Death isn't something people like to talk about but, as my husband - ex insurance man -used to say - let's say 'if you had died yesterday, what would you have wanted?' If someone has a terminal illness, then there is time to discuss with them - would they prefer to be buried or cremated and, if so, where; would they like a church service; if so, what hymns, readings, special requests.
If someone dies suddenly, then it is a shock to everyone and the last thing a recently bereaved person wants to think about is how to arrange a funeral etc.
In France it is especially important to be prepared, as dead people are dealt with much quicker than in the UK.
This happened earlier this year to someone I knew vaguely - I so wish they had asked for my input. Let's have a look at what happens and what needs to be done.
First of all, you need to register the death with the Mairie in which the person died. The next port of call is the Funeral Director - Pompes Funebres), who will arrange the burial or cremation and, if the deceased wanted a religious ceremony either in church or at the graveside, you need to ensure the Funeral Director understands this.
As in the UK, if the deceased wished for a religious ceremony, then you need to have a chat with the local priest or Cure. Cremations can take place within 3 days of death and the Funeral Director will book it with the crematorium - you can't really change the date and time, once booked. However, you need to make sure you and the priest liaise with the Funeral Director on times!
It's understandable that close family might want to take the deceased back to the UK for burial - be warned, this is extremely complicated and could cost thousands of euros! A cremation casket is much smaller - again there are formalities before you can take the casket back to the UK. I know of someone who drove back, with luggage in the boot of their car........
A couple of important suggestions I would make.
1. Ensure you plan what type of service you require and
2. contact the Chaplaincy of Christ the Good Shepherd in Poitou-Charentes and the Vendee, part of the Anglican Diocese in Europe and the Intercontinental Church Society. They can help plan a service - music, hymns, readings etc.
If you leave it to the French Funeral Director, you could end up just sitting in a room at the crematorium looking at a coffin.
'What if I should Die in France' is the title of a leaflet from the Chaplaincy, in which you can write down your wishes; it also explains the above to those left behind. Contact the Chaplain at 2 place Gambetta, 86400 Civray, 05 49 97 04 21 email [email protected]
website http://church-in-france.com/ (please note, Rev Hepper is no longer the chaplain)
The Consulate in Bordeaux can help in the event of a death, providing practical advice and counsel. Tel 05 57 22 21 10 email [email protected]
Don't wait unti it's too late, it's not fair on those you leave behind and you could always enjoy the planning.