What do you need to do when someone dies?

“What do you need to do to have a funeral?”

A funeral is a very personal and in some cases private time for families and friends.  And because all families are unique funerals should reflect that.  Society is slowly moving away from the “cookie cutter” model of funerals and becoming much more creative and significant to families.

In the past and even today funeral homes are more than happy to tell families what they should.  When in truth what they are doing is seeing how much they can I sell.  For too long families have felt that they had to do certain things a certain way.  They didn’t know any different.  Why?  Well for one thing funerals aren’t something people arrange often.  Also at the time there is a whole lot going on with the family. They are often susceptible to exploitation at a time when they are emotional and vulnerable.

Let’s start with some of the things you don’t need to do.  This isn’t a complete list. 

  1. You don’t need to be embalmed.
  2. You don’t need to redress the person.
  3. You don’t need to have a public service.
  4. You don’t need to have any funeral service.
  5. You don’t need to place a newspaper notice.
  6. You don’t need to be licensed to lead a funeral.
  7. You don’t need service sheets or a PowerPoint presentation.
  8. You don’t need to use a hearse.
  9. You don’t need to pre-pay or pre-plan.
  10. You don’t need to accept package deals.
  11. You don’t even need to use a Funeral Home.

Now obviously, you can have all of these and many more things besides. But for some families, this is not what they want. They have their way of doing things, and it isn’t like others.

One comment I often hear from people who work in funeral homes is that doing a “proper” funeral allows people to grieve properly. Or that a “proper” funeral service reflects the love and respect you can show for a person – so you should buy more flowers.

More and more people are coming to SDF because the focus is on keeping things simple but dignified and allowing families to completely dictate what they want.  SDF has no hidden agenda, no sneaky costs, no psychological tricks.  As the name says – we keep things simple.

One of the common practices of recent years is having a private cremation initially and then, later, having a more public farewell. Funeral Homes aren’t thrilled with this because they would prefer the funeral service at their place or with them being involved as much as they can. However, families are deciding that this isn’t what they want. The traditional or funeral home run services isn’t their cup of tea.

So the question remains – what do you need to do at a funeral?

Besides the organising the legal paperwork and taking care of the body appropriately there are no rules, obligations or requirements with funerals.  A funeral service can be what you want it or need it to be.  I encourage families to have a funeral that reflects the person and them.  For some, this is a quiet meal together. For others, it’s a loud party. For some, it is a church service, and for others, it is nothing at all.  People have climbed mountains to scatter ashes while others gathered under a huge tree in the park.

The commercial side of funerals is big business.  Cleverly evolving to encourage and, in some cases, expect a significant degree of expense.  SDF started to show that there is another way.

Funerals are significant events. The dignity and respect are found not in the things we can purchase but within each person: the relationships, the stories, the memories.

Wakapuaka Cemetery

Do not let the cost of saying goodbye add to your grief.