Frequently Asked Questions - Funerals

What needs to be done after a death occurs?

After a death you need to call a doctor so they can issue a ‘Doctor’s Certificate of Cause of Death.’  There is no rush to do this straight away.  If an expected death happens in the middle of the night, definitely wait until morning before making the call.  

If a doctor can’t determine the cause of death they will notify the police who will then organise a coronial investigation.  

Funeral arrangements can’t be completed until a doctor has signed and issued the certificate.  Once the cause of death is certified either the family or doctor can contact a funeral director chosen by the next of kin to arrange to move the deceased to a funeral home.   Alternatively you can keep the body at home for five days.  You can to speak to your funeral director about this if it’s what you want to do.

How soon after the death should we have their ceremony?

You may not want to have to have the funeral soon after the death, especially if people are coming from overseas.  

If you want or need to, you can delay the funeral so that everyone has more time to plan the best possible tribute.  

You can either have the funeral ceremony at the same time as the cremation at a later date.  

Is it possible to do a DIY funeral without the help of a funeral director?

Yes, it is.  

You do not have to use a funeral director for a funeral.  Some funeral directors will be happy to help with just the aspects that might be difficult for an individual family, such as keeping the body cool or completing paperwork.

What do you (as our funeral celebrant) actually do?

I assist you in creating a meaningful and personal send off for your loved one, one which really honours and celebrates who they were, what they stood for and what mattered most to them in life. 

A funeral ceremony can be a beautiful and powerful celebration of life.

Do I have to use the celebrant recommended to me by my funeral director?
No, you can choose whatever celebrant you want. 
Is there a specific format I need to follow?

No, you can choose whatever format you like, but I have a very special format which works beautifully.  

What can I include in the funeral ceremony?

You can be creative around what you include in the funeral ceremony.  You could include their favourite songs or readings.  You might put together a slide show of their life to their favourite song.   You could have someone sing a song.  You might even want to release some doves at the end of the ceremony.  There are so many options.  We can discuss them during our first meeting.  

Can we include readings or symbols from our culture in the ceremony?

Of course, as long as the venue you’ve hired doesn’t have any restrictions that prevent you from doing them. 

Where can we have the ceremony?

You can have it almost anywhere – in a hired venue, a surf club, a chapel, in your own home, indoors or out.  Talk to me about your options.

How long should the ceremony last?

It’s up to you, but I’d suggest you book 2 time slots if you have it in a crematorium chapel so that you’re not rushing to get everyone in and out and having to end the funeral prematurely. Having the ceremony in a park, surf club, hall or at home allows you to take as much time as you want.

Is it possible to have a green funeral in Sydney?

For those who want their death to have minimal impact on the environment, a green funeral is a good option.  

The nearest natural forest burial site to Sydney is the BushLand Cemetery in Lismore, where the principles of internationally recognised ‘green-burial’ or ‘natural earth’ burial are followed.  Here you don’t have to use a coffin, but can have your loved one wrapped and buried in a shroud of biodegradable cotton.  

If you wish you can use a personalised, eco-friendly coffin made from recycled cardboard.  Speak to me about this if you like. 

Do I have to use a coffin for my loved one, irrespective of whether he/she is being cremated or having a natural burial?
No.  Your loved one can be buried in a shroud with permission from NSW Health.
How do you, the celebrant, dress for funerals?

I usually wear light colours. If you have any special wishes just let me know.

Is it possible to have a ceremony for someone who died years ago?

Of course!  This can be a really wonderful thing to do, especially if it helps you and your family and friends get completion around your loved one’s death. 

Can we have a service for someone if their body is not present?

Yes.  For example, if your loved one’s body was donated to science you could still have a beautiful ceremony for them.  However, you may want to have something there which symbolises their presence. 

Where are you based?

I live in Mosman and conduct ceremonies all over Sydney. 

Who pays the funeral celebrant?
The funeral celebrant’s fee is part of the itemised fee that your funeral director charges, so they could pay me.  Alternatively you can pay me directly and let your funeral director know. 
What other ceremonies do you do?

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