What To Do When Someone Dies

Things To Do Immediately

If the death occurs at a hospital, hospice or aged care facility, staff will arrange for a doctor to issue a Doctor’s Medical Certificate Cause of Death.

Family or staff can call Gift of Grace Funerals to plan the transfer of your loved one from the place of death into our professional mortuary care facility. We are ready to take your call 24/7.

If the death occurs at home and was expected, call your Dr or Palliative care provider who will issue the Drs Medical Certficate Cause of Death. There is no urgency to do this and please allow yourself the time you need for everyone to say goodbye if required.

It is legal to have a body at home and if you would like Gift of Grace Funerals to support you to do this (in consultation with professional mortuary staff) we would be happy to assist. This procedure is always best discussed with us and your extended family prior to death. Having a loved one at home can be a rewarding experience but a number of variant factors will determine what practical length of time is best expected for this to happen.

If the death occurs at home, workplace or anywhere outside the above situations and was NOT expected, call the police. Depending on the circumstances, the coroner may be required to conduct a post-mortem to determine the cause of death.

Download our checklist of who to contact when someone dies here.

Organ and Tissue Donation

If you know the deceased is an organ donor, the next of kin will be required to provide consent for the donation to proceed. Consent is always needed before donation can go ahead regardless of the deceased wishes. Hence its important your wishes are made known so the donation is upheld. To check if the deceased is an organ donor, the hospital can look up the Australian Organ Donor Register. When a person dies it may be possible for tissue donation (eg cornea, skin, bone). Organ donation (eg liver, kidney, lungs etc) is performed under strict medical conditions whereby the organs remain oxygenated, usually after a death in ICU.


Body donation Programme UWA

Has your loved one completed a donor registration form that has been signed, witnessed and dated prior to death? The next of kin is responsible for notifying the Donation Co-ordinator upon the death. The co-ordinator will contact the Dr to ascertain suitability of body donorship. Bodies that are unacceptable include those that have

  • Had a post-mortem
  • Recent surgery
  • Posssible contagious disease
  • Had organs removed for donation (with exception of corneal)
  • A possible contagious disease
  • Been significantly altered by certain medical procedures
  • Some other medical conditions – Assessed as obese or emaciated
  • Been deceased more than 5 days
  • Been assessed as unsuitable for embalming

Pre Paid Funerals, Funeral Bonds and Insurance

If the deceased has a pre paid funeral, contact the relevant funeral director. If you’re unsure, you will usually be able to find a copy of the funeral plan with their solicitor or executor. Its always best to advise your family of any pre paid agreements you have in place. Your loved one may have taken the opportunity to purchase a pre need cremation agreement, burial plot and/or memorial site with the Metropolitan Cemeteries Board.


If the deceased has a funeral bond it can be used to assist with funeral costs. A funeral bond usually nominates a preferred funeral director, so be sure to check. Gift of Grace Funerals operates in collaboration with allied professionals Funeralplan Management to secure funeral pre-paid funerals in Perth and surrounds. A Funeralplan bond is a capital guaranteed investment fund with the specific purpose of meeting your funeral expenses. Your contributions and allocated bonuses are always secure. This arrangement provides an opportunity to outline your funeral plans and make an investment towards your funeral costs which (upon death) protects loved ones financially and makes a difficult time for family and friends easier.


Check if the deceased had any insurance (eg, funeral insurance, life, accident, private health or sickness insurance).

Was the deceased a returned service person or did they belong to a club, pensioner association or trade union which may entitle them to a funeral benefit?

If you or the deceased person receive payments from Centrelink, have you checked with Centrelink about a possible bereavement payment or allowance? servicesaustralia.gov.au/individuals/subjects/death-and-bereavement

In certain cases, a person may be granted early access to their own superannuation fund in order to pay for a family member’s funeral. In other cases, a death benefit may be available from the deceased’s superannuation fund. The deceased’s family members may be able to put this payment towards the cost of a funeral. servicesaustralia.gov.au/individuals/services/centrelink/early-release-superannuation

Your Funeral Director

If the deceased has a chosen funeral director, contact them to transfer the body. Gift of Grace Funerals will schedule a time to bring your loved one into our care.

Shortly after, one of our wonderful funeral consultants will contact you to make a time to meet with the family to begin arrangements for the funeral service.

If the deceased does not have a nominated funeral director you will need to find a funeral director who you feel meets your personal values, price points and service levels.

Do you need a funeral director?

You can legally arrange almost all aspects of a funeral without a funeral director. However, there are health regulations, administrative paperwork and legalities which must be adhered to. If you don’t have any experience in the area, it may be a difficult and distressing task to look after a loved one without a funeral director to help navigate the legal requirements and logistics during a time of grief.

If organising your funeral, these will be your basic tasks

  • Purchase of a single funeral permit, which is permitted by the Cemeteries Cremation Act 1986 and Cremations Act 1929. All Board requirements must be complied with and it is your responsibility to arrange for all permits and applications
  • Care of the person who has died
  • Registering the death with WA Births, Deaths and Marriages
  • Booking the cremation or burial
  • Choosing a coffin
  • Transportation of the body

Gift of Grace Funerals take pride in supporting family led funerals. We can assist with as much, or as little support required. Like all end of life planning, your vision is best discussed with us prior to death so we can journey with you to achieve a wonderfully positive funeral experience.

The Funeral Service

Plan the funeral service There’s a lot which goes into planning a funeral service and you will need to make a number of important decisions. Before you meet with your chosen funeral director, its sensible to have an idea of what type of funeral you would like to plan, where to hold the service and the format of the service. Whilst most services include the deceased’s burial or cremation, this is not always the case. A memorial service usually takes place after the cremation or burial without the body being present.

Funeral and memorial locations may include

  • A funeral home chapel
  • Church or place of worship
  • Cemetery chapel
  • Graveside
  • Natural burial site
  • At home
  • Private property or venue
  • Public place

When it comes to funeral service options there are generally four major types to choose from

As the name suggests, there is no service and no attendance. It is the cheapest option as it avoids the requirement for extensive mortuary care, viewings, celebrant fees, venue fees, flowers or display coffin

Typically takes place in one location, ending in the final committal without proceeding elsewhere to finalise the service

The service takes place at a chosen location (eg church or venue, then proceeds to the cemetery for a final committal ceremony.

A graveside service takes place either entirely at the graveside. Sometimes the service can be held in the cemetery chapel, followed by a short procession to the graveside for a committal ceremony.

During your funeral arrangement, a Gift of Grace Funeral arranger will discuss your loved one’s chosen wishes, how your loved one will be cared for, and what type of service (if any) is needed. We will discuss and present you with various options for

  • Funeral venues
  • Burial or cremation
  • Celebrant/Clergy/or Family or Friend to lead the service
  • Coffin choices (eco and traditional)
  • Music, Photo tributes, livestreaming or filming
  • Flower arrangements
  • Viewing
  • Memorial stationery
  • Funeral vehicles
  • Catering

One of the major parts of a funeral arrangement is to complete administrative paperwork. A nominated person (call the funeral administrator or applicant) will need to provide information and sign the following documentation

  • Death registration information
  • Application and instructions for burial or cremation
  • Mortuary consent and ID forms

For your convenience and peace of mind a summarised form will be left with you which will outline and remind you of the details discussed.

Your Funeral Celebrant

A funeral celebrant plays a significant role at a funeral. As the person who puts together the service and then officiates the funeral, the celebrant’s presentation, professionalism, and ability to connect, shapes the tone and feeling of the entire day.

A funeral celebrant must also be able to meet a family’s particular needs – while some families require cultural practices to be included in the funeral, others want a funeral that incorporates celebratory elements. And while some families want maximum input into the funeral service, others want everything taken care of for them.

Your celebrant or clergy will work closely with you and your Gift of Grace Funeral arranger to ensure the service is conducted with your loved one’s wishes in mind. He or she will weave a perfect life celebration and work closely with you in writing tributes and preparing special ritual and presentations.

You may already have chosen a celebrant of choice, or a Gift of Grace arranger will recommend someone who they feel would be a great ‘match’ for you.

Similarly, you are most welcome to have a friend or family member oversee this role. We encourage and empower our families to do this if it is their wish.

If you choose a traditional religious service, we will work closely with your Church, Place of Worship and Clergy / Spiritual Leader to honour your loved one’s cultural, spiritual and/or religious values and beliefs.

To View Or Not To View?

Viewings are optional and can be held just prior to the funeral, either on the day (or days) leading up to the funeral. The casket or coffin will be set up so attendees can visit the deceased or if it is preferred – the viewing can be restricted to family members only.

A viewing may take place at the funeral home, in the family home, at a private venue or at a church or chapel prior to the funeral service commencing. NB Viewings cannot take place in Cemetery Chapels.

Paying For The Funeral

  • Determine who will pay for the funeral
  • Identify sources of funds that will help you pay for the funeral
  • Set a suitable budget

Depending on your circumstances, the following funds may be available to you

  • Insurance or funeral bond payments
  • Money in the deceased bank account
  • Superannuation funds
  • Govt allowances or bereavement payments
  • Bereavement payments for Veterans or Indigenous Australians
  • Assistance from trade unions, clubs or associations the deceased was a member of
  • Online fundraising
  • Memorial Sites

Social Media Accounts

With the digital world encouraging more of us to put our lives on-line you do need to consider what happens to all the messages, photos and other e-footprints belonging to your loved one after they die. Most social media sites will offer a way to de-activate an account if the account owner has died – usually after the presentation of the death certificate. Facebook also offers the opportunity to ‘memorialise’ accounts so that family and friends can continue to gather and share messages on their profile. Keep in mind, if an account is deleted you might lose all the photos and memories, so consider making copies.

Removing Names From Mailing Lists

You can stop unsolicited mail being sent to the deceased person by registering with the Association for Data – driven Marketing and Advertising (ADMA) for the ‘do not mail’ service.

Look After Yourself and Look After Each Other

It’s easy to lose yourself in the business of organising a loved one’s funeral. But it’s important to look after yourselves when experiencing grief, especially after the hubbub of the funeral has passed. If you’re struggling, seek out grief and bereavement support. Some organisations that can be found on-line include

  • Beyond Blue
  • Good Grief
  • Griefline
  • Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement
  • Australian Govt Social Work Services
  • Lifeline
  • Compassionate Friends WA
  • Red Kite

One More Thought

Please don’t forget to make immediate arrangements for the care of any pets or family dependents of the deceased if necessary. Ensure the deceased residence and vehicles are secured and the basic upkeep of the gardens and surrounds are taken care of. Hopefully, this can become a simple shared responsibility between family, close friends and vigilant neighbours.

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