Step 1 – See if the deceased had funeral wishes
You want to check to see if the deceased has expressed any preferences in reference to:
The method of interment – if they want to be buried or cremated.
Type of service - e.g a graveside service, open casket or memorial service.
Step 2 – Choose a time, date, and location
When it comes to a date and time for the funeral or memorial service, it is all up to you. While some may want to have the service as soon as possible, others may want to have it a little later so friends and family interstate can make travel arrangements. It all depends on the deceased or the family’s cultural or faith beliefs, or any other considerations. These include:
Timing of other events – immediate/direct family members’ birthdays, anniversaries, weddings.
How long the eulogies will be.
How far the attendees of the funeral would have to travel.
Timing of the order of service.
Timing of any other audio-visual presentation played in the funeral.
Preparing any other memory such as photographs or other personal items.
With the location, while a funeral is commonly conducted at a church or crematorium chapel, there are other locations you can choose as well. Pick the venue or location that best reflects your loved one’s values.
Step 3 – Method of Internment
You then need to decide the method of interment. If the deceased did not pay for their funeral in advance or leave direct instructions about burial or cremation there are a few decisions that you need to make:
Will your loved one be buried or cremated?
If they are to be buried, will they be embalmed?
If they are to be cremated, will their ashes be buried, kept by the family, or scattered?
You also want to make decisions in relation to the funeral, such as:
The outfit your loved one will be wearing when they are buried – for example, if they had a favourite outfit.
The casket or coffin they will be buried in – if your family will decide or let the funeral home choose one for you.
Step 4 – Type of Service
If there were no instructions left by the deceased you will need to decide what kind of service to hold.
You may choose to hold a traditional funeral which includes the following order of events:
Viewing or Visitation – where the attendees can view the body and express their condolences.
Funeral ceremony – the formal service where it is completely up to the family how they want to conduct it.
Burial at the gravesite – where attendees witness the burial of the casket.
You may also opt for a direct burial where there is a burial without a viewing/visitation or a funeral service.
5 – Who you want at the Service
You also want to decide who you want to attend the service.
You can decide whether you want the service to be limited to family members or have a larger ceremony with friends, family and colleagues. Think about who had impacted the deceased the most in their lifetime and vice versa.
6 – Decide on an master of ceremonies or celebrant
If you have chosen to have a funeral service, you want to consider who will lead it.
You can easily find a funeral celebrant online by:
Simply doing a Google Search on funeral celebrants in your area.
Australian Federation of Civil Celebrants – you can find a list of funeral celebrants by area and preferred language.
Funeral Celebrants Association Australia – you can find a directory of celebrants across the country.
If you don’t want the added cost of having a celebrant, you can always ask a close friend or relative to lead the ceremony if they are comfortable with it.
7 – Order of the Service
How funerals are conducted all depends on an individual’s:
Again, first see if there are any wishes the deceased had expressed. If not, then you are able to decide how to best conduct the service in a way that represents the deceased’s life.
Although you can choose how to conduct a funeral service, this is the typical order of service for an Australian funeral:
Prelude – the opening part of the funeral. The family may request specific songs.
Introduction – the celebrant or religious leader gives welcoming remarks.
Opening readings – these typically include prayers, passages from other literature, or any special readings based on the family’s request.
Obituary – a close family member or friend can read the deceased’s person’s obituary.
Eulogies – where guests share their final words about the deceased.
Closing – where the celebrant or officiant reads the final prayers, plays a song, or gives reminders about the next part of the service.
Graveside service – where close friends and family of the deceased gather to watch the body be lowered to the final resting place.
Repast or wake– this is an informal reception after the funeral. This is where the family can receive support and condolences.
It is important to note, however, that the order of service varies. Australia has a diverse variety of religions and cultures, so the order of service can vary in different ways.
8 - Other elements to include in the Funeral
While you do not need to include all of these, the following elements are most commonly included in a funeral service:
Booklet with the order of service
Photograph of the deceased person
Funeral flowers – which may be placed around the foyer, doorways and beside or on top of a coffin or casket.
Music to be played
Any personal effects or items that represented the person’s life – e.g. a football to represent their passion for sports, paintbrush to represent their passion for art.
A guest book
Catering for the attendees
9 – Things you’ll need to pay for
You can make payments in the following ways:
In advance before the service
Immediately following the service
Your method of payment will be determined by the funeral home who you appoint to organise the burial and funeral service. You will need to pay for the following services and products:
Funeral director fees
Venue fees for the place you conducted the funeral in
Celebrant fees (if applicable)
Burial or cremation fees
Cost of cemetery plot, interment or scattering of ashes
Headstone marker (if doing a burial)
Permits for burial or cremation
Catering for the service
Transport (for the casket and possibly for the family to arrive in)
Other expenses such as a death notice.
You may have noticed from the list above that these all add up to a high cost. However, just remember that you don’t need to hold an elaborate burial or funeral service to give your loved one a personal farewell. All that matters is the thought you put into planning the funeral, and how you commemorate the life of a loved one.
See if the deceased had expressed any wishes for how they want their funeral to be conducted
Choose a time, date, and location
Decide on method of interment
Decide on type of service
Create guest list for service
Choose Emcee or Celebrant for Service
Create order of service
Arrange other items to include in the service – refer back to Step 8 for the specific items to use.
Make the payments – refer back to Step 9 for what you need to pay for.
A funeral plan may be something you want to consider to relieve some of the financial stress you may face while planning a funeral. It is pretty much a funeral that is planned and paid for in advance with your selected funeral director. This locks in the price on the day and makes sure family and friends aren’t burdened with the stress of planning during their grieving period.
The two alternatives to prepaid funerals are funeral insurance and funeral bonds. Funeral insurance requires ongoing payments which accrue over time in an account which is later used to pay for the funeral. But if a payment is missed the money is forfeited, and if more money is set aside than is needed to pay for the funeral the money goes to the insurance company rather than the deceased’s family. A funeral bond is similar to funeral insurance except any additional money accrued over the fund’s lifetime is given back to the family if it is not used for the funeral service.
If your loved one hasn’t left you clear instructions on what to do and you’re feeling overwhelmed you may want to consider hiring a funeral director to help you through the process. If you’re searching for an affordable, transparent and flexible way to say goodbye to your loved ones you may like to contact Safewill Cremations and speak to one of our funeral arrangers.