The cost of a funeral has made some people wonder how hard could it really be to do it yourself? Especially if all you want are the absolute basics – no fuss, no stress.
There are websites that give you information on the process and the requirements you need to meet both legally and logistically. Just like there are websites that give you advice for all kinds of things – home renovations, car maintenance, baking, etc.
The difficulty arises when it looks easy enough online and in theory, but in reality things are a little different.
For instance, if I were to try and change the brake pads on my car, I could look up websites and YouTube videos and get all the information I need. I might have to buy some tools. And most mechanics would say it’s an easy job. Well – it’s easy for them. For me, if I try any repair, I seem to have bolts leftover and more often than not a tiny spring would fly off and disappear. It would probably take me ten times as long and in the end I’m not sure I would trust the car stopping in an emergency.
This isn’t to say that non-professionals cannot do change a brake pad on their car – they do. It is knowing what is involved that is the key.
Similarly, tackling a funeral may seem easy enough, but there are challenges.
With funerals there is the logistics. I know this word, logistics, sounds impersonal, but it’s simply looking at what needs to be done with the body. Obviously the person can’t stay where they are. If they are at home it may be a little easier because they might stay there. But if they are somewhere else, how will you move them? Where will you take them? How will you look after them?
You can’t put the person in the boot or backseat to transport. Also a body can be tricky to move – even if the average person is heavy. When you move a person sometimes fluid may come out. So there needs to be a way to deal with this for health reasons. Also you will need a coffin or something similar for the person. Finally how will you keep the person from deteriorating before the funeral?
OK – that’s probably too much information about the body – but I hope you get the idea. Some people can do this no worries. Others will run a mile.
The second thing is the paperwork. The paperwork isn’t difficult, but rather tricky because it’s not something people deal with often. You need to get a medical certificate from the doctor or hospital. This often is incorrectly called the death certificate (that comes later). You also need an application for cremation and proof that the person doesn’t have a pacemaker or anything else that may explode in the cremator (which the doctor can usually do). If the person has a pacemaker it needs to be removed first.
All the paperwork needs to be collated and handed in. Then it has to be verified and if there are any mistakes you need to correct them. I’ve had to go to the hospital searching for a doctor to correct something they wrote down. Then you have to hand it in again and hopefully it will be ok.
When you have done all this you will get a permission to cremate. So, the last step is taking the person to the crematorium. You can’t do this with a trailer or strapped to the roof racks.
Finally you need to process the Death Certificate to Births, Deaths and Marriages. There is an online form that you can download and fill out. Just make sure you have a copy of the doctor’s certificate because you need information on this. Once this is done and sent off, the certificate should be posted to you within two weeks.
People have done DIY funerals.
It is definitely not for everyone, but it can be done. Many people start looking into it and then decide it’s more challenging than initially thought. If people are looking at DIY because of the financial costs, it is a major reason why SDF began – to offer families truly low-cost funerals that are simple to arrange and still dignified.
If people are wanting to be more involved in the funeral process, we also allow families as much involvement as they choose. We do this with care and support explaining what’s happening every step of the way.
Funerals are hard emotionally, personally and mentally. Finances should not add to the grief.