Frequently Asked Questions

Most families choose to have the funeral service about a week or less after the death has occurred.  This can be a ceremony before the cremation, or before the burial.  The burial ceremony is usually held in a chapel, and the final words said at the graveside. 

Another option is to have the body cremated and to hold a memorial service at a later time. This allows the memorial to be held in a function room, private home, or outdoor space, (bush, beach, park etc.) whichever is true to the deceased and the bereaved.

  1. What needs to be done when the death has just occurred? A medical practitioner must issue a certificate to confirm the death. If the doctor cannot determine the cause of death, the police will notify the coroner.
  2. Whose responsibility is it to organise the funeral?  The next of kin or the executor of the deceased's estate is legally responsible.  However, family members and friends usually co-operate in the planning of a funeral.
  3. Who is a funeral for?  Of course, the funeral is to honour the life of the deceased person. But just as importantly, the funeral is to say good-bye and to bring some comfort and closure to the ones left behind. I see that my role is to create and conduct a funeral that honours the deceased but also which brings some consolation to the bereaved, and allows them a safe place to express their grief.
  4. How do I choose a funeral celebrant?  It is important to have a celebrant who understands your family's needs and is experienced enough to be able to advise you of options and to write and conduct a professional, empathetic and compassionate service.I welcome your contact to discuss funeral or memorial arrangements.
  5. Do I have to use the celebrant whom the funeral director recommends? No, you are entitled to choose your own celebrant.  Just contact me and I will get in touch your funeral director to make sure that your service runs smoothly.
  6. Who pays the funeral celebrant?  The funeral celebrant's fee is sometimes part of the itemised fee that your funeral director charges, so they would pay me as a disbursement.  If you wish, you can pay me directly and advise the funeral director that you are doing so.
  7. How do you, the celebrant, dress for funerals?  I dress with respect for the occasion.  If you have any special wishes just let me know and I will do what I can to comply.
  8. Do we have to have the funeral in a funeral director's or crematorium chapel? No, you can have your funeral anywhere that is appropriate.  Talk to your funeral director or the local council about your options.
  9. I would like to have a copy of the funeral service as a memento of the occasion.  Is this possible? Yes, I will give you a printed presentation copy of the service and an e-copy also, if you wish.
  10. Can you help us to choose music and readings which pay tribute to the deceased? I have many ideas and suggestions for readings and music, some of which are on this site.  However, each funeral is created to honour the individual who has passed away, and through discussion with those responsible for arranging the funeral, I can help with appropriate music and readings. 
  11. How long does a funeral usually last? If the funeral is in the chapel of a crematorium, it is usually expected to last for from 30 to 45 minutes.  If you think there will be many tributes and the funeral may take longer, discuss this with your funeral director who can book the chapel for a longer period.If in doubt, have a double booking. However, if you are having your funeral or memorial service in a park or at home or other venue, the length of the service is much more flexible.
  12. Is it a good idea to include family members or friends in the service? Family members are encouraged to participate in the service by the reading of poems or readings, or reading a tribute to the deceased.  Being involved makes the funeral more personal and can help the bereaved to accept their loss.
  13. Is it appropriate for young people to attend a funeral? Attending the funeral of a loved one can help the child to understand what has happened and that can help in the grieving process.  A lot depends on the maturity of the child and their relationship with the deceased.
  14. Can younger family members be included in the service? If they are willing, young people may participate by giving a short reading. Sometimes two will share a reading.
  15. Can we include readings or symbols from our culture in the service? Yes, you are encouraged to,  provided they don't contravene restrictions at your venue.
  16. What about the use of symbols or items relevant to the life of the deceased? In creating a personal funeral, we can use sporting memorabilia, war service items, Masonic symbols or regalia,or artefacts that represent the deceased's vocation, beliefs or hobbies.
  17. Can we have a "green" funeral in Sydney? The nearest natural forest burial site is in Lismore.  However, you may be able to  arrange to purchase a coffin made from recycled cardboard. Your funeral director can do this for you. They are supplied by LifeArt.
  18. How do we honour our family member if they have been cremated in another state of Australia or another country?  A memorial service can be held and there are several options for dealing with the ashes.  Some people like to scatter the ashes in a significant place, others prefer to keep the ashes, or it is possible with permission, to inter the ashes in a family plot or columbarium wall, as part of the memorial service.
  19. What if the death occurred years ago, or for some reason, it was not possible to have a funeral at the time of death?  A memorial service may be held at any time. It often helps families to accept the loss of their loved one and to gain comfort from the recognition that the memorial service gives to the life that has been lost.
  20. What can we do to honour our deceased family member if there is no body?  If your loved one's remains cannot be located for any reason, or if they have donated their body to science, a beautiful memorial service can be held.  You may wish to use something of significance to the decedent to symbolise their presence in the service.
  21. What is "Pre-Planning" and "Pre-Arranging"a funeral? Pre-planning means that you have planned your funeral and left notes with your next-of-kin, with your will, or with your chosen funeral director.  Pre-Arranging involves  pre-payment to the funeral provider. The most important thing that any of us can do is to leave a Will.  Dying intestate (without a will) can cause a lot of heartache and legal expenses for those left behind.

    22.  Can you help to honour my loved one if they were an ex-serviceman or ex-servicewoman?Yes, usually a representative from the RSL will attend to do the ex-service tribute.  If that is not possible, I can place a tribute in the service.

    23. How soon after the funeral and cremation do we need to make a decision about where to leave the ashes?  There is no time limit.  Some people leave behind directions as to where they want their ashes placed.  Others leave it up to their family. There is no rush to make a decision.  There are many options: placed in a family gravesite, kept at home in an urn ,scattered in a place that was signicant to the deceased one, scattering at sea, buried at sea in a reef urn, scattered from the air, placed in a columbarium wall in a cemetary.



If you have anything you wish to discuss regarding the planning of a funeral service, a memorial service or pre-planning a funeral, please don't hesitate to contact me to discuss your ideas and I will do everything that I can to help.

 mob. 0402810062
or email:

Elaine Searle B.A. Dip. Ed. J.P. C.M.C.FCAAAFCC

Talk to me about your needs on  mob. 0402810062





Memorial service


                           A beautiful tranquil setting for a memorial service.






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