● Knowing Their Wishes - Pre-planned
● Looking After It All - Unplanned
● Taking Care Of Yourself - Find Support
● Ask The Experts - Funeral Provider
If you are looking to arrange a stress-free funeral the best way to achieve this is to have one pre-planned ahead of time. But often that isn’t the case and you are actually arranging a funeral for a loved one without their input and coping with a whole lot of grief in the process.
We will take you through the details of what to do in both situations as well as ways to cope, so that whatever your situation, arranging the funeral is as stress-free as possible.
Knowing Their Wishes - Pre-Planned
If the loved one who has passed away pre-planned their funeral arrangements it makes the process a lot easier for you to manage alongside dealing with your emotions. What you need to ascertain is to what extent they pre-planned and what you need to do in each situation.
Pre-Planned without Payment (Pre-Arranged)
In this situation the funeral arrangements have been documented and usually the funeral provider has been selected. You should receive a copy of this documentation upon their passing if you don’t already have a copy.
The benefit of a Pre-Planned Funeral is that you know what your loved one wishes are for their celebration of their life. A Pre-Planned Funeral has not been paid for; therefore, you will need to think about payment options.
‘Who Pays For The Funeral’ lists a number of options available to you. Working through the pre-planned list, think about what is affordable and realistic. We then recommend you prioritise what is essential and what extras can be removed if necessary. Read the section below on unplanned funerals for more on this.
Pre-Planned with Payment (Pre-Paid)
This is where the above documentation is available AND the arrangements were also being paid for. Whether or not the funeral costs were completely paid off it certainly assists to have this set up for you ahead of time to minimise expenses and uncertainty.
In this situation simply speak to the funeral providers who organised the pre-paid arrangements to get everything moving for your loved one.
Funeral Bond or Insurance
Sometimes there is no documentation of exactly what your loved one wanted for their funeral, but they have prepared payment for it. There are two ways they may have done this: Via a Funeral Bond arranged with a Funeral Director but held by a financial investment company; or Funeral Insurance which many insurance companies offer.
If your loved one organised a Funeral Bond then there’s a good chance that their investment grew with interest over time. You simply need to speak to the Funeral Director to arrange for the bond to be released upon presenting documentation of your loved ones passing.
The same applies to Funeral Insurance but there may be many clauses and terms associated with the insurance so it can be difficult to determine if the funeral will be covered. Make sure you are aware of the insurance details to ensure this goes smoothly.
Once you have confirmed the amount available to be used for the funeral, you can start making the arrangements.
Looking After It All - Unplanned
If you have determined that your loved one did not have a funeral plan set up in advance then it’s up to you to organise this. But you don’t have to do it alone. We have the following list to help you and it is worth enlisting the help of family or friends with some of the tasks to ease the burden.
Remember to take into account whether they had a Funeral Bond or Funeral Insurance in place to pay for some or all of the funeral, or funds available in their account to cover it. Make sure the funeral you arrange is affordable for you. We have divided this list into ‘Essential’ and ‘Extras’ so you can better prioritise costs and what you would like.
● Official Notification - depending on where your loved one passed away you need to report it to the relevant people. This blog on What to do when someone dies (link) will assist you with the details.
● Legal Paperwork - this can include organ donorship, an advanced care directive, the Will and more. Make sure that all the official paperwork is made available and used in the right way.
● Notifying Companies - The Australian Death Notification Service allows you to notify multiple organisations online that someone has died so their accounts can be closed or transferred. This is something that can be put off until after the funeral.
● Cremation or Burial - Decide on the type of funeral your loved one would want . This may depend on religious and personal beliefs or affordability. Cremations are usually less expensive.
● Funeral Provider – Funeral Directors have a high level of expertise in the funeral industry and bring a combination of professionalism and empathy to their role. Make sure you feel comfortable with the provider you decide on as they will be looking after the body of your loved one and helping you with the arrangements. A good Funeral Director will help enormously with all of the arrangements.
● Type of coffin or casket – These largely depend on budget and personal preference, there are so many options. Your funeral provider can assist you with sourcing a suitable coffin.
● Cremation Urn or other vessels- The cremains of your loved one are stored in sealed container until you select an urn or other container. There are many options to choose from, such as scattering tubes, keepsakes, jewellery, even biodegradable containers. Talk to your funeral provider about the selections.
● Burial Plot - For a burial you will need to arrange where your loved one will be placed, whether a plot in a cemetery or on a property.
● Transportation, storage, and preparation of the deceased - This is all required, but the level of preparation also depends on whether your loved one will be cremated or buried and if there will be a viewing.
● Obituary – H.Parsons provide a free funeral notice service in funeralaccouncement.com.au and this is an excellent way to let extended family and friends know about the service arrangements. Some people also choose to place a notice in the newspaper, which will require an additional cost.
● Funeral or Burial Service - This is not a necessary part of any funeral and is strictly up to you. You can choose the location, be it at home, at a function centre or at the beach. Your funeral provider can organise a small, intimate gathering in their chapel or a large event. Keep in mind what is affordable to you.
● Funeral celebrant – This is a great option if you would like someone to conduct the funeral service.
● Service Presentations - You may choose to create an order of service with a eulogy, poems, photos, readings or other aspects to commemorate your loved one. Life stories with photos of families and friends and backing music are very popular. Many people also like to bring along personal mementos such as photos frames to have at the service. How far you want to go if you are holding a service is up to you.
● Flowers - Many like to place flowers onto a coffin when it is lowered into the ground. This is a personal choice and can be expensive.
● Additional Transport - If you would like other family members or friends to be transported to the burial site this can be arranged at an extra cost. You may prefer the walk if it is not too far from the service.
For more information about arranging a funeral, read the funeral this blog Six ways to keep funeral costs down.
Taking Care Of Yourself - Find Support
All too often when a loved one passes, all the focus goes to arranging the details of the funeral and not on how you are coping with it. Please remember it is important to look after yourself and take note of how you are feeling along the way.
Organising a funeral can be an emotional process because you are going through all the details of your loved one to create the funeral that they wanted, or that you feel they would want. It is likely your loved one would want you to stay well and happy after they are gone, not have their funeral affect your health.
If available, reach out to family or friends to help you with the funeral arrangements or just to speak to about what you are going through. Sometimes just getting your feelings off your chest with someone there to listen will relieve you more than you realise.
If you don’t have people available to help there are fantastic resources around that can offer the assistance you need. An excellent place to start is to talk with your GP. The blog ‘5 Resources to Help You When Coping With Grief’ lists resources and details of well-known and respected mental health support organisations. They offer a safe and reliable place for millions of people to access information, advice and support, no matter what their situation.
Ask The Experts - Funeral Directors
Organising a funeral on your own can be very overwhelming. In addition to the logistics, there is also important regulatory requirements and paperwork that needs to be completed. A Funeral Director does this daily and can provide an enormous support for you. Make sure you feel comfortable with the Funeral Director and ensure they are transparent with their services and prices.
Our team at H.Parsons is family owned and operated and has been supporting the local community since 1893. There is a lot to consider when preparing a funeral and it can be an emotional time. H.Parsons are experts in caring for you and your loved ones and we are committed to ensuring your service is personal, respectful and dignified. Make sure you talk to our team via our contact form, calling (02) 4228 9622 or visiting us at one of our locations.