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Charter for the bereaved

Pages in Charter for the bereaved

  1. Charter for the bereaved
  2. The Charter rights
  1. Improving services in the future

Improving services in the future

There are many plans to improve the service for the bereaved.  Sometimes these only apply to a part of the country and are not available nationwide. As they may be of interest to you, they are briefly described below.

Burial procedure

Charter members will develop national service standards regarding the reception and handling of funerals.
Charter members will improve protection against poor weather at burial ceremonies.

Grave choice

Charter members will consider improving grave choice by offering three grave designs; the lawn type with a headstone; the traditional grave with a full memorial; and a natural option such as woodland burial.

Charter members will support a change in the law to allow the re-use of old graves, particularly in areas where burial is not possible due to a shortage of new ground.

Charter members will provide graves for cremated remains.

Cemetery memorials

Charter members will encourage greater artistic input into memorials.  A memorial should reflect individuality and the spirit of the community.

Regulations should be flexible, allowing for artistic use of wood or stone and artificial materials.  This will widen choice and give the bereaved control over cost and design.

Charter members will appreciate that terms such as 'mum' and 'dad' and nicknames are suitable for inscriptions.  Bureaucratic regulations will not be applied.

Charter members will oppose the selling of a memorial as part of, or immediately after a funeral.  People make a more meaningful choice after they have recovered from the initial distress of the funeral.

Baby and infant graves

Burial facilities should be developed to accommodate fetal remains, stillbirths and infants from local midwifery and gynaecology services.  

These facilities will allow for an individual grave and burial and the placing of a memorial, teddy bears, etc.

The graves should be on specific purpose-designed sections, such as a Babies' Memorial Garden.

Charter members will work with charities and support groups on the needs of bereaved parents.

Parents who want to use something different to the standard coffin should be supported.

Burials in private land

Charter members will consider providing a 'green' burial scheme, such as  woodland burial, as an alternative option to burial in private land.

Cremation procedure

Charter members will develop service standards and arrange annual memorial services.  They will also promote a reduction in the medical certificates for cremation, to reduce costs to the bereaved.

Cremated remains and memorialisation

Charter members accept the benefits memorials can offer to the grieving process and will provide at least one type of inscribed memorial, such as a plaque.

Ceremonies and belief

Charter members will develop and manage facilities for use in a multicultural society, without the permanent placement of religious symbols.

Charter members recognise that each ceremony is a highly individual and important occasion and will allow a minimum 30 minutes for each service.

Coffins and alternatives

Charter members will promote greater choice and will offer advice over coffins, containers and shrouds.  A diagram showing the construction of a simple home made coffin will be provided.


Charter members will improve education on bereavement.  They will promote research into attitudes about death and the satisfaction levels related to funerals.

Dignity, death and you

Charter members will promote the value of a Will and funeral directives to ensure that every person gets a funeral in line with their wishes.

Environmental issues

Charter members will improve the natural environment of cemetery and crematorium grounds, to encourage wildlife and use nature as an key part of the bereavement experience.

Charter members will promote research into issues which waste resources or may cause pollution or global warming, such as use of gas for cremation, chipboard and plastics in coffins, embalming fluid, grass mowing, horticultural chemicals, etc.

Social and community aspects

Charter members will meet representatives of a community to identify the needs and wants of every individual.  Individual needs should be met where this does not affect the majority of other people.

Charter members will be open to suggestions that challenge the way of doing things to improve choice and service delivery.

Charter members will oppose the creation of monopolies within the funeral industry, such as the sale of crematoria to companies with funeral directing interests.

Funerals without a funeral director (independent funerals)

Charter members should offer more advice about the supply of coffins, as these can be difficult to get in most areas.  The bereaved should be able to get at least a standard veneered chipboard coffin or a bio-degradable type prior to a funeral.

Charter members should consider whether new funeral options can be offered to the bereaved, which reduce costs and the monopoly control of funeral directors, such as transferring the deceased directly to the crematorium to avoid the use of a hearse and limousines.

Maintenance of grounds and grave-digging

Charter members will develop minimum national standards of maintenance.


Charter members will develop a standard list of regulations for use throughout the UK.

Staff and expertise

Charter members will promote the employment of qualified staff in senior posts (possession of the Diploma of the Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management).

Charter members will support the employment of members of all ethnic groups, particularly where the community served is composed of various groups.


Charter members will develop greater community awareness of cremation and burial facilities to reduce ignorance.  Malicious, misinformed comment can upset the bereaved and leave them feeling uneasy about the service.


We want this Charter to improve funerals and we would like to take your views into account.  Also, anything that interests you or leaves you feeling worried is important to us.  You can send your comment to the Charter organiser.  If the cemetery or crematorium in your area does not have Charter membership, please encourage their management to join.

Finally, your Charter member has a 72 page Reference Copy of the Charter for the Bereaved.  As well as giving extensive information on each of the topics in the Charter, it contains sections giving useful addresses and information about the Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management and the laws and regulations involved with bereavement.

Charter organiser

The Charter organiser deals with the sale of Charters, enquiries on national Charter issues, planned changes to the Charter and the grievance procedure.  The Charter organiser will report annually to the ICCM about complaints and comments.  To ask about local services and issues, you can approach a local Charter member.

ICCM national office

Tel: 020 8989 4661

City of London Cemetery
Aldersbrook Road
Manor Park
E12 5DQ

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