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Scrutiny and Transparency in the Funeral Industry

Scrutiny and Transparency in the Funeral Industry

Organising a funeral when you’re going through one of the toughest times in your life – the death of a loved one – can feel like a lot of added stress. To help lessen the burden, it’s best to work with caring, personal funeral directors that have your best interests at heart. Unfortunately, the funeral industry has been under scrutiny for as long as we can remember, thanks to pricing that is often less than transparent from a number of service providers.

This has led to many complaints from grieving people that have ended up paying above their expectations, at a time when they’re most vulnerable. There have been calls to turn this around, so people in Australia can feel confident that they’re choosing a funeral provider they can trust.

Calls for greater transparency in the funeral industry

We’ve seen the operations of a number of other funeral providers in the area. Often, funeral companies won’t provide pricing on their website, over the phone or in writing. Instead, they request that the potential customer comes to visit them in person – making it easier for the provider to lure in an already vulnerable person, at a time when they’re dealing with high levels of grief.

It’s natural for families to make arrangements in a rush; they don’t shop around and they settle for the first price they’re offered, assuming this is the industry norm. The problem is that too many providers are not transparent about their costs, and they add on a disproportionately high service fee to the other essential items such as transfers, certifications and coffins or cremation fees.

In this stressful time, families need support. If they’re not provided with an upfront, itemised bill, then they might not think to ask for one – which is how many funeral providers increase costs unnecessarily. It’s important to remember that you have the right to ask for an itemised bill (a cost breakdown), according to the Australian Consumer Law.

Instant quotes from Affordable Cremations

At Affordable Cremations, we pride ourselves on honesty and transparency. We’re there as a guidance for the people that choose us during this upsetting time, and we offer simple and affordable options for families across New South Wales.

Our direct cremation pricing is available on our website with an instant quote function. We do this to prevent any pressure to commit to a company without knowing your options. You won’t need to visit us in a funeral home or be “sold” to. You can simply get a quote online, email or call us and we’ll talk you through the process and provide a clear breakdown of our costs.

Get in touch

If you’d prefer a family-run funeral provider that offers simple, fuss-free funerals in NSW, get in touch with Affordable Cremations. We make the entire process easier for you, with no surprise costs or the need for you to visit us. Just email Stephanie Kelly and family on info@acnsw.com.au or call 1300 95 95 35 to discuss your options.

What do Funeral Directors Actually Do?

woman choosing flowers with help of funeral director

Many of us don’t have much experience in organising funerals, but if someone close to you has passed and you have the responsibility of getting funeral and cremation/burial arrangements in order, then you may be looking for a funeral director you can trust.

But what does a funeral director actually do? In this simple guide, Affordable Cremations has explained the role of a funeral director. Once you have a better idea about how they assist with making your goodbye personal and memorable, it should be easier for you to choose someone you’re comfortable with.

The role of the funeral director

Primarily, the funeral director is there to provide a service for you, your family and friends, to honour the person that has recently died. They’re there to listen to your wishes, and help to combine them with practical actions and legal requirements, to build a funeral service that is suitable.

A funeral director should be compassionate during this sensitive time. Choose one that provides a warm, personal service, with the experience to guide you through the process and ensure you’re happy and comfortable with what they can provide.

Funeral directors are there to lessen the burden on you and your family, playing a major part in the funeral preparations, while ensuring that the wishes of you and your loved one are honored.

How can they help before, during and after the service?

As you navigate this strange time, your funeral director can become a stable point-of-contact to help you make arrangements before and after the service, and to guide you through the process on the day.

  1. They help you realise any known wishes. Sometimes, the recently deceased person discusses what they would like during their funeral service. Your funeral director can help you realise these, if they’re possible. If there’s something they can’t help you with, they should be able to refer you to someone who can.
  2. They assist with the organisation details. Planning a funeral involves a lot of organisation and tiny details. A funeral director can help you with these details – from choosing between a cremation and a burial, to deciding who should lead the ceremony, they’re there to bounce ideas off and to provide the professional guidance you need.
  3. They help you to personalise the ceremony. The life of a person is unique, and their goodbye ceremony should be too. Your funeral director may ask you some questions about the person that has just died, such as their favourite song, hobbies or even the flowers they liked. They can also provide support in the writing of the eulogies, if required, to help ensure the ceremony is a true reflection of the person’s life.
  4. They can help to organise the wake. If needed, the funeral director can help you to make arrangements for the wake following the service. They’ll have local contacts for venues and caterers, to make organising much easier on you and your family.
  5. They take care of legal matters for you. You’ve got enough on your plate at this time. Funeral directors can take care of logistics such as the registration of death and the transfer of the deceased to the funeral home.

There are endless other details a funeral director can assist with, such as liaising with the clergy or funeral celebrant, organising floral arrangements and booking times with the church or crematorium. Simply ask them for guidance and support where you need, to make the organisation as seamless and stress-free as possible.

Contact Affordable Cremations

We offer an affordable Direct Cremation service in New South Wales. We’re a family-run business that takes a personal, supportive approach to gently guide you and your family through the process. To learn more about our service, contact us online or call 1300 95 95 35.

What Makes a Farewell Personal?

Burning candle on table in darkness

A funeral is a highly personal experience; it marks not only a person’s death, but also their life, personality, memories and the effect they had on others. Many families in NSW want to plan a funeral that’s unique to their lost loved one, but they’re concerned that this will run up a bill they might struggle to afford.

In fact, an unforgettable farewell doesn’t have to be about white gloves, top hats, fireworks, marching bands and other extravagences. It’s about the memory of your loved one, and the most meaningful farewells are ones that are symbolic and highly personalised to the recently departed person. To help give you some inspiration, here are some ways you can make a farewell more personal.

Leaving old-school funerals in the past

Just thinking about a funeral can be painful, and this often causes people to leave arrangements to the last minute and settle for a standard or traditional funeral – forgetting about those little touches that make the day personal to your family.

A funeral director should listen to your wishes and ensure you know that the choice is in your hands, so you can feel free to speak about your wishes. Traditionally, a funeral takes place around one week after a death. It includes a ceremony in a church or non-religious location, followed by a cremation or burial and then a wake, and guests wear black clothing.

More recently, funeral personalisation has become popular, and if the standard traditional funeral sounds outdated to you, you can personalise it in a way that feels inclusive for guests, and may even help with the healing process.

Funeral personalisation ideas

What makes a funeral personal is not expensive trims – but photographs, music and memories that honour someone’s life. It should reflect their personality, and there are a few ways you can make the farewell unique to the individual. For example:

  • Play a memorial DVD or slideshow with photos and videos, for a powerful tribute with memories all guests can relate to
  • Think of symbols that mean something to you and the family; write notes and send them off to the sky in balloons, release butterflies as a symbol of peace, or look for other types of symbolism that makes the day unique
  • Hold a candlelight ceremony for a peaceful gathering that provides the chance for everyone to reflect and honour the life of a lost loved one
  • Hold the ceremony or wake at a place that was special to the person that has passed. Perhaps they were a huge fan of a particular sport, they loved the beach or they visited a certain restaurant each week without fail
  • Ditch the old-school, all-black dress code of traditional funerals and instead encourage guests to wear colours or clothes that reflect the personality of your loved one

Planning a funeral

Our sister company, Personal Farewells, offers a simple 5-step process to planning a funeral. Call them on 1300 95 95 33 to talk about their services and how they can help you to personalise a farewell to make it unique and meaningful for your friends and relatives.

My Loved One Has Passed and I Haven’t Cried Yet…Is This Normal?

Sad women sitting near window alone

When a friend, family member or loved one dies, many people think there are certain ways they’re “supposed” to feel. However, the passing of somebody close to you will undoubtedly come as a shock, and sometimes people just don’t experience or show the emotions they expected to.

Grief is surprising and unpredictable, and it’s different for each individual person, so if you’re yet to cry after the death of a loved one, it’s important to remember that this is perfectly normal. There are a whole host of reasons why this could be happening, and we’ve listed just a few of them in this article.

You’ve already experienced “anticipatory grief”

If the recently deceased suffered from a long-term or terminal illness, you may have already experienced anticipatory grief, which could explain why you haven’t cried since you lost them. Anticipatory grief is an emotional response to loss before it actually happens; you were expecting the death and so you’ve already felt the attached grief.

This pre-acceptance can affect the way you grieve following the death, and may even ease your sense of loss. Remember that this is a normal process, so try to go easy on yourself when you don’t cry the way you expected when a loved one passes.

You’re still feeling numb from the shock

A natural response to the passing of someone close is to feel numb. You may be expecting to experience anger, depression, loneliness, frustration or something else, but emotional numbness can commonly kick in and lead to feelings of nothing at all. We understand how awful this can be, and you may feel as though others cannot relate to you – especially when they seem to be more “in touch” with their feelings. This is a confusing time; it’s likely that your feelings will return, and know that this is not a negative reflection on you or your relationship with your loved one.

Often, the expected grief comes later, and may be triggered by events such as funerals, anniversaries or conversations with people close to you.

You’re private about your grief, or you’re protecting other family members

Grief is very private to some people, and it’s normal to keep your emotions inside to provide a strong support system to others that are affected by the death. Grief is a complicated emotion, and you may not be showing yours through tears simply because you’re confused about the way you feel, or you don’t want to make others feel worse than they already do.

We all cope with loss in our own ways. When you’re ready, talk about your feelings with someone you trust and remember that you’re allowed to feel whichever emotions you have.

Are you still feeling confused?

At Affordable Cremations, we’re there for families across New South Wales who are dealing with the death of a loved one and require a sympathetic funeral planning service. We’ve seen people deal with grief in so many different ways, and we can confidently say it’s normal to be less emotional than you expected right now.

Of course, if you’re still struggling to make sense of your emotions on your own, you could consider seeing a counsellor who can talk through your recent experience and the feelings that you have. Just remember that whether you’re feeling distraught, confused, overwhelmed or nothing at all, there are people that can help you to get through this time.

How to Determine Who is the Next of Kin

Last Will And Testament With Money And Planning Of Inheritance

A next of kin describes a person’s closest blood relative or someone with a close relationship to a person (for example, a child or a spouse). There are some differences about who should be named next of kin across different states of Australia, and the discussion often arises amongst families that are experiencing the death of someone close to them.

Although the next of kin has no legal rights, they usually take on responsibilities such as registering the death and organising the funeral of the deceased person. The next of kin relationship is especially important when determining complex issues such as inheritance rights, if a person dies and has no will and/or no children.

Who should be named next of kin?

When someone dies without a will, their closest relative is usually referred to as the next of kin. Generally, this is the chosen order of who should be named next of kin:

  1.  Their spouse or civil partner
  2. Their children; this includes legally adopted children, but usually doesn’t include step-children, unless stated otherwise
  3. Parents
  4. Siblings
  5. Any person named as an executor in the will
  6. Any person who was the legal personal representative

What if there is no next of kin?

In the circumstance where a person dies in hospital and has no living relatives or close friends, and no assets, the responsibility falls on the hospital to arrange the funeral using governmental services.

If somebody dies at home and has no next of kin, a burial or cremation will be organised for the “deceased destitute person”. This is carried out by the relevant Director of Public Health, who will arrange the funeral through a government agency, once a doctor has issued a medical certificate containing the cause of death.

A person that does have sufficient assets, but no next of kin, will have their funeral arranged by the NSW Trustee and Guardian, using the person’s own assets.

What is a senior next of kin?

The “senior next of kin” is the person or family member of the person that has passed, who becomes the main point of contact for the Coroner and the primary person in charge of decisions. Establishing the senior next of kin is important, as it provides one singular person for the Coroner to be in touch with, rather than having to contact multiple members of the family.

The senior next of kin is chosen based on the numbered system we have listed above.

Contact Affordable Cremations for support

We understand that this can be a confusing and complicated time. If you’ve been named the senior next of kin for someone close to you that has recently passed, Affordable Cremations offers a personal service for no service, no attendance funerals in New South Wales. We’re available 24 hours a day, so call us anytime on 1300 95 95 35 for a conversation with a member of our team.

Blended Families and Funeral Arrangements

Family laying flowers on the grave

The world is changing and blended families are now the norm. Ex-partners, step parents and some other more complex relationships can cause confusion when it comes to arranging a funeral. Making the best choice for the eulogy, type of funeral and even the funeral music can cause arguments and further the divide between the family.

Planning a funeral can be demanding enough when you’re dealing with the grief from losing a loved one, but when family disputes and end-of-life debates are involved, the process can be even more difficult. This is the time when the emotions of multiple people are high, so we’ve put together some tips to help you make the most of this situation.

1. Be prepared to deal with individual personalities

Some people are more difficult to deal with in general, and they probably won’t be any different when dealing with end-of-life issues. Plan beforehand how to deal with such a person, and try to stay calm and focused during family conversations about the funeral.

If someone is interfering with the process, consider asking them to put their feelings in writing so you can properly take their thoughts into account in a measured way.

2. Understand that everyone has their own grief

From time-to-time, people will want to attend the funeral or cremation service, even if you didn’t expect them to. You may even doubt their sadness, but try to push this aside and remember that everyone is suffering right now.

For example, your husband’s ex-wife may no longer have a relationship with your husband. However, if he were to die, it’s likely that old emotions would resurface and she may want to honour their relationship and say goodbye. There’s no “right way” to behave here, and each family is different. If you feel the ex-wife’s presence may upset certain people, it’s understandable that you wouldn’t want her to attend. However, if she wants to show her condolences and you don’t anticipate disruption, consider inviting her.

3. Consider end-of-life wishes

Complex or blended families often have conflicting conversations about how to arrange a funeral, but many arguments can be avoided by collecting information about the wishes of the person that recently passed.

If they have already expressed their wishes about their funeral arrangements, honour them as much as you can. Did they want to be buried or cremated? Which city did they love or always want to visit? Try to make the goodbye unique to them – from the eulogies to the place you bury or scatter their ashes. Of course, it’s important that everyone in the family is open and explicit about their own desires for anything else, so you’re not left feeling unheard once the day of the funeral arrives.

Contact Affordable Cremations for a personal service

We understand the complexities of family circumstances, and we’ll work closely with you to offer the funeral service you wish for, to properly honour the life of your family member. We welcome you to call us on 1300 95 95 35 or contact us online. Day or night, we’re there for you.