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Arranging a Funeral

Frequently Asked Questions

It is only natural to be curious about what happens at a funeral home or when meeting a funeral director. If we haven't answered a question however, please contact your local NZIFH member who will be happy to assist you.

How do I know that the funeral home I choose is the right one?

By choosing a NZIFH member, you can be assured of high quality service during a difficult time. NZIFH members believe in the motto, "Setting the Standard" in the funeral industry. NZIFH follow strict rules which are governed by the group.

What sort of information will the Funeral Director require?

In order to register the death your Funeral Director must present the Registrar General of Births Deaths and Marriages with specific information. This includes full name and address, occupation, place of birth, details of current and any previous marriages, ages of living children, and details about the deceased's parents.

In addition, your Funeral Director will ask your preferences regarding the venue and type of service, whether your instruction is for a burial or cremation, the type of casket you wish to choose, and a variety of other questions which are designed to provide a service most suited to the deceased and the bereaved family.

Do we get to choose what happens at the service?

There is 'no one size fits all' about funerals these days. There are many opportunities to personalise the service and to make it one of signifigance. Your Funeral Director can advise on options and ideas based on his/her experience and knowledge of the practicalities involved. The content of the actual service is usually worked out between the family and the minister or celebrant. Please discuss your ideas and requests with your Funeral Director.

Should children attend a funeral service?

Children, like adults, need to go through a grieving process. Like adults, children learn that death is a part of life. Depending on the age of the child it is well worthwhile for parents or caregivers to talk with the children about death before it occurs. This helps to minimise the shock when it happens. The choice of whether children should attend the funeral may depend on the age of the child and the relationship with the deceased. In general we advise that children should attend.

Who chooses between burial and cremation?

When the wishes of the deceased are known they are usually followed. If there is a will, the executor and/or the family will generally make that decision. Depending on which part of the country you live in, there may be considerable cost differences between burial and cremation. Your funeral director can advise you on the options.

Is embalming necessary?

Embalming ensures disinfection and preservation during the funeral period, and most funeral directors consider it necessary for this reason. Embalming ensures a more natural appearance and removes any potential health issues, which is particularly important if viewing of the deceased is to take place. There are different preperation options available now - your funeral director can discuss these with you.

Should I view the deceased?

Funeral Directors know from experience that many people, who are hesitant at first, later say how much they were helped in the grieving process by spending some time with the deceased prior to the funeral. For many people effective grieving and the subsequent readjustment cannot take place until it has been accepted that a loved one has died. In our experience viewing helps this acceptance, particularly if the death has been sudden or unexpected.

What is meant by the term "viewing"?

This means that the coffin is open so mourners can see the body of the deceased. The funeral director can provide private rooms for viewing, or will arrange for the body to be taken home or to a marae.

Is the coffin always cremated?

Yes. During a cremation the casket is cremated too. Most crematoria in New Zealand are owned by the local municipal authority, and cremation procedures are set by law. Many NZIFH funeral homes have there own crematorium.

Arranging a Funeral

Funerals can be a celebration of a life lived and an opportunity for people to gather together and comfort one another. The type of funeral service or style chosen can reflect the wishes of the deceased as well as reflecting the needs of the family left behind. Different kinds of death will dictate different styles of funeral. A funeral for an elderly and much loved grandparent will be very different from the funeral for a young person who has died in a car accident.

When you are planning the funeral, think about the person who has died and what aspects of their life you wish to celebrate. Think also about yourself and your family and make the funeral a time to remember as well as a time to provide comfort and strength.

One of the first decisions to be made is whether to choose a burial or cremation.

If it is to be a burial, where will this be?  If cremation is chosen there are a number of options to consider regarding the ashes - interment, scattering, or placing in a urn.  There is plenty of time to decide on this and can wait until after the funeral if you prefer.

Decisions on the type of casket also need to be made.  Your NZIFH funeral home will have available a range of caskets, from the very simple through to the most elaborate.  Do you like the idea of a wood finish, or brightly colloured or photo finish veneer?  Some families choose to decorate the casket and for others the use of a eco-friendly casket uis important.  Your funeral director will talk through the options with you.

You may have thoughts about venues, music and readings, whether you wish to have a religious component, a large gathering or a private family farewell.  Do you want to gather for refreshments after the service, or to support each other for a traditional wake at another venue?

You may have family members, friends or colleagues who wish to give a eulogy or tribute, to sing, play an instrument, read a poem, or to light a candle of remembrance.

Many funeral homes make use of technology to provide enhancements to the service such as photo shows, recording of the service and streaming over the internet.  The use of skype for real-time partcipation is also becoming more common.

If you are a member of a parish, you may wish to have the minister, pastor or priest take the service.  Other families choose to have a celebrant, family member or friend.  There are no legal requirements that dictate the choice of officiant.

Remember, your chosen NZIFH funeral director is there to assist you with as many of the arrangements as you need help with and to take as much pressure off you as possible.  They can help you with writing the funeral notice and advise on the options available for caring for your loved one.  If you wish to view, they will discuss the arrangments with you and answer any questions you may have.

We suggest that you search the Membership Directory for your local NZIFH funeral home.  They will be able to advise you on the options available in your area, and to help you work through all the steps necessary in the arrangement of the funeral.

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