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Organising a funeral can seem overwhelming. Our guide will help you through the process.
Transfer to our care
Your first steps are to have a medical death certificate issued by a doctor, then transfer the deceased to the care of a funeral director such as Olsens.
Choosing the style of service
You will need to make a decision between a traditional, contemporary or custom funeral, as well as burial or cremation.
Booking a venue and celebrant
The location and celebrant can add so much to the atmosphere of the service, so make sure they both reflect the personality of your loved one.
Deciding on the details
Your director will take you through the choices on offer for the details that matter, such as choice of coffin, flowers, cars and catering.
Organising the notice in the paper
Contacting your local paper is an important step as many people, particularly the elderly and regional family and friends, still get their information from here.
Setting the order of service
Go through the funeral step by step to create a service that could contain music, video and images, and really tell the story of your loved one. Your director should support you throughout this process.
Writing the eulogy
Make sure to reserve a time for writing the eulogy and creating a fitting memorial – it’s a good idea to have input from family and friends.
When faced with the passing of a loved one, there’s an age old tradition that needs to be followed. They say “You need to cry before you can laugh”. In the same way, you need to experience the pain, sorrow and grief before you can share in the joy of celebrating a life. This provides a means of dealing with your loss, allowing you to get on with life as best you can.
One of our experienced team members is available to all our families who need help and are available 24/7 to talk. We can even organise a time to meet in a place you feel most comfortable.
For grief support and counselling, call (02) 9545 3477 or visit us online
Frequently Asked Questions
Our caring and professional team are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to assist with all your queries. Below we have assembled a list of some of the most common questions you might have at this time. Please feel free to contact us with any other questions you’d like support with. We are always here to help.
Arranging a funeral
What do I do when someone dies?
When a death occurs at home, the first person that should be contacted is the treating doctor. For legal reasons, a doctor or the coroner must sign a death certificate. When someone dies in a hospital or nursing home the family is notified and a medical death certificate is issued by the doctor.
Can I see my loved one again?
A viewing is a special opportunity to say goodbye and spend time with your loved one. Ideally the viewing takes place a day or so before the funeral in the privacy of one of our chapels.
Holding a viewing is a very personal choice; often the immediate family may not feel the need for a viewing but it is important to consider the needs of other relatives and friends and allow them that opportunity for a number of reasons:
- When there has been some suffering, it can be comforting to see a loved one at peace and rest
- A viewing provides a last opportunity for family and friends to express thoughts, feelings and maybe place a card or letter, photo, small keepsake or memento
- Having a viewing satisfies the need to see someone one last time
- In case of a sudden or traumatic death the viewing confirms there has been no mistake - it has happened
- A viewing can be the beginning of acceptance; painful as it is but vital for the healing to start
Should you decide to have a viewing, it is important to carefully select the clothing. Olsens can give you advice on these issues.
How soon can a funeral be held?
It is sometimes thought that the sooner the funeral is held, the sooner life may return to some sort of normality. But taking time to consider your options and ensuring that suitable decisions are made, can actually help in the healing process; a few days interval before the actual funeral can be helpful as there is a lot to do.
When will the deceased be transferred?
When a death occurs at home, first contact the treating doctor to issue a death certificate, then contact us to transfer. This can be delayed for a little while if you would like some private time with the deceased. You don't need to worry about what time you call, because we offer a 24 hour service, every day of the year.
If the person dies in a public hospital we will arrange the necessary certificates from Medical Admin. As most public hospitals have a mortuary, we usually transfer the deceased after we have met with you to make the funeral arrangements.
If the person dies at a nursing home, the staff usually contact the funeral director nominated by the family, to arrange a transfer, as most do not have mortuary facilities.
Can you find a minister/celebrant for me?
Of course it is your choice as to who should lead the service - a member of clergy, a celebrant, family member or friend. We can consult with your chosen clergy or celebrant or introduce you to one who can assist and support you through the service.
How much does a funeral cost? Is cremation less expensive than burial?
The cost of a funeral depends on the type of service chosen, either in Olsens Chapel or in a Church, at the Graveside or Crematorium Chapel. We service all cemeteries and crematoriums, but prices do vary, and detailed quotes are available on request. A cremation service is often less expensive than burial, primarily due to the cost of the burial site, and costs vary, depending on your needs.
The arranging staff at Olsens can guide you through the planning process, explaining the services available and the costs involved.
You can make an appointment to meet at our office or you may wish to discuss the details in your own home, whichever you find more convenient.
What about clothing?
You may choose to supply clothes. The deceased can be dressed as you wish, whether or not you are planning a viewing.
What should I include in a eulogy?
The Eulogy is a very special funeral tradition that enables us to remember, respect and rejoice in the life of our loved one. The Eulogy is often the heart of the funeral, it makes people laugh, it makes people cry. It is where we pay tribute to our loved one, remembering their unique personality, their achievements, their greatest loves.
A eulogy might start with the speaker sharing a favourite memory of their time with your loved one and will then go on to weave a story of your loved one's life. Many people choose a close family member or friend to write the eulogy, while others have us help them prepare it so a celebrant can do the delivery. This is a personal decision for your family and we are happy to help guide you based on your wishes.
Your first step should be to collect the facts, such as age, family information including children and marriages, places lived, career information, etc.
Think about the person you're remembering. What stories come to mind? What kinds of stories or quotes capture their personality? It's a great idea to talk with other friends and family, so their thoughts can be included as well.
Eulogies can be serious, full of family history and humorous, with anecdotes remembered and shared. It is preferable to be brief, rather than too long.
Most importantly, remember to be yourself and speak from the heart.
Can you help with Floral Arrangements?
Absolutely. Flowers are a very important part of the funeral, helping create a warm and inviting atmosphere at the service.
Our Consultants all have experience in helping you make the right choice that best reflects your loved one.
The flowers you choose might be your loved one's favourite, be a special colour or have a special significance to your family. They are often placed throughout the chapel, with a special arrangement placed on top of the coffin.
You may even like us to organise a gift of a small potted flower or plant for each mourner, so they can take it home to plant in their own garden. This is a lovely way of helping people remember your loved one.
Can you help with selecting Funeral Music?
Yes we can. Your personal Consultant will help you select from a range of musical options to be played prior to, during and after the funeral service, including helping to organise live music if that is most appropriate.
Your loved one might best be respected, remembered or celebrated through music such as:
- Country & Western
What is an Order of Service?
An Order of Service is a bit like a program. It is handed out to people attending the funeral.
A personalised order of service often has a photo on the cover and thus gives a visual reminder of a loved one. It acts as a guide during the service, and can include any verses or readings you have chosen, as well as special quotes and comments about your loved one. After the funeral it may become a treasured memento and family heirloom.
Olsens can assist you in all aspects of the production of the booklet and will ensure it is beautifully produced and ready on time for sharing at the funeral.
What is Embalming?
Embalming is the process of preserving the body. It is usually only necessary if a loved one's body is:
- To be buried above ground in a vault or crypt
- To be transferred overseas
- Going to endure a lengthy delay between the death and the funeral
We can discuss these requirements with you, and where necessary, make the arrangements with our fully qualified embalmer.
What happens to the ashes?
Ten days after the funeral service the Crematorium will write to advise you that the ashes are ready for placement or collection. They will deal with the person responsible for making the funeral arrangements and will provide you with options to consider.
Where can I get help after the funeral if I need it?
Olsens provides a Bereavement Support Service to all families in our care. A member of the Bereavement Support Team follows each family up after the funeral and literature can be sent or, if a family member wishes, arrangements can be made for them to speak personally. There are also a number of community organisations who could be of help that we can put you in touch with.
What sort of information do I have to provide?
Information required for the registration of a death certificate includes:
Place and date of birth
Occupation and marital status
Details of father's and mother's names (including mother's maiden name)
Place of any marriages and name of spouse in each case
Names and dates of birth of children
Pension type if relevant
You may also like to think about your preferences for the service:
Whether cremation or burial
Where the service is to take place
Whom you would like to officiate
Any special requests
How do I get a death certificate?
We apply electronically to the Registry of Births, Deaths & Marriages on your behalf. The Registry will forward the certified copy directly to the person making the funeral arrangements.
Who do I need to notify?
The following checklist shows who you may need to inform of the death:
Executor of Will
Funeral Bond/Insurance or pre-paid?
Landlord or housing authority
Clubs - RSL, Community, Sporting
Banks, credit unions and credit providers
Associated health professionals - dentist, physiotherapist, social worker
Medical of Hospital Benefits Fund
Meals on Wheels
Utilities and suppliers - electricity, gas, phone etc.
Motor Transport Authority - licence and registration
Tax office and accountant
Post office - mail redirection
Where can I go to get more information?
You may find useful information from the following organisations:
Selected Independent Funeral Homes www.selectedfuneralhomes.org
Woronora Cemetery and Crematorium www.woronoracemetery.org.au
NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages www.bdm.nsw.gov.au
NSW Attorney General's Department - Coronial Information and Support www.lawlink.nsw.gov.au/lc.nsf/pages/coroners1a
Rookwood Memorial Garden and Crematorium Ph: (02) 9746 8945
Glebe Coroners Court Ph: (02) 8584 7777
Do you organise services for children?
The death of a baby or child is one of the most devastating losses anyone will experience. Olsens has become a leader in organising meaningful services for babies and children through ongoing consultation with the maternity wards of hospitals.
This has helped us develop procedures for creating memories of children while incorporating consideration for the ongoing emotional care of the parents.
Please call us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for any information you might require regarding meaningful and touching ceremonies for children.
What are some special touches that can truly personalise a funeral?
At Olsens, it is our deep desire to have you experience a truly special funeral, one that will help you on your way to healing. We would be honoured to share our experience and ideas with you and help you implement yours.
Just some ideas that might suit your family include:
- A dove, balloon or butterfly release
- A gift of a potted plant to all attendees
- A motorcade of interesting vehicles
- Having a beloved pet present during a suitable part of the service
- A bagpiper or live jazz band to play at the end of the ceremony
- A unique location for part of the service
- Inviting attendees to paint a large vase, plate or canvas with a symbol or words that meant something to them personally
- A memory basket that people can drop a note into of their favourite memory. These can later be printed in a special coffee table book along with photos of your loved one
- Unfurling of a rainbow of ribbons in the chapel which are later cut to symbolize the release of your loved one from this world
- An honour guard at the end of the funeral made up of grandchildren, friends or other special people
These are just some ideas and we will always take the time to listen and understand who your loved one was before helping you develop something truly meaningful.
How much does a Funeral Plan cost?
This depends on the options you select. Your Olsens Funeral Arranger will be able to guide you through a variety of choices and provide you with a written quote for your various selections.
Who holds the money I pay?
Funeral funds are regulated by State law. The money you pay for your Funeral Plan is invested with an independent entity, Funeral Plan Management Pty Ltd, and is not available to Olsens until the funeral service is completed. Funeral Plan Management can also arrange for the transfer of your Plan if your original Funeral Director is no longer in business.
Can the cost of my funeral rise?
When you pre-pay a funeral the cost is fixed at today’s prices, saving you money by avoiding future cost increases. Only if you change your arrangements or add to them can further costs be incurred.
How do I make a payment?
The full cost is normally paid when making arrangements but you can also choose to pay in weekly or quarterly instalments over a three year to five year, interest-free period.
What happens if I want to change my Funeral Plan down the track?
It is easy to change or add to your Funeral Plan down the track, this may incur additional costs depending on the nature of the change.
What if I want to cancel my Funeral Plan?
A Funeral Plan is a legally binding contract so please be aware of your obligations as set out in the terms and conditions of the contract before you sign the document. There is a "cooling off" period in case you change your mind, however after this expires your funds will remain held independently and may only be used for the funeral payment.
Who should I tell about the arrangements?
It is important that your family and the Executor of your Will know about your pre-paid funeral contract and your choice of Olsens as a Funeral Director.
Will pre-paying affect my pension?
No. Under current Centrelink and Veterans' Affairs arrangements, money spent on a pre-paid funeral plan is not subject to the income and assets test or deemed earnings rules.
What happens if I die while on holidays?
Olsens can take care of all the arrangements, including transferring from place of death into our care, however there could be additional cost. There is an option of travel protection you might like to consider for your funeral plan - we can take you through these details.