Adelaide celebrant Trevor Hayley has written a series about his dad’s final journey, offering practical advice about end of life planning and estate administration. This blog article, about planning a funeral for his Dad, is the third in the series.So Dad had died and now our attention needed to turn to his funeral. In fact, the choice of funeral director came very early, as this is the way Dad’s physical presence is transported from the hospital. The question actually came from hospital staff “What arrangements have been made?”

As a family, we already had such discussions and agreed to go with the funeral director we had used for Mum.

Dad was a member of a church, so the funeral planning decisions were easy. Dad had also discussed his funeral with the minister, planning the hymns and Bible readings. Now it was just a matter of finalising details.

The funeral was a wonderful and fitting tribute for a man who took one day at a time and tried to live simply. A man who lived without his wife for a number of years and moved from the family home, but in the last few years had a growing number of medical conditions.

Trevor Hayley's Dad's cemetery plaque. Photo source: The Hayley family vault
Trevor Hayley's Dad's cemetery plaque. Photo source: The Hayley family vault

My sister and I shared the eulogy, which was a healing act for the both of us. All of the people he had touched were there. I could not have had a better Dad.

Funerals (where the coffin is present) and memorials (where the coffin is not) can be expensive. It is almost one of those things you forget about, when dealing with a recent death. My experience with funeral directors has been one of care, empathy, compassion and attention to detail. They do the hard work, so you are free to do what you need to do.

There are a number of options for funeral expenses on the market today; these are the most common:

  • Pay at the time funerals – this is when no prior arrangements have been made. The Industry calls these ‘at-need funerals'. Usually, at some respectful time after the funeral, you will receive an account for payment. Some firms require a deposit, while others do not.
  • Funeral bonds – much like a bank term deposit, you purchase a bond, which grows with interest. The funeral bond will be available when the time comes to pay some or all of the funeral expenses. Dad had one of these.
  • Funeral insurance – an insurance product that covers funeral expenses to an agreed value at the market rate when the time comes. Premiums can be paid at whatever regularity you are comfortable with.
  • Prepaid funeral plans – arranged with a Funeral Director, you arrange and pay for the funeral or memorial in advance. The price is locked in at whatever the market rate is at the time of the arrangement.

Obviously, I am not going to recommend one over the other. You will need to consider your own circumstances and come to your own conclusions. Just make sure you do your research before signing up for either option. For our family, having the funeral bond was a wonderful and caring arrangement Dad had in place with his financial adviser. All I had to do was make the call.

Dad was cremated and a little while after the funeral. We placed his ashes next to Mum’s. For us, because of our faith, we were able to take comfort that they truly were resting in peace. In fact, when we got to the cemetery, we saw that Mum’s plaque was rather faded (technology had improved quite a lot since then), and we almost heard Dad shouting from heaven, “Replace the Plaque!” which we did. It's so nice to see both plaques whenever I find myself dropping in.

Dad's Journey blog series

I will continue sharing Dad’s Journey with future posts about his passing. You might also like to read my previous articles about Advance Care Directives and what we did with Dad's home and belongings after he left us.

The commentary in this blog is intended to be general in nature. It is just some observations from one fellow traveller in life to another. If anything in this blog raises issues for you, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or consult with a trusted medical professional. More grief resources can be found in our article Grief counselling and support services in Australia.

End of life planning advie from Adelaide celebrant Trevor Hayley.
Adelaide celebrant Trevor Hayley offers his end of life planning advice, following his Dad's passing.

About Trevor Hayley

Trevor Hayley was an accountant for 20 years before studying Chaplaincy and Pastoral Care to become a life memorial celebrant, servicing Greater Adelaide, Adelaide Hills, Fleurieu Peninsula, and South Coast. To be in the lives of families, when there has been a loss – a death, is an absolute privilege, Trevor says. To be able to share in the stories and memories of the one who has died; to be able to facilitate a memorable service for families, and to care for them, is at the very core of why Trevor is a celebrant.

Trevor also established Caring Conversations Café to practically utilise his skills in grief and loss. Bringing people together in an informal setting, over a coffee, to talk about their grief journey seems to have met a need in the community.

To get a free quote for a Bare Cremation service in your area, visit the Bare Cremation website, or call 1800 202 901.