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The following is a set of things to consider when planning a funeral, adapted from a fact sheet written by the Natural Death Advocacy Network. A funeral is usually made up of two parts: the ceremony and the disposal of the body. 

There are very few things that must be done when considering funeral arrangements. A death must be registered and a body must be disposed of; everything else is optional. There are things that must be considered when planning a funeral. These include:


  1. Family led or industry based funeral service – will you use a funeral director for some or all of the processes required, or not at all?

  2. Paperwork – there will be permits and paperwork required which will vary from state to state. The person's death will need to be registered and medical certificates produced and collected.

  3. Coffin selection – traditional hardwood, particle board, homemade, woven or no coffin (a coffin may be required to transport a body into a cemetery, but this does not mean it must be buried or cremated in one).

  4. Shroud – a body can be shrouded with or without a coffin. Some states have requirements as to how many layers of material constitute a shroud.

  5. Cooling – when keeping a body outside of a refrigerated environment, it does need to be cooled and a low core body temperature maintained (see our fact sheet on keeping a body cool for further information).

  6. Pallbearers – a body is heavy and to safely transport one in a coffin/shroud will require multiple people. Multiple people are also required for burial.

  7. Disposal – a body must be disposed of within a given time frame. If it is not, a declaration must be made. The choices are conventional burial, natural burial or flame cremation (see our fact sheet on body disposal for further information).


  1. Transportation of a body (a coffin/container will not fit into most cars but vans, utes with canopies or a hearse are suitable. Please check HERE for your State’s requirements for transport).​

  2. Which newspapers, if any, to place notices and how many times each notice is to run. Are you going to have death and funeral notices or a combined notice? If you have a funeral director, do you permit them to put their logo on the advertisement (and will they pay for that or will you?)?

  3. Music selection: opening, reflection or montage and closing, as well as quiet background music for gathering and catering.

  4. Will you have a performance component to the ceremony, such as an organist, pianist, singers or live music?

  5. Montage: a good formula for a montage is approx. 30-35 photos per 3-4 mins of music.

  6. Do you require AV options, including live streaming and recording, and who will send out the links and run them on the day?

  7. Catering requirements: consider the dietary requirements of people attending, who will provide the food and who will serve the food and drinks.

  8. Will you use a celebrant/clergy to take the ceremony, or will you take it yourself?

  9. Flowers: what kind of flowers are going on the coffin/shroud? Do you need placement flowers for tribute, would you like matching arrangements in the space? Remember that you can use flowers from the family garden, those collected locally or purchased. Many florists are happy to use family supplied flowers.

  10. Recording attendance at a ceremony can be done on memorial sheets/signing sheets or other stationary.

  11. Consider designing a booklet/order of service/bookmark/postcard to give to the people attending ceremony.

  12. Hearse and/or transportation of family and the person who has died. Who will do the transport and what vehicles will be used?

  13. Care of the body: will this be by family or with a funeral director? Consider dressing, makeup and jewellery; will the clothing and jewellery stay with the person for their burial or cremation?

  14. Mortuary care: what kind of care will your person receive – natural and chemical free or conventional care? Will there be embalming or preservation, stitching, eye caps, etc.

  15. Religious rites: will there be a religious ceremony or religious component to the ceremony and who will deliver that?

  16. Vigil or viewing times: will you see and spend time with your person at all between their death and the burial/cremation? Where will that be?

  17. Is your person eligible for an RSL or Masonic service component/Bugle call? Would they appreciate that tribute?

  18. Will you have readings/poetry, and who will deliver these?

  19. Will you be giving gifts to attendees at the ceremony? Some people give away the person’s belongings, i.e. photographs, if the person who died was a photographer.

  20. Will you have an initial grave marker (in case of burial) placed on the grave?

  21. What are the ashes of the person going to be placed in (in the case of cremation)?

  22. Will you have a long term plaque/headstone and, if so, what will the wording be?

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