Personalising a funeral

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In this section

How can I personalise a funeral?

A funeral is a way of saying goodbye to someone after they’ve died, and it is an incredibly personal event. The way you decide to mark someone’s passing is completely up to you, from the coffin to flowers and memorials you choose to mark their death and celebrate their life.

Our services to you

At the East of England Co-op Funeral Services, we offer a wide range of products and services to help you plan a fitting tribute as unique and individual as the person it’s dedicated to. These include:

  • Cremation urns
  • Coffins
  • Flowers
  • Order of service and stationery
  • Masonry
  • Memorials

We can discuss all options with you to understand your needs and help you make the right choice for you and your loved one. We have funeral packages available to suit all budgets as well as a range of pre-paid plans to help you handle the costs.

Answering your questions

We know you may have questions about personalising a funeral. We have done our best to answer these here, but if you're worried about personalising a funeral, or don’t see the answer you need, a member of our team can guide you through the different options. Get in touch with us – contact your local funeral team for more information.

If you're worried about cost and financing a funeral, a member of our team can talk with you and suggest any financial support you might be eligible for.

Cremation Urns

After cremation, the remaining ashes can be stored in something called an urn. Whether you plan to keep your loved one’s ashes at home with you and your family, or scatter them in a location that holds cherished memories, we have a selection of cremation urns and caskets. Each can be personalised with an engraved message.

From the traditional and environmentally friendly to bespoke designs, we offer a wide range of urns and caskets, many of which match our range of coffins.

Traditional Cremation Urns

Our solid wood or metal cremation urns and caskets are available with spindled, flat and panelled sides and contoured corners. 

Seagrass and willow urns

Environmentally friendly seagrass woven urns are available, as well as willow urns.

Colourful picture urns

We can print photos, landscapes and personalised designs onto cremation urns to help you remember your loved one in a very personal way.  

Memory bears

Memory bears come with a specially designed zip compartment to hold either an ashes container or a keepsake. Memory bears are approx. 17 inches tall.

Scatter Tubes

If you wish to scatter your loved one’s ashes after cremation, we offer a range of printed tubes to transport and scatter them at a location that holds special memories.

Made from 90% recycled materials, they come with matching condolence cards and a wildflower seed pack that can be scattered with the ashes to create a living tribute.


From the traditional and environmentally-friendly through to bespoke designs and American caskets, our professional funeral arrangers can help you choose the most fitting coffin for your loved one.

To help you make an informed decision about our wide range of coffins, before you meet with one our funeral arrangers, you can view a copy of our price list here.

Funerals with open caskets

Some people decide to have an open casket during the funeral. This is a coffin designed with a lid that is split in half to allow the top half to be open so that the body can be viewed during the service. This option is usually chosen to allow people to say a final goodbye and gain closure. However, you don’t have to see the body if you do not wish to, it is always optional. The body is dressed and typically make-up will be used to give them the look of simply being asleep and at peace.

Some may find it too emotional to have an open casket, while others may find it a great comfort. It is important to discuss the decision beforehand to decide what’s best.

Traditional designs

Designed with tradition in mind, our solid wood oak or elm, and sapele or utile veneered coffins, come with a range of high quality interiors, including a selection of colours to represent your loved one's personality – or perhaps their favourite colour.

Environmentally friendly

Our sturdy, biodegradable cardboard coffins are made from light wood grain and recycled materials, while our popular woven seagrass coffins are highly biodegradable with a quality interior to give your loved one a dignified and comfortable resting place.

Bespoke design

From military and patriotic designs suitable for those in the armed forces, to religious, sport or wildlife themes, our range of bespoke coffins gives you the opportunity to commemorate your loved one’s passions and personality.

Your own photographs of happy memories can also be used to create a truly personal design.

American style caskets

Our range of American-style caskets are hand covered, made from either American Hardwood or 20 gauge steel, and come with a luxury interior.

Preparing a loved one for their funeral

How will the deceased be dressed for burial or cremation?

Part of personalising a funeral service involves the presentation of the deceased. They may have expressed a wish to be dressed in a favourite outfit or item of clothing, or you may wish to choose particular clothes for them.

How funeral homes dress the dead

Usually the family of the deceased will provide clothing for the body to be dressed in. This can include underwear, and shoes are optional as they can often be difficult to put on. You may want to keep the clothing appropriate to the age and lifestyle of the deceased. Jewellery is also optional, but often is set aside for a keepsake of a loved one.

Makeup and cosmetics are sometimes used, especially if the body will be in an open casket or coffin before or during the funeral. The family can provide guidance as to how the person might have wished to look.

How to dress dead people?

The funeral home will take care of dressing the dead in preparation for a funeral, unless the family specifically request to dress them themselves. In some religions it is traditional for friends or family to dress the body.

Sometimes the clothing of the deceased may not fit or be awkward to put on them. In this case it can be cut open and placed over the body to give the appearance of being fully clothed.

Is a person fully dressed when they are in a casket?

The dead are fully dressed when they are placed in a casket. The clothing can be selected by the family or friends according to the deceased’s or their own wishes. Sometimes particular colours or items of clothing are selected to help remember how the person was dressed in life or to mark a previous occasion (a tie they wore to a birthday or celebration). A favourite outfit of theirs might also be a good way to dress the deceased.

We understand you may have questions, we’re here to help every hour of every day.


We work alongside florists to provide fitting tributes to your loved ones. Call us to discuss your wishes and we will do all we can to help you.

Why are flowers traditional at funerals?

Flowers are traditionally associated with funerals as they provide a visual expression of love, sympathy, and respect. They are a way of showing your support to someone who is grieving but can also be a focal point during the ceremony. They can be made into elaborate displays or very simple bouquets; there is plenty of scope for personalisation. Some people like to choose a favourite flower or favourite colour scheme of the deceased for the flowers used during a funeral.

In addition to sending flowers to the funeral service, you can send flowers to the home of the bereaved after the service.

What you need to know about sympathy and funeral flowers

Floral tributes allow you to express emotions which are often difficult to put into words: sympathy, love and respect. Flowers represent our connection to those we’ve lost, while their warmth and vibrancy celebrates the life they lived.

Sympathy flowers are a way of letting someone know you are thinking of them while they grieve and go through a difficult time. These can be sent in order to decorate the funeral service, or simply as a sign of support to the bereaved.

Funeral flowers can provide a similar visual sign of support, but can also be used to decorate the coffin or area that the funeral is being held. There are some flowers that are more commonly used for sympathy and funerals. These include:

  • Lilies — The lily is the flower most commonly associated with funeral services. White lilies express majesty and purity, whilst white stargazer lilies specifically symbolize sympathy.
  • Gladioli — Available in a wide range of colours, gladioli flowers symbolise sincerity and strength of character.
  • Carnations — Pink carnations stand for remembrance.
  • Orchids — Pink or white orchids are the traditional colours for sympathy.
  • Roses — Dark crimson roses are a mark of grief or sorrow. Yellow roses traditionally are given to symbolise strong ties or connection between friends of the deceased.

Do you have to pay for flowers that never arrived at a funeral?

If you want to send flowers, you may have them delivered to the funeral home or to the home of the family of the deceased. Most florists have funeral floral arrangements that you can choose from, but there is nothing wrong with sending a more personal arrangement of your choosing.

If the flowers do not arrive at the funeral, be sure to contact the florist or company you ordered them through – they may have been delivered to an incorrect address. You may also be able to opt for payment upon delivery, to avoid having to pay for flowers that do not arrive where or when you wish them to.

When should I send funeral or sympathy flowers?

You can send flowers to members of the family of the deceased at any time. If you are sending them to the funeral home, make sure they arrive as early as possible on the day of the funeral to ensure they will be received. You may want to contact the funeral home to find out their individual procedure for accepting and using flowers.

Flowers available within 24 hours

Our floral tributes can be arranged at short notice, although we do recommend that you allow at least 24 hours for delivery. If you need to place an order with a shorter delivery time, please get in touch – we’re available 24 hours a day and we’ll be happy to help if we can.

Floral Spray

Traditionally the centrepiece of a funeral flower arrangement, our beautifully crafted casket and coffin sprays can be tailored to ensure they truly capture the essence of your loved one. We can also offer simpler, yet equally attractive sprays, to be sent as a mark of respect and sympathy to the bereaved.  


The tasteful garland particularly lends itself to natural casket choices like willow, wicker or bamboo. The combination of beautiful roses and lush foliage is a particularly tender and touching tribute.


One of the most popular expressions of sympathy, these circular tributes have been sent to funerals for centuries by those wishing to show that they share in your loss. Whether you prefer an elegant and traditional wreath or something more contemporary, our florists will create the perfect arrangement.


A floral heart tribute is a truly personal statement, indicative of the love and affection felt for the deceased. Each of our designs features a variety of beautiful flowers, wordlessly conveying their own sincere message.


A significant gesture of love, our large letters can be arranged to form any word or name. They are a bold visual representation of your relationship to the deceased and will usually form the magnificent centrepiece for a funeral display. 

Posies and baskets

Our posies and baskets are expertly crafted, and our pretty designs are available in a variety of colours. These charming displays are ideal for expressing your condolences and we often see them adding quiet warmth at a funeral, although we can send them directly to the bereaved as a thoughtful gift.  

Special tributes

The ultimate reflection of an individual, our special tributes allow you to symbolise cherished memories or favourite hobbies of the departed with flowers. Our beautiful cushions and pillows symbolise the hope that they will find comfort in their final resting place.  

Religious tributes

If faith was important to your loved one, you may want to think about a tribute that reflects and honours their beliefs. We know every religion follows its own traditions and customs after the death of a loved one. Our expert florists can help create the perfect arrangement to suit.  


Masonry is the preparing of headstones and memorials from long lasting materials. Choosing the right memorial for your loved one is not only a fitting tribute to their life and memory, it’s also one of the last gifts you can give to them. You can trust us to be with you every step of the way as we help you create the perfect memorial.

At the East of England Co-op, we have our own specialist stonemasons, H.L. Perfitt based in Diss, Norfolk; with these expert craftsmen we can help you create the perfect tribute for your loved one.

How do I choose a fitting tribute?

Every person’s life is special. We can help you create a unique memorial as individual as the person you’re remembering. 

We offer a range of stone choices, memorial shapes, and cremation memorials in our standard range. Download our brochure to view a small selection of the designs we offer.

In our funeral branches, you will find a much wider range of designs for you to choose from. Alternatively, if you wish to provide your own design or image, our colleagues are on hand to discuss options.  Find your nearest branch.

We are here to help

When you commission a memorial, we will not only advise you on how to keep it looking its best, we can also help maintain your memorial and protect it for generations to come by offering a range of aftercare services, including memorial renovation services. We use skilled and sensitive techniques to remove weathering, stains and lichen.

Helping you choose the perfect memorial

We’re available to guide you step-by-step through the process, supporting you to make the decisions involved when choosing a lasting and individual memorial. We can talk you through the churchyard or cemetery regulations at the chosen final resting place and provide you with a quote and answer any questions you may have, without any obligation.

To discuss a totally unique memorial or to book a consultation, call our specialist team or visit us at your local branch.

Would it worry you if you had no tombstone when you die?

Some people might prefer to be cremated and have their ashes scattered as opposed to being buried and having a tombstone. This is something you can discuss with loved ones as your own wishes, or for that of a loved one. It is possible to scatter ashes but have a permanent memorial in place to mark the area, but this will depend on the location of the scattering.

If you are worried about whether or not a tombstone is the right option for you or a loved one, get in touch with us to discuss your options.

Remembering a loved one

How can I keep a loved one's memory alive?

We can help you remember a loved one in many ways, from creating delicate jewellery and decorative glass keepsakes made with the ashes of your loved one, to publishing an online memorial site where families and friends can continue to remember and share stories of those no longer with us.  

Ashes to Glass

We work with an award-winning glassworks at Barleylands, Billericay to enable you to create beautiful memorial jewellery and paperweights using you loved one’s cremation ashes.


The signet and tribute jewellery collections are set with Cremation Crystals™ and the finest quality 925 Sterling Silver or 9ct Gold. You can choose between signet and tribute rings or long and round pendants. Any item of jewellery can have a personal message of up to 25 characters engraved on them free of charge.

Don’t worry if you can’t decide on a message straight away. Once we order your jewellery, you’ll have a further four weeks to decide before the engraving is done.

The Cremation Crystals™ come in a choice of five different colours – green, pink, blue, red and black.


Memorial paperweights are the perfect size to hold in the palm of your hands. The design represents a spiritual embrace with twists of coloured glass given a frosting of cremation ashes by a master glassblower, who then encases this within fine crystal glass.

They take great care when creating your Ashes to Glass memorial and they will be delivered to you, complete with their own Certificate of Authenticity.

Service sheets and stationery

Can I design my own service sheet for a funeral?

You may wish to prepare an order of service for the funeral. This can include hymns, readings or prayers that will be sung or spoken to help mark the occasion and say goodbye in a more personal fashion. The way you present this is up to you. Colours, fonts and images are all ways you can personalise this part of the funeral to help remember a loved one.

What is funeral stationery?

Funeral stationery is the term used to describe any cards or paper aspects of the funeral service. It’s another way you can personalise the service to reflect the life of your loved one. Funeral stationery includes orders of service, attendance cards, memorial bookmarks or cards, keepsake cards and books of condolence. You can choose images and text that symbolise the life of the deceased, or tie in with the colours used for the flowers or other decorations. It is completely your choice how you wish to design them, and you can also ask for the designs to be chosen for you if this is too difficult.

How can I personalise funeral stationery?

Carefully designed stationery is a simple but effective way to add a personal touch to a funeral service. You can choose a design from our wide range of templates, or create your own design.

We have a number of classic, floral and religious designs to choose from, or we can create an entirely bespoke set of stationery that includes photographs of your loved one. These include:

Attendance cards

Our attendance cards allow you to keep a record of everyone who attended the service. It might make it easier to send thank yous afterwards for any gifts or flowers received. We can make them match your chosen style for the Order of Service.

Book of condolence

A book of condolence allows you to gather special messages and memories from family and friends who attend the service.

We have a number of classic designs to choose from, or we can create one for you. We can ensure the book of condolence matches the Order of Service sheets and attendance and memorial cards, incorporating your own photographs if you wish.

Order of service sheets

Many people choose to have an order of service. These are not only a practical way to let those attending know what to expect during the service, but they are also a keepsake that commemorates the day.

Memorial cards

You can personalise memorial cards with a special poem, reading or message. They can be placed in floral arrangements or brought together in a book of condolence.

Couldn’t find the answer to your questions here?

We have tried our best to answer all your questions but understand that you may have more. If you're worried about cost and financing a funeral, want more advice or simply to talk through your options, a member of our team can guide you through and suggest any financial support you may be eligible for.

Take a look at our price list, or contact your local funeral team for more information.