What to do when a death occurs
Knowing what to do when a death occurs can be a scary and unknown path to walk alone, especially if you’ve never gone through this process before. We understand how difficult this time is and want you to know you’re not alone. We are here to help.
It’s not going to be easy but it is manageable, especially with the right helping hand. You will need to make some difficult decisions, fill out paperwork and confront some harsh realities – all while dealing with the unpredictability of grief.
What to do when a death occurs from natural or expected causes at home?
When a natural or expected death occurs at home, the first thing you need to do is call your family GP (provided they have seen your loved one in the last 3 months) and ask them to fill out a Death Certificate or Life Extinct Form. When a death occurs in a nursing home or private hospital, the staff usually notify the family doctor, whereas when the death occurs in a public hospital, it is usually the doctor on staff who administers this.
What to do when a death occurs unexpectedly?
If the death is unexpected, or your doctor is unable to establish a cause of death, the police need to be notified and will likely need the coroner to establish cause of death.
Your funeral director will liaise with the coroner on your behalf and we are happy to assist you with any questions you have regarding this process.
Need more advice? The experts at Rite of Passage Funerals answer the crucial questions to provide clarity and knowledge when you need it most.
Do I need to call a funeral director straight away?
Contacting a funeral director as soon as a death has occurred is common practice but not mandatory. In fact, at Rite of Passage Funerals we believe it’s important to take your time with this decision and choose someone you are comfortable with. In this period of acute shock and grief it’s often hard to make decisions, so rushing through this process isn’t helpful.
If the death is expected we encourage you to contact us before it happens so we can meet in person and ensure we’re the right fit for you. This will eliminate a large decision once your loved one has passed away.
A sudden death can be difficult to process, we encourage you to reach out to us whenever you are ready. This is usually the day the death has occurred, but not immediately, as this is a very sacred time for you to process what has happened and spend precious moments with your loved one. If possible, try to slow it down as much as possible rather than feel the need to speed through it and get it ‘over with’. This can be very helpful down the track.
How long can I keep my loved one with me after the death has occurred?
In most cases, once the funeral director is called they come and collect your loved one right away, which we can do, but at Rite of Passage Funerals we recommend something different – keeping your loved one with you for a number of hours, anywhere up to a number of days. By law you can keep them in your care for 5 days.
We believe that in this time of acute shock and grief, giving the power back to the family and guiding them through the after-death care of their loved one can be a truly transformational experience. At Rite of Passage Funerals we aim to empower you in this difficult time, help you confront your grief and create safe spaces for you to express all that you are feeling.
This isn’t a new concept, in fact, for hundreds of years families cared for their passed loved ones, but over time the modern western world has taken this opportunity away from us, and Rite of Passage Funerals is on a mission to bring it back.
That said there are some logistical components to keeping them with you over a period of time as changes will start once death has occurred. We can provide you with everything you need if this feels right for you.
Whatever your choice, we advise you to call us when you are ready – usually within a few hours of the death. If you know your loved one is at their end of life we are happy to provide you with the necessary equipment before they pass away so you can have that precious time uninterrupted and call us when you feel the time is right.
Feel free to call us anytime and we will talk you through all the options we offer at Rite of Passage Funerals.
What is a home funeral and is it legal?
A home funeral is where you choose to have a funeral at home, rather than in more traditional locations like a church, crematorium or memorial park. It is completely legal in Australia. Most home funerals take place in the garden or living room and have the coffin present, allowing family and loved ones to feel a connection they may not be able to in more traditional locations. It can be a truly transformational experience if you’re open to it. Once the funeral has taken place, your loved one will then be transported to the crematorium or burial ground, depending on your choice.
At Rite of Passage Funerals we have put together some beautiful options around creating meaningful ceremonies in your home that honour your loved one, so if this is an option that feels right to you please reach out; we’d be happy to help.
What are my options when it comes to disposition?
Disposition is the funeral industry term for laying remains to rest and there are many options available to you, some of which you may never have heard of or considered.
The most common choices are traditional burial and cremation, but we believe a lot of that comes down to people not really knowing what other options are available to them. We’re striving to change that.
Here is a snapshot of your options when a death occurs:
Traditional Burial: The person who has passed away is placed in a casket made of metal, finished wood and copper and placed in a standard grave site that is around 6ft deep. Once covered, a large headstone is placed over the site for family members to come and pay their respects.
Traditional Cremation: This process uses intense heat to reduce human remains down to ash and bone fragments. The family are then given the remains to keep in an urn or scatter in a meaningful location.
Green or Natural Burial: The process of burying in a natural setting (think: forest floor or open garden), without the use of chemicals or heavy metals. The person who has passed away is placed in a biodegradable casket or shroud and the gravesite is only 3 feet deep to encourage efficient breakdown via organic organisms. The premise behind natural burial is often described as going back to nature or becoming one with nature. Traditional headstones are replaced with trees or large rocks, or in some instances skipped entirely. The family are given GPS coordinates by the natural burial ground instead.
At Rite of Passage Funerals we believe that education is key and will talk more deeply about your options when we meet with you.
I want to do something meaningful for my loved one but don’t know where to start, what do I do?
Call us! Once you’ve reached out to us we can chat over the phone and arrange a time to come out and meet with you. We’ll talk openly about your loved one, what they loved (and didn’t love) and what, if anything, you have in mind for the funeral service. We’ll come armed with plenty of our unique Rite of Passage Funeral ideas on how you can honour their life, while also getting the healing you need from the ceremony. If you think we’re the right fit for you, we’ll then move forward and create a bespoke funeral service that’s just right for you. We’ll take care of everything but encourage you to be a part of the process too, because that’s just the Rite of Passage Funeral way. We want you to lean into the process, not run away from it because we believe that’s where transformation and healing takes place.
How much does a Rite of Passage Funeral cost?
One of our key missions at Rite of Passage Funerals is to make the funeral process transparent, so you know exactly how much you’re spending before the bill comes in. At our initial meeting we’ll sit down with you and go through your options, talk about all the fixed and variable costs involved and come back to you on a firm all-inclusive quote so there’s no surprises. Some costs, like the burial and cremation fees, and death and medical certificates are fixed, but everything else, such as coffins and service fees can be tailored to suit your budget. Pre-planning a funeral with us can help your family better understand the funeral costs and plan ahead for them.
Why should I pre-plan my funeral?
It doesn’t matter whether you’re 36 or 86, we believe that preparing for your end-of-life in advance is the ultimate gift you can give your loved ones. For all the mums, brothers, sisters, wives, husbands… you have the power to take hold of your arrangements and make sure your family aren’t left wondering when the inevitable does happen.
For many people this realisation comes too late or when they’ve been diagnosed with a terminal illness, but we believe it’s never too early to pull this important task out of the ‘too hard basket’ and tick it off the list once and for all.
Here’s what pre-planning a funeral with Rite of Passage Funerals will give you:
- Peace-of-mind knowing that your farewell will be just as you’d imagined it to be
- An opportunity to tell your story in your own unique way
- Serious brownie points with your family for eliminating a huge amount of stress for them
- More money in your pocket, because pre-planning this way will actually save you money in the long run
- The gift of facing death and looking at your life right now. We’ve found it to be a very transformational experience and often gives people the courage to make changes they never would have made had they not faced their own mortality.
Like the sound of it? Skip over to our Pre-Plan Your Funeral page and learn all about it there.
I’ve noticed Rite of Passage Funerals offers Enlightened Memorials, what are they?
A memorial service is essentially a funeral without a casket present. A Rite of Passage Funerals Enlightened Memorial offers a completely unique memorial experience that uses the power of ritual and ceremony to empower all those present. The benefits of having a memorial service over a funeral is that there’s more flexibility in the planning and location, so creating something truly transformational is even more possible. We have a range of suggestions that are unique to our brand, specifically designed to create a meaningful, enlightened and uplifting ceremony that will leave a lasting impact on everyone there on the day. For more information or to organise a Rite of Passage Enlightened Memorial for your loved one call us anytime.
What areas do you service?
Rite of Passage Funerals is located on the Gold Coast Hinterland in Australia. We currently service all areas of the Gold Coast including Nerang, Mudgeeraba, Southport, Burleigh Heads and Coolangatta. We are happy to travel to meet our families at a location of their choice – usually your home. If you want a Rite of Passage Funeral but aren’t in our immediate area, touch base and we’ll see if we can help. We’d love to hear from you.