Planning a funeral

With heart & soul

Helpful information

Below is info and links that may be helpful for the living as well as the dying around end of life care, planning, having tough conversations with families and what to do at the moment of death.

The best advice I ever got was if someone around you dies, the first thing is not to panic and pick up the phone but to pick up the kettle and make a cuppa. Take some time out to say your goodbyes before you pick up the phone to call me to arrange taking your loved one into our care. You will never have that quiet and precious time back to say what you need to say or simply to hold vigil with your loved one.

Planning Your Funeral

A tremendously empowering process that ensures you have time to clearly plan your send off and run through with me what your wishes are and how I can make them come true before you become too ill or simply because it is done and can be revisited as a plan at a later date. It takes a huge stress away from families if they know what you want and brings you incredible peace of mind- often minimising family conflict after you are gone because your wishes are clear and in writing.

End of Life Care

I specialise in meeting with families before a loved one dies so I can get to know them, usually when the dying can still speak and express their wishes. I volunteer at a dementia and palliative care facility and am comfortable having these conversations that prove tough for many families. Having completed a death midwifery course with Dr Michael Barbato (yes just as a birthing midwife helps the baby in, we help the dying to leave in peace) and facilitated Death Cafes in Newtown for some years, I am at ease talking with the dying and finding out what they need and want and then creating their funeral with them. It gives them a sense of control and meaning at a time when they may be feeling powerless.

Testimonial on end of life care leading in to supporting the family as funeral celebrant

Bridget whose Mum Margaret I assisted in the process relates: Melissa is the most beautiful natured person. We had Melissa kindly share our mother’s palliative care time and provide the most touching and personal funeral service. Mel has a great gift in public speaking and showing great compassion and joy to all those she shares special services and celebrations with. We would highly recommend Mel for all occasions.

End of life planning – Useful Info

This is intended to help clarify what you need to put your wishes/plans in place at end of life or after you’re gone, what your wishes are around tidying up loose ends and your funeral.

It’s not intended to replace your will but can provide guidance to your executors and family. It’s a quick guide only and not intended to be exhaustive- add your own special messages or requests.

• Name:

• What I wish for my end of life: (eg be at home; minimal hospital/medical intervention; what pain management you want, who you want around and who to advocate for you if you can’t etc)

• Where I keep my advanced care directive, if relevant:

• People I want to thank/are grateful to and why:

• People I may want to say sorry to and why:

• Things I would like to have done before I die:

• Any pets I want looked after and by whom:

• Where I keep my will and important documents:

• My executors are:

• Who has or where I keep Passwords for phone banking or access to computer/files:

• When I die: Special requests:

If you die at home, do you want your body to be kept at home on a cooling bed (legally up to 5 days is possible) so family can say goodbyes/have a vigil or taken away

• My funeral/Celebration of Life ceremony

• Where I want to be cremated (and ashes scattered & by whom ?) or buried

• Coffin: what kind and whether decorated or cardboard so guests can draw or paint on it etc

• Music I want at my funeral eg for entry, Reflection time, exit

• Poetry I want read at my funeral:

• Eulogy to be read by:

• Where I want my wake to be held:

• What I want to say to my kids or special people in my life:

Special requests eg food for guests, special mementoes on the coffin, guests to wear or do certain things eg take favourite flower home or be given memento of you. Any Charity for donations in your name?

Melissa Halliday © 2021 M: 0425213338   Feel free to email me for a more thorough checklist.

Useful info & Docs for planning end of life

We need the knowledge and capacity to do death well so here are some useful links.

Disposal of the Deceased regulations and legislation:

Conducting a non-traditional funeral and even how to build your own coffin:  Free downloads include info on Navigating the Medical and Health Care System, The Dying Process, Caring For or Being With the Dying, Death- Sudden, Expected or Unexpected, Practical Care of the Body

Alternative funeral Directors that are skilled, transparent & Affordable    Picaluna is a new alternative to the Exxy Traditional Funeral Directors- a company that offers affordable, unrushed funerals with caring celebrants and planners, transparent pricing and great choices of ecocoffins etc. 10% profits to the charity of your choice.

Guidelines for End of Life Care & Decision Making

For Further Info: NSW Ministry of Health
73 Miller Street North Sydney NSW 2060
T (02) 9391 9000    

Documents to think about when you are well as you’ll need them when you’re not:  Explains them all…

A valid Will (for after you die) – see a solicitor or get a DIY from post office (just be careful you don’t get a beneficiary to witness it or it won’t be valid)

An enduring Power of Attorney for when you are alive at end of life but may be very sick or unable to manage finances (covers financial matters and needs to be registered if you want someone to deal with real estate on your behalf- the enduring part means it endures even if you lose mental capacity)

An enduring Guardianship Agreement also for when you are still alive but may be in hospital and unable to look after yourself (covers health and medical decisions inc what life support if any you may want; also endures even if you lose mental capacity) which needs to be done/witnessed by a solicitor/barrister.

NSW Ambulance Plan- through your GP you can register for this Plan. Keep it on your fridge so an ambo, if called through 000 to take you to hospital will attend you in your home.

Advanced Care Planning: Advance care planning involves talking about your values and the type of health care you would want to receive with your loved ones and health professionals, if you became seriously ill or injured and were unable to say what you want. Ideally these conversations start when you are well and continue throughout your illness. Currently, in NSW, there is not one particular form a person must use to write down their wishes. When choosing a form, people should think about how well it meets their needs and purpose.

I hope this is helpful. Please call me to discuss M: 0425 213 338