Answers from Sydney celebrant Meggan Brummer to frequently asked questions about funerals.
What needs to be done after a death occurs?
After a death occurs you need to call a doctor so that they can issue a ‘Doctor’s Certificate of Cause of Death.’ There is no rush to do this straight away. If an expected death happens in the middle of the night definitely wait until morning before making the call.
If a doctor can’t determine the cause of death they will notify the police who will then organise a coronial investigation. Funeral arrangements can’t be completed until a doctor has signed and issued the certificate. Once the cause of death is certified either the family or doctor can contact a funeral director chosen by the next of kin to arrange to move the deceased to a funeral home. Alternatively you can keep the body at home for five days. You can to speak to your funeral director about this if it’s what you want to do.
How soon after the death should we have the ceremony?
You don’t have to have the funeral soon after the death. If you want or need to, you can delay the funeral so that everyone has more time to plan the best possible tribute. You can have the ceremony at the same time as a cremation or you could have it at a later date. This way the ceremony can be held in any function room, outdoor space (beach or park) or in someone’s home or garden.
Is it possible to do a DIY funeral without the help of a funeral director?
Yes, it is. You do not have to use a funeral director for a funeral. Some funeral directors will be happy to help with just the aspects that might be difficult for an individual family, such as keeping the body cool or completing necessary paperwork.
Meggan has answers to other questions about funerals at her website:
To learn how to give pause when witnessing someone’s death read this End of Life Doula’s Facebook post.