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Sharon Hunter - September 2021

Myth: A funeral must be held within a few days

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When death comes to a loved one, it can be overwhelming. Amid the grief, there is suddenly a lot to do, and many decisions to make.

Most people think a funeral must be held within days of the death. So they rush to book locations, arrange songs, food, flowers and photos to make the funeral unique. There’s also the pressure of bringing in people from out of town or overseas. Little wonder many funerals end up feeling generic; there isn’t time to do anything truly bespoke.

The truth is, you have more time than you think.

You can delay a funeral for weeks if that suits, and there are various ways to do this. Holding a memorial service is a simple option. That’s a service where the body of the deceased is absent. It could be that the body is cremated, in which case you could hold the service at any time.

If the body is to be present, you will need to consider care of the body until committal. This is carried out via refrigeration or embalming, and a funeral director can take care of this for you.

"The truth is, you have more time than you think."

What is Embalming?
Embalming involves the use of chemicals to delay decomposition and is carried out at the funeral home. With increasing awareness of the toxic load it creates, many wish to avoid embalming in favour of a more earth-friendly approach. It’s best to consult your funeral director to discuss your wishes.

What’s meant by refrigeration?
The funeral director can care for the body at the funeral home in a cooled facility. Doing this for any length of time may incur additional fees, but it can be an excellent option for extending funeral timeframes.

Having the body at home
If you’d like to have the body at home, you’ll need to keep the room cool. Portable air conditioners are excellent for this. You might supplement this with ice packs. Rotating chilled hot water bottles also works well.

Other tips for home care include using an adult diaper or towel around the deceased’s hips. If you’re assisted at home with a palliative carer or doula, they will help. Burn scented candles. Not only does this bring a certain reverence to the room, it also helps reduce odours.

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