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Frequently Asked Questions

Our funeral directors have answered some of the more Frequently Asked Questions that arise when planning a funeral below. If you don’t find the answer to your particular query here, please don’t hesitate to contact us on 9231 5199. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 

 

What happens on the day?

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When a person dies in a private residence, a nursing home or a private hospital a death certificate will usually be signed by the family doctor (providing that he/she has attended the patient during the preceding six months). If death occurs in a public or private hospital, the attending doctor will usually sign the certificate. Once death has been confirmed, the family is able to contact a funeral director of their choice to transfer the deceased.

How do I register a death?

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Registration of the death is the responsibility of the funeral director (if it hasn’t already been organised by the nursing home or hospital). In order to complete the documentation we need to know the: 

  • Full names of the deceased 
  • Residential address 
  • Date and place of death 
  • Date and place of birth 
  • Occupation of the deceased 
  • Marital status 
  • Parents’ full names and occupations 
  • Maiden name of mother of deceased
  • Marriage details 
  • Names, dates of birth and ages of children, living and deceased 

Once the death is registered, a certified copy of the Registration of Death can usually be obtained within fourteen days. This is necessary for the completion of any legal and financial matters.

The funeral director will require signatures for the completion of cemetery, medical or government papers.

Can we claim insurance?

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Insurance claims e.g. Motor Vehicle Accident, Travel, Work Place Accident and Homicide should be applied for from the appropriate company. Deaths in a motor vehicle accident may be able to claim towards funeral expenses from The Insurance Commission of WA 1800 643 338 or www.icwa.wa.gov.au. Claims must be registered within 14 days of death. Deaths by Homicide, the family may be able to access funds from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Department.

When should I organise a newspaper Notice?

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As part of our service, Bowra & O'Dea will place the official Funeral Notice in the newspaper. This will provide information about the deceased and where and when the funeral will take place. It will also indicate if donations instead of flowers are acceptable and where to direct the donation. Newspaper death notices are usually placed by family and friends of the deceased prior to the funeral service taking place. We can assist with these if you wish.

Can we say goodbye?

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Yes. Our private funeral home chapel is available should you wish to ‘view’ the deceased. It is understandable that people may be a little apprehensive when invited to 'view' the deceased person. We request that at least one person makes a formal identification of the deceased in their coffin or casket, as required under cemetery by-laws.

A viewing in our private funeral home chapel can be a positive experience, especially when some family members may not have been able to say goodbye personally.

  • After prolonged illness it can be comforting to see the person is at rest and no longer suffering.
  • A viewing can re-affirm that the death has occurred, especially if it has been sudden or away from home.
  • A viewing can be the opportunity for family members to express their personal sentiments. It can be of special assistance to children who may be experiencing the loss of a family member for the first time.
  • A positive environment and presentation is important for the viewing to be of most benefit.

This is why choice of apparel can be important. Often the favourite clothing of the deceased is chosen. However, any personal selection is acceptable or the funeral director can provide a burial garment.

What is involved in the embalming process?

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Embalming is an important option we recommend to families. It is a procedure whereby the majority of the deceased’s bodily fluids are removed and replaced, via the circulatory system, with a disinfectant/preservative. Embalming enhances the appearance of the deceased and reduces the problems associated with colour changes, fluid leakage and odour. It also reduces the risk of disease and delays the process of decomposition.

The benefits are:

  • Presentation – Embalming enhances the appearance of the deceased and reduces the problems associated with colour changes, fluid leakage and odour.
  • Purification – Embalming protects everyone who may come into contact with the deceased (including family members, clergy and people attending a viewing) from contracting most diseases that the deceased may have been carrying.
  • Preservation – Embalming delays the process of decomposition and makes allowance for a delay in the funeral date when necessary.

In certain circumstances (which will be advised by the funeral director) this procedure must be carried out. In others it is an option to be decided upon by the family. In all these matters it is important to respect the individual's right to choose for themselves what they do.

What is the difference between a burial, cremation or entombment?

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The choice of disposal can be an emotional issue, reflecting religious and ethnic attitudes. With a burial the deceased and their coffin/casket is laid to rest in the ground in a cemetery, usually with a headstone or monument to mark the location. A cremation takes place in a crematorium with the deceased and their coffin/casket incinerated and the ashes made available to the family. Entombment takes place in a mausoleum, an above ground structure that contains concrete or stone crypts in which the deceased and their coffin/casket is placed.

By law, there are three way of disposing of the deceased person:

  • Burial in a recognised burial place with new/reopen existing grave
  • Cremation at a crematorium
  • Entombment in a mausoleum
  • Burial at sea for Navy and Merchant Navy personnel where appropriate
  • Memorial service with or without coffin or ashes

A grave is normally able to contain more than one coffin. Most cemeteries have lawn sections where smaller headstones can be erected and monumental sections where approved monuments can be erected over the grave. If the grave used is to be reopened from a previous burial the existing headstone may need to be fully or partially removed to allow access for this burial. Some Lawn cemeteries only permit a tablet in the grass, nothing above ground.

The cremation procedure can only take place where a crematorium chapel exists. The act of cremation takes place once the coffin is committed and only one coffin with body is cremated at a time. Individual ashes are then available to the family for memorialisation or scattering.

Entombment in a mausoleum is the preferred resting place in some cultures. The mausoleum is constructed above ground and allows the coffin to be placed into a crypt which is then sealed. The mausoleum is a unique type of interment, with the courtyard-style area being beautifully finished in granite and marble. The choice of disposal can be an emotional issue, reflecting religious and ethnic attitudes. Further literature is available from the selected cemeteries.

What if we are away from home?

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With the increased movement of people around the world it is important to know what to do in the case of a death occurring interstate or overseas. Our company specialises in this area so you can rely on our experience to make the appropriate arrangements through our network of associated funeral homes both around the country and around the world.

Similarly, some nationalities within our community prefer to return relatives to their homeland for burial. This can involve time-consuming preparation including liaison with various departments of the Australian government as well as the Consular officials of their country of origin. The funeral director can organise the arrangements and administer the documentation required by the relevant authorities. Exhumations are arranged for those moving to the mausoleum, overseas and interstate or to be cremated at the family request.

What is the difference between a coffin and casket?

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A coffin is tapered in shape, wider at the shoulders and narrower at the foot, and is made of custom wood or solid timber, while a casket is rectangular in shape, comes with a hinged lid and can be provided in custom wood, solid timber or metal. For those who are environmentally conscious, we also offer a choice of superbly finished and presented environmental casket or coffin. Whatever your choice, coffin or casket, special design or environmental, rest assured it will be hand crafted by specialists using premium grade materials. For more information or to view prices and images, please visit our Coffin & Casket Options page.

What are our options for the funeral venue?

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Most funeral services are held in a church, funeral home chapel or at a cemetery. The choice belongs to the family. Some may feel an alternative location best reflects the deceased person and, providing permission from the appropriate local authority is gained, a funeral service can be held at almost any place.

Who conducts the service?

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Any person is able to conduct a funeral service. Most often, families choose a minister of religion or a civil celebrant. The funeral director is able to assist in locating the best person to suit your family’s needs.

How can we personalise the service?

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The individual choices available to families help make the service a unique experience that embraces the special lifestyle of the deceased. The selection of music, recorded or live, can add atmosphere to the service, as can the choice of floral tributes. Our funeral consultant may also be able to suggest other means of making the service particularly significant. The placement of a national flag, service medals or other memorabilia on the coffin, release of balloons or photograph display are just some ways we can assist you.

Can we make a family tribute DVD?

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At a time of loss, many people find it helpful to create special tributes to their loved ones, as a way of remembering and celebrating their life, and as part of the healing process. A Family Tribute DVD is a compilation of photographs carefully put together with music that is special and relevant to your loved one’s life. It can be a stirring remembrance of their life’s journey and a moving pictorial homage that involves the memories, people and places that helped shape their life. If you would like to choose one, or would like more information about how they are created, please contact us.

How do I go about writing an eulogy?

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People often find the task of writing and performing a eulogy quite daunting, but it can be a wonderful way to remember a loved-one and share some special memories. It can also be an important part of the healing process. It is an honour to be chosen to deliver a eulogy. It means your family or loved ones believe you are capable and know the deceased well enough to write something meaningful. With the right preparation, you can create a memorable experience for everyone present and make it less traumatic for you. Please feel free to contact us at any point if you feel you need some help, or take a look at our helpful hints.

Can I bring my younger children?

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While children are always welcome, small children are often too young to understand or participate fully in the funeral ceremony. For the comfort of other family members, we have some self managed crèche facilities available with a real-time TV/Video link up for parents of small children to watch the ceremony privately, should they prefer.

Can we arrange for a Chauffer bus service from the service to the gravesite?

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You may have family or friends at the funeral service who will have difficulty walking behind the funeral cortege, along the roadways, to the gravesite. We will arrange for these people to be driven through the cemetery grounds by our chauffeur bus service, to the grave, and returned to the cemetery entrance after the service has concluded.

Do you offer specialist and multicultural services?

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Sensitivity and respect for cultural diversity is something we pride ourselves on at Bowra & O'Dea. We provide services to a wide range of cultural and religious groups, from Catholic, Buddhist, Greek Orthodox and Lutheran to Muslim, Russian Orthodox and Zion Christian Fellowship.

What is the Funeral Director's role

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At Bowra & O'Dea there are many elements involved in providing the best service possible to our families. We strive to create an environment of 'calm and peace' and endeavour to:

  • Provide day and night service and attention every day of the year.
  • Provide a private ambulance for the transfer of the deceased.
  • Have a full knowledge of the legal requirements for burial, entombment and cremation and complete all necessary documentation, including registration of the death.
  • Interpret correctly the needs, wishes and feelings of the survivors and, in doing so, liaise with clergy and civil celebrants and co-ordinate requirements for all denominations.
  • Arrange and conduct the funeral. To facilitate this we provide trained staff, private conference facilities, prestige funeral vehicles, air conditioned chapels and tea and coffee facilities for Chapel Services.
  • Ensure that the dignity of both the deceased and the survivors is preserved at all times, especially in preparation of the deceased.
  • Carry out work professionally, with sensitivity and understanding.
  • Supply the national flag where appropriate, the Last Post, selections from a large library of music and attend to the ordering of floral tributes, collection of floral cards, placement of newspaper notices and guiding pallbearers.
  • Provide funeral care, which extends beyond the funeral. If required, we are able to present a range of memorial urns for your consideration.

Finally, we consider that being able to assist in educating the community in matters of funerals, grief and bereavements is part of the privilege of funeral directing.

How much do funerals cost?

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The cost of a funeral varies, depending on the options you and your family choose. Typically, those costs would include the funeral director, cemetery, church, newspapers and florists, etc. At Bowra & O'Dea we provide a range of options that allow you and your family to tailor the funeral to suit your personal, cultural and religious requirements. If you would like a detailed explanation of costs, or have any special requirements for a funeral service, please don't hesitate to call us. We have also provided a list of service options here.

How much does a pre-paid funeral cost?

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The cost of a Pre-paid Funeral Plan will vary, depending on the type of funeral service that you choose. A consultant will discuss with you the different types of funeral services, including burial, cremation and other options. Many people now pre-pay for their funeral earlier in life because the cost is more affordable, the price is protected against inflation and they can become involved in the decisions made on the funeral.

What are the benefits of a pre-paid funeral?

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More people are turning to Bowra & O'Dea for our pre-paid funerals. They not only help ease the financial burden on loved ones, they allow you to plan your goodbye the way you would like it to be, choosing everything from your choice of casket or coffin, right down to the flowers and music. And unlike funeral insurance, a pre-paid funeral is a one-off cost; there are no ongoing premiums to worry about. You can plan your funeral online using our simple to use Funeral Planner.

Who should I tell about my pre-paid plan?

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Some people may feel comfortable discussing their funeral plans with a spouse, adult children or another member of the family. Others, however, may prefer to make arrangements directly with Bowra & O'Dea in complete confidence. We would strongly advise that, if the immediate family is not informed, a trusted friend, solicitor or executor be notified when a plan is purchased.

How secure are my funds?

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The administration of the funds is handled by a well-respected independent public company. Bowra & O'Dea has a contractual obligation to perform the services specified in the contract. The complete security of the plan is assured by the reputation and experience of Bowra & O'Dea Funeral Directors, who have been serving the people of Western Australia for well over a century.

What happens if my circumstances change?

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You have the right, at any time during your lifetime, to cancel the agreement and withdraw from the plan. With the exception of administration expenses, all monies paid by you would be refunded.

What is Memorial Groves?

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Memorial Groves is a unique and free service from Bowra & O'Dea. In conjunction with Men of the Trees we plant a young tree as a lasting and loving memorial in the hope that it may help your healing process. Since 1995 we have planted well over 2.5 million trees, which have been used for environmental re-vegetation purposes. As part of the service we also provide a Memorial Certificate as a lasting tribute.

How does the Men of The Trees program work?

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Men of the Trees are an international society for the planting and protection of trees. Founded in 1922, they are a non-profit, voluntary organisation that makes a huge contribution to the wellbeing of our planet through planting trees, reducing greenhouse gases and fighting salinity.

Why is a locally owned funeral company better?

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  • A single focus - We are devoted to providing the best service possible, to satisfy the needs of our friends and neighbours, without distraction from corporate mandates.
  • Personal pride - This is our business in our community.
  • A long-term commitment - This is where we live and where we plan to stay. When you need us, we'll be here.
  • A focus on families - We answer to you, not shareholders and understand that our business will only do well if we serve you well.
  • A knowledge of ethnic traditions - Funeral traditions vary greatly across our community. As we are local, we know how to respond to the different local cultural groups.
  • An investment in the community - Whenever possible, we choose to do business with other locally owned and operated businesses.
  • A personal relationship - We have been operating for over 125 years and have developed a personal relationship with many families and groups in the community. This is why we are able to provide a sensitive, individualised family service.
  • Local support - Proudly, we provide support to local charities, schools and community groups through education seminars and sponsorship. The more you know about us, the more you'll appreciate the difference!

Sincere thanks for making an impossibly difficult time so special and memorable. We have had many calls from friends and family since, commenting on how good the service was and how professional yet unobtrusive the staff were. Please thank ALL staff who assisted- it is very much appreciated.

Anonymous

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