Holding a funeral after someone has died is an important part of the grieving process and has long been a cultural aspect of death that is observed in the UK with either a burial or cremation service.
Here, we answer the question of how long after death a funeral is typically held here in the UK as well as looking at some of the reasons why this can be delayed plus any special requirements of religious groups.
- What is the average time between death and a funeral being held in the UK?
- What can delay a funeral being held?
- What days of the week are funerals held?
- How many days after death is a Jewish funeral?
- How long after death is a Catholic funeral?
- Are there any other religious beliefs that have an impact on when funerals are held?
What is the Average Time Between Death and a Funeral Being Held in the UK?
The time taken between death and holding a funeral can vary a lot depending on the religious beliefs of the deceased, whether there are any delays in issuing a death certificate and the personal preference of the family.
In the UK, the current average time between the two events is between one and two weeks.
This is often a practical amount of time for a grieving family to make the arrangements and ensure that mourners are given enough notice to attend the service.
Some religions (see below) require that the funeral of a deceased person is held within 24 hours of their death. Many funeral directors can accommodate this or make arrangements for a funeral to be held with 2-3 days. On occasion, a funeral can be delayed for several weeks following death.
What Can Delay a Funeral Being Held?
A funeral can only take place once a death certificate has been issued.
There are a couple of reasons that can delay the issue of a death certificate with the most common being an inquest into the cause of death and/or a referral to a coroner over the circumstances or manner of death.
Another reason for a delay in holding a funeral after someone has died is if the body needs to be moved from/to overseas. If a death has taken place abroad then arranging for the deceased to be repatriated can take several days.
Likewise, if you intend moving the body overseas for a funeral then you will need to arrange for permission from the local coroner to do so.
Lastly, there are some times of the year and areas of the UK that may experience a higher volume of funerals which can cause delays in arranging a prompt funeral service.
What Days of the Week Are Funerals Held?
Funerals can be held on any day of the week however most cemeteries to do not perform burials on a Sunday; some crematoria also do not operate on Sundays.
It is common in the UK for funerals to be held between Monday and Friday either as a morning service or at midday.
Whilst funerals can be arranged during the afternoons and at weekends, these can attract higher costs.
How Many Days After Death is a Jewish Funeral?
It is common for Jewish funerals to be held within 24 hours of a death.
The reason for this is the belief that the soul of the deceased can’t begin its journey to the afterlife until the body has been interred.
It is also believed that delays are not good for the bereaved and a rapid funeral will help begin the grieving process.
Jewish funerals are followed by a seven-day period of mourning, known as Shiva, during which mourners may visit the home of the deceased’s family to pay respects and say prayers.
How Long After Death is a Catholic Funeral?
There is no prescribed period in which a funeral must be held following a death of a person with the Catholic faith; however, it is common that this is held within a few days.
Catholic funerals have a lot of ceremony and the period prior to, during and after a funeral may involve a variety of religious rites including a vigil or wake, funeral mass (or liturgy) held at church, a mourning period and the rite of committal.
Catholic funerals are usually followed by a period of mourning which can include memorial services.
Are There Any Other Religious Beliefs That Have an Impact on When Funerals Are Held?
Other religions that have beliefs or rites which affect when a funeral can be held include:
- Hinduism – all Hindus (with the exception of children, babies and saints) are cremated after death and this usually occurs within 24 hours.
- Muslim – Islamic Law states that burial should take place as soon after death as possible.
- Sikhism – it is preferable for Sikh funerals to be undertaken within three days with most Sikhs being cremated after death.
Each faith has their own rites for a funeral which include religious rituals, traditional prayers and mourning periods.
In the UK, it is not always possible to accommodate a funeral at short notice but funeral directors and crematoria will try to meet the requirement for a rapid cremation where possible.