When The Funeral Is Over

ALTHOUGH the funeral itself might seem like the end of the process, there are other things that you need to consider.

After the funeral, acknowledgement of family and community is usually placed in a local or national newspaper after the funeral and is an opportunity for the relatives of the deceased to publicly thank people who have given them support and assistance.

In addition, you will have to deal with:

  • Placement of the ashes
  • Affairs of the deceased
  • Wills and estates
  • Coping with grief

 

Placement of the ashes

When arranging the funeral, you may not have been sure of the final resting place for the deceased’s ashes. There are a number of options and choices available.

 

Scattering ashes

This can be carried out in a number of places including in the grounds of the crematorium, on a family grave, in your garden, at a place with fond memories, in woodland or the bush, at sea, abroad. In some cases, permission may be needed from the appropriate authority.

 

Burying ashes

People choose to bury ashes for a variety of reasons. For instance, families can then visit the place of burial and put up a memorial at the site, while others place the ashes of more than one family member together.

You may be able to bury ashes within the grounds of the crematorium, in a churchyard, in a grave or in your garden.

In each case, you will need to seek permission from the appropriate authority. When ashes are scattered or buried in a churchyard, cemetery or a different crematorium, the appropriate authority may also require the Certificate of Cremation provided by the crematorium.

 

Keeping the ashes

Some people prefer to keep the ashes at home in a casket or urn designed for that purpose. In some cases this is so that when a spouse or partner dies, the remains of both can be scattered or buried together. Others place a small amount in a piece of jewellery, for example a specially designed locket.

 

Affairs of the deceased

There are many legal, tax and administrative matters concerning the deceased’s affairs and estate, many of which need to be attended to quickly. You may need to write to inform organisations of the death. Here is a sample letter:

 

TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN

I wish to notify you of the death of:

Surname:

Given Names:

Date of Birth:

Street Name and No:

Suburb:                                                                                                  Postcode:

Date of Death:

I understand that he/she had dealings with your organisation.

The reference number/membership number/client number for your organisation was:

Please contact me on telephone (  ) or by email (  ) should you require further information.

Signed:

Name and Address:

Relationship to the Deceased:

Date:

 

Wills and Estates

A will is a written document that sets out how the will-maker wants their property and possessions (their ‘estate’) divided after their death. Many people first come across the law relating to wills when they have to make a will of their own. For others, it is when they are appointed executors or trustees of an estate and have to manage the affairs of someone who has died.

It is always better to make a will — that way the deceased person decides who will inherit their estate, rather than having intestacy rules apply. This will save the family and loved ones a great deal of administrative work, anxiety and pain, rather than making them go through the process of establishing themselves as eligible relatives.

You can choose to benefit your favourite charity, a friend or a remote relative who may not be included under the intestacy rules.

 

Coping With Grief

It’s generally accepted that grieving is a normal process, but unfortunately we don’t all know how to do it.

Many people wrongly assume that the funeral spells the end of the grieving process, when in actuality it’s often the beginning. Grief counselling — and occasionally grief therapy — can help people come to terms with their loss and move on with their lives.

Getting the right support is paramount, and not just from other family members and friends, but also from support groups and professionals.

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross defined what became known as the “five stages of grief”, based on the feelings of patients facing terminal illness.

  • Denial:  “This can’t be happening to me.”
  • Anger:  “Why is this happening? Who is to blame?”
  • Bargaining:  “Make this not happen, and in return I will ____.”
  • Depression:  “I’m too sad to do anything.”
  • Acceptance:  “I’m at peace with what happened.”

 

Are you need of assistance

If you are in need of urgent grief assistance please contact your local GP or if you need to talk to someone straight away call:

  • Lifeline
  • Kids Helpline
  • Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement