Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions
What do I do when someone dies?

The first thing is not to panic – there is no need to rush.  

If the death is sudden it can be a little overwhelming knowing where to even start.   You should contact your GP, the police if death is unexpected, and the funeral home.

Organising a funeral can be stressful and expensive so take your time and be happy with want you want to do – not what the funeral home can sell you.

How much will a funeral cost?

The cost of a funeral depends on what a family wants.  It can be very expensive with an expensive coffin, large service, catering, service sheets, hearse hire and so on.  It is important to get in writing how much their services will cost beforehand.  A full funeral will easily go over $10,000 – $15,000.

Be aware that some funeral homes can charge a lot for even a simple funeral.  So make sure you get the full price beforehand.  And shop around.  Also be aware of funeral homes advertising low prices, because they often add extra costs afterwards.

There are those who don’t wish to spend a lot of money.  A simple cremation or burial will still cost a few thousand dollars. 

There is a funeral grant from WINZ that can help.  Click here for more details Funeral grant

Simple Direct Funerals is the only funeral home in Nelson, Richmond and Tasman that focuses solely on providing simple cremations and burials at the lowest cost.  Many families comment on how our simple service was just what they wanted.


Do I need to have a funeral service?

There is no need to have a traditional funeral service.

Sometimes a family have said their goodbyes and just want the body to be taken for cremation and the ashes returned after.

Other times a private cremation has taken place and then a get-together or memorial service has happened at a later date.

There are many options and I like families to feel that are able to have the funeral that is meaningful to them.

Do I need to use a coffin?

There are health regulations that need to be followed.  So having someone in a coffin is important, especially if there is a service.

Sometimes with a natural burial, for instance, no coffin is used.  A person is wrapped in a cloth and lowered on a board.

It is best to talk about your needs at the time.

Simple Direct Funerals has only one type of coffin which is made of untreated plywood.  Because a coffin is either buried or burnt there seems little point in spending a huge amount of money on it.  It has become more a sales tactic that increases the costs markedly.

Remember – the cost of a coffin does not reflect the love or respect for the person.

What happens with the body at the funeral home?

The main tasks at the funeral home is usually embalming and redressing the person.  After this they are placed in a coffin and basically left alone.

Simple Direct Funerals doesn’t do anything with the body.  Once they come to our home they are placed in the coffin.  The only thing we do is add ice-packs to keep the body cool.

Sometimes a person has been dressed before we transport them here.  For instance a rest home will often do this.

Do I need to be embalmed?

The short answer is no you don’t need to be embalmed.

With our funerals over 99% of people are not embalmed.  It is a very invasive procedure and one that more and more people are choosing not to have.

There maybe occasions when embalming is needed – if the body is breaking up quicker than normal or if there is several days before the funeral.

On the whole a funeral, cremation or burial, can happen within a few days, which is plenty of time.

Embalming does sterilize the body so it is safe for families to touch and get near.

I have had families keep a loved one at home for a day or two before the cremation or burial without them being embalmed.

What happens when the Coroner is involved

The Coroner is usually involved if there are questions surrounding the death or if the person died alone.

The person is taken to the hospital for an autopsy and then released to the family.  A funeral director can arrange collecting the person from the morgue.

This process takes a few days usually – unless there is a delay for some reason.

The coroner works with the police who liaise with the family.  The funeral director can get the release papers from the coroner and then collet the person from the morgue.

In reality the process is quite straightforward.  Afterwards the funeral can take place.

What happens if someone dies at night?

If the person is expected to die, there is no need to contact the funeral director immediately.  Waiting until morning is absolutely fine.  

Most funeral homes are available 24 hours, so you can ring them.  Some will charge for after hours.  We don’t.  Just keep the room cool and turn off any heating.

If the death is unexpected then you should call the police immediately.  They will come around and help you.  They are very good.   If you don’t have a funeral home sorted out at the time you can phone a few and see how you feel using one of them.

Remember there is no need to rush things.

Should I view the body?

This is completely up to each individual preference.  Some prefer to remember the person alive and others need to see them in the coffin or at home.

Sometimes it depends on how they died too.

In some ways we have made death a little alien and scary, but it is a reality of life.  The person is still the person who was part of your life.

Sometimes the person looks very restful and at peace.  Other times they may look a little different.  Even with embalming a person doesn’t always look as they did.

We don’t have a “viewing room” as such, but families can see the person at our place if the want.

Do I need to place a death notitce in the newspaper?

There is no legal requirement to have a death notice in a newspaper.  People did this because it was the easiest way to tell people about the death and the time and place of the funeral, if there was one.

Today messages get around a lot faster with Facebook and social media.  Many families choose this method only.

So it is up to each family if they want to and how or if they don’t want to.

Simple Direct Funerals will place newspaper notices in any newspaper.  The only cost is what the newspaper charges for the notice itself.  We do not add any costs to placing the notice for families.

How long does a cremation take?

The cremation itself takes a few hours – depending on the size of the person.  The longest part is letting the ashes cool afterwards which takes several hours. 

In most cases we return the ashes to the family the next working day.

Can I see the cremation taking place?

There is no public viewing or access to the cremator.  There are health and safety reasons for this.  Also there could be other cremations taking place.

In reality there isn’t much to see as the coffin is loaded into the giant oven / cremator and then the door is closed.

Can the person stay at home until the funeral?

Yes.  And they don’t need to be embalmed.

What we do is place the person in the coffin and then we have ice sheets called Techni-ice that we place around the body.  These need to be changed everything 6 hours and families can do this themselves.

I have had many families wanting to keep the person at home with them, either for the night or until the cremation or burial.

What makes Simple Direct Funerals different from the other funeral homes?

Perhaps the biggest difference is that we don’t pretend to be something we aren’t.  We offer low-cost funerals, a simple service and a process that families find extremely easy to manage.

Our business model means that your costs will not continue to rise.  Unlike some funeral homes that advertise a low price and simple service to get customers.  Only to add costs later – usually suggesting a family to do extra things because they will get more money.

Simple Direct Funerals started because there were two things we felt the business was lacking: 

  1.  To offer a truly low, fixed and clear price that families would know their costs and not by surprised with the final invoice.  So our focus is on service not making sales.
  2. To offer a truly simple process that was easy for families to manage.  Often the complicated process of other funeral homes was a way to help them encourage families to spend more. 

What we found was that having a simple low-cost funeral could still  be incredibly meaning and significance for the family.