Some of the most commonly asked questions and answers about funeral services, funeral arrangements, and funeral ceremonies.
How long does a funeral service last?
Typically a funeral service will run for around 45 minutes to an hour. However, this can vary greatly depending on a few things such as:
- Environment and location
- Number of people in attendance
- Eulogies – free time
Can I choose my own Celebrant?
Absolutely! You don’t have to work with the Celebrant that the Funeral Director provides. Civil Celebrants are becoming widely known to work with families on a more intimate level because the Funeral Celebrant pays particular attention to the overall funeral, the life tribute, the eulogy, the reminiscences, the music and poetry as well as the choreography, rituals, photos, and symbols. A Funeral Celebrant can assist and provide information on alternative options when considering either a burial or a cremation.
Should I call the Celebrant first, or do I have to call the Funeral Director?
Yes, you can phone me first. I am a professionally trained Funeral Celebrant and I can act on your behalf to discuss the funeral requirements of the family with the Funeral Director. You do not need to call the Funeral home to make arrangements, instead call me directly and I can assist you with the funeral process as well as inform you of your rights, choices, and the law.
Will the Celebrant visit me in my home to discuss the funeral service?
Yes, I will come to your home to talk to you, the family and of course close friends. Sometimes other arrangements have to be made to meet, if this is the situation, then we can talk about it on the telephone.
Will the Celebrant help us with the choice of readings and music for the service?
I do have lots of resources available and I will suggest and guide you with choosing something that is appropriate for the service.
Will the Celebrant write the Eulogy?
I will write a eulogy that is fitting to the person now passed and will include shared stories and memories from family and friends. I’ll ask questions and will listen to you as you share the story of your loved one’s life. The eulogy is then written from what you and others share. The life of your loved one “matters, for they existed, they lived and they made an impact in some way in the world.“ So their life story is important just like your memories. People live all sorts of lives and not everyone is a Divine Saint. So be open to sharing the truth, include their faults, the silly things they did that made you laugh, honour them with their idiosyncrasies, as well as everything that made them unique, remarkable and loved. Most of all, be faithful to the memory of the deceased, give them the funeral that is perfectly fitting to the life they lived and if that means thinking outside the norm, then do it. If you want a fancy dress or a themed funeral then go for it. If you want to paint or write messages all over the coffin, then do it. There is everything RIGHT about having a funeral like this, and it will greatly help with your feelings of grief.
Does the funeral service have to be held at the Funeral Directors?
No, the funeral service can be held in almost any location. It can be the local footy oval, the beach, your garden, the local pub or somewhere totally unexpected. All it takes is a little planning and requesting permission if it’s not going to be in your garden, if this is what you prefer, I can help.
What happens when we employ the services of a Funeral Celebrant?
Basically, you make the initial phone call to me. I will then arrange to visit you ideally in your home, whereby essential information is gathered in an interview kind of way. We’ll sit around the dining table with immediate family and close friends, we’ll openly talk and chat about the deceased and notes will be written, the conversation may even be digitally recorded for my referral notes later.
I will provide information with regards to music, poetry, rituals, blessings, burials and cremations. If you’re seeking something alternative for the deceased then this can also be discussed. Basically, my role is to guide and assist you with every aspect of your loved one’s final tribute and I ‘ll do this with compassion. Working alongside the relatives of the deceased is very important and I will do my utmost to ensure the funeral service is delivered in a way that is befitting to the life of your loved one. The funeral service will be authentic and have substance, it will be meaningful and will be a true reflection of the deceased.
Will my Funeral Celebrant include religious content in the funeral service?
Yes, religious content can be included if that is what the family wants. We can talk about this during our first meeting.
Are you able to assist me with writing a Eulogy only?
Yes, I can help you with this. I have often been called upon to personally help people during times of immense sadness, to help people to gather their thoughts and prepare for what is a very daunting and emotional time. I can also be there with you at the funeral to support you if that is what you prefer.
Can a person be buried on private land?
Yes, it is possible for a person to be buried on private land. However, there are a few things that need to be considered first.
- Your local council will need to be contacted about the policy they have for a burial on privately owned land. You must comply with your council’s policy
- The size of the land
- Permission from the landowner
- Health department approval for the chosen plot
- The depth of the grave must be according to the compulsory requirements, with specific clearance from the lid
- Registration of the grave site on the Deposited Plan of Property
Are there other options available when it comes to choosing a coffin?
Yes, there are many options available. Coffins come in all sorts, everything from recycled cardboard to woven wicker, to plantation pine, bamboo, jute, shrouds. burial pods and even environmentally friendly made garments. Nowadays, there are plenty of options available for either a burial or a cremation. It is worth doing some research for yourself, the internet is a great help.
Can the family and close friends join one another to decorate the coffin themselves?
Absolutely, this can be easily done. Again there are a few options that will enable you to do to this. Cardboard coffins are great for this purpose.
Does my loved one have to be embalmed?
The purpose of embalming is to slow the body’s decomposition down, it usually involves the use of highly toxic chemical agents and in most cases it not necessary. The chemicals used in the embalming process include Formaldehyde, Methanol, and Ethanol, plus some other solvents. However, there is an alternative biodegradable nontoxic option now available which uses essential oils
For Your Own Information
If a person chooses to die at home amongst family and or friends there are some things that need to be taken into consideration and even planned for, especially if the body is to remain at the home for a longer period of time.
- Immediately after death, the body can be washed and dressed if that is what the family wishes to do
- Rigor and Mortistakes
about 3 – 4 hours to set in. Don’t know what Rigor and Mortis is? Read more here
- Place the body face up.
- Fluids can leak from the body. Use incontinence underwear or if the body has to be plugged ask your Doctor.
- The body can continue to move, especially facial muscles and limbs, this is very normal
- If the person has false teeth, please leave them in their mouth
- If the person died with their eyes open, get some soft masking tape and gently close their eyes and place a couple of strips of tape over them to keep them shut. Or place a veil over their entire face.
- Use a scarf if the mouth of the person is open. Place the scarf over their head and under the chin & tie it. This will ensure that the mouth stays shut. The other option is to place a rolled up towel under the chin.
- As time progresses it is natural for the body to become cold. This can be uncomfortable for family and friends. It is perfectly natural. If air conditioning is available to turn it on, using the lowest setting, otherwise, place ice packs around the body.
- It is ideal to place their hands folded over their lower abdomen
Resources and Links
If you need to obtain a Death Certificate contact your state or territory Births, Deaths and Marriages office.
VICTORIA – Births, Deaths, and Marriages – www.bdm.vic.gov.au
NEW SOUTH WALES – Registry of Births, Deaths, and Marriages – www.bdm.nsw.gov.au
ACT –Death Certificates – https://www.accesscanberra.act.gov.au
QUEENSLAND- Births, Deaths, and Marriages – https://www.qld.gov.au/law/births-deaths-marriages-and-divorces/
WESTERN AUSTRALIA – Births, Deaths, and Marriages – www.bdm.dotag.wa.gov.au
TASMANIA – Births, Deaths, and Marriages – http://www.justice.tas.gov.au/bdm
Loss and Grief
National Association for Loss and Grief – grief counseling services www.nalag.org.au
Lifeline – 24 hours counseling phone 13 11 14
Death Overseas – Each year around 1000 Australians dies while overseas. For help and information see:
Smart Traveller – www.smartraveller.gov.au/death_overseas.html
Consular services – www.dfat.gov.au/missions
Australian Quarantine Inspection Service – www.aqis.gov.au
Australian Organ Donation Register is only national register for people to record their decision about becoming an organ and tissue donor for transplantation after death.
Human Services –https://www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/services/medicare/australian-organ-donor-register
Donate Life – The Organ and Tissue Authority (OTA) works with states and territories, clinicians and the community sector to improve organ and tissue donation and transplantation outcomes in Australia.
Donate Life – http://www.donatelife.gov.au
Centrelink Pensions, social security, and online services – http://www.centrelink.gov.au/internet/internet.nsf/individuals/index.htm
Veterans Affairs – Financial assistance for the funeral of a returned service person. www.dva.gov.au
Social Media and Identity – eClosure – an online service which allows grieving families to manage their social networks after a death http://eclosure.com.au/
Funeral Bonds and Pre-paid Funerals – https://www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/enablers/funeral-bonds-and-prepaid-funerals
Garments For The Grave – Pia Interlandi is an Australian Fashion Designer with a particular interest in “Dressing Death, Garments For The Grave.” Pia designs custom made bio-degradable burial garments with client family participation. She is also a certified funeral celebrant who worked in London with Clandon Wood Natural Burial Reserve. http://www.piainterlandi.com/
Aussie Roadside Memorials -A state-based catalogue of roadside memorials http://www.aussieroadmemorials.com/
Upright Burials – Upright Burials provides Australians with a proven alternative in burials that is simple, natural, and economical. – http://www.uprightburials.com.au/
Biodegradable Urns – Biodegradable Urns are a method of placing the cremated remains into a specifically designed urn that is then able to go into the earth or water. These urns break down naturally over time, leaving the remains in the chosen place. –