What Does A Funeral Director Do And Why Do I Need One?

When someone passes away you might contemplate not speaking with a Funeral Director and doing everything yourself. What does a Funeral Director do anyway that anyone else couldn’t do themselves? It can’t be that hard. WRONG!

There is a lot more than just booking a church and arriving on the day that goes into a Funeral, unless you have a Funeral Director! Then it’s even easier because you don’t even need to book the church, your Funeral Director will do that! 

What Does A Funeral Director Do?

A Funeral Director facilitates all of the behind the scene aspects that go into a funeral and preparing for a funeral that most people don’t even consider. A Funeral Director takes all the stress of planning and logistics and somehow makes the funeral come together without any issues.

Let’s talk frankly and logically, by discussing what you would need to do to plan a funeral for a loved one without a funeral director, it helps to paint a picture of what a funeral director actually does. 

Bringing Your Loved One Into Care

So, the first step is to bring your loved one into care from a hospital/nursing home/residence/coroner. The first hurdle you will run into is how? Sure, some people have large cars or a van or ute but how many people have stretchers lying around? Dead weight is a real thing. People are not physically heavier after death but because they are dead its not as easy to pick them up and carry them around because they don’t work with you. So even if you had a way of transporting your loved one, carrying them from the mortuary in a hospital for example to the waiting vehicle isn’t going to be an easy task. Then getting them into the vehicle and securing them so that they are safe and aren’t going to slip and slide around the place will also be an issue. Unless you have the proper stretchers and fit out, it could look like something from the movie ‘A Weekend At Bernies’ which could be a little confronting. Its also not possible for a member of the general public to get a body released from the corner, a Funeral Director must be engaged to go through the process with the coroner’s office with getting a release. If they passed away at home or at a nursing home, then you need to arrange for a medical cause of death from their doctor. 

Caring For Your Loved One

So, once you have your loved one in your care, where will you keep them until the funeral? This is Queensland and even in winter, its not that cold! When someone dies the natural process for decomposition starts. Gasses build up and are released, fluids are released, and the body starts to break down. Keeping someone very cool slows this process, but an air conditioner in your loungeroom won’t keep them cool enough. The other option is to have someone embalmed in order to preserve them. I won’t go into the details of the embalming process but it’s definitely something that cannot and should not be done by anyone who isn’t properly trained.

Permits and Permissions

If your loved one wanted to be cremated, then permits need to be arranged from a doctor. If your loved one has a pacemaker or anything with a battery, that all needs to be removed so that it doesn’t explode during cremation. If your loved one has had recent radiation therapy then they need to be embalmed to ensure that the radiation in their body doesn’t enter the environment during cremation, which would poke a risk to the cremator operator. 

Preparing Your Loved One

Your loved one will then need to be washed, have their eyes and mouth closed, dressed and ready to be coffined. You can definitely be part of this process, however we always would recommend having someone who understands this process help guide you through it. A coffin is something you could potentially get on your own, I say that because I have seen them at Costco, but logistically getting a coffin home without a large van or a hearse is going to be very difficult. 

What About Logistics?

While all of this physical preparation for your loved one is taking place, the logistic side of things also needs to happen. Funerals are planned in a very short window, usually happening 3-5 days after someone passes away, all the planning and preparation is done efficiently and quickly. If you didn’t know who to talk to or what to do it would be almost impossible to get everything done in such a short space of time. 

The chapel or church will need to be booked as well as someone to officiate the service. That could be a celebrant or a clergyman. Any tribute cards, orders of service, photo reflections need to be made and tested. Music needs to be selected and put onto disk or USB. If your loved one is having flowers, then a floral tribute needs to be sourced and made.

Transport to and from the service needs to be worked out, how long will it take to get to the service? What routes are going to be the best, so you don’t get held up in traffic? How would you get the coffin with your loved one to the church? There aren’t many places you can hire the hearse from.

When it comes to the service, you wouldn’t be able to just be present and in that moment. Instead you would need to run the multimedia (and some of these multimedia systems can be quite temperamental if you are not used to using them!) and make sure that the printed tributes had been handed out and that everyone was catered for.

A Funeral Director Is A Good Idea 

Most of the work a Funeral Director does is behind the scenes, you may not physically be present for all the work that goes into a funeral but there is a lot. I honestly had no idea how much went into a funeral until I became a Funeral Director. When someone that you love dies, you should spend that time with your other loved ones, supporting each other and going through that grief process together. Find a Funeral Director that you connect with and trust, let them take care of the logistics and stress!

If you have questions about funerals or funeral directors, why not get in touch with us on 1300 043 522 or email family@mccartneyfunerals.com.au

*Our Funeral Blog is a place for information and learning, so if there is something that you would like to know, why not shout out to us on social media so we can answer your questions in one of our future blogs!*


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