Planning a funeral
Planning a loved one's funeral
When it comes to planning a funeral, some quick decisions need to be made at a very emotional time. Understandably, this can be stressful – particularly if no pre-planned arrangements are in place or if your loved one’s wishes are unknown.
If you find yourself in such a situation, this checklist may help you plan a suitable funeral for your loved one.
Arrange a death certificate
Funeral arrangements cannot be made without a death certificate. A doctor must sign and issue this certificate so that a funeral director (or the person who manages the final arrangements for the deceased) can first register the death with the relevant government body.
Make some key decisions
Bring together the main family members and reflect on what your loved one may have wanted. Some questions to answer may be:
- Will it be a religious service?
- What type of setting (e.g. garden or chapel)?
- When (date and time) and where will it be held?
- Will it be a burial or cremation? If cremating, where with the ashes be scattered?
- Should there be a headstone, plaque or monument?
- What is affordable?
- Who is responsible for covering the funeral costs? (Centrelink offers a variety of bereavement payments which you may wish to research.)
Select a funeral director
Once you’ve made the key decisions, they’ll inform your selection of a suitable funeral director. Your funeral director can also help you make vital arrangements, such as organising the embalming (if needed), and liaising with the cemetery or crematorium.
Choose a casket
Important decisions also need to be made about the casket. For example:
- the type of casket (shape, material, etc.)
- who will carry it (pallbearers)
- whether the casket will be open or closed.
Personalise the ceremony
What things will add personal, warm touches to the ceremony? Consider:
- who will lead the service – a celebrant, family member or friend
- the type of music and any suitable readings
- appropriate flower choices – or whether you instead prefer a donation to a charity
- who will deliver the eulogy
- whether a post funeral gathering (wake or repast) is appropriate, and who will organise it.
Once you have the service date and time confirmed, inform anyone whom you think would like to attend. To avoid missing people, look up your contact lists as well as your loved one’s (if it’s available).
You may also like to give an address for sending flowers, cards or donations. And placing a notice (obituary) in the newspaper can also help to inform others of the funeral.
If you feel daunted by the enormity of the task, remember you don’t need to do everything by yourself. Enlist the help of close family. With your consent, your funeral director can also take charge of many aspects of the funeral.
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