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What should I do when a family member has died?

If the deceased has been ill for some time and the death is expected, the family should first call their GP who will need to visit the deceased and certify life extinct. If a person is to be cremated, the doctor who has been treating the deceased before death should see him/her after death and issue two certificates. One is the “Certificate of Cause of Death” often referred to as the “death certificate” (though this is not the official death certificate) which will state a cause of death, the second is a cremation form. Alternatively, if the deceased is to be buried, then only the “Certificate of Cause of Death” form is required. The family could then phone the funeral directors to engage their services, but generally a funeral director will not transfer a deceased from the place of death until the attending doctor has issued the required documentation. Occasionally, if a doctor is unable to sight the deceased at the time, they may give permission for the funeral director to transfer and then make arrangements to view the deceased later. This may occur if the doctor is away for a weekend, or off duty etc.

Why is a coroner involved?

The coroner will become involved when a person has died unexpectedly; it may be due to an accident, suicide or someone being found dead without any warning of prior illness. When this happens, the death becomes a “coroner’s case” and the death is immediately reported to the Police, or, if an ambulance has been called and they attend, the St John staff will notify the Police. This is often a traumatic situation for families having to deal with so many different people, along with the sudden death of a family member. Once the Police have attended and an official identification of the deceased has taken place, the Police will call a Police doctor who will confirm life extinct. The Police will then contact a duty funeral director who has the Police contract for that area to transfer the deceased to the mortuary where a post-mortem (also known as an autopsy) will be conducted. It is then up to family to choose their funeral director, the funeral director will arrange to have the deceased transferred to the funeral home.

How much does a funeral cost?

The funeral cost can vary considerably from one funeral home to another and obviously the requests and choices required. Asking “what does a funeral cost?” is like asking “how much is a new car?” It is important for families who are ringing different funeral homes, to get a price based on an identical funeral, so they can compare apples with apples. It is often easy for a family to make a decision because the bottom dollar is cheaper, but then realise that several components are missing that another funeral home included in their price.

Is embalming necessary?

Although the common current practice in New Zealand is to routinely embalm the answer is that no, embalming is often not required. Here at Collingwood Funeral Home we try to avoid unnecessary embalming.  That said, occasionally we do make the decision, with the family, to embalm. This is often because of any time delays for viewing or the funeral service, or because people wish to have the deceased at home for a period of time. We discuss the options with each family, and make these decisions together on a case by case basis.

If a death occurs at night do I have to call the funeral director immediately?

No, in fact people are choosing for the deceased to stay at home until family members arrive to say their goodbyes. We are able to come to the home to ensure the deceased looks as good as possible for those wishing to view.