Today the majority of deaths occur in hospitals or other healthcare facilities. In those cases the staff will usually handle the necessary medical formalities.
If a person dies at home or in a location other than a health facility, the first step is to contact the person's GP or other medical practitioner who can certify that death has occurred.
The next step is to contact a funeral director who will take the deceased into their care and assist in the funeral arrangements.
The Australian Funeral Directors Association website publishes a list of funeral directors in Western Australia as well as general information to help you plan or pre-plan a funeral.
Resources from other organisations that may help you make decisions at this difficult time:
End of Life Planning
The Council on the Ageing Western Australia (COTWA) have developed a useful checklist to assist individuals in planning for end of life. This and a range of other resources can be found on the COTA WA website.
The Goodbye Guide. End of Life Planner Checklist
Cremation and Burial Information
When Someone Dies
Grief and Bereavement Support
Frequently Asked Questions
|Q: Why have a funeral?
A: Like a birthday or a wedding, a funeral is a celebration – a celebration of a life lived. It provides a chance for people to reflect on that life and to formally say their goodbyes.
|Q: What options are there?
A: Cremation, burial or entombment.
|Q: Can I have a funeral on a Saturday or Sunday?
A: Yes, funerals can be arranged on Saturdays by prior arrangement; however there is an additional cost factor involved.
Services are generally not offered on a Sunday.
|Q: Is it possible to undertake a funeral without using a funeral director?
A: Yes, providing a Single Funeral Permit is obtained and all Board requirements are complied with. By obtaining a Single Funeral Permit you become the funeral director and it is your responsibility to arrange for all permits, applications and authorities as well as all other matters associated with the funeral.
|Q: Funeral directors sometimes refer to "up to the cemetery gates." What does this mean?
A: When you engage a funeral director to handle the arrangements for a funeral, their part in the ceremony is termed "up to the gates" being the arrangements prior to and including the transport to the cemetery. From that point on any arrangements such as chapel, interment, condolence lounge and catering are arranged through the cemetery involved.
|Q: Is it necessary to hire a hearse?
A: No, another type of vehicle, such as a station wagon, which is suitable and respectable, may be used to transfer the body and coffin within the cemetery.
|Q: Do I have to pay to use the chapel at the cemetery?
A: A complimentary chapel time allocation is included with ALL cremations. Many families choose to purchase additional blocks of time.
|Q: What happens at the crematorium on the day of the funeral?
A: The coffin is brought into the chapel and placed on the catafalque (committal table) either immediately after the mourners have entered the chapel or prior to the mourners entering and taking their seats. At the appropriate time during the service, the coffin will be lowered and removed from view by the activating of a conveyance. At the conclusion of the service the mourners leave the chapel and enter the condolence lounge to greet those attending the funeral. Once everyone has left, the coffin is placed in the cremator.
|Q: I wish to be cremated, but do I have to be enclosed in a coffin?
A: Yes. The Metropolitan Cemeteries Board By laws requires that a person shall not bring a dead body into a cemetery unless it is enclosed in a coffin approved by the Board.
|Q: Is the coffin cremated with the body still in it?
|Q: With a cremation, how do I know I have the right ashes?
A: The coffin is identified with a label (or lead strip) which follows the coffin and remains throughout the entire procedure. Only one cremation is ever carried out in a chamber at one time and the remains are withdrawn from the chamber before it can be used again.
|Q: Who is the administrator?
A: When a person is cremated, the person who applies for the Permit to Cremate is nominated as the administrator. That person is responsible for approving the memorialisation or removal of ashes from the cemetery.
Q: What is the difference between a traditional monumental grave and a lawn grave?
A: A traditional monumental grave is one that may have monumental work and kerbing over the area within the boundaries of the grave site. A lawn grave, which cannot be enclosed with kerbing, is located within a grassed area with a monument made of natural stone being placed at the head of the grave.
Q: How many interments can take place in a grave?
A: Generally a grave can accommodate three adult burials, one above the other. Cremated ashes may also be interred with numbers being limited at some cemeteries.
Families wishing to have the option to bury up to three individuals within one plot should advise their funeral director at the time of the first burial taking place so that the grave can be dug to a greater depth. Unless advised to do otherwise prior to the first burial Board staff will, by default, dig the grave to accommodate two interments.
|Q: Do I have to be buried in a cemetery?
A: It is possible for burials to be undertaken in a place other than a cemetery with approval from the Minister for Local Government.
|Q: Can my family select a grave for me when the time comes?
A: Yes, your family may personally select a grave at any of our cemeteries. Having made an appointment, you and your family will be accompanied by our friendly staff who will show you the available sites.
|Q: Do I go straight to the gravesite or do I wait?
A: With both cremations and burials, the funeral cortege will arrive at the main driveway where it will wait until the scheduled time. Mourners will then fall in behind the cars and proceed to the place of commitment.
Q: How do I secure a gravesite?
A: Members of the public can purchase the rights to a gravesite at any of our cemeteries. On doing so, the purchaser is issued a ‘Grant of Right of Burial’ for 25 years. The grant confers on the holder (also known as the ‘grantee’) the right to arrange burials, place cremated remains and erect monumental work upon the grave. It is issued in the name of one person only.For families wishing to establish multiple burial plots within the one burial area, it is strongly advised that additional plots be secured when the first plot is selected. If additional plots are not purchased in concurrence with the first it is highly unlikely that additional plots in the same area will be available for purchase in the future. The Metropolitan Cemeteries Board strongly recommends that families pre-purchase graves if wishing to secure a preferred location. Click here to learn more about the benefits of pre-purchasing a burial location.
Q: What happens when the grant expires?
A: The grantee has the right of renewal for a further 25 years, as established in the Cemeteries Act 1986. After that, if the Board and the grantee agree, further terms of renewal for periods of no more than 25 years may be arranged. Upon expiration of a grant, the control of the gravesite reverts to the Board.
Please note, as the average person moves every 7.5 years, reminder letters are not sent regarding the expiration of a grant. Fees may differ whether the grantee is renewing a current grant for a further 25 years or if the grant is repurchased upon expiry. Please contact the relevant cemetery for further information.
Pre-Need Funeral Planning
Q: If I pay for my funeral in advance, will the family have to pay anything extra at the time of my funeral?
A: The fee paid now covers the cost of cremation now or at any time in the future. There may be additional payments required for the funeral director or a memorial.
|Q: Can I use the agreement to cremate or bury someone else?
A: The agreement only provides for the cremation, burial or interment of the person named in the agreement. It is not transferable.
|Q: If I leave WA can I receive a refund?
A: Yes, the person named in the agreement may apply for a refund of the amount paid less any administration fees charged by the Board.
|Q: What type of things can be pre-purchased?
A: You may pre-purchase a grave, an interment, a cremation or a memorial placement. A separate certificate is issued for all pre-purchases.The Metropolitan Cemeteries Board provides pre-need agreements for the following: grave sites, memorial sites, cremations, interments and mausoleum crypt entitlements. Some funeral directors can also arrange pre-need agreements for their services.
|Q: Can my family choose where the cremation will take place?
A: Yes, your family may select whichever location best suits their needs, whether it is Karrakatta, Pinnaroo or Fremantle.
|Q: Why should I consider pre-purchasing?
A pre-planned and pre-purchased funeral means that you make your own decisions and give yourself the peace of mind of knowing your wishes are in place.
|Q: Does it cost more to pre-purchase?
A: Pre-purchasing costs slightly more, but the pre-purchased funeral package will not be affected by future price rises.