Skip to main content

COVID-19 Update: From Tuesday 27 July 11:59 pm all funerals will be restricted to a 50-person maximum Learn more

10 Steps to Planning a Funeral

10 Steps to Planning a Funeral

A practical guide to help families with funeral or memorial arrangements.

Losing someone close is one of the most difficult human experiences. It is emotionally challenging for many reasons, including the need for time-sensitive decisions and practical arrangements.

This "10 steps guide to honouring and celebrating life" was designed by our SMCT customer care team and was based on answering the questions often asked by families when planning a burial, funeral or memorial service.

Each step attempts to inform you about considerations, options and support services available, so you can make the decisions needed to celebrate and honour their loved ones in the most meaningful way possible.

We are sorry for your loss. Please contact our team if you have any questions or need any support.

01 - Who to notify first

There are different people to notify, depending on the location and circumstances of your loved ones passing.

Please check the table below to understand who is the recommended person to first contact.

Who to notify first

Who do I contact when a loved one passes?

When a loved one passes away at:

Who to contact:

In aged care or hospice

Onsite Doctor, Family GP

If organ donor: call nearest hospital

In hospital

Hospital staff

Unexpectedly

At any other place, including at home.

Police | Coroner

Police involvement is a normal part of the procedure for unexpected deaths.

Police will engage the services of a Funeral Director who will assist with immediate logistical requirements. They will then be able to transfer paperwork to your preferred Funeral Director.

02 - Notify family / close friends

Contact family members and friends of the deceased

Notify family / close friends

There is no right or wrong way to do this - in person or by phone. Sharing this task with several family members can be helpful. Consider contacting employers and those connected to places the deceased regularly visited and those who could become concerned.

Review last Will and testament along with other paperwork that details your loved one’s wishes. This may include prepaid arrangements with the cemetery and/or Funeral Director.

(If available refer to MYLIFEBOOK information for funeral arrangements and wishes.)

03 - Arrangement for dependents

Make arrangements for dependents, pets and property

Arrangement for dependents

Seek immediate care for dependents and pets while long term solutions are being found.

It is also worth securing any property or assets and having mail redirected to an alternative address if applicable.

04 - Consider burial / cremation and funeral ceremony options

Consider the type of funeral ceremony you would like, and the way your loved one would wish to be remembered

Consider burial / cremation and funeral ceremony options

A location will need to be selected if one has not been prearranged.

To assist families in navigating the many options available, our customer care team can provide packages and advice across a range of funeral services, along with suitable burial or cremation positions for you to consider.

We are a purpose led, not-for-profit organisation that is committed to serving the diverse needs of our community.

Call our customer care team, who are here to support you with any questions and to help you find the best choice for you and your family.

Call: (03) 8558 8278

05 - Selecting a funeral director

Selecting a funeral director

A Funeral Director will:

  • Complete and collect all official paperwork, including the processing of the death certificate
  • Prepare and transport the deceased
  • Make decisions and understand options regarding religious or ceremonial requirements
  • Get the support you need in making funeral arrangements

How to find a Funeral Director

Funeral Directors offer a variety of services and packages. To help you decide on which Funeral Director is right for you and your family, it helps to write a list of questions you may have.

It is important that you feel informed and confident of the services that will be provided. SMCT can provide you with a list of Funeral Directors that are registered with us and that we know and trust.

Call: (03) 8558 8278

06 - Selecting a coffin / casket and transportation

Selecting a coffin/ casket and transportation

An enclosed receptacle (coffin/casket) is legally required for the transportation of the deceased.

There is an extensive range available and we recommend speaking with your Funeral Director about options to suit your needs and budget.

A Coffin is constructed of timber, or similar material, with a flat lid and is shaped at the shoulders.

A Casket is constructed of timber or metal and can have either a flat or domed lid and is rectangular in shape.

Our award-winning florist can help you find a floral arrangement to complement the colour and finish of the selected coffin or casket.

Your Funeral Director can provide options and pricing for coffins / caskets based on your family’s needs.

They will also manage transportation and assist with paperwork.

07 - Arranging a viewing

Arrangement for dependents

Viewings are normally conducted at the family home or another appropriate location such as a funeral home or within one of our beautiful purpose-built facilities - i.e. The Atrium.

The deceased is presented in an open coffin or casket, to give those attending, a final moment to say goodbye.

Both Springvale Botanical Cememtery and Bunurong Memorial Park offer beautiful private viewing rooms for those wishing to organise this service. Cremation witness viewing rooms are also available at both Springvale and Bunurong Crematorium and provide an intimate room to farewell a loved one.

Funeral Directors assist with preparing the deceased for a viewing.

08 - Funeral / memorial service

Funeral / memorial service

Funeral services and ceremonies provide an important opportunity to honour and celebrate a life lived.

As with all significant life events, it is a time to gather with family and friends and to come together in union and solidarity.

The ceremony, as well as new and old traditions, allow us to grieve properly.

They let us reflect on our pain, our gratitude and our memories. They allow us to express our grief and to begin healing through support and connection.

We provide a range of services across several of our locations:

  • Modernly appointed chapel & reflection spaces (Springvale Botanical Cemetery
  • & Bunurong Memorial Park) with ample guest parking
  • Floral arrangements created by our award-winning florist team
  • Cafe with playground for guests

Funeral Directors play an important role on the day of the service. They provide safe transportation of the deceased and complete all legal documentation. They assist family's with the day's proceedings and can work with the family about any pre-arranged wishes and individual requests.

09 - After service functions

After service functions

Many families choose to host a function after the service, to provide family and friends a chance to come together to support one another and share memories of their loved one.

We offer state-of-the-art function spaces conveniently located within Springvale Botanical Cemetery and Bunurong Memorial Park. These fully-licensed spaces accommodate various group sizes and are located amongst acres of beautiful gardens.

“food is symbolic of love when words are inadequate”

Dr Alan Wolfelt

They offer a range of culturally inspired and personalised menus.

Our on site florist can assist with a variety of beautiful fresh flowers and floral arrangements.

10 - Support services

Support services

Although each and every person will grieve and mourn differently, our experience and research has taught us much about the grieving process.

We are proud to be able to channel this experience into supportive programs that focus on the wellness of our clients and their families.

We invite our clients to visit our Centre for Care & Wellbeing - a welcoming sanctuary designed to offer support, connection and healing to those experiencing loss. A weekly timetable of activities provides grieving families with opportunities to participate in reflection, meditation, and wellbeing sessions, as well as music and art therapy. All are welcome in this special place, where healing and connection often begins.

Detailed 10 steps guide

Need more information?

Download the complete '10 Steps to Honouring and Celebrating Life' guide