There is no other experience in life which can compare with the finality of losing someone through death. At some time during our lives, death will touch and affect us all. It will come to a family member or a close friend and cause much pain and grief. A funeral ceremony gives us an opportunity to reflect on and celebrate the life of that person.
It is important that everyone who has been touched by the life of the deceased person, including children, has the opportunity to share in that celebration.
Making meaning of the death of a person is part of our grief process as is learning to go on with a life that no longer contains the physical presence
of that person.
Making funeral arrangements Making arrangements for a funeral may initially seem to be difficult or a burden, but it often gives a person who is bereaved something to focus on and it can be an important and special way to make meaning of the death of someone close.
In the normal course of events, if a death occurs in hospital the Medical Certificate of Death is signed by a hospital doctor, or by a local doctor if a death occurs at home. A Cremation Certificate is also signed by the Medical Officer, if this is the preferred option of the family.
The cost of a funeral
Costs vary considerably and can be determined by the type of service required, the cost of the coffin or casket selected, flowers and funeral notices.
The funeral director’s account is usually broken into three distinct sections:
- The funeral director/celebrant's charge for services
- The cost of the casket
- Costs incurred in the arrangements: flowers, notices, cemetery or cremation fees, medical fees for cremation certificate, clergy fees and church or organist fees
It may be beneficial for the family to discuss their expectations and then phone a number of funeral director/celebrant and discuss costs. If you have not had dealings with funeral directors, they can be found listed under Funeral Directors in the telephone directory.
You are then in a position to select a funeral director/celebrant of choice. When this decision is made, you will find the funeral directors are helpful
and will guide you through arrangements. It is important to give time to making the funeral arrangements. It may take time to contact people to
inform them of the funeral arrangements. This can be a very stressful time and taking the time you need to do it will take some pressure off all concerned.
The funeral director/celebrant will advise on what needs to be done and will co-ordinate arrangements for the funeral service according to your wishes.
The following are usually arranged by the funeral director:
- Transfer the person's body from the hospital or home to the funeral service's premises
- Provision of the coffin of your choice
- Completion of necessary legal papers
- Arrangement of the time and place of funeral services, according to the family wishes
- Co-ordinating the celebrant, place of funeral service, place of cremation or burial
- Dressing the deceased as requested
- A viewing at the funeral director’s chapel, if requested
- Arranging for a Rosary, Vigil or other service if the family wishes
- Arranging for death and funeral notices to be placed in newspapers
- Providing a hearse for transport of the coffin on the day of the funeral, as well as a mourning car if required
- Attending to floral tributes and a memorial book if desired
- Paying crematorium or cemetery fees as well as other costs, which are later debited to the account
- Arranging for a copy of the death certificate to be sent to the next of kin
Options for the location of the funeral service
If the deceased has not indicated a preference for a service and is not an active member of a church or spiritual community, one of the following
options may be appropriate:
- Local parish church, with local clergy
- Church of choice, and clergy of choice e.g. a family friend
- A service at the funeral directors’ chapel - they can arrange a minister if required
- A service at the crematorium chapel, with minister of choice, or one arranged by the funeral director
- A grave-side service
- A service of your choice with a friend or family member co-ordinating the service
A pastoral care worker from the hospital may be able to help you with these arrangements.
If you are concerned about the cost of the funeral, feel free to discuss this with the social workers.
The content of the funeral service
A service that is relevant to the deceased and an expression of their life, could take many forms and could include:
- A traditional service with hymns and readings of your choice
- Poems or songs with special meaning
- Symbols, personal to the deceased, placed on the coffin or close by
- Flowers, of any variety and colour, according to personal choice
- A Eulogy delivered by someone well known to the deceased
- An invitation for guests to share personal stories and memories
- A photo of the deceased on the coffin
- Classical or contemporary music
- Meditations or reflections
- The use of candles and incense
A funeral gives the opportunity to fulfil four basic needs:
- Physical – burial or cremation of the body. This is regulated by State laws.
- (Emotional – a funeral allows us to express our emotions and face the reality of death. It allows family and friends to share memories, to laugh and cry together and to give support to each other in their grief.
- Social – A funeral is a social event that emphasises and acknowledges life and connection. It is also an historical event to be shared with friends and family.
- Spiritual – A funeral helps us to give expression to love and spirituality.