foulon crematorium has a special garden of remembrance designated for stillborn and newly born babies.

Can funeral arrangements be made in advance?

Yes. In fact we recommend that people do plan ahead as it gives you the freedom to choose the style and format of your funeral and demonstrates thoughtfulness and care for your family and friends by not only easing the burden of funeral costs but removing the stress of making the arrangements.

We offer funeral plans through Golden Leaves, a trusted provider of quality funeral plans for over 35 years. Golden Leaves are founding members of The National Association for Pre-paid Funeral Plans (NAPFP) and The Funeral Planning Authority (FPA) and have applied to be regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)

You simply give us your instructions, prepay the funds necessary to carry out the terms of the agreement and then we will enact your wishes when required.

Is a will involved?

While it is considered a good idea to make a will, not everyone will have one. There may be two wills, one covering houses and land (the realty) and the other covering money and personal possessions (the personalty).

Enquiries should be made by family members as to any funeral instructions left by the deceased possibly in a will. Appropriate legal advice is advisable. When seeking the deceased’s will, bear in mind that many people leave their wills with their advocates’ firm or bank.

What does the executor do?

If there is a will the executor or administrator specified in the will may need to obtain a grant of probate or letters of administration to carry out the winding up of an estate. In most cases the personal representative will need professional help from an advocate, but if the estate is small, they may decide to undertake it themselves, in which case they may apply direct to the Ecclesiastical Court at St. Peter Port Constables Office – Tel: 721732.

In all but the smallest of estates, banks or insurance companies will require to see either a grant of probate if there is a will, or letters of administration if there is no will. They will then hand over the contents of a bank account or the sums payable under insurance policies to the representative of the deceased.

What happens to the debts (liabilities) and assets?

Normally debts are paid out of the deceased’s estate. Relatives do not have to pay them out of their own income or savings.

Before paying debts or sharing out the money or possessions, it may be necessary for the personal representative to take the precaution of advertising for creditors, allowing a specific time in which claims can be made. The deceased’s bank account will be frozen unless it is a joint account. Check the deceased’s papers for any life assurance or insurance policies and other assets such as bank accounts, investments, saving certificates, premium bonds, stocks and shares etc.

If you are sorting out the deceased’s estate without legal advice or the authority of a grant of probate or letters of administration, you should take particular care, as you could be liable to an aggrieved heir if you make a mistake and distribute the estate wrongly. It is advisable that legal advice is sought.

What if there is no will?

If there is no will, the residue of the estate after all debts are paid is divided amongst the persons entitled according to Guernsey law of inheritance.