Planning a Funeral


A funeral service is not a legal requirement in South Africa.  However, it is customary to have an ‘end of life ritual or ceremony’ to commemorate the life that has passed.  When planning a funeral, all decisions should be made in terms of a persons will.


Try to ascertain what kind of funeral the deceased would have preferred – burial or cremation.   The responsibility for funeral arrangements and determining the deceased’s last resting place normally falls on the closest next of kin or persons named as heirs in the deceased’s will.


For legal and health reasons it is not recommended that one attempt to carry out the job of an undertaker oneself.  The services of a funeral director/undertaker are required for transport and sanitary storage of the body.  Funeral directors valuable knowledge in handling home affairs and their experience with the various funeral arrangements can make things a lot easier for families.


In certain instances the deceased may already have been removed from the scene.  It is absolutely acceptable to select a different funeral director to continue with the arrangements from this point onwards.  Members of the NFDA and other funeral bodies have reasonable standardised rates for removals, so changing funeral directors should not affect the amount you pay for the funeral service.  It is important to know that it is your right as a consumer to select the funeral director who best suits you, whether it is based on price, religion, or any other factor.


Funeral Checklist


What to take with you to a Funeral Parlour


  • A copy of the deceased’s Identity Document.
  • Next of kin’s Identity Document.
  • Funeral Policy – (if there is one)
  • Marriage certificate (this is required by the insurance company if you have a policy).
  • A photo of the deceased for hymn sheets.
  • Clothes – for the deceased to be dressed in.


Funeral directors usually handle the following funeral formalities:


  • Obtaining the death notice from the medical attendants
  • Registering the death to Home Affairs and collecting the death certificate
  • Supplying you with the original and the necessary certified copies of these forms for estate purposes
  • Organising death notices in newspapers
  • Offer a selection of coffins to choose from
  • Preparing and dressing the deceased for viewing / burial / cremation
  • Cemetery or crematorium bookings and funeral arrangements
  • Local transport of deceased
  • Embalming of the deceased for repatriation (if needed)
  • Repatriation of deceased across borders (if needed)



Additional items on the funeral arrangements checklist:


  • Design and printing of hymn sheets / funeral pamphlets
  • Venue – (place of worship / family home / retirement village)
  • Time of day – (this will affect your choice of catering / drinks)
  • Catering (light snacks and tea / alcohol)
  • Candles and floral arrangements
  • Musicians like singers or bagpipers or an organist
  • A sound system / video equipment set up
  • Petals / flowers to sprinkle on the grave
  • White pigeons
  • Helium balloons
  • Personal items belonging to the deceased and special memorabilia to display at the funeral
  • Consider also that you might have the funeral at a more formal venue with light snacks and tea and then a small group of family and friends may get together at the family home after the funeral.  It’s not nice for the grieving host to have to cook or be burdened worrying about hungry guests.  If one doesn’t feel like getting formal catering for both, pizza delivery is great for the home celebration.  Members of the family can all be asked to bring a dish, this is also a nice way for everyone to participate in the end of life celebration.  It is often a time when people wish they could do something to help, so this can present an opportunity.


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1 Comment

  1. Ellie Mac Donald says:
    The Benefits of having a funeral plan

    The passing of a loved one is a dramatic time in the lives of a family. When a loved one passes it calls for a period of grieving that is necessary to deal with and overcome the pain of losing someone. The last thing that any family needs is to experience more stress when a funeral service is not all encompassing and professional. The family should be able to rest and grieve in peace while knowing that the funeral will be held according to the wishes of the deceased. Death is never planned and it is not always something that is expected, but it can have a plan put in place to deal with the after effects of the loss.
    Having a funeral plan and trusting a company that provides funeral services has benefits. The family of the person who has passed is going through enough trauma already and they do not need to have any more uncertainties thrown at them. Death is something that every person will come into contact with during the course of their lives and the way in which the grieving process is handled will help to determine how they will overcome the trauma.

    The benefits of funeral services

    The biggest benefits of having funeral services is that everything will be planned in the event of your death. This means that things will have been thought out before hand and planned so that everything from the burial or cremation, to the tombstone, to where the remains will be placed has been considered and planned. This removes the task from the family of arranging all of the details or deciding what the last wishes of the deceased was.

    • Choosing the burial method
    Having funeral services and a funeral plan means that you will be able to decide on the method to be used to put your remains to rest. Some people prefer the idea of being buried while others would prefer cremation and having their ashes scattered somewhere that was meaningful to them. When you sign up for funeral services you will be able to specify the method so that your final wishes are attended to and so that your family will not have to decide for you.

    • The final farewell
    With different religions and different cultures comes different methods of saying goodbye. If you are a religious person then having a church service will probably be your desired choice when being sent off into the next world. Some are not at all religious and they would prefer a simple nonreligious farewell to give their family an opportunity to remember them and to say goodbye. The benefits of funeral services is that the person is able to organise the way in which their family will be able to give them a final farewell.

    • Support
    Another great benefit of having funeral services is that when a person passes away, their family who is left behind will be able to have the support that they need during a very difficult time. Having someone from the institution which the deceased has chosen to provide funeral services, who is trained and who is compassionate, will help the family to get through the grief and to get through the planning that has been pre-planned for the funeral.

    • Budget
    Most funeral services these days are very affordable and they are able to fit into almost any budget depending on what it is that you are wanting from your funeral services. The benefit of having a funeral service that is going to be most helpful to a family because any financial stress that is associated with the funeral and burial will be taken away. The funeral service will be paid for each month while the person is still alive. When a person dies that money will be used to pay for a funeral service and a burial. There are many places offering funeral cover these days, including clothing shops, but it is sometimes a better option to go with a funeral company. These companies are able to offer pre-planning, after care for the grieving family and organising the setup of tombstones. All of this is provided for with the monthly payments that are easily budgeted.

    These days we are lucky enough to have the option of choosing funeral services so that our family will not be left with the task of having to arrange a funeral and pay for a funeral. We all want our family to be able to move through the grieving process so that they can remember us with thoughts of happiness while they move on with their lives. The benefits of funeral services ensures that your family’s grief will be in comforting hands.

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