Here in France, the law states that the funeral of a deceased person should be conducted within six days of the date of death. This leaves the bereaved family very little time to make arrangements. If your loved one has had the opportunity to discuss with you any preferences they had regarding their funeral, you will at least be forearmed. Sadly, many people choose not to have these discussions, thankfully John and I did.
Unfortunately, John didn't have the foresight to take out a funeral plan, or a savings plan dedicated to cover his funeral fees, which were an eye-watering 3,000€. It's hard enough dealing with the emotional fallout of the death of a loved one, without encountering a financial bombshell too!
Here they require every bit of paperwork going, birth certificate, passport, marriage certificate (if applicable) and/or divorce certificate (again if applicable). All in order to issue a death certificate. If your loved one died at home, as John did, a doctor is called to certify the death. In John's case, I had already called the Sapeurs Pompiers and they'd called SAMU, so a doctor was already on site. My neighbour, who performed CPR on John, called our mayor, who took care of all the necessary paperwork. Our unconventional relationship meant that I was not John's next of kin which complicated matters somewhat. You are obliged to make an official declaration of death within 24 hours and this has to be done at your local town hall. Within six days you are expected to either bury or cremate your loved one.
Once your loved one has been taken to the funeral directors, you will be faced with a dizzying amount of decisions to be made. Burial vs Cremation. Religious/Spiritual or Humanist or a mix of both. We chose a humanist service and cremation for John, with songs by his favourite bands and his two closest friends delivered the eulogies. The only religious aspect of the ceremony was the Lord's Prayer, which John had been teaching our daughter, so it seemed apt.
We had had the foresight to discuss what we'd want to happen in the event of our untimely demise, this way both of us were up to speed with each other's wishes. If you are reading this anticipating a loss, or you have stumbled upon this article by accident, please do take time out to have a conversation just once, no matter how implausible and unpalatable it might be, it will save you so much pain and indecision in the long run. In addition, please try to either save some money in a dedicated account or take out a funeral plan to cover the costs, financial worries are NOT something your loved ones want to be thinking about when they are going through this experience, trust me.
For more information please go to the British Embassy website, by clicking on the link below.
I'm just like you, struggling to come to terms with life and everything it throws at you!