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Self-help funerals

Dealing with a loss is never easy. North East Lincolnshire Council’s bereavement services offers care and support to bereaved loved ones.

North East Lincolnshire Council doesn’t promote any particular type of arrangement. We want to provide you with the information you need to arrange a funeral yourself, or with minimum assistance from a funeral director.

1. Certification and register of death

When a death or stillbirth has happened in North East Lincolnshire, it should be certified by a Doctor and/or a Coroner.

2. Arranging a funeral

Your loved one may have left instructions for their funeral. If they haven’t, you can arrange a personal and meaningful service by speaking the bereavements services over the phone. All arrangements must include the bereavements services office and all fees and charges are payable in advance.

Funerals at the crematorium can involve a funeral director, a recognised religious person, a humanist or you may prefer to do your own service with or without any religious content. All we ask is that you be aware of the length of time you may need.

It’s important to remember that an independent funeral will require time being spent making the arrangements for the:

  • preparation and storage of the deceased
  • provision of a casket or coffin
  • arranging of a vehicle to collect and transport the coffin
  • supplying of people to act as bearers (people who carry the coffin into the chapel or to the graveside)

A time will be agreed for the funeral cortege to arrive and you will need to consider what means of transportation you will use. Make sure that any personal items you do not wish to be cremated or buried have been removed prior to your arrival. Once the deceased has been conveyed to the Crematorium or the Cemetery, it is not acceptable for any items or parts to be removed from the coffin.

Consideration must be given to ensuring that the proceedings are conducted in a dignified manner, without disturbance or wilful offence to other mourners or the Bereavement Service staff.

The deceased should be dressed in their own clothes, which must be made of cotton, polyester or linen. Leather or rubber-soled shoes, jackets or wool clothing and any type of plastic must not be used to dress the deceased.

Make sure that no inflammable items are placed within the coffin which could cause an explosion during the cremation cycle. This also includes aerosol cans, batteries, bottles and coconuts.

You must also ensure that if the deceased was fitted with a pacemaker or any other type of implants, that they have been removed by either the funeral director or the hospital.

3. Choosing a coffin

The body of any person will not be accepted for interment/burial or cremation unless it is enclosed within a coffin, casket or container of an acceptable design. An identification plate or tag must also be secured on the container.

Coffins can be purchased from a coffin supplier, funeral director or it may be homemade. Traditional shaped coffins are made of hard oak or elm wood, and have been used to bury people for years. However the coffin should be chosen based on the deceased. Other materials are available such as cardboard, bamboo and willow.

Homemade coffins

A homemade coffin should:

  • be made of wood or a wood by-product
  • only contains the metal used to screw the coffin safely together
  • easily combustible and which does not emit smoke, give off toxic gas or leave retardant residue after final combustion
  • not be painted or varnished, but a water-based paint or suitable cloth can be used to decorate.
  • have restricted use of polystyrene for the name plate only, and must not exceed 90 grams in weight.
  • not contain sawdust or cotton wool as a lining inside. Cotton sheets should be used to line the coffin.
  • be made using the exact measurements of the deceased person. If you wish to strengthen the bottom of the coffin, wooden strips may be placed lengthways.
  • not contain products with chloride or fluorides such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and melamine. Suitable sealing material may be used but no metal or rubber will be permitted, and on no account must pitch or similar substance be used.

The Instructions for Cremation or Preliminary Form (Form H) provides guidance on the size of a coffin, and notes regarding the Environmental Protection Act 1990.


  • Top: quarter-inch plywood (cut to size)
  • Sides, ends and bottom: three-quarter inch plywood (cut to size)
  • Two three-quarter inch thick reinforcing battens, lengths as long as the coffin
  • Screws, Gauge 8, one and a quarter inch long
  • Wood glue
  • Four chest handles with two screws for each end, or rope handles


This coffin is simple to make and very effective to look at.

  1. Attach reinforcing battens to the top of each side piece flush with edge and end, so that the lid rests on these and is tacked to them.
  2. Attach the side-pieces to the bottom.
  3. Attach the ends to the bottom and to the side strips.
  4. Attach the handles or make holes for the rope handles to go through and tie off inside.
  5. The lid will then tack or screw down to the reinforcing battens.
  6. A nameplate of carved wood or card is needed. Alternatively you may simply write the name on the lid.

4. Documents


Forms 4 and 5 and Cause of Death Certificate

  • Form 4 to be completed and signed by the doctor who last saw the deceased during their illness to confirm cause of death.
  • Form 5 must be signed by a second doctor (not less than 5 years standing) to certify the cause of death.
  • Both doctors must have seen the body of the deceased before a ‘Cause of Death Certificate’ can be issued.

Form 1

Application for cremation must completed by a near relative, authorised person or executor.

Green Form

The Green Form from the Registrar must be submitted with the application for cremation (Form 1) to the Medical Referee at 9am the day before the cremation.

Form 6

A Form 6 is issued if the coroner has been involved. The application for cremation (Form 1) is the only other certificate which will be required for the Medical Referee.

Form 10

If all the paperwork is correct the Medical Referee will issue a certificate authorising the cremation to take place (Form 10).

Interment or burial

You must give at least 3 working days notice to the Bereavement Services office before a interment or burial can take place.

Notice of interment form

A completed notice of interment form and certificate for burial (Green Form or Form 6) must be given to the Bereavement Services Office at least 2 working days before the propose interment or burial.

5. Disposal of cremated remains

There are different options for the disposal of the cremated remains once the service has taken place.

  • Scatter the cremated remains within the Crematorium grounds unwitnessed, or witnessed which would require an appointment.

If you have a wooden casket, polytainer or environmentally friendly tube you can:

  • retain the cremated remains for disposal elsewhere
  • inter the cremated remains within a grave in Scartho Road Cemetery, Grimsby or Beacon Avenue Cemetery, Cleethorpes.

You need to fill in the instructions for cremation or preliminary form (Form H), and instruction and authorisation for the disposal of cremated remains (Form J and K).

6. On the day

At the Crematorium

The Chapel attendant will greet you and will advise and, if necessary, guide you. You will need to provide bearers (these are people responsible for conveying the coffin reverently from the vehicle to the catafalque). There is a coffin bier (a special trolley) available for you to use but the need to lift and lower the coffin from the vehicle and onto the catafalque still exists.

Within the cemeteries

The Cemetery Attendant will greet you by the graveside and will advise and guide you, but you will need to provide bearers to convey the coffin from the vehicle to the grave. The Cemetery Attendant will advise you when to lower the coffin and provide the necessary webbing to enable you to do this. Careful attention must be paid with regard to health and safety risks at the graveside and it may be wise for bearers to talk the procedure through with the Cemetery Attendant before the day of the funeral.

Related content

Choosing a memorial

Contact details

Bereavement Services, Great Grimsby Crematorium, Weelsby Avenue, Grimsby, North East Lincolnshire, DN32 0BA

Email: [email protected]

Telephone: 01472 324869

Opening times: Monday to Thursday, 9am to 4:45pm and Friday 9am to 4:15pm, except bank holidays