Frequently Asked Questions
When does the funeral take place?
According to the funeral laws in Sweden the burial of the coffin or the cremation should be within one month from when the death occurred. The burial of the urn can wait up to a year after the date of the death. During that time it can be stored without cost at the cemetery. You shouldn’t wait unnecessarily long with the funeral. It often feels right to arrange the funeral as soon as possible, but on the other hand it shouldn’t take place in haste. As perhaps the bereaved may not have had time to properly accept the death or be able to arrange a funeral in a way that they would want. The usual space of time between death and funeral in Stockholm is 2-3 weeks. Sometimes it is possible to organise a funeral more quickly other times there can be a longer wait. If there is a longer waiting time this it is usually because a specific officiant or church has been chosen. Certain churches or chapels are more fully booked than others.
May one be buried anywhere?
The actual funeral ceremony can in theory take place anywhere. It can be in a church or a chapel, at home, in the garden, on a beach, by the graveside, in a public hall etc. It’s naturally not possible to arrange a funeral in place that would cause offence. When it comes to the burial of the coffin or urn there are rules. The remains may only be buried in a private or public cemetery. With permission from Länsstyrelsen it is possible to spread the ashes over open water or in the countryside. Permission is never normally given for the spreading of ashes in private gardens, public places or similar locations.
What is a burial fee?
The burial fee is an annual fee calculated from the local authority’s taxable income and is paid by everyone who is registered in Sweden, even if they are not members of the Swedish Church. Those who are members of the Swedish Church pay a church fee, which usually includes the burial fee. On the final tax clearance paper from the tax authorities it is stated how much the burial charge is. This charge is used to finance the country’s burial services and can vary. Amongst other things it pays for personnel, machines, burial, some transport, cremation, mortuary premises, providing places for non-religious ceremonies, building and maintaining churchyards, cemeteries as well as providing burial grounds. For members of the Swedish Church the funeral service is free of charge, and it can take place in the home parish or in another parish. For those who do not belong to the church or any other community it is up to the next of kin to arrange a civil funeral, or to abstain from having a ceremony. If the family still wishes to have a funeral at a Swedish Church they must make an enquiry to the vicar who decides whether this is possible. In this case a fee will be charged which covers the costs for the vicar, music and the chosen church.
What happens when someone dies?
When someone dies a few practical questions that need to be dealt with will arise. To lose a loved one is an extremely difficult experience and can make you feel worried and confused when it comes to the practicalities around a death.
Good advice is to not be in too much of a rush, take things one at a time. Everything does not necessarily need to be arranged at once. Here we have collected a little information on what you may need to think about in the beginning.
When a death occurs always contact the doctor who will certify the death and issue a notification of death. If the cause of death is unknown an autopsy may be necessary. The deceased’s body is kept in the hospital morgue before being moved to the mortuary before the funeral. If the deceased had belongings at the hospital, you will need to collect them, if you haven’t already done that. In this case contact the staff on the ward.
Some things that you may need to do straight away
There are things that you as a close relative or friend need to take responsibility for. For example arrange that someone take care of a home that is empty. Things to be considered:
- Emptying the fridge and taking out the rubbish
- Watering the flowers
- Taking care of pets
- Lower the heating
- Protect against burglaries by installing timer etc
- Contact the social services and cleaning company
- Return handicapped equipment and alarm
- Return left over medicine to the chemist
- Collect any washing/dry cleaning or film
- Cancel bank/credit cards, driving licence, passport
- Collect the spare keys
- Move any illegally parked vehicles
If you suspect there might be some disagreement amongst the next of kin, for example over the estate inventory, it’s a good idea to have a neutral person with you when you are in the deceased’s home. It is not appropriate to remove anything from there.
At the funeral directors
It is important to remember that the funeral directors’ representative acts on the behalf of the estate. They don’t act alone. It can be good to quickly ring and book a time for a meeting at the funeral directors’. During that first telephone call you can be helped with some of the more acute questions. That the time for the actual visit is few days later can be a good thing, allowing time to land a little and therefore find it easier to cope with receiving information and taking decisions. When you have decided to contact the funeral directors, you decide the date and time for the first meeting. The death must be reported to the local tax authorities. The funeral directors can help with this. It can be a good first step in getting the process started. The local tax authorities issue the burial and cremation certificates which are required for a funeral. From the tax authorities you will also receive other documents such as a death certificate and papers regarding the deceased’s family which are needed for probate.
At the first visit to the funeral directors the following will be considered:
- The funeral ceremony
- Time and place of the funeral
- Officiant (priest, civil or other)
- Hymns and music
- Death announcements
- Reception (a gathering after the funeral with refreshments)
- Choice of coffin and urn
- Gravestone or inscription on existing stone
- Price (We always give a written quotation)
You don’t need to have a funeral ceremony at all if you don’t want to. But by law everyone must be buried, either a burial, or cremation followed by the urn being placed in the ground or spreading of the ashes.
The deceased’s wishes for their funeral
If the deceased has had wishes concerning how his or her funeral should be, your are by law required to respect these wishes as far as possible. This sometimes means interpreting the deceased’s wishes in essence, in order to come to an arrangement that respects both the deceased and the family’s wishes.
That someone may have requested a very simple funeral can be a way of saying. “I don’t want to be any bother.” And if the family feels that they want to honour the deceased in another way, then they should be allowed to do so. On the other hand if this wish is an expression of the deceased’s lifestyle and personality then it ought to be interpreted literally.
Who pays for the funeral?
The funerals costs are paid by the deceased’s estate. If the estate does not have any assets or insufficient funds to cover the cost, the local authority pays for a funeral in accordance with predetermined norms. The family must apply for this contribution through the deceased’s local authority.
The assets in the estate should first of all go towards the funeral and other associated costs. If you are unsure if the estate has sufficient funds you should wait before paying any of the other bills apart from the ones connected to the funeral.
How much does a funeral cost?
The cost of a funeral depends on its size and the choice of goods and services such as:
- Death and thank you announcements
- Refreshments after the service
- Printed programme
- The costs for the work done by the funeral director
How do you arrange a good funeral?
A funeral is personal both in respect to the deceased who is the principal person for the last time, but also for the deceased’s family and friends.
Care and attention is important in planning of the funeral. If all those close to the deceased are allowed to have their say during the preparations for the funeral, the funeral can be the fine farewell that is desired. Do not forget to ask the children and youngsters in the family. Family members quite often are not aware of what the alternatives are. Therefore it is our job to help with the preparations in the best way and to offer advice based on our knowledge and experience.
Experience has shown that people rarely regret something they have done, but often regret not having done something. A well planned funeral is a guarantee for the best possible farewell within the set limits and requirements.
A church funeral is a religious service and therefore open to the public. You do not have the right to prevent anyone from attending. The funeral can sometimes be expected to be so trying that you will wish to keep it within the immediate family or just with the very closest friends. It is important to carefully consider the people you want to participate, and make sure that everyone who would like to attend the funeral is given that opportunity. It is important to give relatives, friends, school friends and colleagues the opportunity to take farewell which is what a funeral means. It doesn’t have to mean that everybody is invited to the reception afterwards. This can be made clear by the wording of the funeral announcement. Another alternative if you don’t wish to organize a church funeral, is a civil ceremony.
What is a civil funeral?
Not everyone feels a natural affinity with the church and its principles, more and more people are looking for alternatives to the traditional church funeral. The aim of a civil funeral is a personal farewell held in a way that relatives and guests will recognize both from the content and ritual of the ceremony.
A civil funeral doesn’t have any set framework. The ceremony is prepared through discussions between the officiant and the family before each funeral. Every local authority has appointed officiants. But any person, chosen by the family, can perform the role of officiant. Often a friend of the family or someone working with the funeral director can hold the ceremony.
The civil funeral provides a great deal of freedom in the way it is organized. But it should always be a result of the family’s wishes. Like all funerals it should the deceased’s life and attitudes. Music, readings and poems provide a good base. You can ask us to help and communicate your own thoughts on how a civil ceremony can best be shaped into a memorable, meaningful and appropriate funeral.
Another alternative is to arrange a memorial service; this can be instead of or in addition to a funeral. In certain cases the family prefers the funeral to be held within the closest circle and then at a later date give friends and colleagues an opportunity to say their farewells. A memorial service has no set rules and can be a very individual and beautiful ceremony.