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Making funeral plans. A step-by-step guide

Funerals and the act of arranging them can be a laborious task. What makes the process even more complicated is having to arrange funerals at a time when you’re grieving, and this can be emotionally draining. It’s therefore vital that you understand the processes involved in order to plan a funeral that runs smoothly.

Let’s look at your options:

First of all, know that a funeral service is not legally required in South Africa. Having said that, it’s customary to have a ceremony where loved ones can grieve and obtain some form of closure, as well as to honour the life of the one who has passed on.

It’s also important to consider the type of funeral the deceased would have wanted, be it burial or cremation.

You’ll need to engage the services of an undertaker or funeral director to transport and arrange sanitary storage of the deceased. Funeral directors have an in-depth knowledge of the steps you need to take in your funeral plans, making them invaluable in handling legal requirements, such as obtaining a death certificate. They are ideally placed to make funeral plans easier for the family of the deceased.

Know that if the deceased has already been removed, you can still choose a different funeral director to continue the funeral plans to best suit your needs, for instance price, religion, or any other considerations.

The funeral tasks: Making sure you have everything covered

As mentioned, there are many obstacles when a loved one passes, and you need to ensure that all arrangements get handled correctly.

You would need to notify the deceased’s funeral cover provider, and this should be done as soon as possible. You may need immediate financial support to deal with initial funeral expenses, and you would want to lodge your overall claim as swiftly as possible. You should also inform the deceased’s employer at the time of their death.

What to take to your chosen funeral parlour:
  • A copy of the deceased’s ID.
  • The next of kin’s ID.
  • Funeral policy documents.
  • A photograph of the deceased for hymn sheets or pamphlets.
  • The deceased’s funeral attire.
Funeral directors will help you with the legal formalities

Dealing with legalities and home affairs requirements is the last thing on the minds of surviving friends and family. This is where funeral directors can be of great help.

The practical tasks they can assist with include:

  • Obtaining the death notice from the medical attendants.
  • Registering the death at Home Affairs.
  • Collection of the death certificate.
  • Supplying you with the original or certified copies of these documents.
  • Placing death notices in newspapers.
  • If the deceased was an organ donor, the family may be asked for consent.
  • Offering a selection of coffins from which to choose.
  • Preparing and dressing the deceased for viewing if required.
  • Booking a cemetery or crematorium.
  • Transporting the deceased.
  • Repatriation of deceased across borders if required.

There are also the added touches you and your loved ones would want to arrange to make the funeral as unique as possible.

You’ll want to consider the following:

  • Organising a venue, be it a place of worship or a hall.
  • Deciding on a suitable date and time.
  • Printing hymn sheets.
  • Catering for mourners, for instance light snacks and refreshments.
  • Floral arrangements and candles.
  • Music for the ceremony.
  • Audio and video equipment.
  • Flowers for mourners to sprinkle on the grave.
  • Personal items of the deceased and any memorabilia you would like displayed.

You should also consider whether or not you will host a wake for the deceased. It’s customary for the friends and family of the deceased to gather after the ceremony to continue honouring the deceased in a more informal setting.

If that’s the case, it’s generally accepted that the family and friends help the grieving host with the preparations of catering for all attendees. One of the accepted ways to do this is for friends and family to each prepare a dish, relieving the host to attend to other funeral plans. It’s especially opportune as most people would like to help out and this gives them the opportunity to do so.

It’s an extremely hard time for those involved, but we hope that the information and suggestions we’ve given you can make your funeral plans achievable. Please contact us if you need further information or help. As always, we’re here for you.

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