Can we have a service at home?

You certainly can – we have attended some beautiful services in family homes. It is a familiar environment, and people can stay for a cup of tea and story sharing afterwards. Really it does depend on how many people the home can accommodate. We try and look for a local facility, such as a boating club, or community hall, if the numbers attending are too many for the home.

Does a body have to be embalmed?

Although the common current practice in New Zealand is to routinely embalm (approximately 90% of people are embalmed), the answer is that no, embalming is often not required. Here at State of Grace we try to avoid unnecessary embalming, and offer a choice of either keeping the deceased person in their home using icepacks discreetly tucked around the body, or by keeping the person in our coolroom, for up to a week. We have found that both of these methods have been very successful.

Occasionally we do make the decision, with the family, to embalm. This is often because of any physical challenges with the body such as unpleasant emissions or odours, or because they wish to keep the deceased at home for a long period of time. We discuss the options with each family, and make these decisions together on a case by case basis.

How long can a body stay unembalmed?

As each body is so different it is difficult to say, but in our experience we recommend that the body is held in our coolroom for a maximum of a week. With ice-packs, we recommend three days at home.

Do we need to have a celebrant?

We do recommend using a trained celebrant – we have a list of trusted celebrant who are all graduates of the Celebrant School –www.celebrant.school.nz.

With a small, intimate family gathering, it may be that a family member is confident to co-ordinate the service but with a large funeral the responsibility is huge in terms of time-keeping, ensuring that people have an opportunity to speak, keeping a flow within the ceremony etc, and this is where a trained celebrant is invaluable. The celebrant will spend several hours with your family, gathering stories and getting to know you.

Do we need to use a hearse?

We have a white Ford stationwagon that we provide as a hearse but you are welcome to use your own vehicle, providing it is large enough! In the past, some families have used their own van, highly decorated! Or with one family, the grandson used his prized ute and took his Grandad for a spin around the block before arriving at the crematorium!

Can we make our own casket?

Yes you can make a casket, but we recommend that you contact us, or any funeral director, before you make it, as there are certain requirements with size etc that must be adhered to. We can certainly advise you on suitable materials etc to use. Some crematoriums have recently refused to accept home-made coffins, so please check with us.

Do you have to be in a casket?

For cremation, the body must be in a casket, or shroud (see our Miranda Brown shroud on our casket page) that has a solid base.

While at home, the deceased may be kept in their own bed, but must be in a casket for the cremation or burial. The casket may be kept open at the service.

What do people wear in their coffin?

We have seen a huge variety in clothes! A couple of people insisted on remaining naked, plenty of people go in their pyjamas, some in their gardening or comfy clothes, and others dress up to the nines with everything else in between. The choice is yours.

What can be placed in the coffin?

We encourage families to write letters, small momentos, little artworks from younger children. The crematoriums prefer that no metal is placed in the casket, and no bottles of whisky!

Are the ashes that we get back really from our family member?

Yes, the crematoriums are scrupulously clean, and the ashes that you receive are only from the person that you had cremated, plus their coffin. There are urban myths surrounding cremation  including that the coffins are opened, and valuable things taken etc. We can assure you that the crematoriums are run in a very professional manner, and incidents of this nature would never occur.

What actually happens to the body when you take them back to your premises?

Generally we will be wanting to cool the body as quickly as possible so we transfer them from our stretcher to a bed in the coolroom. We check in daily, and check the body to ensure all is okay. If family are visiting we wash the body with essential oils, wash hair, and dress them in whatever clothing the family has provided, and then set them up in our viewing room where family are welcome to visit, make a cup of tea, and spend time. If family are not visiting, we would generally wash and dress the body the day before the funeral.

Family are of course welcome to participate in any of this preparation.

How much do funerals cost?

Our costs are listed on our Costings page, so you can pretty much add up the funeral expenses for yourself.

Our costs for a funeral range from around $2695 for a direct, no service cremation to anything around $6000 for a full service with one of our higher priced caskets, catering etc. We discuss costs fully when we meet with the family, and there are no unexpected shocks or surprises when the account arrives.

What happens if we can’t afford a funeral?

There is assistance from WINZ for low-income families. The grant is currently set at a maximum of $2008. We cannot apply for this grant on your behalf, but have the necessary paperwork for you. In the case of an accidental death ACC may have assistance depending on the circumstances. Ask us about this.

What paperwork is needed?

There are several forms that are required for cremation and we fill these in and ensure that they are given to the right people. We fill in a form registering the death, and this is sent in the day of the funeral. You will receive the Death Certificate from Births Deaths and Marriages up to ten days after this.

If you have any further questions please contact us