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It’s common for grieving family members to ask themselves: ‘after the cremation, what do I do?’
Planning a funeral for a loved one is usually done quickly after the person has died. Often partners and close family members are so busy making arrangements for the funeral, cremation or burial, that they don’t have the chance for the reality of the loss to sink in.
If you are the executor of the Will or administrator of the estate, it is common to feel an expectation to keep going and make decisions while your grief may be overwhelming. Despite this, it’s perfectly normal to feel lost after the cremation or funeral has taken place. You may feel like you don’t know what to do next, or can’t think clearly.
At Bare, we’re here to support you – not just to arrange the cremation service, but afterwards too. That’s why we’ve put together this 7-step guide to take you through what generally follows a Bare cremation.
Just remember to be kind to yourself and allow yourself to grieve. You are coping the best you can, so don’t be hard on yourself. Approach each task one step at a time and ask those around you for help if you need it.
To learn more about cremations, read our article 9 things you need to know about cremation and ashes.
1. Consider a memorial or celebration of life
After a Bare Cremation, families usually have a memorial or celebration of life ceremony once the ashes have come home. At Bare, we believe some form of farewell or tribute to the person who has died is an important step in the grieving process.
It is also the final chance to honour the deceased person and reflect on their life, values and beliefs. As each person is unique, there are no rules about how a memorial or celebration of life should be done.
It can be held anywhere that was special to the person being remembered and celebrated. It might be a sit-down meal at a restaurant, pub or function venue, or get-together at the family home. Or perhaps a gathering or ashes scattering at the beach, fishing spot, or favourite holiday place might be a more befitting location.
Memorials generally celebrate life rather than focus on death, so it’s totally acceptable to plan something more light-hearted that represents the life lived. That could be a game of a loved sport like cricket or lawn bowls, or a movie night showing home videos or the deceased’s favourite film.
We would be honoured to support you in planning the send-off that is right by your loved one – whether that’s entirely family-led, or with our dedicated celebrant team. Click the button below to find out more about our memorial service.
2. Plant a memorial tree
If your loved one spent a lot of time in the garden, why not plant a tree or flower as tribute? You might also like to place the deceased’s ashes in a biodegradable urn to be planted along with the tree, to create a living, enduring memory.
A tree-planting ceremony can easily be included as part of the memorial service and attended by close family and friends. For more ideas, read our article How to plan a memorial tree planting ceremony.
3. See if you’re eligible for bereavement benefits
The deceased person’s dependants may be eligible for bereavement benefits and other government assistance through the Department of Human Services (DHS), if certain criteria are met.
Contact your nearest Centrelink office for further information on 132 300 or visit the Services Australia website.
4. Estate administration and probate
The executor or administrator may have already begun the estate administration process before the cremation has taken place. However, if you are yet to take care of the deceased estate – including applying for Probate and dealing with the deceased person’s Will, property, debts, taxes and distributing their assets to beneficiaries – you should start this process now.
Our team of Wills and estate lawyers at Bare Law are here to help at any stage of the estate administration process. To find out more, visit the Bare Law website or give our estate experts a call on (03) 9917 3388.
5. Contact relevant companies after the death
If the cremation has already taken place, the most relevant people and services would likely have already been notified of the person’s death. However, there may be some organisations that will still need to be contacted.
These might include:
- Insurance companies
- Banks and other financial institutions
- Real estate agents
- Mortgage lenders
- Utility companies
We have created a checklist of contacts who you may need to notify of the passing, which you can download by clicking the below button.
6. Memorialise or delete social media accounts
Some social media platforms, like Facebook and Instagram, allow profiles to memorialise a deceased person by adding the word ‘Remembering’ before their name. Others, like Linkedin and Twitter, can only be deleted.
Each social media platform has its own procedure to follow to request for these changes to be made. Their contact details should be listed on their website, so get in touch to find out what’s needed to begin the process. The executor or administrator will usually need to provide a scanned image of the death certificate; and either the Will or Letters of Administration naming them as in charge of handling the estate.
For more information, read our article Social media afterlife: What happens to Facebook after you die?
7. Look after you
The magnitude of grief and the loss of a loved one commonly sets in after the funeral, cremation or burial has taken place.
There is no formula for grief. What feels normal for one person may not feel the same for another. You may even experience a range of different emotions that can change every day – or even every hour.
After the loss of a loved one, some people can take longer to return to their regular routines than others. It is important to understand that you are not alone. If you need extra support, reach out to family or friends around you.
You might find it beneficial to speak to your health professional or reach out to the Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement on 1800 642 066. For more immediate help call Lifeline on 13 11 14.
We have also put together a list of useful bereavement, grief counselling and other support services across Australia.
If you need help at any stage of the estate administration process, chat with our estate lawyers on (03) 9917 3388 or visit the Bare Law website.