Funerals

Income tax credits and relief following a death

The Irish Association of Funeral Directors is the undertaker industry’s trade association. Members must follow its Code of Practice, which commits members to:

  • discussing and agreeing funeral director’s charges with the next of kin in advance, unless expressly asked not to do this
  • professionalism and quality of service in arranging and conducting the funeral
  • openness about cost and payment
  • accurate advertising of prices and services
  • sensitivity, confidentiality and a commitment to leaving the customer in control of decisions.

Individual funeral arrangements vary widely and depend on, among other things, where the funeral is taking place, the type of coffin (casket) you get and whether or not you hire funeral cars.

The funeral director’s job may include the following:

  • Discussing the family’s and deceased’s wishes and ensuring that all the details are taken care of and that the whole process goes smoothly
  • Provision of the coffin, hearse, habit/shroud, limousine/transport of family and embalming
  • Organisation of and payment for the grave purchase, grave opening/cremation charges, church offerings, newspaper announcements, flowers, music at the ceremony and catering.

Embalming

Embalming is a process involving the replacement of all body fluids with a substance designed to prevent the body from deteriorating. It is not strictly necessary, especially if the removal and funeral take place relatively quickly after death. About half of all bodies are embalmed.

Burials

Burial grounds (cemeteries) inIrelandare governed and maintained by local authorities. The local authority then usually appoints a registrar or caretaker for each burial ground to manage the sale of plots in that site and to maintain the burial ground in some cases.

Prices for grave plots and burials inIrelandcan vary a lot, so check around for prices, if possible. See further details ahead in this section.

Home burials

It is possible to bury a loved one outside an official graveyard, for example, on family land. However, it is very difficult to do so. It is very wise to sort this out well in advance of the death, as it may be impossible to organise legally at short notice. You will receive a visit from an Environmental Health Inspector from the local authority’s health department who will ascertain that the proposed burial site will not pollute any water sources or drainage channels and goes down to a depth of eight feet.

You should get in touch with your local authority (County Council or Corporation) for further details.

Cremation

You can have the deceased’s body cremated and dispose of the ashes by burying them in a family plot, using facilities provided by the crematorium or disposing of them privately.

Funeral costs

Funeral costs can vary widely depending on what you opt for and depending on whether it is a city or country funeral (rural funeral costs are generally less expensive). If you have difficulty paying for the funeral, your Community Welfare Officer may be able to help.

Useful Organisation

The Irish Association of Funeral Directors has a Customer Care Charter that includes a complaints procedure. The procedure involves investigating complaints, trying to find a resolution and providing a full response in writing within 30 days.

Irish Association of Funeral Directors

Mespil House
Mespil Business Centre
Sussex Road
Dublin 4
Ireland

Homepage: http://www.iafd.ie/

Burials

Burial grounds (cemeteries) in Ireland are the responsibility of the local authorities, who operate many of them and appoint a registrar or caretaker for each of their burial ground to manage the sale of plots in that site, and in some cases to maintain the burial ground. Parishes operate some burial grounds while local groups also operate burial grounds. If you want to purchase a burial plot, you can contact your local authority to get contact details. However, many funeral directors offer to handle the purchase of burial plots as part of their package of funeral services.

It is important to point out that many burial grounds or graveyards in Ireland are already full, and there may be restrictions on the pre-purchase or buying in advance of burial plots, such as limiting advance buying to those over 65 years of age.

All burials must be registered with the local authority and the location of the grave noted. This is done by the people who manage the graveyard.

Rules

Burial ground layout

Regulations issued by the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government to each local authority govern the site and specifications of burial grounds. If a local authority or local group decides to either extend an existing burial ground or establish a new one, the Chief/County Medical Officer, the Engineer and the Planning Officer of that authority decide whether the location is suitable on the basis of proximity to other buildings and road infrastructure and the capacity for the land to be drained.

The regulations also set out technical specifications for burial grounds. For example, the front boundary wall of a burial ground must be set at least seven metres in from the road to allow visitors to the site to park their cars. A margin of at least one metre inside the boundary wall of each burial ground must be allowed for and it is suggested that this margin be planted. There should be a passageway of at least one metre in width between rows of grave spaces.

Burial plot layout

The regulations provide that grave spaces must be clearly and permanently marked, such as with numbers, to facilitate the location of an individual grave at any time. Grave spaces have to be at least nine feet long by four feet wide or at least six feet long by three feet wide in the case of children less than twelve years of age. At the time of the first interment or burial at a grave space, it should be sunk to a depth of at least eight feet or to a lesser depth as decided by the County Medical Officer if the sub-soil does not allow for a depth of eight feet.

It is permissible to reopen a grave in order to bury a member of the same family, but a space of at least one foot above the previous burial must be left. Generally, it is possible to bury three to four persons in each grave space.

Looking after burial plots

Caretakers may also be employed by the local authority to maintain the graveyard, though many local authorities now encourage the establishment of voluntary groups who maintain burial grounds in their area.

These groups are supported by many local authorities in the form of burial ground maintenance priming grants. This grant helps towards the cost of the groups’ activities, which include grass cutting and planting in burial grounds, weed control, and the construction and improvement of gates, entrances and boundary walls.

Many local authorities offer the further incentive of the best kept burial ground grant, which is awarded to groups who are judged by the local authority to have best maintained the burial grounds in their area.

Gravestones

It is possible to design a headstone yourself or hire a sculptor to make it for you, but, in practice, the funeral directors you employ to look after funeral arrangements will arrange the construction and installation of a headstone themselves. It is necessary to obtain permission before erecting headstones, but the funeral directors will arrange this also. Headstones/memorials are generally subject to a maximum height of seven feet.

Burial where the deceased has no means

If someone dies without the means to pay for burial and if this person has no traceable next of kin, it is the responsibility of the Health Service Executive (HSE) or local authority to ensure that the person is buried in a dignified manner that does not impinge on public health or public decency. TheHSEor local authority will also be liable for the charges and costs involved in doing so.

Rates

The cost of buying a burial plot varies. If you hire funeral directors to arrange the purchase for you, they will indicate how much the burial plot costs as part of the overall expense of a funeral.

How to apply

If you wish to purchase a burial plot, you should start by contacting your local authority for contact details.

Your local authority may also be able to help if you want to start or join a voluntary cemetery maintenance group or apply for grants for such a group.

Where to Apply

Contact your local authority.

Cremations

Cremation is an alternative to burial when someone dies. All Christian denominations and most other religious sects around the world permit cremation. Some religions (for example, Orthodox Judaism and Islam) do not.

There are four crematoria (that is, four separate crematoriums) inIreland, three of which are located inDublinand the fourth is inCork. Access to these cremation facilities is not, however, restricted to people living inDublinorCork. Anyone may arrange for a cremation to take place in any of these crematoria.

Rules

If you wish to arrange a cremation you should contact a funeral director who will ensure that the statutory (or legal) requirements are met. Before cremation, forms must be signed by a medical referee who must be satisfied that the attending doctor viewed the body before and after the death, completed the medical certificate and the necessary form stating that there is no reason why the body should not be cremated. The attending doctor is required to examine whether or not the death should be notified to the coroner.

There may be difficulties arranging an immediate cremation if the cause of death is unclear. A coroner may in this case complete a Coroner’s Cremation Certificate which will allow the cremation to go ahead. In some cases, a Garda Superintendent has the power to stop a cremation.

Services

Similar to burials, it is usual to hold an appropriate service in your local church or place of worship. The coffin is then removed to the chapel in the crematorium grounds, where a short committal service takes place (similar to that at the graveside). The mourners take their seats in the chapel. The coffin is then brought into the chapel and the service begins. At the end of the service, the coffin is moved into the committal room and the mourners leave.

The form of the service depends on the religion of the deceased. You can make other arrangements however if you wish.

Cremation

After the committal service the coffin is taken from the committal room to the crematorium building. The body, along with the coffin, is cremated on the same day as the service. Crematorium regulations require that only combustible materials are used in the manufacture of coffins for use in cremation. The Code of Cremation Practice requires that the coffin is placed in the cremator in exactly the same condition as that in which it arrived at the crematorium.

Only one coffin is cremated at a time. The only exceptions to this are in cases where it is requested that both coffins are cremated together; for example a mother and baby, or twin children.

The ashes

The ashes are available 24 to 48 hours after the cremation. You can make arrangements through the funeral director or the crematorium for the remains to be buried in the crematorium’s garden of remembrance or placed in a niche in a columbarium wall, if there is one. (A columbarium wall is a structure containing small spaces where you can place cremated remains in urns, etc.).

Alternatively, the ashes can be removed in an urn which can be supplied by the funeral director or the crematorium. You can then bury the remains in the family grave or disperse them. If the dispersal is not on private ground, permission should be obtained from the appropriate authority, for example, the local authority.

Costs

There is no significant difference between the cost of a burial and a cremation, unless a new family grave has to be purchased for the burial. The funeral director’s charges are usually the same.

Where to apply

Irish Association of Funeral Directors

Mespil House
Mespil Business Centre
Sussex Road
Dublin 4
Ireland

Homepage: http://www.iafd.ie/

Glasnevin Crematorium

Glasnevin Cemetery
Finglas Road
Glasnevin
Dublin 11
Ireland

Tel:  (01) 830 5211
Homepage: http://www.funeralbooking.com/glasnevin_crematorium/
Email: info@glasnevincemetery.ie

Island Crematorium

Rocky Island
Ringaskiddy
Cork
Ireland

Tel:  (021) 486 4000
Homepage: http://www.islandcrematorium.ie

Newlands Cross Crematorium

Ballymount Road
Clondalkin
Dublin 24
Ireland

Tel: +353 1 459 2288

Mount Jerome Crematorium

Mount Jerome
Harolds Cross
Dublin 6
Ireland

Tel: +353 1 497 1269

Bereavement grants

A Bereavement Grant is a once-off payment made in respect of a death. Eligibility for this grant is not related to your ability to pay for the funeral. Your eligibility is usually based on PRSI contributions.

In the event of a death, you may be able to apply for a standard Bereavement Grant (a once-off grant based on your PRSI contributions).

In addition (depending on your circumstances), you may be able to apply for some other social welfare payments. For example; the Widowed or Surviving Civil Partner Grant for widows/widowers/surviving civil partners with dependent children.

You may also be eligible for a Special Funeral Grant (under the Occupational Injuries Benefits scheme).

Rates

A Bereavement Grant is a payment of €850. The grant is usually paid to the person responsible for payment of the funeral bill. (For example, the grant can be paid to the husband, wife, civil partner, personal representative or next-of-kin of the deceased person).

In addition to the Bereavement Grant, you may also be entitled to a Widowed or Surviving Civil Partner Grant of €6,000 for widows/widowers/civil partners with dependent children.

You may also be eligible for a Special Funeral Grant (under the Occupational Injuries Benefits scheme) of €850.

Payments are made by cheque.

Standard Bereavement Grant

The Bereavement Grant is a once-off payment to help with funeral costs. Eligibility for this grant is not related to your ability to pay for the funeral. Your eligibility is usually based on PRSI contributions.

The grant is also paid on the death of a person who has been getting a contributory pension or on the death of their spouse or civil partner or someone for whom the contributory pensioner would have been getting an Increase for a Qualified Adult or an Increase for a Qualified Child.

If a pensioner would have been getting a contributory pension but chose to be paid a non-contributory pension at a higher rate, they or their spouse, civil partner or dependants are still eligible for a Bereavement Grant. Also, someone for whom the contributory pensioner would have been getting an Increase for a Qualified Adult, but for the fact that they were getting a non-contributory payment in their own right will qualify (for example, a contributory pensioner’s spouse or civil partner who is getting a Carer’s Allowance, State Pension (Non-Contributory) or Blind Pension.)

Disability Allowance and the Bereavement Grant

The Grant will be paid automatically to the next of kin following the death of a person who was aged between 16 and 22 and getting Disability Allowance.

Guardian’s Payment (Contributory) and the Bereavement Grant

A Bereavement Grant is also paid on the death of an orphan for whom a Guardian’s Payment (Contributory) was being paid to their guardian.

Rules

To qualify for this grant:

  • The deceased person must have died on or after2nd February 1999
  • The applicant must be an insured person or the spouse, civil partner or dependent child/children of an insured person. (This includes Class A, Civil and Public servants (Class B and Class D insurance), self-employed people (Class S) and Voluntary Contributors).
  • The deceased must either have a set number of contributions paid over a specified time period (see ‘How to qualify using your social insurance record’), or have been getting of one of a number of specified contributory social welfare payments, or aged between 16 and 22 and getting Disability Allowance.

How to qualify using your social insurance record

To qualify for the Bereavement Grant based on your social insurance contributions, you must have the following:

  • At least 156 weeks paid PRSI contributions since you began insurable employment

Or

  • At least 26 weeks paid PRSI since you began insurable employment (see Note below)

Note:

  • If you have at least 26 weeks paid PRSI contributions since you began insurable employment, you must also have:
  • 39 weeks paid or credited PRSI contributions in the relevant tax year

Or

  • A yearly average of 39 weeks paid or credited over the 3 or 5 tax years before the relevant tax year

Or

  • A yearly average of 26 weeks paid or credited PRSI contributions between 1979 (or starting work if later) and the end of the tax year before the person died or reached pension age, (age 66 at present)

Or

  • A yearly average of 26 weeks paid PRSI or credited contributions between 1 October 1970 (or since starting work if later) and the end of the tax year before the person died or reached pension age (age 66 at present)

Rates

This is a once-off payment of €850. The grant is paid by cheque to the person responsible for paying the funeral bill.

How to apply

You can download and complete the application form BG1  within 12 months of the date of death. You can also obtain an application form from your local social welfare office. You will need to forward the deceased’s PPS number and Death Certificate with the application form. You will also be required to forward the funeral bill or receipt of payment with your application for the grant. (You should note that photocopies of the death certificate and funeral bill/receipt are not acceptable. Death certificates for social welfare purposes are available from the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages).

One of the following can claim the payment:

  • The personal representative (executor or administrator) of the deceased
  • The spouse, civil partner or children of the deceased
  • The husband, wife, or civil partner of any of the next of kin
  • Any other person claiming entitlement

Where to apply

Blind Pension, state pension, Widow’s, Widower’s or Survivor’s pension, guardian’s payment or deserted wife’s payment:

Department of Social Protection

Social Welfare Services
College Road
Sligo
Ireland

Tel:  (071) 915 7100
Locall: 1890 500 000
Homepage: http://www.welfare.ie/

All other applications:

Bereavement Grant Section

Social Welfare Services Office
Government Buildings
Ballinalee Road
Longford
Ireland

Tel: (043) 334 0000
Locall: 1890 92 77 70

Special Funeral Grant

If someone dies at work, a “Special Funeral Grant” is available under the Occupational Injuries Benefits scheme.

Rules

To be eligible for this grant, the death must have resulted from:

  • an accident at work,
  • an accident while travelling directly to or from work
  • an occupational disease.

You must have paid a minimum of one week’s PRSI requirements.

This special funeral grant is paid under the Occupational Injuries Benefits scheme instead of either the Standard or Widowed Person’s Bereavement Grant.

Rates

Special Funeral Grant: €850.

How to apply

To apply download and complete claim form OB 61.

To apply you need:

  • the original Death Certificate/interim Death Certificate
  • a copy of the death notice
  • a note of the funeral expenses.

Where to apply

Department of Social Protection

Social Welfare Services Office
Government Buildings
Ballinalee Road
Longford
Ireland

Tel: (043) 334 0000
Locall: 1890 927 770
Homepage: http://www.welfare.ie

Bereavement counselling and support services

Although everyone’s personal reaction to bereavement is different, most people experience some of the following emotional responses when someone close to them dies:

  • Disbelief
  • Shock
  • Anger
  • Sadness
  • Relief
  • Guilt
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Despair
  • Longing
  • Loneliness

These emotions normally occur, however, some or more of these responses may be experienced for differing lengths of time, depending on the individual. The main initial responses to a death – even one that has long been expected – are disbelief, shock and anger. These may lessen in time and can be followed by a sense of guilt, depression, anxiety and despair. You may also feel an acute sense of longing for the dead person, hopelessness at the thought of their absence, loneliness and sadness at their loss or even a sense of relief that they are gone (which may, in turn, lead to feelings of guilt).

Some physical symptoms experienced after bereavement can be quite acute and distressing. It is important to realise that these are normal parts of the grieving process and will pass in time. Physical reactions may include:

  • loss of energy and interest in life
  • an inability to sleep or constant tiredness
  • poor concentration and forgetfulness
  • loss of appetite or compulsive comfort eating
  • a “frozen” inability to cry or a tendency to continuously burst into tears
  • nausea and/or diarrhoea
  • headaches and unexplained body pains

Toddlers, young children, teenagers and adults all react to death very differently. It can be very important to tell children about a death in a way that they can handle at that particular age.

There are many bereavement services and support groups throughout the country, both public and private, professional and voluntary, religious and secular. If you are religious, there may be pastoral care available through your local priest, order, minister, rabbi or congregation. You should make contact through the relevant place of worship. There is an online bereavement support forum for widows, widowers and bereaved life partners at www.widows.ie

Who to contact

Barnardos Bereavement Counselling for Children

Barnardos
Christchurch Square
Dublin 8
Ireland

Tel: Helpline (01) 473 2110 (Mo-Fri, 10 am-12noon, Wed 12-2pm)
Homepage: http://www.barnardos.ie/what-we-do/specialist-services/bereavement-counselling.html
Email:bereavement@barnardos.ie

Health Promotion Unit

Department of Health and Children
Hawkins House
Hawkins Street
Dublin 2
Ireland

Tel: +353 1 635 4000
Fax: +353 1 634 4372
Homepage: http://www.healthpromotion.ie
Email: healthpromotionunit@health.irlgov.ie

Console

All Hallows College
Grace Park Road
Drumcondra
Dublin 9
Ireland

Tel: +353 (0)1 8574300 (Mon-Fri 9:00am- 5:30pm)
Fax: +353 (0)1 8574310
Homepage: http://www.console.ie
Email: info@console.ie

National Association of Widows in Ireland

Coleraine House
Coleraine Street
Dublin 7
Ireland

Tel: +353 1 872 8814
Homepage: http://www.nawi.ie
Email: info@nawi.ie

National Association of Widowers and Deserted Husbands Association

54 Foster Terrace
Ballybough
Dublin
Ireland

Tel: +353 (0)1 8552334

Widowed Young Ireland

Reighmore House
Kilmacanogue
Wicklow
Ireland

Email: info@widowedyoung.ie

RainbowsIreland

National Office
Loreto Centre
Crumlin Road
Dublin 12
Ireland

Tel: +353 (0)1 473 4175
Fax: +353 (0)1 473 4177
Homepage: http://www.rainbowsireland.com
Email: ask@rainbowsireland.com

Irish Sudden Infant Death Association

CarmichaelHouse
4 North Brunswick Street
Dublin 7
Ireland

Tel: +353 (0)1 873 2711
Locall: 1850 391 391
Fax: +353 (0)1 872 6056
Homepage: http://www.isida.ie
Email: isida@eircom.net

Child Focus

Irish Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children
29 Lower Baggot Street
Dublin 2
Ireland

Tel: +353 (0)1 676 7960
Fax: +353 (0)1 678 9012
Homepage: http://www.ispcc.ie/Services/Child-Focus.aspx
Email: ispcc@ispcc.ie

Miscarriage Association of Ireland

Carmichael Centre
North Brunswick Street
Dublin 7
Ireland

Tel: +353 (0)1 8735702
Homepage: http://www.miscarriage.ie/
Email: info@miscarriage.ie

Irish Hospice Foundation

4th Floor
Morrison Chambers
32 Nassau Street
Dublin 2
Ireland

Tel: +353 (0)1 6793188
Fax: +353 (0)1 6730040
Homepage: http://www.hospice-foundation.ie
Email: info@hospice-foundation.ie

Support services for those affected by suicide

In Ireland, many people have a role to play in providing appropriate assistance within the first few hours following a death by suicide. These people include the Gardai, Coroners, health professionals, funeral directors, etc. If you are, or have been bereaved by suicide you may experience a range of emotions including shock, disbelief, guilt and anger. As suicide may occur unexpectedly or be very sudden, this makes it traumatic for those left behind (particularly for family and friends).

The Central Statistics Office inIrelandrecorded the number of suicides that were registered in 2004 as 457. There were 189 suicides of people under 35, an 11% decrease on the 2003 figures. However, there were 268 suicides for those aged 35 and over, a 16% increase on 2003 figures. Males represented 78% of those who died by suicide, while females represented 22%. The provisional figures for 2005 are 432 suicides, of which 354 were male and 78 were female.

Even though this is an extremely difficult time, there are important practical and material matters that can and will arise after any death. It’s also important to be aware that there are a range of organisations throughoutIrelandthat can help if you have been bereaved through suicide or if you find yourself in a supporting role to someone who has been bereaved in this way. Each situation involving suicide is different and people react in different ways.

If you are in a supporting role it is important to be extremely sensitive to the needs of the bereaved person. It’s also important to know that if you are in a supportive role, there may come a time when you find that you can no longer offer the level or standard of support that is needed. The following organisations can help. They will offer you advice, information and support during this very distressing time and can also help put you in touch with other people in your area that have been through this experience.

National Office for Suicide Prevention

In September 2005 the Department of Health and Children announced the establishment of a National Office for Suicide Prevention. The establishment of a National Office arose as a result of Ireland’s National Strategy for Action on Suicide Prevention. The National Strategy is a ten-year plan setting out a range of actions to be taken by various State and non-governmental agencies targeting suicide prevention among specific target groups (e.g., young men, prisoners, general population, etc).

The National Office for Suicide Prevention oversees the implementation of the National Strategy and co-ordinate suicide prevention efforts around the country. It also works closely with the Health Service Executive’s Resource Officers for Suicide Prevention.

Useful organisations

There is a network of Suicide Prevention Resource Officers appointed in the Health Service Executive (HSE) acrossIreland that provide information on local support services for those who have been bereaved through suicide.

National Office for Suicide Prevention

Health Service Executive
Population Health Directorate
Health Service Executive
Dr. Steven’s Hospital
Dublin 8
Ireland

Tel: (01) 635 2139, (01) 635 2179
Homepage: http://www.nosp.ie
Email: info@nosp.ie

You may also find some of the following voluntary and community organisations may be of assistance.

Console

All Hallows College
Grace Park Road
Drumcondra
Dublin 9
Ireland

Tel: +353 (0)1 8574300 Mon-Fri 9:00am- 5:30pm
Fax: +353 (0)1 8574310
Homepage: http://www.console.ie
Email: info@console.ie

Low-cost, one-on-one counselling service for anyone affected by suicide. Also run therapeutic support groups and courses (low-cost). Provide referral service.

Aware

72 Lower Leeson Street
Dublin 2
Ireland

Tel: +353 (0)1 6617211
Locall: 1890 303302
Fax: +353 (0)1 6617217
Homepage: http://www.aware.ie/
Email: info@aware.ie

Aware operate a helpline providing non-directive counselling from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day all year round.

Barnardos Bereavement Counselling for Children

Barnardos
Christchurch Square
Dublin 8
Ireland

Tel: Helpline (01) 473 2110 (Mo-Fri, 10 am-12noon, Wed 12-2pm)
Homepage: http://www.barnardos.ie/what-we-do/specialist-services/bereavement-counselling.html
Email: bereavement@barnardos.ie

Irish Association of Suicidology

P.O. Box11634
Ballsbridge
Dublin 4
Ireland

Tel: +353 (0)1 667 4900
Homepage: http://www.ias.ie/
Email: info@ias.ie

Samaritans

Marlboro Street
Dublin 1
Ireland

Locall: 1850 609090
Homepage: http://www.samaritans.org 

You can find the address of your local branch of Samaritans here.

National Suicide Research Foundation

1 Perrott Avenue
College Road
Cork
Ireland

Tel: +353 (0)21 4277499
Homepage: http://www.nsrf.ie
Email: mailto@nsrf@iol.ie

National Suicide Bereavement Support Network

P.O. Box 1
Cork
Ireland

Homepage: http://www.nsbsn.org/
Email: info@nsbsn.org

Offers support and information to those bereaved by suicide. Holds seminars, information days, training days, etc.

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