Arranging a funeral
Organising a funeral can feel like a massive task. There are a lot of decisions to make. And you may be feeling a whole kaleidoscope of emotions—or nothing at all. Everyone reacts differently to news of a death, and we understand.
Funerals aren't for the person who has died; they're about them. So when choosing a funeral ceremony it's important that you're guided by what’s right for you and your family. Sowman's will help by walking you through the choices available and then taking care of all the details.
Arranging a Funeral FAQ's
Here are answers to some of the most commonly-asked questions we get about funerals.
Dealing with the loss of a loved one can be one of the hardest things you’ll ever experience. That’s why it’s important to be given the opportunity, the time and the support to grieve.
Funerals play a very important role in helping us to cope with our grief. They are for the living—they provide us with an opportunity to say our goodbyes, to be with other people, to give and receive support, and to reflect and share the memories of the life of someone we’ve lost who mattered to us. The funeral is for everyone who knew, loved and was connected to that person.
We need to allow our grief to surface. A funeral provides a safe and appropriate place to show and share our feelings with others, which set the foundation for healthy grieving. The funeral allows us to be real about how we feel and can help us say, “Thank you.” “I love you.” “I’m lonely without you.” “I’ll always remember you.” “You meant a lot to me.”
Funerals are also support for those who attend. They enable people who cared about your loved one to be together to talk, to support each other, to reminisce and tell stories, to pay their respects, and to let you know that they care about you.
Having support around you at this very difficult time, and in the weeks and months after the funeral when the reality of the loss really starts to sink in, is vital as we have to adapt to a life without someone who mattered to us.
Please contact the Sowmans Team.
- Explain the different funeral options available
- Give you the time you need to consider what’s best for your situation
- Listen carefully to what you decide
- Take special care of the family member or friend you’ve entrusted to us
- Make all the funeral arrangements, or as many of them as you wish
- Liaise with other people/organisations on your behalf.
Examples of what we can do for you
We can speak with:
- clergy and celebrants
- government departments
- coroners and other officials
- crematoriums and cemetery authorities.
We can organise:
- the registration of death and necessary paperwork
- the casket or urn
- music and musicians (including an organist if necessary)
- newspaper notices
- family flowers
- livestreaming of the service
- audio or video/DVD recording of the service
- placement of ashes and memorials
- anything else you require.
We can also arrange transportation of your deceased family member or friend within New Zealand or to any other country—see International and national repatriation.
Yes! We’ve helped many families to make their loved one’s farewell a true reflection of who they were and what they meant to others.
This can be represented in many different ways and include all sorts of personal touches—a favourite colour, a particular theme, or holding the service in a special place.
You may wish to keep the deceased person at home or on the marae before the funeral or tangihanga. We’ll advise you on the best ways to do this.
The deceased person might have already made their wishes clear but if not, it’s up to the family to choose. Whatever your choice, Sowman’s will take care of the arrangements for you.
In New Zealand, there are four options available: burial, cremation, burial at sea or donating a body to medical science.
Burial provides a family with a focal point, a grave to go to where they remember their loved one.
It involves buying a burial plot, paying an interment fee (this covers the cost of digging the grave and maintaining it), and usually buying a memorial or headstone. In almost all cases, the places people can be buried are limited by law to official cemeteries or traditional burial grounds.
Cremation provides greater flexibility when choosing a final resting place.
Ashes can be buried in a cemetery or special memorial area, or they can be scattered somewhere the family or deceased thought appropriate, such as in a garden, or in a favourite place. Some people split the ashes between different places. Families often choose a memorial or plaque to provide a focal point.
The process of cremation involves placing the body within the casket into a cremator—with room for only one casket. Cremation takes approximately two to four hours.
The ashes are then removed from the cremator and placed in a memorial urn chosen by the family.
We have a range of urns available <link to Caskets & Urns>for you to choose from. These will normally be available within 48 hours.
Burial at sea
This requires a special casket, which can be purchased from us. There are specially designated areas off the New Zealand coastline for burial at sea, which we can show you and then help with the arrangements.
Donation to science
Arrangements for organ donation or leaving a body to medical science need to be made before death.
We can provide information about both these options.
We embalm a body for hygiene and preservation reasons during the funeral period. Embalming can also ensure a more natural-looking appearance for the deceased person.
Sometimes, if the funeral is delayed for some reason or if the body has to be transferred to another city or country, embalming is necessary. Other times it’s optional, and your Sowman’s funeral director can help you make the right choice for you at the time.
We have experienced and qualified staff who will carry out the embalming process on site. At all times they will care for your loved one with the utmost respect and dignity.
Embalming is a skilled process. It should only be performed by trained practitioners who are members of the FDANZ and/or the NZ Embalmers Association.
You choose. We have a large range of caskets and urns available at different costs and in a variety of styles. We’ll take you through the options and answer any questions you have but the final decision is always yours.
See our Caskets & Urns page for a selection and for more information.
Our fleet includes:
- two purpose-built, stretched Ford hearses. These vehicles are silver in colour, with large windows. They have a formal ceremonial design.
- a standard Holden hearse is also available on request.
We also have access to a horse-drawn carriage but this is subject to availability.
Yes. As an Eco Friendly Funerals member, the Sowman’s team can show you how to lessen a funeral’s environmental impact.
We’ll take you through environmentally-aware options for embalming, caskets, burials and cremations. Contact us
It’s natural to feel a little hesitant about this but many people find that spending time with the deceased person before the funeral helps them through the grieving process. It enables them to say goodbye and fully accept the finality of death.
It’s also an opportunity to leave a small memento, such as a gift, card, letter or small token.
Sowman’s offers private and comfortable viewing facilities in our sitting rooms for you and your family to say goodbye to your loved one. Or, if you prefer, we may be able to arrange for the casket to be taken to your home in the days prior to the funeral or tangihanga.
Dealing with the death of someone close is difficult at any age. Children and teenagers grieve too, although they may express it differently.
Whether they attend the funeral is up to the family. In general, though, children do benefit from being involved, even in some small way, because it helps them to feel they are sharing their grief and honouring the person who has died. Children often like to draw a picture or write a letter or poem to put in the casket.
Just being there can help them understand, even if it takes time for them to deal with what has happened and what it means.
Yes. You can choose to make the livestream public (open to anyone who has the link) or private (by sharing the link with selected family and friends only).
We can livestream funerals from anywhere, including graveside ceremonies. Call us on (03) 578 4719 for more information.
If you are looking for information about an upcoming funeral, go to our Livestreaming page <link to Livestreaming page>.
A eulogy is when we talk about our loved one and remember who they were. It’s a summary which covers important or interesting aspects of their life.
As a very general guide, you may want to include some or all of the following:
- Birthplace and short details of early childhood
- Educational and sporting achievements, military service
- Marriage and family life
- Hobbies, club memberships, charity involvement
- Preferences in music, literature, theatre, etc
- Characteristic words and sayings
- Personal qualities (perhaps illustrated by stories)
If the person had a particular spiritual outlook, or a favourite poem or piece of literature, you might want to include that as well.
The eulogy should act as a springboard for others to call to mind their own special tributes, so talk about your feelings for this special person. Tell some stories about your experiences with him or her. Anecdotes are a special way to celebrate life. Don’t be afraid to include the funny stories!
People often ask how long a eulogy should be. It should be as long or as short as you wish, but normally 10 minutes (a couple of typed A4 pages) is a good guide.
Repatriation means transporting your loved one to the country or place of their birth.
That can mean either bringing them home to New Zealand, or taking them to their final resting place in the country where they were born.
Sowman's can help with both. We offer a repatriation service worldwide, and to/from all parts of New Zealand. Click here to find out more.