What do I do when someone dies?
At some time during our lives, death will touch and affect us all. It will come to a family member or close friend and may cause much grief. It may change our lives in many ways.
Despite its inevitability, death is rarely discussed as a result, death and its consequences are often not understood.
While no one wants to dwell on the subject, some understanding of death can help us prepare for its eventuality. This includes having a basic knowledge of how to cope with the practicalities associated with death and having a basic knowledge of what to do when someone dies.
Who do I contact?
Whether a death occurs at home, in hospital or in a public place, the first person who should be contacted is generally a doctor. Legally, a death certificate must be signed by a doctor or the coroner who will be able to explain what steps, if any, are needed to establish the cause of death. If appropriate, you may also call your Priest or Minister.
The next person to contact, besides family members and friends, is the funeral director of your choice who will arrange the transfer of the body and can begin making the desired funeral arrangements.
Funeral directors are there to help and can assist you at any hour of the day or night.
Choosing a funeral director
The decision as to who you call may depend on a number of factors including the funeral director's experience, reputation or location. Should you call a member of the Australian Funeral Directors Association you can be assured of professional, understanding and caring service.
Arranging a funeral
When faced with having to make funeral arrangements, most people have no prior experience in organising such an event, and little idea of what to do.
All reputable funeral directors can provide a wide range of services to suit your precise needs. They can help you make the funeral as simple or elaborate as you want, and the cost will be reflected accordingly.
Initial interviews with the funeral director can be at their offices or in your home, whichever you prefer. At these interviews they will generally ask what type of funeral arrangements you desire.
While some people may have a fairly clear knowledge of the arrangements they want to make, others may want to consider a myriad of alternatives before making any decisions.
The funeral director is there to guide and advise you on the many matters which need to be considered.
Funeral of your choice
Whilst funerals are usually sad occasions, meaningful funerals can assist people to cope with their loss. Such funerals can be sources of strength, hope and peace.
Funeral directors have the facilities and expertise to offer you a full range of options. They will discuss your preferences and assist you to plan an appropriate funeral service.
Decisions to make will include:
- When and where you would like the funeral to be held
- The type of service you desire
- If burial or cremation will follow the service (for many people this decision may reflect religious or ethnic attitudes and family traditions)
- Which coffin or casket and clothing you want for the deceased
- Details about the viewing of the deceased
- Who you would like to be involved
- What floral arrangements and motor vehicles would be appropriate and any other relevant matters.
Types of funeral service
There are many different types of funeral services that can be conducted.
Most churches or religious groups have specific services that are relevant to their beliefs and which cater to the needs of their members.
Funeral directors encourage people to discuss the alternatives with them and regardless of the type selected, they will act with care and consideration and will ensure the funeral is as individual as possible.
Why have a funeral?
A funeral is for those who are living. It is a celebration of the life of the loved one who has died.
Everyone who has been touched by the life of the deceased needs the opportunity to share in that celebration.
Funerals also recognise the life of the deceased person, can strengthen family ties and responsibilities, reinforce beliefs about life and death, and facilitate the expression of emotion.