At some time during our lives death will touch us all. It will come to a family member or close friend and cause much pain and grief. It will change our lives in many ways. Whilst no one wants to dwell on the subject some understanding of death can help us prepare for its eventuality. This includes a basic knowledge of how to cope with the practicalities associated with death and having a basic knowledge of what to do when someone dies.
For each of us the funeral experience will be varied. Challenging, difficult, emotional and constantly changing even within our working lives. There has been many various changes, not only to the way we deal with death as a community but also as we deal with it personally.
Funerals today reflect and celebrate life!
Here in Whyalla, we are fortunate to have a good hospital and aged nursing care facilities as well as other associated health care teams like RDNS and Palliative care. Before death care can very much dictate how a funeral will end up. The way a funeral service is begun and completed is often the way a person dies.
Essentially there are two types of death.
1. Expected death - the person is hospitalised or in an aged care facility and most often the family has had time to prepare themselves for the death of a loved one. When this occurs a doctor will sign a medical cause of death certificate and the body is released to the care of the funeral director.
2. The other type of death is unexpected, sudden. These deaths are reported to the coroner and in most cases an autopsy is completed to establish the cause of death. This usually affects the timing of the funeral service as the process usually takes time to complete, before the body is released.
During this time, the family usually contacts the funeral director and a contact meeting is usually established. This can be either at the family's home or our office. During this meeting arrangements are made in regards to the funeral service itself, a day, a time, a venue and whether the service will be a burial or a cremation.
As funeral directors we will also help the family decide on notices to go in the paper, flowers to go on the coffin, memorial cards and things that will happen at the funeral service itself. We will also liaise with a church and minister and priest if that is what the family require. We will also can help with the selection of the coffin. Most importantly we also register the person's death with Births, Deaths and Marriages.
We organise the transfer of the body from the hospital or nursing home to our mortuary facilities.
Before the day of the service, the body will be prepared.
After the preparation is complete the body will be dressed either in clothes provided by the family or by us. The body is then placed in the coffin chosen by the family.
On the day of the funeral service itself, the funeral director will conduct a viewing, the opportunity for the family to say goodbye for the final time. Some people choose not to do this, preferring to keep the memories of the person in life rather than when they are deceased. At the completion of the viewing, the coffin is then taken to the church or chapel for the funeral service, we usually arrive about half an hour before the service starts. This allows us to talk to the minister, making any last minute changes and generally finding out how the minister wants things done. We escort the family into the church and then the service begins. The service is completed either at the church in the case of cremation or at the cememtery if it's a burial.
There are two very important things to remember when dealing with death and the funeral process. Firstly, there are no rules when being involved and secondly, there aren't any rights or wrongs either.
As a funeral director, it is part of our role to make this very difficult time as easy as possible for the family and we try our utmost to adhere to this.
Funerals have changed with the times, these days families have taken back the funeral service from the funeral director and the clergy (priests and ministers). For many of us, to have a religious service with all the trimmings is no longer appropriate or relative to the family.
In the not too distant past, when a death occurred the priest and funeral director got together and decided how and when the funeral service took place. The family simply followed along behind. Families now require the funeral service to be reflective of the way a person lived life. So now funerals can be a celebration of life.
This of course doesn't mean that the services are devoid of religious beliefs but it does make all of us involved with funeral services be aware that the meeting the families requirements are paramount. Funerals can be held in the traditional venues like a church or a funeral chapel but also at many other venues too, like Middleback Theatre and outside areas such as the foreshore, sportnig clubs etc.
Often funeral services can be in two parts, the first part where the service is shared with friends and relatives and the second that is for private family time.
Like most industries the funeral industry has changed and as the community demands change so the industry will evolve too.
The way we treat death has a direct influence on the funeral process.
Although a way to go we are far more at ease with talking about death today than we have been in the past.
Never before has the general public had so much medical information at their disposal and as a consequence the subject of death is no longer a taboo and people talk more freely on the topic.
Whyalla Funeral Services
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