When arranging a funeral with families, possibly the most frequently asked question is “What is normal?”
There is no ‘normal’. Every family has different values and expectations determined by their cultural beliefs, traditions and the wishes of the deceased. Families should be encouraged to take the time to arrange a funeral that best reflects the person who has died.
When to have the service
Timing is flexible – there are no laws governing when a funeral service must be held, it may be appropriate to have the service the following day or wait a week or more so distant family and friends can attend.
A memorial service (when the deceased is not present) has greater flexibility and is generally a less expensive option.
Where to have the service
Venues for funerals are not restricted to churches or chapels. Club rooms, community halls, hotels, homes, theatres, parks or gardens or simple graveside services are alternatives. Consider weather dependency, accessibility of the venue and whether there is room for seating and catering.
Who to officiate at the service
A minister, celebrant, colleague, community leader or family members are all possibilities. There are no legal requirements as to who can officiate, however consideration must be given to their ability to perform on the day. It is their responsibility to liaise with the family and to plan and co-ordinate the structure of the service.
Many of our families choose to lead their own ceremonies – we provide resources and format suggestions.
Who to involve
You may decide to have a fully attended public funeral or a private family ceremony. You can involve family, friends, colleagues, club members and affiliates. Here are some ideas on involving the younger generations – Children at funerals.
What to include
Music, floral tributes, readings, photos, videos, speakers, props and catering are all ways to reflect the values, qualities and connections of the person who has died.
Why have a service
A funeral service is optional. Often the deceased leaves clear instructions that they do not want any form of ceremony, possibly concerned by costs. However, a funeral is the opportunity to gather, support and acknowledge a life lived and to begin to accept a shared loss.
What type of funeral service?
A green funeral will consider eco-conscious options for every decision, lessening the impact of the funeral on the environment. Perhaps a natural burial, a sustainably produced solid wood coffin or an alternative to embalming.
A funeral can be at any time of the day. A night or evening funeral can be more relaxed with less time pressure. The family can hold a private burial or committal service the next day.
A graveside service combines the ceremony and burial at the cemetery – negating the costs of venue hire and simplifying logistics.
A family may choose to have a private funeral, by invitation only, then announce the death in the newspaper after the event.
A traditional funeral service will adhere to familiar and accepted family or cultural rituals.
Some families want to be more hands-on, choosing to fully participate in all aspects of the funeral arrangements; taking responsibility for the care of the deceased, building the coffin, creating their own funeral ceremony and using their own vehicles for all transfers.
Full service funeral
For families who need to understandably focus their energies elsewhere and decide to hand over all the arrangements to the expert care of the funeral company.
A living funeral is for those who wish to attend their own final send off and be part of the celebration of their life and loves. Depending on their health, a living funeral can be arranged in advance enabling distant relatives and friends to attend, an opportunity to say a personal farewell. The event could be as informal as visitors dropping by over a weekend or a more structured, formal ceremony.
Simple cremation or burial
For a direct cremation or burial the deceased is transferred from place of death, placed in a simple coffin and either cremated or buried without a funeral service, keeping costs to a minimum. However, this does not preclude family or friends from gathering together at a later date.
Simple cremation is the most cost effective option of all services offered.
A memorial service is a public or private ceremony where the body is not present. Family may have chosen to attend a private cremation, natural or conventional burial.
Talk through the options with us.