Just ask

There’s no such thing as a silly question as far as we are concerned.

What might seem trivial to one person may be of vital importance to another, so please ask away. Remember at Dunstall’s we believe ‘no two farewells are the same’.

If we don’t cover what you are looking for in these ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ then we are only a phone call or email away with the answer. Of course we are more than happy to sit down with you in person to go through any aspect of the funeral.


Frequently Asked Questions

When someone dies what do I do?

  • If you are caring for your loved one at home, notify your family doctor who will complete a medical cause of death certificate and cremation application - if required. Nursing staff will do this on your behalf if your loved one is in a nursing facility.
  • Let family members and close friends know.
  • Call a funeral director. During this call we will arrange a time with you to transfer you family member to our care. With your permission hospice / nursing staff can arrange the transfer also. If your loved one passes away at home we can advise how best to care for them until our arrival. 
  • Call the deceased’s solicitor as there may be directions for the funeral stated in their will.

What do I do when someone dies unexpectedly?

  • If a death is unexpected - whether it occurs at home or in a public place - for example, if the person died under anaesthetic, in an accident or cannot be identified - it may be referred by the police to the coroner’s office. 
  • If the police are involved, they will contact the coroner’s funeral director to transport the deceased to Hawke’s Bay Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital, being the nearest hospital to Napier. If a post mortem is required, the deceased will be taken to Palmerston North Hospital. 
  • Once the coroner’s office confirms with you that the deceased can be released from coronial care, you are not obliged to use the coroner’s funeral director. At this point, if you would like Dunstall’s involvement, please contact us.

What does a funeral director do?

After your first phone call letting us know we will: 

  • Transfer your loved one into our care.
  • Gather with family to confirm funeral arrangements and take the personal details for death registration. Discuss a suitable time, day and venue for the funeral.
  • Arrange the minister or celebrant for you if you don’t have one in mind. They will then meet with you to confirm the order of service, making sure it runs the way you would like.
  • Take note of your casket, flower and catering selections.
  • Insert newspaper notices as required. 
  • Book cemetery plot or cremation.
  • Arrange RSA representation at the funeral if your loved one was an ex-service person.
  • Request clothes for your loved one to wear. We will need all outerwear as well as the underwear and shoes that would have been worn by your loved one.
  • Care, dress and present your loved one for viewing in the casket of your choice. A recent photo would be helpful to help us with grooming.
  • Time for a viewing at Dunstall’s or wherever you prefer- this is time for you to say your goodbyes in private.
  • Organize music, video and photos to use at that funeral.
  • Prepare the memorial book for people to sign at the funeral service.
  • Book service to reflect what we have discussed at the arrangement meeting
  • Book and complete forms for either burial or cremation – depending on your choice.
  • Arrange an estimate of the funeral costs.
  • Lodge with the department of internal affairs the registration of death and order a copy of the death certificate. 

At this time we will also discover any special things that will make the service unique to you and your family.

Is it important to see the deceased?

We think it is important, if you can, to make your goodbyes with your loved one’s body still present, but it is a personal choice. It is called a viewing when – before a funeral - family and friends, including children, spend time with someone who has died. A viewing can be a positive and precious experience. It can be a time to place mementos such as cards, letters, small gifts, photos, flowers and other significant objects in the casket. Grief counsellors say a viewing - like a funeral - is important in helping process the reality of death and to work through grief. Sometimes just sitting with a closed casket and reflecting is a positive experience. If you’re not sure whether viewing is right for you, please ask us.

Is embalming needed?

Embalming does not have to be used for everyone – some people require more intervention than others to be hygienically preserved after death. Factors ranging from the weather to recently used medicines can impact how well the body can be preserved. 

At Dunstalls, our team of experienced embalmers have found that embalming best preserves someone’s dignity and allows the family the time needed for a viewing and to say goodbyes. 

In saying that, whatever degree or method of preservation you seek, we will work to deliver in a dignified and hygienic way.

If you want to learn more about the embalming process, please ask us whatever questions come to mind  or go to New Zealand Embalmers Association.

Can a family friend take the funeral service?

The funeral service can be led by anyone you think would be right for the role - we will work alongside them to make a unique funeral fitting for your loved one.

If you do not have anyone in mind, we can put you in touch with a celebrant or minister / officiant who we think would do the best job for you. 

What is FDANZ?

FDANZ is the Funeral Directors Association of New Zealand. Its members are registered and qualified funeral directors who must adhere to a strict code of ethics and practices. 

Dunstall’s have belonged to FDANZ since 1937 - a year after the association was formed. 

Does a funeral director have to be qualified?

Funeral directors do not have to be qualified to work in the industry. But at Dunstall’s we belong to the FDANZ and all our staff receive training and adhere to best practice to ensure people’s dignity is always paramount.