Is it possible to do a funeral yourself… well not for yourself, but for someone else – usually a family member?
The thought is that there is definite cost saving benefits by doing this and if the funeral is a direct cremation, well how hard can it be?
The first thing is that you can do a funeral yourself. There is no legal requirement to use a funeral director. However there are some things you should consider first.
Probably the biggest thing to consider is the logistics. In other words – how will the body be transported and kept until the cremation. Maybe the body is at home, which makes things a little easier. But you may need to transport them from hospital or a rest home. You can’t put them in the backseat of your car.
There is health and safety issues around handling the body – especially as time goes on. In other words the body needs to be “contained” so nothing leaks out (sorry about being explicit). Usually this can be done with a coffin with lining.
Speaking of coffins – you might need one of those. You could make your own. Funeral homes are reluctant to sell only coffins and many coffin producers only sell to funeral homes. But you can shop around or see about making one. I would not recommend using your leftover cardboard fridge box.
Obviously Funeral Homes won’t really encourage people doing funerals themselves because they like doing them (and getting paid for it). It would be like pulling out a rotten tooth at home instead of going to the dentist. You can definitely do it – but would you really want to? (I’m not sure that is a good example or not).
You will need to have a vehicle that can transport a coffin. You can’t really have a coffin sticking out the boot of a sedan driving down the motorway; especially on the way to the crematorium.
So if you can sort of the logistics of transportation and the coffin, the next thing is the paperwork. The paperwork isn’t an impasse at all. However when you don’t do this paperwork it can be daunting. What paperwork do you need? Who do you need to contact? Who do I send paperwork to?
For cremations here in Nelson you can get the paperwork from Nelson City Council. You will also need a doctor’s certificate (mistakenly referred to as the death certificate. The Death Certificate is what you get later – from Births, Deaths and Marriages). It is usually the person’s GP who does the doctor’s certificate.
I remember processing the paperwork when I first started and it was the hardest thing to get my head around. Doing it for a one-off is tricky, but it isn’t impossible.
Perhaps the most important thing is the emotional aspect of doing a funeral yourself. One of the reasons Simple Direct Funerals started was it allowed families to have a truly low-cost funeral, but it also gave them the time and space to deal with the loss of a loved one.
I will help families wanting to do a DIY funeral, as seen on my website. I am more than happy to talk them through the process and what they should think about. Because every family is different and I’m here to serve my community.