What to do when someone dies

FAQs What to do when someone dies

Need to know what to do when someone dies? Or what a home funeral is? Here we answer your most frequently asked questions. 

1. what do i do if someone has died?

If someone close to you has died, we are so sorry you are going through this. We understand how difficult this time is and want you to know you are not alone. We’re 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. 

If the death is natural or expected and occurred 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. If the death has occurred in a nursing home or private hospital, the staff usually notify the family doctor, whereas if the death has occurred in a public hospital, it is usually the doctor on staff who administers this. 

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. 

2. do i need to call a funeral director straight away?

While many people believe they need to contact a funeral director as soon as someone has died, the reality is they don’t. In fact, at Rite of Passage Funerals we believe it’s important for you 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. If you want to pre-plan your funeral, we offer that service too. 

If the death is sudden we understand the difficulty in processing what has happened and 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’. We’ve found this can be very helpful down the track. 

Depending on where the death occured, there will be some time restraints. Hospitals without a mortuary and nursing homes will require you to assign a funeral director quite quickly, but it’s okay to spend some time researching your options as every funeral planner is so different in their approach. 

3. how long can i keep my loved one with me after they have died?  

In most cases, once the funeral director is called they come and collect the person who has died right away, which we can do, but at Rite of Passage Funerals we also let you know that keeping your loved one with you for a number of hours, anywhere up to a number of days, is also possible. By law you can keep a loved one who has passed away in your care for 5 days, however cooling beds and other apparatus are highly recommended and we’re happy to help you with this. 

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 transformative 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. 

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. 

4. what are my options when it comes to disposition?

Disposition simply refers to how you’re going to dispose of your body when you die, and there are many options available to you, some of which you may never have heard of or considered. 

Here is a snapshot of your options:

Traditional Burial: The body 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 the body in a natural setting (think: forest floor or open garden), without the use of chemicals or heavy metals. The person who has died 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 as the body is completely broken down within about 12-18 months. 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. 

5. 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.

6. i’ve noticed rite of passage funerals offers memorials, what are they? 

A memorial service is essentially a funeral without the casket present. A Rite of Passage Funerals Bespoke Memorial offers a completely unique memorial experience that uses the power of ritual and ceremony to help heal 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 all those present. For more information or to organise a Rite of Passage Memorial for your loved one give us a call. 

7. 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. 

While our services might look expensive, our clients have told us that we’re generally 20-30% cheaper than more traditional funeral homes. We do this by keeping our overheads low and redistributing your budget into the things that have the biggest impact. The average cost of a Rite of Passage Funeral is $8000, including venue, catering for the wake, cremation and more.

8. what is a home funeral and is it legal?

A home funeral is where you choose you 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 body present, allowing family and loved ones to feel a connection they may not be able to in more traditional locations.

Once the funeral has taken place, the person who has died 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. 

9. 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, as well as the area from Byon Bay to Brisbane and 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.