Arranging

What do I do

Whether a death occurs at home, in hospital or in a public place, the first person who should be contacted is generally the person’s doctor. A doctor must certify that death has occurred. Normally funeral arrangements cannot be completed until the doctor has signed and issued a Death Certificate. The Funeral Director can then take the deceased into their care.

In Australia the great majority of deaths occur in hospital or other care facilities, in which case those authorities take care of the medical formalities.

In certain instances it may not be legally possible for the doctor to issue a Death Certificate and there is necessity for police and coronial involvement.

We would advise that you contact the relevant authorities for full details as regulations do vary from state to state.

The funeral arrangement is the initial meeting you have with the funeral director and can be at their offices or in your home, whichever you prefer.
In most instances, the Next of Kin is responsible for arranging the funeral of the deceased, for example: spouse, child, parent, legal partner or sibling.

In the instance of dispute, where it is known a Will exists, the arbiter of arrangements is deemed to be the nominated Executor. The Executor may in his/her discretion appoint a person to make necessary arrangements with a Funeral Director. Such occasions however, are infrequent and most arrangements are made by the Next of Kin.

In some cases authorities in institutions where a person may not have any known relatives may need to make necessary arrangements. This is usually done by the Social Worker or another authorised officer.

A funeral service is for those who are living. It is a celebration and thanksgiving of the life of the loved one who has died.

The funeral experience is a key part of the grieving process which offers hope to the living and helps us on the road to recovery from our loss.

If this is the first time that you are arranging a funeral, the task can be quite daunting. The funeral director is there to guide and advise you on the many matters which need to be considered and to be entrusted with all the arrangements as directed by you.

A funeral service can be religious or secular, and can take place in one of several venues. Decisions will need to be made regarding matters such as:

    • When and where you would like the funeral to be held
    • The type of service you require
    • Details about the viewing of the deceased
    • If burial or cremation will follow the service
    • Which coffin or casket and clothing you want for the deceased
    • Who you would like to be involved
    • What floral arrangements, music and motor vehicles would be appropriate and any other relevant matters.
The Funeral Arrangement

The funeral arrangement is the initial meeting you have with the funeral director and can be at their offices or in your home, whichever you prefer.
In most instances, the Next of Kin is responsible for arranging the funeral of the deceased, for example: spouse, child, parent, legal partner or sibling.

In the instance of dispute, where it is known a Will exists, the arbiter of arrangements is deemed to be the nominated Executor. The Executor may in his/her discretion appoint a person to make necessary arrangements with a Funeral Director. Such occasions however, are infrequent and most arrangements are made by the Next of Kin.

In some cases authorities in institutions where a person may not have any known relatives may need to make necessary arrangements. This is usually done by the Social Worker or another authorised officer.

The Funeral Service

A funeral service is for those who are living. It is a celebration and thanksgiving of the life of the loved one who has died.

The funeral experience is a key part of the grieving process which offers hope to the living and helps us on the road to recovery from our loss.

If this is the first time that you are arranging a funeral, the task can be quite daunting. The funeral director is there to guide and advise you on the many matters which need to be considered and to be entrusted with all the arrangements as directed by you.

A funeral service can be religious or secular, and can take place in one of several venues. Decisions will need to be made regarding matters such as:

    • When and where you would like the funeral to be held
    • The type of service you require
    • Details about the viewing of the deceased
    • If burial or cremation will follow the service
    • Which coffin or casket and clothing you want for the deceased
    • Who you would like to be involved
    • What floral arrangements, music and motor vehicles would be appropriate and any other relevant matters.

The Funeral Director

The role of a funeral director is to provide a very special service and ensure the wishes of the family and the deceased are filled. A funeral director advises on and arranges all the details that make up a funeral service. The responsibilities of a funeral director include:

    • Arrange all matters requested by the family taking into consideration the legal, social, cultural and religious considerations relating to the deceased and to the mourners.
    • Transportation of the deceased from the place of death to the mortuary.
    • Preparation of the deceased
    • Collation of certificates from hospital or doctor’s surgery
    • Completion of statutory requirements
    • Preparation and insertion of newspaper notices
    • Contact with clergy or funeral celebrant
    • Organise bookings at the venue, church, cemetery and/or crematorium
    • Officially register the death
    • Obtain copies of the death certificate
    • Organise all details of the funeral service, including the supply of vehicles and pall bearers
    • Advise on religious and ceremonial requirements in relation to the funeral service and to visitation and other customs prior to, during and after the funeral.

Many of these items will be included as part of the funeral director’s professional service fee.

The number of people in Australia choosing to be cremated is steadily increasing. Whilst there is some variance between states and territories, cremations now outnumber burials. Cremation funerals are much higher in city areas where crematory facilities are available. Rural and remote regions predominate in burials.

People have a choice of either burial or cremation. In certain cultures cremation is not favoured (or may be prohibited within the relevant faith belief). In other cultures the opposite may occur with cremation being the custom, for example, in the Hindu tradition.

Ultimately, this decision is a matter of personal choice. Future trends may see higher instances of cremation due to increasing limits on cemetery space within or convenient to population centres.

A viewing gives loved ones the opportunity to see and spend time with the deceased prior to the funeral. In some cultures it may also occur during the funeral.

Apart from the legal requirements in certain states and territories for the family to identify the body in the coffin before cremation can take place or in the instance of a coronial reported death, the viewing experience, and allowing enough time for everyone to take part, helps us in many ways.

In a general sense, otherwise there is not an obligation to view, however, the therapeutic benefits of a viewing to the grieving process are well regarded and recommended. It is nonetheless a matter of personal choice and requires sensitivity in approach, the physical environment and setting. Provided explanations are given to children in language that they can understand, there is no reason why they should not have the opportunity to be involved – however, allow them to decide.

    • It provides everyone with the chance to express personal thoughts, to talk to the deceased and maybe just hold their hand, to finish off any ‘unfinished business’.
    • It helps us acknowledge that death has occurred and to confirm that the person has died really is the person in the coffin. It helps us come to terms with the reality and finality of death.
    • We can see that the one who has died is now at peace, especially if they were struggling or suffering in life.

Essentially, Embalming is the process of replacing bodily fluids with chemical fluids for the purposes of:

  • preservation of the body
  • infection control, and
  • enhancing the presentation of the deceased.

Embalming can be minimal or unnecessary in some instances; partial for the benefit of families wishing to ‘view’ and/or when the funeral may be within a week; or full embalming as may be expected in some cultures or when the body is to be repatriated interstate or overseas.

Burial or Cremation

The number of people in Australia choosing to be cremated is steadily increasing. Whilst there is some variance between states and territories, cremations now outnumber burials. Cremation funerals are much higher in city areas where crematory facilities are available. Rural and remote regions predominate in burials.

People have a choice of either burial or cremation. In certain cultures cremation is not favoured (or may be prohibited within the relevant faith belief). In other cultures the opposite may occur with cremation being the custom, for example, in the Hindu tradition.

Ultimately, this decision is a matter of personal choice. Future trends may see higher instances of cremation due to increasing limits on cemetery space within or convenient to population centres.

Viewing

A viewing gives loved ones the opportunity to see and spend time with the deceased prior to the funeral. In some cultures it may also occur during the funeral.

Apart from the legal requirements in certain states and territories for the family to identify the body in the coffin before cremation can take place or in the instance of a coronial reported death, the viewing experience, and allowing enough time for everyone to take part, helps us in many ways.

In a general sense, otherwise there is not an obligation to view, however, the therapeutic benefits of a viewing to the grieving process are well regarded and recommended. It is nonetheless a matter of personal choice and requires sensitivity in approach, the physical environment and setting. Provided explanations are given to children in language that they can understand, there is no reason why they should not have the opportunity to be involved – however, allow them to decide.

    • It provides everyone with the chance to express personal thoughts, to talk to the deceased and maybe just hold their hand, to finish off any ‘unfinished business’.
    • It helps us acknowledge that death has occurred and to confirm that the person has died really is the person in the coffin. It helps us come to terms with the reality and finality of death.
    • We can see that the one who has died is now at peace, especially if they were struggling or suffering in life.
Embalming

Essentially, Embalming is the process of replacing bodily fluids with chemical fluids for the purposes of:

  • preservation of the body
  • infection control, and
  • enhancing the presentation of the deceased.

Embalming can be minimal or unnecessary in some instances; partial for the benefit of families wishing to ‘view’ and/or when the funeral may be within a week; or full embalming as may be expected in some cultures or when the body is to be repatriated interstate or overseas.

Funeral Costs

The obvious and understandable question, like building a house – the answer could be almost limitless. There are certain necessary inclusions and certifications required, some of which have fixed costs, some of which are negotiable. The concept of cremation being much less in cost than burial may not always be the case if the family already have a licence/lease for a grave which has allowed provision for further interments, in which case reopening and digging fees would apply.

As a guide the cost of a funeral is categorised under three main areas:

  • professional service fees which incorporates all the tasks and services involved in arranging, planning and conducting a funeral including legal requirements
  • disbursements which are the costs a funeral director pays for on your behalf for services offered by a third party such as flowers, catering, newspaper notices, etc
  • coffin or casket choice.

AFDA Members are required to provide you with an itemised estimate for all funeral costs which will provide transparency in understanding what is included and work with you on your budget, and they welcome the opportunity to answer your questions

FAQ

AFDA Members and the AFDA Trademark represents security, care and professional service. Formed in 1935, AFDA is the only national funeral service organisation with Member firms in every State and Territory.

AFDA Member firms are chosen by more than 60% of families to provide funeral arrangements for their loved ones.

AFDA Members are bound by a strict Code of Ethics and Code of Conduct designed to meet both community needs and expectation in all aspects of service delivery. The code is a reassurance to the community of sincere care and professional service, particularly at a time of uncertainty and distress for grieving family and relatives.

Prospective member firms must comply with required standards for premises, equipment and vehicles (PEV) before AFDA membership is granted. Re-accreditation is required every three years.

The Australian Funeral Directors Association develops and promotes professional standards in the funeral industry. In conjunction with its membership, community groups and professional expertise, AFDA has developed several standards for industry practice. These are based upon fundamental and legitimate occupational health and safety, public health, legal and community standards. AFDA Member firms are required to abide by these standards.

AFDA is widely recognised as the authoritative voice on all funeral matters. The Association is a public company, limited by guarantee that is administered by an elected board with a National Office and six Divisional Offices.

Contact the person’s doctor. A doctor must certify that death has occurred. Normally funeral arrangements cannot be completed until the doctor has signed and issued a Death Certificate. The Funeral Director can then take the deceased into their care.

In Australia the great majority of deaths occur in hospital or other care facilities, in which case those authorities take care of the medical formalities.

In certain instances it may not be legally possible for the doctor to issue a Death Certificate and there is necessity for police and coronial involvement.

We would advise that you contact the relevant authorities for full details as regulations do vary from state to state.

If the doctor is unable to certify the cause of death it is necessary to contact the police, who then will liaise with coronial staff. This will be necessary in such instances as:

  • death other than by natural causes, including violence, accidental or unusual causes
  • death whilst under anesthetic (or within 24 hours of the administration of an anesthetic)
  • unexpected death
  • death of a person in an institution, a prison or in police custody, drug or alcohol rehabilitation centre
  • when the cause of death is unknown, and
  • when the deceased had diagnosed dementia.

Coronial staff or a Government appointed Funeral Director will transfer the deceased to the Coroner. In the instance of a deceased with dementia this may not be deemed necessary following police determinations.

A post mortem examination, also know as an autopsy, is a detailed examination externally, and of internal organs, to establish the cause of death. This examination is conducted by a doctor known as a pathologist.

An approach to a Funeral Director of your choice should be made as soon as possible. The Funeral Director will then liaise with coronial staff regarding release of the deceased into their care.

A Funeral Director should be notified immediately. They should be able to arrange for the transport of the deceased and attend to any statutory or customs requirements. In these circumstances there is usually an additional fee for the transportation of the deceased

In most instances, the Next of Kin is responsible for arranging the funeral of the deceased, for example: spouse, child, parent, legal partner or sibling.

In the instance of dispute, where it is known a Will exists, the arbiter of arrangements is deemed to be the nominated Executor. The Executor may in his/her discretion appoint a person to make necessary arrangements with a Funeral Director. Such occasions however, are infrequent and most arrangements are made by the Next of Kin.

In some cases authorities in institutions where a person may not have any known relatives may need to make necessary arrangements. This is usually done by the Social Worker or another authorised officer.

The number of people in Australia choosing to be cremated is steadily increasing. Whilst there is some variance between states and territories, cremations now outnumber burials. Cremation funerals are much higher in city areas where crematory facilities are available. Rural and remote regions predominate in burials.

People have a choice of either burial or cremation. In certain cultures cremation is not favoured (or may be prohibited within the relevant faith belief). In other cultures the opposite may occur with cremation being the custom, for example, in the Hindu tradition.

Ultimately, this decision is a matter of personal choice. Future trends may see higher instances of cremation due to increasing limits on cemetery space within or convenient to population centres.

You may need basic information about the deceased including full name, address, gender, occupation, place and date of death. Access to a Birth Certificate or Passport, and Marriage Certificate may be useful.

The family has absolute choice with certain exceptions as in the case of Coronial investigation in some murder cases, where permission may be given for a funeral by burial only.

A Funeral Director can volunteer options to a family but ultimately it is the family’s right to choose whatever they wish, providing necessary legal requirements are met. There may be some variation between states and territories within Australia, however, in most instances relevant Health Departments require the deceased to be placed in a coffin or casket for burial or cremation. In the case of cremation the coffin or casket must be combustible.

Again in certain states funerals may be Government assisted in the event of insufficient funds. Such funerals have limitations on choices. Advice, when necessary, should be given in the first instance by a Funeral Director, Social Worker or relevant Government Office.

The death of a loved one affects everyone in the family, including the children. With a loving explanation of what it’s about and what will happen, they should be encouraged (though not forced) to share the funeral experience with the rest of the family and friends.
Children can gain comfort from taking part in the family’s mourning, knowing that they are included in the event and not left out because they are ‘too young to understand’. Children need to say goodbye too!

The obvious and understandable question, like building a house – the answer could be almost limitless. There are certain necessary inclusions and certifications required, some of which have fixed costs, some of which are negotiable. The concept of cremation being much less in cost than burial may not always be the case if the family already have a licence/lease for a grave which has allowed provision for further interments, in which case reopening and digging fees would apply.

A specific answer cannot be given to this question because of the scope of options available. The costs of a funeral are categorised under:

  • professional service fees
  • disbursements, i.e. the Funeral Director’s out of pocket expenses, and
  • coffin or casket choice.

Essentially, Embalming is the process of replacing bodily fluids with chemical fluids for the purposes of:

  • preservation of the body
  • infection control, and
  • enhancing the presentation of the deceased.

Embalming can be minimal or unnecessary in some instances; partial for the benefit of families wishing to ‘view’ and/or when the funeral may be within a week; or full embalming as may be expected in some cultures or when the body is to be repatriated interstate or overseas.

A viewing gives loved ones the opportunity to see and spend time with the deceased prior to the funeral. Again, in some cultures it may also occur during the funeral. An identification viewing is necessary in coronial reported details and occurs at the Coroner’s facility prior to funeral arrangements. In some states it is also obligatory for a person who knew the deceased to view and sign an official identification form which must be sighted and retained by the Crematorium authority prior to cremation.

In a general sense, otherwise there is not an obligation to view, however, the therapeutic benefits of a viewing to the grieving process are well regarded and recommended. It is nonetheless a matter of personal choice and requires sensitivity in approach, the physical environment and setting. Provided explanations are given to children in language that they can understand, there is no reason why they should not have the opportunity to be involved – however, allow them to decide.

Viewings can offer these chances we wish we had…’if only’, to:

  • bring an end to unfinished business
  • confirm the reality of death, and
  • to say the “I love you”, “I’m sorry”, “If only” words we may wish to say.

After the cremation process only the heavy bones of the deceased are left. They are granulated to provide the “Ashes”

Each Funeral Home/Crematorium will have a different process and it is best to discuss these details with your Funeral Director