How long after death is a funeral?

Last Updated: 4th February 2022

The time for a funeral after death is affected by many different factors, including religious beliefs and cultural traditions. 

How long after death is a funeral can depend on the circumstances of the death and how busy the funeral director chosen is.

It is often uncomplicated when considering how long after death is a funeral, however, those of particular religions or faiths, or follow specific cultural traditions may find they are more restricted in what they can do when considering how long after death is a funeral.

If someone has died in suspicious circumstances, how long after death is a funeral is dependent on many factors. 

In these circumstances how long after death is a funeral can be delayed until the coroner is satisfied that a post-mortem or inquest has taken place and a report is completed.  Only once these steps have been taken and everything required has been documented can it be determined how long after death is a funeral.

However, on average, how long after death is a funeral, particularly a Christian funeral, in the UK is one or two to three weeks, provided arrangements can be organised within that timescale. 

This could be determined by how busy a funeral director that you choose is, the availability of the place in which the funeral is to take place (especially if you have a particular choice of where is to should be), the availability of the deceased’s loved ones (if they live further away, how long will it take them to be able to get to the funeral, and so on.

Religious beliefs are likely to play a part in how long after death is a funeral.  With religions and beliefs differing, there are various beliefs and values of how long after death is a funeral with the following guidelines often applied for different faiths.

Traditionally, a Sikh funeral takes place as soon as possible after death and within three days of death.  If, for any reason, a Sikh funeral has to be delayed, maybe because the death has to be examined by a coroner, it is believed the funeral should take place as soon after that as possible.

It is considered essential that a Muslim funeral takes place as soon as possible after death and certainly within 24 hours of death.  Historically, it was partially due to hygiene reasons that laying the body to rest by way of a burial as quickly as possible was preferred.  It might be that, in the past, the heat of Muslim countries played a factor in this decision.

There is a strong preference that a Jewish funeral takes place within 24 hours of death, if at all possible.  This is a sign of respect to the deceased.  More modern Jewish funerals might be delayed in order that those that wish to or need to attend can do.

A Hindu funeral takes place as soon as possible after death and preferably within 24 hours.  The body of the deceased is often kept at home until cremation.  It is also considered that embalming of the deceased is not required due to how long after death is a funeral being prompt.

It should be noted that how long after death is a funeral is determined by a few things.  Although grief can be a factor for the deceased’s next of kin and family, there are many other logistical and practical elements that should be considered.

A funeral cannot take place without a death being registered.  The registration of a person’s death has to take place within 5 days of their demise, at which point a death certificate can be obtained.  How long after death is a funeral significantly depends on the death certificate being obtained.  In busier times, this might cause a delay so the sooner a death is registered, the sooner arrangements can be made and a funeral can take place.

The funeral director taking care of arrangements and managing the process for the deceased’s next of kin will work with them to manage the time between their death and funeral.  How long after death is a funeral can be dependent upon the communication between both parties, how busy they are, the logistics of the arrangements that are being organised as well as many other factors that take place once a person dies.

A funeral director will be able to advise the deceased’s next of kin on the best ways of managing the time between death and the funeral and how long after death is a funeral could be at that time to ensure the necessary arrangements are in place. 

It might be quicker to make the final arrangements for someone if the deceased have provided input to what they would like as part of their final wishes before they die. 

If the next of kin and family of the deceased person can make decisions easily, how long after death is a funeral is likely to be sooner than if they are not.

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