Natural care of the body
This is a natural extension of the care you gave your loved one in life. If your loved one has died in a hospital or rest home or under the care of hospice it is likely the body will have been bathed, but you may like to do another body washing for the healing experience this ritual will bring to you and your family.
Here is a document detailing the process to follow and resources you will need.
Videos showing how to move and prepare the body/tūpapāku are here.
Keeping the body cool
If the body is not embalmed it needs to be kept between 1-5 degrees celsius. There are very few communities with Cold Plates yet, but Manaaki Mats complete with instructions becoming more readily available. They can then be frozen and placed around the torso and changed every 8-12 hours.
If someone has just died and you have no Manaaki mats in the home then you can use any ice packs or frozen water in bottles placed around the torso.
If you put a freezer thermometer in the pocket of the deceased you can easily monitor the temperature.
In Whakatāne we have Cold Plates (Atamira Matao) for hire, a thermometer and a small portable freezer with Manaaki mats.
Coffins, caskets and shrouds
A casket has four sides, a coffin is shaped, and has six. Either is acceptable for burial. You can buy these from Trademe and in Whakatāne from the Menzshed for about $600. Here are plans for you to make your own casket.
Most crematoriums and cemeteries will accept a body in a shroud if it is on a piece of plywood. In Whakatāne "the shroud must be fastened to a solid board wider than the body for lowering purposes". You can use a sheet and ties as a shroud. The best shrouds are very large cotton or calico sheets, wound many times around the body. They give plenty of extra material for grip. Here is a video of how to tie a sheet. At that Canadian site there are also patterns for shrouds you can sew into shape.
Here is information on transporting a body and plans for you to make your own stretcher, (plans originally published by Philip Tomlinson, a pioneer in DIY funerals).
In Whakatāne we have for hire a gurney (trolley) and special trolley for a casket during a ceremony.
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Sudden death and the coroner
With a sudden death more services are involved. Here is a summary of their roles.
Police inform a coroner when someone dies unexpectedly, violently or in suspicious circumstances. If a doctor is unsure what caused the death, they will report it to the coroner. The coroner will find out when, where, how and why the death happened. They’ll also work out whether anything can be done differently so that similar deaths can be prevented.
To enquire about a recent death (within the past 48 hours) reported to the Coroner contact the National Initial Investigation Office on 0800 266 800 (24 hr, 7 days) or email: NIIO@justice.govt.nz
After 48 hours, you'll find detailed information here.
Legal information and paperwork
The person in charge of the funeral must register the death within three days of burial. This must be done before a death certificate can be ordered.
There is detailed information on registering a death and ordering a death certificate on the government website: Te Hokinga ā Wairua; End of Life Services.
Internal Affairs (Births, Deaths and Marriages) BDM28 form asks the age of all children, parents' names and occupations, dates and places of marriages. Sometimes this information is difficult to access after someone has died as family may not know these details. If you are able to talk to someone before they die, then use this form to gather the information you need.
Your local council website is likely to have the information you need and the paperwork required to organise a cremation or burial.