Frequently Asked Questions - Funerals
What needs to be done after a death occurs?
After a death occurs you need to call a doctor so that 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 don’t have to have the funeral soon after the death. 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 have the ceremony at the same time as a cremation or you could have it at a later date. This way the ceremony can be held in any function room, outdoor space (beach or park) or in someone’s home or garden.
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 necessary paperwork.
What do you (as our funeral celebrant) actually do?
I am available to help you through the experience of death with care and compassion and to assist you in creating a meaningful and personal send off for your loved one. One of my main aims is to create a ceremony which really honours and celebrates the life of your loved one. A funeral ceremony need not be only a mourning of death, but 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 beautiful format which everyone I’ve shared with so far has loved.
What can I include in the ceremony?
You can be really creative around what you include in the ceremony. You could include a couple of your loved one’s favourite songs or readings. You might want to 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. You have so many options. This is what we discuss in detail during our first meeting.
Can we include readings or symbols from our culture in the ceremony?
Yes, of course you can. It’s a great idea, so long as the venue you’ve hired doesn’t have any restrictions against what you want to do.
Where can we have the ceremony?
You can have it almost anywhere – in a chapel, in the comfort of your own home, either indoors or outside. Talk to your funeral director or to your local council about your options.
How long should the ceremony last?
It’s totally up to you. If it’s going to be in a crematorium chapel and you think it might take longer than one slot permits then you will need to book it for two sessions. That way you’ll have all the time you need without the worry of not finishing on time. Having the ceremony in a park, 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 a 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 be wrapped and buried in a shroud of biodegradable cotton instead.
If you wish you can use a personalised, eco-friendly coffin made from recycled cardboard. LifeArt is a company who specialise in these sorts of coffins, where either you can order one with art work on it or you can get a plain white one on which guests can write their own messages on the day of the funeral. You’ll need to get your funeral director to order one from them if you want one.
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 white. 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 great thing to do, especially if it helps you and the family and friends to get completion around their 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. You may want to have something there which symbolises their presence.
Where are you based?
I live in the North Shore 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.