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We are campaigners fighting for more support for bereaved families, fairer funerals and ending poverty. In our blog we discuss issues and themes related to dignity, emotional support and affordablity in funerals.


A guide to planning a funeral

As a charity-run funeral directors, we are committed to encouraging more frank and open conversations around all things death-related. We believe the taboos that surround the issue of death can contribute to the struggles some can face.

It is a sad fact, but dying is the only certainty in life, yet most people shy away from discussing their last wishes. This can cause distress and confusion to the loved ones left behind who are faced with the task of organising a funeral whilst also grieving.

Therefore we have written Doing Death Differently.  In writing this document, we hope to empower and assist you in starting discussions with your nearest and dearest.

As always if you have any questions, then please do get in touch.


Organising a funeral when no financial plans are in place

Need advice on what financial support is available when someone dies? You are not alone. 

When a relative or loved one dies with no financial plans in place, it is difficult to know what to do.

The Royal London National Funeral Index found that in 2020 only one in five (21%) of those who arranged a funeral used a funeral plan.

A third (33%) used savings, 23% had to borrow money from friends or family to pay for the funeral, and nearly one in ten (9%) had to take out a loan, or go into debt, in order to cover the cost.

Here Angela, the funeral director at Caledonia Cremation, shares some advice on where to start and what help is available.


As a charity-run funeral directors – our priority is the wellbeing of the bereaved across Scotland. If you have any questions or need advice, then please feel free to get in touch.

You can call our team on 03000 113 311 or email us on

Why I chose direct cremation for my mother’s funeral

Joe’s mother had some very clear instructions on the type of funeral she wanted upon her passing –“I knew my mum wanted cremated, she didn’t want to be buried.”

Here Joe shares his reason’s for choosing direct cremation and how Caledonia Cremation supported him.


If you have any questions about direct cremation, then please do get in touch. We are a charity-run funeral directors, so our priority is your well being and for you to feel empowered in whatever decision you take.

You can call our team on 03000 113 311 or email us on

Financial support available when organising a funeral

Financial support available when organising a funeral

It’s difficult to know what to do when someone close to you passes away regardless of your circumstances. With the average funeral costing nearly £4,000, many now find themselves in a position where they feel they have nowhere to turn due to such prohibitive costs.

The first thing to note is you are not alone. There is help out there and several options available to you. We’ve put together some brief information below to get you started.

Read our guide here

Planning a funeral for the first time

Planning a funeral for the first time

If you are faced with planning a funeral for the first time, it can seem really daunting, so our funeral director, Angela has outlines where to start

If you need any more help – we are a charity-run funeral directors so our priority is to support bereaved people across Scotland.

Please do get in touch:
Phone: 03000 113 311

Going Beyond Cardboard Coffins

Going Beyond Cardboard Coffins

More and more of Scottish people are making ethical decisions to do their bit to reduce their carbon emissions as part of the fight against climate change. Greener living advice and eco-friendly products have made it easier to find environmentally friendly options but have also made it more confusing to know what to choose. Is it better to switch to a hybrid car or to change to a renewable energy provider? Does quorn have higher or lower carbon footprint than chicken? Sadly, the answer tends to be “actually, it’s a bit more complicated than that”.

As well as asking about greener living, I increasingly hear people asking about greener funerals. This is fantastic news for the planet. It is also great that people are talking more openly about their funeral wishes – a subject far too long treated as taboo. The more we plan ahead, the less burden left for our families who may not know what exactly we would have wanted.

The phrase I hear most commonly among people thinking what they’d want for themselves is: “just a cardboard coffin for me please”. Affordable and green – seems perfect. Done.

Actually – it’s a bit more complicated than that

Don’t get me wrong, I celebrate everyone who chooses a carboard coffin as a step towards better and cheaper funerals – please don’t go doubting yourself. But there are other steps you can take and even better options for the environment.

Whether you are buried or cremated there will be some unavoidable carbon footprint: a burial slowly releases methane over a long period of time; a cremation releases carbon dioxide but also requires natural gas fuel. Overall, cremations release about 140kg of carbon, burials around 100kg when measured in carbon dioxide equivalent units.

Some crematoria are also better at reducing this further and also at removing pollutants like mercury – modern builds such as Clyde Coast and Garnock Valley Crematorium are top of the rankings. A woodland burial means a tree is planted for you, offsetting some emissions and avoiding grass which is anathema for biodiversity. This offsetting might also be done through a carbon credit scheme, if you ask, then a reasonable funeral director will probably do this for you.

Fortunately, embalming (“hygienic treatment”) is not a requirement and a funeral director with modern storage equipment should very rarely need to do it unless the family specifically requests. Embalming involves formaldehyde and other chemicals that you would probably not want added to the environment. Unbelievably, in the US they are still using 16 million litres of embalming fluid per year.

Often the most surprising part of the carbon emissions of a funeral is the cars going to the crematorium. It isn’t unusual for a funeral to be held across a church, then a crematorium then a celebration gathering at a hall or home: not far to go but if there are fifty guests, then their cars travelling an average 15mile round trip adds 90kg of carbon (assuming car sharing in 2016 Ford Focus – 150g/km). That nearly doubles the total for the whole funeral. A direct funeral where the family attend only the celebration gathering (normally with the ashes or casket) brings this down to around 30kg but is not always the right answer for some families.

So, what about the coffin? Cardboard is best right? Well, in a burial a cardboard coffin lowers carbon emissions as there is less of it, but cardboard is mostly made of glue which is a pollutant which is not ideal. For a cremation, cardboard can add additional emissions compared to wood coffins. The extra fuel needed in the crematorium can add up to 40kg to the carbon footprint, whereas a wooden coffin would have been a renewal fuel source itself.

Coffins may cost hundred or thousands of pounds, but in the UK they usually glue-based MDF/chipboard with veneer. For once, the greener option is probably also the more intuitive one, a sustainable FSC accredited pine coffin or wicker coffin perhaps.

Blog by John Halliday

Co-founder of Caledonia Cremation, charity-run funeral support



Helping people with repatriation – it shouldn’t be so hard!

Helping people with repatriation – it shouldn’t be so hard!

Most people would like their funeral to be held near the place they call home. So, when someone dies abroad, bringing their body back for the service may a priority for some. Before you decide, we invite you to take a moment to consider the options available to you.

Flying someone’s body home isn’t about just booking a flight. Every country has its own rules around repatriation and there is a huge amount of red tape to negotiate. It can also cost several thousand pounds.

If this sounds overwhelming, then there is an alternative. You may find it more affordable and less stressful if you arrange for your loved one to be cremated before they are transported home. It allows you time to arrange their celebration of life without the additional administration and cost of repatriating a body. We have helped many bereaved families who live outside Scotland.

One such client is Christian who lives in Germany. Christian and his father were travelling across Scotland when his father unexpectedly became ill and tragically passed away. Christian came to us and we guided him through his options. He decided to allow us to arrange his father’s cremation and he organised a celebration of life back in Germany. In this instance, Christian decided to collect the ashes himself, but in many cases, we have arranged safe passage of ashes to countries across the world. Some countries have very strict rules and we will take care of this for you.

If you would like to chat this over – then please do give me a call. We are a charity-run, funeral directors so our priority is your wellbeing, not making a profit. You can call me on 03000 113 311


Angela Johnstone



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