Where to Start after the death of a loved one

Where to start after the death of a loved one

Knowing where to start after the death of a loved one is never easy. Below is some information that will help guide you initially. We also have a downloadable guide, here. It is often a good idea to enlist the help and support of a trusted friend to make and receive phone calls, and assist in whatever way you need them to: walk the dog, pick kids up from school, grab some groceries etc.

It is an extremely intense and confusing time, so don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions you might have about what you need to do, even if your concerns aren’t directly related to the funeral. Artisan Funerals are well-versed in all topics relating to the loss of a loved one, and we are here to provide you with any answers, advice, and guidance you may need.

Our aim is to guide you in where to start after the death of a loved one.


Within Hours

When a death occurs while your loved one is in a hospital, care facility or hospice, the staff will notify you and the GP. If you’ve already given them the name of a funeral home, the staff will contact them as well.

If the death is expected and occurs at home or anywhere else not listed above, the deceased has most likely been under the care of a GP or specialist. Notify them immediately, and then contact your funeral director.

When a death is unexpected, and/or unexplained, the police should be notified at once. They will attend on behalf of the Coroner. If an ambulance has been in attendance, they will contact the police for you. It may be a number of days before the Coroner is able to release your loved one back to you.  Let your funeral director know what has happened so we can be of assistance at the earliest opportunity.

If you are at all unsure at any point….call us.


The Next Few Days

After you’ve notified the appropriate professionals, you’ll want to notify friends and relatives of the death. It may be too painful for you to do this yourself. It’s absolutely okay for a trusted friend to make the call in your place.

Now is the time to review any prearranged wishes or plans your loved one may have put in place, and meet with your Funeral Director to discuss your options and begin creating a funeral.

They can assist you to write a death notice for the local paper, to notify those in the community of your loved one’s passing. Our Funeral Directors are fully mobile, and will meet with you in the comfort of your home or at a venue of your choice. Perhaps a cafe or park, or wherever you feel most comfortable.

Remember that one of your greatest resources will be family and friends who want to offer their assistance, however they can. We encourage you to get in touch with relatives, neighbours, friends, clergy members or other trusted members of your community.

People like to be needed and they are often more than happy to prepare food, look after children, and help with arrangements, or simply offer a kind word and a hug.

Again, if you are unsure how to proceed… contact us.

The Funeral – Designing the Service

Your funeral director is there to help guide you in where to start after the death of a loved one. 

The initial call with our funeral director will allow us to gather the information we need to begin the process of bringing your loved one into our care.  We will inquire about any pre-arrangements which may be in place. During this time, feel free to ask any questions you may have, and resolve any of your initial concerns.

At a later meeting with you, we will be able to discuss your arrangements in greater detail. We are always available in your time of need to provide support, a sympathetic ear, and careful guidance.

When you first begin the process of creating a funeral, the decisions you’ll face might seem overwhelming. We will help you tackle the choices ,one by one, and make the journey as simple and meaningful as it can be. During your meeting with our Funeral Director we will collect all information required to prepare and file the official death certificate. This includes scheduling the service (location, date and time), selecting a coffin, flowers and drafting a death notice.

We will walk you through the entire arrangement process, and ask you about your loved one to gain an understanding of them. Use this time to voice your ideas and preferences, tell your loved one’s life story, share memories and highlight their accomplishments. Our Funeral Director will use this information to guide you in crafting a meaningful, personalised celebration of their unique journey.

Our staff are experienced in understanding and accommodating the needs of all beliefs, faiths, lifestyles, and relationships. We’re here to answer your questions and guide you through the decisions you’ll need to make. We will encourage you to take your time to figure out the most meaningful and fitting way to honour your loved one.

Whether it’s formal or informal, traditional or offbeat, a funeral provides an opportunity for family and friends to gather and support one another in taking the first steps of their healing journey. A service can take place in many settings – at your home, outdoors, a crematorium chapel, a church. It can incorporate music, poetry, or art in the celebration of a unique life. There are endless possibilities for what the service can be.

The person conducting the funeral service, be it a clergy person, an elder, or a celebrant, will also meet with the family.  They will discuss in more depth the hymns, music, poems, readings and other content of the service. Where a celebrant is required, our Funeral Directors have a select group of celebrants that they work with regularly and will contact one of these on your behalf.

To help share your loved one’s personality and life story, feel free to bring any memorabilia.  This can include photos, videos, music, crafts, or treasured items. These will give us a better understanding of how you envision paying tribute to them. Even if you’re not sure how a particular aspect of their life might be included, please don’t hesitate to ask. We can often make suggestions of a way to add a unique element as a special touch to their service. The smallest touch can make a big difference in personalising their service. There’s no right or wrong when it comes to celebrating your loved one and honouring their life, accomplishments, and individuality.

It is helpful to have the following when you meet with your Funeral Director:

  • Family member or a close friend for support.
  • Information for the Death Certificate including: Birth certificate, marriage certificate/s, names and occupations of parents, names and ages of children.
  • Clothing for your loved one to be dressed in. You may wish to include perfume, makeup, or aftershave, if appropriate. A current photo will assist us with their presentation.
  • You may be required to pay a deposit. So, have on hand a credit/eftpos card or cheque book.
  • Prepaid or prearranged funeral plan documents, if any.
  • Burial site reservation, if any.
  • A list of questions you may have.



A ‘viewing’ is how we describe seeing the person who has passed away. It is an opportunity to spend one last time with them before the funeral. In some cultures, it is compulsory that the deceased is attended by family members for a significant amount of time leading up to the funeral. Some people need to have a final opportunity to see their loved one again. Our belief is that the value of spending this quality time cannot be underestimated.

A viewing can help in a number of ways, giving you the opportunity to:

  • Say your own goodbyes in your own way. You can say anything that has been left unsaid, “Thank you”, “I will miss you”, “I love you”, “I’m sorry”, “I will always remember when…”
  • Help cope with the reality and acceptance, especially if you haven’t seen the person for some time, or the death was unexpected.
  • See the person free from pain, or medical apparatus, especially if they have been in care or hospital. Our skilled and compassionate staff are unsurpassed in their presentation of loved ones, so the final picture that you walk away with is more positive than what you may have seen previously.

The viewing is usually private with family and selected friends who attend, or it can be just for you, if you want some one-on-one time.

Families to choose to make the viewing a special time to be together. They might play favourite music, share a favourite drink or food, or place some small mementos in the coffin.   Things often used are photos, a favourite belonging, paintings from the kids, or goodbye letters or cards. All of this is possible to make your final time together memorable.



Repatriation – Returning Home

If a loved one dies away from home, this can add extra stress and complication to an already overwhelming situation. We offer an experienced and complete interstate or international repatriation service, taking care of all arrangements to ensure a timely and dignified return home.


Download our FREE simple guide to funerals:

Where to start after the death of a loved one

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