What is the purpose of the funeral service?

Since the beginning of time people have used many and varied ways of farewelling the deceased. Almost all these customs and rituals pay tribute to the deceased and celebrate, in one way or other, their life.

The funeral is the final opportunity for family and friends to publicly express their love for the deceased and to mourn their loved one. It is the first important step towards working through grief and adjusting to life without that person.

Funerals assure a legal, reverent and hygienic burial or cremation and should be arranged carefully, with sensitivity, to express your feelings and fulfil your needs.

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What is the role of the funeral director?

The funeral director is a professional person with specialised services and technical skills in caring for the dead and helping the bereaved families. Along with other family members, clergy and doctors, the funeral director helps you to make all the necessary arrangements after death.

The funeral director will also assist you to make the right choices about the type of ceremony, the best location for the service, who should officiate, selection of casket, the choice of music and any after-service gathering. He or she also has experience in dealing with the often-extensive paperwork after a death and will assist you in securing and filling out the necessary forms.

At Golden Bay Motueka Funeral Sevices we operate under a strict code of ethics, recognising the responsibilities entrusted to us by the bereaved, the public at large and the profession of which we are part.

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What do we do when someone dies?

If the death occurs at a hospital or rest home, the staff may call your chosen funeral director for advice and assistance or you may do that yourself. If the death occurs at home you must first call the doctor. After this call the funeral director who will guide and assist you with all the necessary arrangements.

Sometimes a doctor is unable to determine the cause of death for several reasons including:

  • sudden, unexpected death
  • death from other than natural causes
  • accidental death
  • the deceased has had no recent consultation with a doctor

In these cases it is important that the deceased is not moved without the permission of the local Coroner. The police will act as the Coroner’s agents and will employ a funeral director to transfer the deceased to the public mortuary. It is still the family’s responsibility however to contact their chosen funeral director who will then attend to all the other arrangements.

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What is the role of the Coroner?

The Coroner will investigate and decide upon the cause of death. Sometimes this means a pathologist may have to carry out a detailed medical examination known as a post-mortem examination or autopsy. After establishing the cause of death the Coroner may decide to hold an inquest into the circumstances relevant at the time of death. This inquest is a formal hearing in a court of law.

The Accident Compensation Corporation compensates the dependants of an accident victim and contributes towards funeral expenses so the cause of death has particular relevance. If no inquest is necessary all ACC claims and the estate probate can proceed immediately.

Even when the Coroner is involved it is still the family’s right and responsibility to contact their chosen funeral director. There should be no interference with funeral plans as long as the advice of your family funeral director is followed.

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What are the costs of a funeral?

There are so many options and variables that determine costs and we can provide a cost estimation without any obligation. We will provide a service based on your needs and financial circumstances and can give you costs based on that. If you have any financial worries let us know of those concerns as soon as possible. We will be able to guide you and suggest possible agencies that may be able to assist you at this time.

After the funeral you will receive an invoice that comprises three accounts

  • our charge for services
  • the cost of the casket;
  • disbursements, i.e. any items paid out by us when acting as an agent for the family. These could include flowers, newspaper notices, toll calls, mourners’ cars, and cemetery or cremation fees.

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How and when do I pay?

We generally send the account direct to the family with a copy to the family solicitor if required. We operate under normal commercial practice, which requires you to pay on the due date. Sometimes, however, payment is dependent on the settlement of an estate. If this is the case families often choose to pay the account and recover the costs from the estate later.

Golden Bay Motueka Funeral Services is able accept payment in the form of direct credit, cheque, cash and credit card.

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Can I plan and prepare ahead for my own funeral?

Many people are now preplanning and sometimes prepaying for their funeral, to ease the burden on their families. There are many ways you can do this:

  • Make a will that reflects your wishes. These can include your choice of funeral director, your church affiliation, your choice of burial or cremation, the venue for your service, your choice of cemetery or disposal of your ashes and details of organisations, clubs and professional societies which should be notified of the funeral details.
  • Leave your personal documents and keys in a known place, ensure your bank accounts are under joint names and fill out a personal profile for your next of kin or executor.
  • You may make advance payments towards your funeral expenses.
  • You may take out cover with an insurance company or set up a designated bank account for this purpose. A recommended option is to use the FDANZ Family Bereavement Plan offered by Golden Bay Motueka Funeral Services to preplan and prepay your funeral.

This plan has many benefits:

  • It removes the financial burden from your family;
  • It reduces the effects of inflation by letting you pay at today’s prices;
  • It ensures your investment is safe and that your wishes are carried out by any FDANZ member
  • It is excluded from Government asset testing when assessing long-term residential care.

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May the family choose the casket?

At Golden Bay Motueka Funeral Services we have a range you may choose from of different styles at different prices. You may even, if you wish, choose an unpainted casket that the family or friends can decorate to celebrate their loved one.

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What happens to the casket in a cremation?

The casket is cremated too. Cremation procedures are bound by New Zealand law.

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Who chooses between burial and cremation?

If the wishes of the deceased are known they are normally respected and followed. If their wishes are not known the family or the executor of the estate decides.

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What about children? Should they attend funerals?

Our leaflet Helping Children To Grieve answers this question more fully. Children need to know that death is a fact of life and it is important for caregivers to talk openly and honestly about death. The funeral service is a very important part of the grieving process and it is recommended that children attend. The final choice should be left up to the child if he or she is old enough to make that decision.

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Is embalming necessary?

Modern embalming ensures disinfection and preservation during the funeral period. It is a skilled process and should be performed only by trained practitioners. It is necessary if viewing of the deceased will take place, either at home or at the funeral home, as it removes any health hazards and enables a more natural appearance. Embalming is also important if the deceased is to be transported any distance.

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What about viewing the body?

Many people who are at first hesitant say later how much they were helped in the grieving process by spending time with their loved one. This is an old tradition, which really does provide great comfort and help with the acceptance that someone has died.

Some families like to have their loved one at home with them or the days prior to the funeral and we can arrange this for you if it is appropriate. Other families prefer their loved one to lie in the viewing room at our funeral home. You may also choose to have an open casket at the funeral so others can pay their respects. The choice is yours.

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Image courtesy of Nelson Tasman Tourism