Long before we had ever heard of Covid-19, social distancing and a limit on the number of mourners allowed at a funeral, people inquired about 'No-service' funerals.
We heard this often during casual social conversations, but more so when we set up our information table at local shopping centres. Our table attracted many visitors; some people came to us for immediate help, while others were simply curious about the various aspects of the funeral industry.
One of the most typical questions – or rather statements – we heard was "I bet you don't do what I'm after!" This was always followed with "I don't want a funeral" and often the next comment was "Just take me straight to the crematorium!" One lady we spoke with couldn't care less about having a funeral, but knew for certain that she wanted her ashes to be made into diamonds!
While we have certainly assisted many families with 'No-service' cremations, we can't just simply take anyone 'straight to the crematorium'. There are certain processes and items required before anyone can be cremated:
- Executor's authorisation for cremation must be signed.
- Medical certificate from your GP (within 48 hrs but sometimes takes longer)
- GMO; Medical practitioner authorisation – this is another certification unique to cremations (not needed for burials) which requires another doctor, not your regular GP, to certify the identification. To make sure we are taking the right person to the crematorium.
- BDM registration. The passing is registered with the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages. This needs to be completed for every deceased person following cremation, after which an official death certificate will be issued directly to the executor.
- Coffin – Yes. Unless there's an exemption for religious reasons, most people will need to be placed into a coffin for transport to, and acceptance by, the Crematorium.
- The Victorian Cemeteries Act 2003 states that 'A body be transported into and within a cemetery enclosed in a coffin, or other substantial receptacle.' Which means that we do need to bring a deceased person into our care and at the very least place them in a coffin for transport to the crematorium. More extensive care may include dressing the deceased person and if family members wish to say their final goodbyes that can also happen in our Dromana premises.
We miss not being able to assist people via our information tables at Dromana Hub and Benton's Square. While a couple of people objected to funeral directors showing up in public, we know that many people genuinely appreciated our presence and the information we shared with them. Some of them called us within days or weeks of our meeting to ask us to conduct their loved one's funeral.
A helping hand during a very sad time.
Sadly one local lady, who found our information table at her local shopping centre, lost her husband the very day she spoke with us. Mary had just come from her husband's palliative care facility, having been told he had just 'days to live'. She had begun seeking quotations from the other local funeral homes and was relieved to receive our quote which would enable her to save $1450 for the exact same service that she'd been quoted elsewhere. As both Mary and her husband were aged pensioners, she, as the surviving partner, was able to receive assistance from Centrelink. Mary's husband's 'No-service' funeral cost her just $150.
It seems that many people have questions about cremations, burials and other aspects of the funeral process, but feel uncomfortable visiting a funeral home to find answers. Being able to chat informally with our directors at our information tables at local shopping centres, was a safe option for many. We look forward to getting back out the shopping centres once the social distancing measures are relaxed, and in the meantime, if you have any questions at all that you'd like answered, please call us on 03 5982 0086 and one of our directors will be pleased to provide guidance.
I hope you and your family are staying safe and well.
All the best,