Planning The Funeral

Where To Start?

It is important that when deciding which funeral director to use, consider their qualifications and ability to provide you with the best service to meet all your needs.

The Australian Funeral Directors Association (AFDA) is a body which has been set up to ensure that funeral companies uphold ethical and professional standards.

A list of accredited companies is available on the AFDA website.

The number of decisions to be made can seem daunting.

You shouldn't feel pressured or rushed to make a decision. Should you wish to postpone the funeral, this can also be made possible.

In selecting a funeral director be aware of the cost, set a budget and ensure that this is understood and formally agreed to by yourself and the funeral director.

It’s important to have a complete understanding of all costs involved:

• Funeral director’s fees
• Cost of death certificate
• Cost of coffin or casket
• Costs of the cemetery or crematorium and plot or headstone
• Transport of the body
• Other expenses, such as celebrant or clergy, flowers, newspaper notices and the wake
• Some costs may be applied for to be paid through Victim Services

The Role of the Coroner

In some cases the Coroner is ordered to determine the identity, date, place, circumstances and medical cause of death.

Once a post mortem is complete, the Coroner will approve the release of your loved one.

Your funeral company will arrange for the transfer from the mortuary to the funeral home.

In some cases, the Coroner will decide that organs should be kept for a more thorough examination. If a whole organ is to be held, an officer from the Coroner’s Information and Support Program will contact you to explain what is happening and to inform you of your rights. In some cases, the tissue or organs can be returned later for burial or cremation.

The Role of the Funeral Director

Once you have selected a funeral director, their role is to work with you and for you in arranging all the particulars of the funeral providing you with advice, guidance and liaising with all relevant parties on your behalf.

Keep in mind that they are able to come to your home to discuss all details.

You’ll probably have many questions, particularly if you have not experienced arranging a funeral before. The funeral director in charge of the funeral arrangements will generally collect all the information needed for registering the death and send it to the relevant state or territory government office.

The funeral director may also help with things such as newspaper notices, flowers and religious services.

If you don't know who to contact, the Australian Funeral Directors Association can help you.


Repatriation is when a deceased is moved interstate or overseas.

The death of a loved one is always distressing and when the death occurs overseas or interstate the distress is compounded by practical problems.

Most funeral companies can provide this service for you.

Planning the Funeral Service

Funeral services can be traditional or modern, a reflection of life, religious, spiritual or a celebration of a life.

A funeral can and should be as unique as the life that is being celebrated; it is up to the family to decide the proceedings of the service and make it to your spiritual and emotional needs.

• Your wishes are paramount.

• If the wishes of the deceased are known these can and should be used. In discussing and planning the service with your funeral director some things which will need to be considered include:
• Selecting a day, time and venue for the service.
• Choice of burial or cremation - Burial involves the purchase of a gravesite or crypt, the right of interment, opening/closing fees and gravesite maintenance.
• Cremation is the process of reducing the body to ash.
• A funeral ceremony can be held. Cremated remains may be buried or interred in memorial sites or cemeteries, or they may be legally retained by relatives in an urn to have a private memorial in your home.
• Ashes can also be dispersed in a variety of ways.
• Who will lead the service - Clergy, celebrant, family member or friend?
• Whether or not you want to view the body.
• The type of coffin or casket, the difference between the two is in the design - coffins are tapered at the head and foot and are wider at the shoulders.
• Caskets are rectangular in shape. Costs can vary according materials and design.
• The clothes the deceased person will be wearing.
• You may wish to place some personal items in the coffin or on the coffin during the service- it may be a letter, blanket, photos, a favourite toy or figure, painting, golf club etc.
• Type of music to be played during the service, photo and video displays, eulogy, reading of poems or scriptures. Or any special things which you would like.
• What flowers, if any would be used or would you prefer to arrange for donations to be made to a particular charity in honour of your loved one?
• Transport to and from the funeral.
• Death and funeral notices for the newspaper.
• You may wish to have the ceremony video recorded or photographs taken.
• Arrangement of a guest attendee book or cards.
• Check if your loved one had a pre-paid funeral plan, as this may save you having to make many decisions.
• Choose a funeral company/director.
• Plan the funeral service.
• Some families request that mourners wear a specific colour (sometimes associated with a favourite colour or sports club, etc).
• The wake, including catering/ refreshment options.
• If the victim has children it will be important to consider their wishes and part in the funeral. Discuss whether children will be invited to attend.
• The wake, including catering/ refreshment options.

Children and the Funeral

Children need special consideration at this time.

How you discuss the death of your loved one and the funeral arrangements will depend on your family’s beliefs and previous experiences, it is important to discuss these things with them honestly and gently.

Including them in decisions regarding the funeral and listening to their wishes will allow them to feel included. It is important that they are given the choice if circumstances allow as to whether they want to view the deceased and attend the funeral.

If it is decided that they will not attend the funeral, there are other ways that they can say goodbye such as lighting a candle, having something of their choosing placed in the coffin, releasing a balloon, giving them something precious that belonged to your loved one, visiting the grave at a later time, scattering of ashes at a later time, or the child may have their own ideas.

On the Day of the Funeral

• Try to have something to eat.

• Keep well hydrated throughout the day, have a bottle of water accessible.

• It is the role of the funeral director to oversee the running and operations of the day.

• Discuss with someone in advance that should you require support in reading the eulogy or anything else on the day that they be on standby to do this with you or on your behalf.

• Do not feel committed to others requests, wishes and plans for the day, put yourself and your needs first.

• The day itself will be exhausting mentally and physically, so allow time for yourself afterwards to rest.

• Be kind to yourself.

Other Services

Australian Funeral Directors Association (AFDA)
1300 888 188

Victim Services
(02) 8688 5511

Coroner's Court
(02) 8584 7777