“Just burn me”. It's one of the most common things we hear in response to a lot of our Facebook posts. But unfortunately, cremations are not that simple and DIY funerals are not entirely possible, and hiring a funeral director is necessary. Australians who prefer a simple cremation often don’t want the expense of a funeral director, but it is generally not possible to arrange a cremation or burial without one.

In this article, we explain why Australians might have trouble cutting out the funeral director and going directly to a cemetery or crematorium, if they are hoping to arrange a DIY funeral.

Why do I need a funeral director? Can't I have a DIY funeral?

The role of a funeral director functions like an event planner when organising any other type of party. They take care of all the arrangements, like booking the catering; arranging flowers and transportation; and handling the paperwork. Funeral directors act as the middle-man (or woman) between the family and suppliers like the crematorium, to take care of all the funeral arrangements. And like any professional service provider, funeral directors charge a significant fee for the service.When the average Australian plans a wedding, birthday party, or any other significant event, most people don’t hire an event planner to make arrangements. So why bother dealing with a funeral director for a simple cremation or funeral, when you can just go straight to the crematorium and make the arrangements yourself? The answer is, well – you can’t really.

A question about DIY Funerals asked on the Bare Facebook page
A question about DIY Funerals asked on the Bare Facebook page.

Why can’t I arrange a DIY funeral directly with the crematorium?

Government regulations and industry policies throw a spanner in the works for people wanting to arrange a DIY funeral and cut out the funeral director, according to a recent article by consumer group CHOICE. Families wishing to take matters into their own hands must first apply to their local cemetery board for a permit to do so. However regulations vary from state to state, creating varying degrees of difficulty.Additionally, it can be emotionally exhausting to make all the necessary arrangements and navigate the complex practical and legal requirements to store and dispose of the body at a time of immense grief. So for convenience, most people choose to hire a funeral director to do the work for them. However, even once you get past the hurdle of being granted a permit, the cemetery or crematorium will usually refuse to deal directly with customers and advise you to make arrangements with a funeral director, the CHOICE article stated. So, if hypothetically, a person wanted to plan a relative’s funeral themselves, without a funeral director, it wouldn’t matter if they were willing to make all the necessary arrangements themselves - like booking a church and clergy or celebrant, ordering flowers and catering, and liaising directly with the crematorium and office of Births Deaths and Marriages. Unfortunately, it is almost impossible for people to arrange a funeral on their own in Australia, confirmed Bare’s Customer Experience Manager, Daphney Adams. In theory, you don’t legally need a funeral director to bury or cremate someone in Australia, but crematoriums have their own set of regulations.“You would think that you could make the funeral arrangements yourself, but if you were to ring a crematorium, they would tell you that they won't do business directly with families," Daphney added.“Working with the crematorium is one part of the service. We handle the transport to the crematorium, the cremation itself, delivery of the ashes and the administration – like the death certificate and any necessary paperwork or permits.”

Fireworks memorial display
Arrange a simple, non-attended cremation with Bare, then separately plan the memorial or ceremony component yourself, however you like. The sky's the limit!

Is there a way to get around it?

The short answer is no. “If you ring a crematorium, they will tell you it has to go through a funeral director,” Daphney said. “But say for example you had private property and you wanted to bury a relative on the family farm, you can apply to do that without a funeral director. In some cases, private burials are permitted if it’s on a family property with an allocated burial site, however government approval is still required. A suburban backyard wouldn’t pass these days.”But there’s a lot of things you can do without a funeral director.“While the disposal of the body requires a funeral director, many of the practical elements do not. Families can actually do a lot themselves, like dressing their loved one and keeping them at home for a time before the cremation or burial, and arranging a celebration of life event or memorial, ” Daphney added.

If you do not prefer a funeral home to do these things, you can arrange a simple, non-attended cremation with Bare. We’re here to take care of the logistics like paperwork, transport and return of ashes without expensive mark-ups or huge service fees. After the ashes come home, family and friends have the freedom (and budget) to plan a personalised ceremony, memorial or celebration of life party to honour the way the person lived.

Read our DIY guide to funerals and memorials for a step-by-step guide to planning a memorial yourself, after a Bare Cremation, without needing a funeral director. For more ideas on planning a farewell yourself, read our article How to personalise an end of life service.

Whether you are looking to organise a direct cremation, a memorial or funeral service, we would be honoured to support you. To find out more, visit our Bare website here, or call 1800 071 176.