Planning for a funeral

Deathopedia is a blog series that tackles topics about dying, death and loss, to build death literacy. To see death literacy in action in communities across Australia: check out Compassionate Communities Hub and Dying to Know Day.

Kerrie Noonan: Founder of The GroundSwell Project

This week’s question is: 

How do I plan my own funeral or the funeral of a loved one?  

And given it’s so personal, I’m going to give you some questions to think about; for yourself, your family and friends. This is your kickstarter to get you thinking. 

  • Are you “Doing it yourself”, getting a Funeral Director or doing a combination of the two? 
  • Do you expect to die at home? If so, do you want to have the ceremony at home? 
  • If you die somewhere else like a hospital do you want to “go home” again for a family vigil or funeral?
  • Is a viewing important to you and your family? 
  • What kind of service do you want? Do you have religious or spiritual needs for the service?
  • Do you want to be embalmed or given a mortuary make-over?
  • Is it important that you and your family know the celebrant? If so, talk with them before you die about the “feel” of the service. 
  • What kind of celebrant do you want? Someone traditional? Someone  young? or it doesn’t matter? If you want to find the right celebrant for you and your family it’s good to plan ahead.
  • Will there be music? A live band? 
  • Are there any creative elements you want? For example you can have your coffin decorated by your friends,  or photos placed on it etc
  • How do you want your family and community to contribute? 
  • What might you ask them to do? Say a few words? Organise a wake?
  • What kind of coffin do you want? Natural or maybe you’d like a shroud? Have you considered a natural burial?
  • There are so many other alternatives to cremation and burial  such as burial at sea, aquamation or turning your body into a gemstone! There are coffins made of natural wood, wool even! Do you want to make your own?
  • What do you want to wear? Regular clothes? No clothes? A shroud? 
  • Do you want to pre-pay a funeral director? And/or have the instructions pre-discussed and planned.
  • The other thing to consider is you can use a funeral director for parts or ALL of the ceremony - you have so many choices! For example, a friend of mine died at home and we only used a funeral director to move her body from home to the crematorium. Other friends have had the funeral directors manage every aspect of the funeral. It really is up to you.

Have these questions got you thinking?

Attend one of our “Ten things you need to know about death” workshops. 

While it may seem scary to think about your own mortality, becoming death literate and building your capacity for end-of-life planning can help create healthier community attitudes about death. The 10 Things Workshops will teach you what you don’t know about death; allowing you to set aside your fears of having ‘the conversation’ and walk away knowing how to plan your end of life the way you want to.

At the Groundswell Project’s 10 Things Workshops you will walk away with ten facts about death that will impact you and your loved ones. 

Register Today

Want some extra resources? Here are some links that might be helpful:

Funeral Rights a book by lawyer Robert Larkins:

Choice funeral costs article:

CHOICE funeral insurance article:

More downloads from the natural death centre:


Kerrie Noonan3 Comments