A family can ask a funeral director to do as little or as much as they choose. Some families want to be more actively involved in tasks such as caring for the person’s body or arranging for their burial or cremation. It is always the family’s choice and a funeral director can provide advice about the options available.
You can also choose to bury or cremate your loved one without a funeral director. The Department of Internal Affairs Te Tari Taiwhenua website has information on how to do this.
The funeral director has a key role in helping families, whānau and friends after a death. For example, they may:
- help to arrange what happens to the person’s body
- provide information about the autopsy and the coroner’s requirements
- register the death
- prepare the body for viewing and arrange for people to see the person who has died, if this is possible
- fulfil the family’s requests around the funeral, tangihanga (tangi) or other memorial event
- liaise with the lawyer who may be holding the person’s will, to establish if there is a request regarding funeral arrangements
- organise cremation or burial procedures
- help you to get a death certificate
- help you to apply for financial assistance, e.g. for funeral costs.
A funeral can be expensive. In most cases, family or whānau pay for this. Later, they may receive money from the person’s estate to cover these costs. Sometimes the person who died may have had a pre-paid funeral plan, or an insurance or pension plan that will pay out a lump sum to cover funeral expenses.
When talking to the funeral director, ask what the costs will be so you can find a funeral director most suited to your financial situation. Funeral directors can suggest a range of payment options. Some funeral directors are willing to be paid by regular instalments, so ask them about this. You may be asked to provide a credit history.
It was a surreal moment to find myself online looking up caskets for my 22 year old son after he died of suicide. Finding a coffin for your child is something you never expect to do. I was shocked to learn about the cost of a funeral, I didn't expect that. The funeral director was good though, he helped me apply for a funeral grant to help cover costs. He also gave me a list of the funeral costs so I could choose what I wanted to have or not have, to help keep the costs down.