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We get a lot of questions, and we're always happy to answer. The most convenient way to get your answer is to give us a call on 01284 723 889, but we have also outlined some of the common questions we get here on our website.

Answering your questions

What happens during the funeral arrangement?


Before we meet to make funeral arrangements it helps if you can discuss some of the basic details with the rest of the family – even if it is just to decide whether it is burial or cremation. When we meet, we help to arrange the kind of funeral you think your loved one would have wanted, by asking lots of questions – but the answers are down to you. We will guide you and make suggestions, but the decisions are ultimately yours. Once we have built a picture of the kind of funeral you require,

we turn to completing all the necessary documentation and paperwork. Please download our

“Things we need to ask” document for some ideas of things we will need to know.


Where is my relative taken between the time of death and the funeral?


We bring your loved one into our care as soon as we are able to, as soon as the relevant paperwork is completed. Unfortunately the legal paperwork can sometimes take up to 5 days and is beyond our control.


Can we visit the deceased and pay our last respects?


Yes, Armstrongs is open and available monday to friday 9-5. If you wish to visit our private chapel, please ring and inform us when you would like to come and we will be pleased to arrange for a member of staff to give you their full attention. If you cannot come during normal hours we will try our best to accommodate you.



Is a burial more expensive than a cremation?


Yes. There is an increasing shortage of space in cemeteries and the price of a grave has increased dramatically in recent years.  Bury St. Edmunds borough cemetery has no space for new burials. Also there is the cost of a headstone to consider.



What are doctors forms / cremation forms?


When the funeral is a cremation, two doctors MUST attend and certify death. The FIRST doctor must be the doctor who attended the deceased during his/her last illness. The duty of the SECOND doctor is essentially one of confirmation. This doctor must not be related to the first doctor either through family or practice. For this service, each doctor makes a separate charge, which we, the Funeral Directors, usually pay on behalf of the deceased’s family.



How many people can be seated in the limousine?


In each limousine there is room for six people in the rear compartment and room for one in the front with the chauffeur.



How do we know what to do at the funeral?


On the day of the funeral the Funeral Director is there to help and guide you, your family and friends. If you are unsure of anything please ask the Funeral Director. For more information please visit What Happens On The Day?


Can the family carry the coffin?


Yes, although we would ask that you contact us as soon as possible to ensure that it is safe to do so. We are planning on adding a video showing the correct way to bear the coffin soon.


Can a member of the family take part in the service?


Yes, and it is encouraged. Whether it is to do a reading or to write a special message, to play a musical instrument or to bear the coffin in to the ceremony, it all helps to make the day personal and special.


Do I have to wear black to a funeral?


Not necessarily. Although it is customary, like all areas of funeral etiquette it is getting more relaxed. You may feel that a sombre colour such as grey or navy blue is more suitable.  Sometimes, families may request that mourners wear bright colours, or to not dress in black. The important thing is to feel comfortable and to fit in with the sense of occasion.


Is there such a thing as a more ecological funeral?


Yes, we can advise you on an alternative to a wooden coffin, arrange woodland burials and offer advice on how to reduced the impact of the funeral on the environment. We are the local agents for the Woodland Burial site at Culford.


Does the Funeral Director have to do everything?


No. We can do. We can take all of the arrangements out of your hands, following our initial meeting with you, and arrange everything so that the funeral is exactly how you want it to be – giving you time to look after yourself and the rest of the family. However, if there are areas where you wish to be more involved, it is certainly possible and we will assist you every step of the way. Our role is to guide and support you.


Can we choose what music is played at the crematorium?


Yes, If you have a special request or would like a particular piece of music playing either as you walk into or out of the Crematorium Chapel, please let us know as soon as possible.


I want some rock music played, will I be allowed to?


Yes! There is no restriction on what you can or cannot have played. There are restrictions on timings at the crematorium, so we need to know in advance if a double slot is required. Some churches will not allow certain music, but it can be played at the committal.


I don't go to church, so I do not know a Vicar to take the service.


Don’t worry. We can arrange for a member of the clergy to contact you and to take the service.  All you need to do is arrange a suitable time with them to come and visit you to discuss funeral arrangements. This is often the case.


I'm an athiest, can I still have a funeral?


Yes, you can have a Humanist funeral. This is a non-religious funeral with no reference to God, the Bible and no hymns are sung (although non-religious music can be played).  You can have a service in the crematorium chapel, and if it is to be a burial you can have a graveside service.


We have a mix of religions and faiths in our family, what do we do?


The best thing is to talk to us about it but it is possible to have a religious funeral (which includes the Lord’s Prayer) but is mainly focussed on the life of the person who has died or to have a Civil Funeral, which is carried out by a member of the Institute of Civil Funerals, which can be tailored to your exact requirements in terms of content. We have an excellent civil celebrant we can call upon.


Does the coffin move after the funeral service at the crematorium?


No. After the service has ended, the coffin does not move until all relatives and friends have left the Crematorium Chapel. At West Suffolk Crematorium there are curtains that close at the head of the coffin.


Are the handles on the coffin removed before the creamtion takes place?


No. There are strict laws regarding cremation. Nothing may be removed from the coffin before cremation without the permission of the Home Office.


Is each cremation carried out individually?


Yes. The identity of the coffin name plate is checked by the Crematorium Attendant before it is placed in the Cremation Chamber. This only holds one coffin or casket at a time and again there are rules that must be abided by.


Do I get the cremated remains back that belong to me?


Yes. Once the cremation has taken place, the cremated remains are removed and left to cool before being placed in an urn. This urn is clearly identified as to whose remains they are.


How will I know who attended the funeral?


We always ask mourners to fill out pew cards and these will be made available to you as soon as the service is over.


What about catering after the funeral?


If you require catering after the funeral you can make your own arrangements or contact us to make a booking at a hotel or restaurant. Alternatively we can arrange catering and staff at your home.


Can we request donations to charity?


Yes, if donations to charity are requested in lieu of flowers, we will accept and list donations on your behalf and forward them to the charity of your choice.


What can I do with the cremated remains?


There are various forms of memorial available at the crematorium; you will receive information on these from the crematorium after the funeral.


1. You can place them in the Garden of Remembrance and you will be given a map stating where they   are.


2. You may wish to purchase a grave just for the purpose of interring the cremated remains. This allows you to have a headstone and have other members of the family buried there in the future.


3. You may keep them at home in a special urn or memorial.


4. You may scatter them in a special place.


5. The remains may be buried in an existing family grave.


If you would like to discuss any of the above alternatives, please contact us and we will be pleased to help you.


I want to take the cremated remains to our favourite holiday destination to be scattered, is that possible?


Yes. We have a selection of lightweight caskets and urns that would be suitable to take as hand luggage plus we would arrange all the necessary paperwork and declarations. We also have a range of smaller sized caskets and urns if you only wanted to take a small amount with you.


It seems such a waste to leave the flowers at the crematorium, can I take them away?


Yes, absolutely. They can go back to your house or to a family grave.  They can be used in the chapel at the crematorium or our local hospice, St Nicholas; who will be pleased to receive them. Simply let us know what you would like to do.


What happens with the funeral account?


The Funeral Account is sent to the person responsible for the arrangements or the solicitor, when necessary, about a week after the funeral.


We have no money, savings or insurance cover and cannot afford a funeral, what will happen?


Please be honest with us.  We are a family firm and there are very few rules that are set in stone. If you tell us your situation we can offer advice and arrange a funeral closest to your budget. We can help you apply for grants from the Department for Work and Pensions. If we don’t know, we can’t help. Please don’t be embarrassed.


How soon after a burial can I put a headstone on the grave?


If the grave is ‘earth’ rather than ‘bricked’ then the grave can take up to six months or more before the ground is firm enough to place the weight of a headstone. If the grave is ‘bricked’ inside, then it does not take as long. The actual time depends on the soil and the size of the stone.


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