Funeral planning: Different ideas for a special funeral

There’s something to be said about planning your own funeral. While perhaps a morbid topic at first glance, it can be a beautiful thing to organise exactly what you want when you pass. What’s more, it will put your loved ones at ease knowing there will be no stress trying to determine what you would have wanted.

Personalising your funeral is now something that many more people feel comfortable doing, as they feel that a funeral should be a celebration of a person’s life, rather than a sombre, formal occasion. From eco-cemeteries, burial at sea, or cremation-versus-burial decisions, there are now a lot of funeral options at your disposal. Here we discuss different types of funerals and what’s involved.

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When you sit down and work out how much a funeral costs, the breakdown of items can end up being quite substantial. So it’s no wonder many Australians are considering alternative funeral arrangements.

One type of funeral leading the charge is the eco-funeral. Combining environmentalism with money saved, eco-funerals can still follow the tradition of many funerals – with a funeral service, speeches, etc. – but without the traditional burial. Instead, eco-burials may include:

  • Preparing the body without chemical preservatives and disinfectants.
  • Dressing the body in biodegradable clothes.
  • Burying the body in a ‘green’ coffin, casket or shroud.
  • Not having a headstone – or using a biodegradable headstone instead.
  • Burying the body without a grave liner or burial vault.

There are plenty of green burial sites – or eco-cemeteries – across Australia that cater to eco-funerals. One of the major factors behind people choosing to go green is an effort to reduce humanity’s carbon footprint.

Burial at sea

There are two ways to be ‘buried at sea’. The most common is to scatter one’s ashes – in this case, no permission is required from a government entity. However, burying a physical body at sea is regulated under the Environmental Protection (Sea Dumping) Act 1981.

Arranging a burial at sea is a more uncommon choice, but it’s still an option many people around the world choose. You will need to locate an appropriate site (at a depth greater than 3,000 metres), and because of the complex logistics it’s recommended that you organise such a burial through a funeral home experienced in sea burials.

What to do with your physical remains?

If you prefer the idea of a more traditional funeral, there remains a decision to be made on what to do with your body. While decades ago, a burial was far and away the most common choice, nowadays more than two-thirds of Australians prefer cremation over burial.

Unlike the environmental factor of an eco-funeral, many people decide on cremation due to the cost difference. In Australia, the average cost of a burial (including the headstone and grave plot) is around $19,000. By comparison, the average cost of cremation ranges from $2,000 to $6,000.

There’s also the option to donate your body to science. While not everyone’s preference, human bodies are extremely useful for training medical students and conducting unique medical research. There are strict rules regarding the donation of a body, so be sure to investigate it thoroughly before deciding on this option.

Personalising your funeral

Some people simply choose to deviate slightly from the norm for their funeral. Plenty of Australians are taking on a new trend of ‘fun-erals’ with everything from silent discos by the graveside to setting up art exhibitions with images and videos from your life.

In all things, it’s important to be prepared. If you want your loved ones to know your exact wishes for your funeral – the songs, the flowers, the person giving the eulogy, and your burial wishes – you can start the process by completing our Funeral Wishlist. There, you can detail everything you desire, and you can be sure your friends and family will know your funeral happened exactly as you planned.

While you’re planning for your funeral, consider the financial impact your passing might have on your loved ones. Funeral insurance offers a quick payout in the event of your death and can be used to cover a variety of funeral expenses. Remember to download our free funeral wishlist to help you map out your ideas.

Need help working out how much funeral insurance your family may need? Our funeral cost calculator can help.