Before the funeral

Why have a funeral?

Dealing with the loss of a loved one can be one of the hardest things you will ever experience, which is why it’s so important to be given the opportunity, the time and the support to grieve.

Funerals are very important for helping us to cope with our grief. They are for the living – and can provide you with an opportunity to say goodbye, to be with people to give and receive support, and to reflect and share the memories of the life of someone that matters to you.

Below are tips and considerations from Gee & Hickton Funeral Directors in Wellington on what to do before the funeral.

When someone we love dies, the funeral is not for them, it’s about them. The funeral is for everyone who knew, loved and was connected to that person.

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Importantly, funerals are about good grief – they help to get the grief moving so that it doesn’t get stuck inside.

Funerals and grief

Researchers and psychologists are very clear in their message about funerals and grief; participating in a funeral helps to counter the initial effects of grief like shock, numbness and disbelief. Funerals help to reinforce the reality that the death has actually happened.

We need to allow our grief to surface, and a funeral provides a safe and appropriate place to show and share our feelings with others, which set the foundation for ‘good grief’ or 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 provide support

Funerals are for support both for you but also for those that attend. They are seen as the right time and place for 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, to let you know that they care about you. It provides others with an opportunity to let you know they care and is a safe place for expression of their feelings.

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Having support around is important as you adapt to a life without your loved one.

Before the Funeral

    How do I choose a Funeral Director?

    Choosing a Funeral Director is an important decision. Look for someone with the experience, qualifications, professionalism and empathy to look after your loved one and the needs of your family and friends at this time.

    We pride ourselves on our personal, caring service. The best way to get to know if we are right for you is to talk with us. We’ll ask questions about your loved one and the type of service you’d like, and let you know how we can help make that happen.

    Contact us to talk about what you need

    Looking after your loved one

    Our experienced, qualified staff will make sure your loved one is treated with the utmost respect and dignity at all times. The process of caring for their body will vary depending on the type of funeral you choose.

    Caring for the body

    We will wash your loved one, close their eyes, and dress them in the clothing you have provided to us. It can help our team to have a recent photo of the deceased so we can make sure they look as natural as possible.


    Our qualified embalmers take care of the preparation of your loved one. We attach a great deal of significance to the preparation for a viewing; the dressing and grooming are a very important part of this process. We take the utmost care and dignity during this process.

    The process of embalming is to ensure the hygienic preservation of the body during the funeral period. Embalming can also help us ensure your loved one looks as natural as possible.

    Is embalming necessary?

    Embalming is an important consideration during the difficult period of mourning. While not obligatory, it serves as a valuable choice when circumstances demand it. For instance, if the funeral is scheduled later, if there's a requirement to transport your loved one back home or abroad, we strongly recommend embalming.  However, should your religious beliefs guide you towards not embalming, these preferences are deeply respected.

    We encourage you to have an open conversation with your funeral director about this choice.  They are well-equipped to provide guidance tailored to your unique needs and wishes.

    Burial or cremation

    Your loved one may have told you their wishes, or they might have left it up to you to choose. In New Zealand there are four options:


    Choosing a burial gives your family a focal point, a place to visit where you can remember the person you have lost.

    Some families have existing burial plots, but if not we can arrange this for you as well as organising to pay the interment fee which covers the cost of gravedigging and maintenance of the gravesite. You may also choose to install a monument or headstone.

    Note that in almost all cases, people can only be buried in official cemeteries or traditional burial grounds.

    Talk to us about the burial process


    Cremation gives you more freedom to choose your loved ones final resting place. There is the choice of burying the ashes in a cemetery or memorial garden, or you can scatter them in an area that was special to them such as the family garden or at sea.

    After the funeral your loved one will be moved to the crematorium where the casket will be placed in a cremator which is a custom made machine designed to fit one casket. The cremation process takes around 2-4 hours and the ashes will be available to collect within a few days. We have a selection of beautiful urns available if you wish.

    Talk to us about cremation

    Burial at sea

    Those with a special connection to the ocean may wish to be buried at sea. You’ll need a special casket, which we can provide. There are designated areas off the New Zealand coast approved for burial at sea which we can show you.

    Talk to us about burial at sea

    Organ Donation

    If a person wishes to donate organs or to leave their body to medical science, arrangements need to be made prior to death. Gee & Hickton can provide information about both of these options.

    Talk to us about organ donation

    Spending time with your loved one

    Many people who were hesitant at first have been helped in the grieving process by spending some time with their loved one’s body before the funeral. It is important to be able to say goodbye and to fully accept the finality of death. While the experience is different for everyone, it is an opportunity for you to spend time with your loved one and perhaps leave small mementos such as – gifts, cards, letters, or other meaningful items.

    We offer private and comfortable viewing facilities in all of our locations for you and your family to say goodbye to the deceased. We are able to arrange for their casket to be taken to your home in the days prior to the funeral.

    Should children go to the funeral?

    Dealing with the death of someone close is difficult at any age. Children and teenagers grieve too, although they may express it in different ways. You will know best what is right for your family, however, in general, 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.


    Repatriation is when the body of your loved one is returned to their chosen resting place. This could mean bringing someone back to New Zealand from another country, or returning someone back to their homeland for their funeral service.

    We offer a complete repatriation service to all parts of New Zealand and overseas. Our service includes:

    • transfer of the deceased
    • embalming
    • the correct casket and specialist packaging for air transportation
    • legal documentation for foreign shipment
    • the air transportation to the deceased’s native land.

    Our Funeral Directors can help you with every aspect of repatriation.

    Talk to us about repatriation

    Choosing a casket or urn

    Your choice of casket or urn for your loved one can depend on many factors. Try to consider  your budget, what type of style appeals, and what you think is a fitting tribute to the deceased.

    Our staff will be able to talk you through the selection and you are welcome to view the options in our on-site showroom or in our catalogue so that you can compare styles and prices.

    We're always here to help

    If you need our help following the death of a loved one, contact us any time of the day or night.

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