Your questions answered

What do you do when someone dies? What if the person dies at home?

If the death occurs at home call the deceased’s doctor. If the doctor cannot attend then the family should call Police and Ambulance. You can also call Alfred James at this time and we can provide advice and support to help you.

We will answer your call for assistance at any time of the day or night and on any day of the year.

Family members are welcome to spend some time with the deceased however it is advisable to arrange transfer to our mortuary as soon as practicable. Later, at a time convenient to you, we can make funeral arrangements either at one of our seven funeral homes, at your home or at a place convenient to you.

What if the person dies in a nursing home or hospital?

Most natural deaths occur in a hospital or nursing home where a doctor is in attendance and can issue a death certificate. The nursing staff will then contact a funeral director to transfer the deceased to their mortuary. If you would prefer to use Alfred James to manage the funeral of your loved one but the deceased has already been taken to another funeral director just call us and we will arrange transfer from the other funeral director to our mortuary.

If the Registered Nurse contacts Alfred James to arrange the transfer of the deceased we are also provided with contact details of the next of kin. We then contact the family to make the funeral arrangements. Nursing homes generally require that the family nominates a funeral director at the time of admission and you are welcome to contact us for a no obligation discussion about options, advice and pricing.

If a death occurs at a hospital either the hospital or the family will contact Alfred James. We arrange the transfer of the deceased into our care and make a time to meet with you to arrange the funeral.

What if the person has died in an accident or other circumstances?

In the case of sudden or accidental death the first phone call is to the police. Where a doctor cannot issue a certificate immediately the deceased should not be moved or disturbed. In these circumstances police will liaise with the Coroner’s Office who will make arrangements for the transfer of the deceased to their premises. If the Coroner is involved the family should contact Alfred James as soon as possible, regardless of time of day or night, and we can provide advice and support to assist you.

What if the person has died overseas?

Alfred James can arrange repatriation of the deceased to Australia. During our 90 years of operation we have repatriated many deceased people and have a world-wide network of providers that we can personally contact for assistance. We personally control as much of the process as is possible and endeavour to ensure that your loved one is returned as soon as is practicable.

What if the person has died in Australia and needs to be repatriated to a foreign country?

We remain in control and manage the entire process. We do not outsource the coordination to another organisation but work personally with the overseas funeral director to complete the repatriation.

What paperwork needs to be completed when a person dies?

There are quite a number of items and Alfred James can arrange all of these if you would like.

  • Doctors’ certificates
  • Registration of death and lodgement with the Registrar of Birth Deaths and Marriages
  • Certified copies of death registration if required
  • Composition and lodgement of newspaper notices
  • Cremation permit
  • Burial permits for ex-service personnel

What information do I need to provide to Alfred James?

When you meet with one of our funeral directors you will need the necessary information required to register the death of the deceased including full name, address, occupation, place and date of death, marriages, children and parents (including maiden names).

How soon does the deceased need to be buried or cremated?

There is no time limit. Often families need to wait for relatives and friends to return from interstate or overseas. If the death needs to be reported to the Coroner it may take some time for the deceased to be released.

Some religious and cultural customs require the burial to take place within a certain period of time. Where possible, Alfred James takes every step to accommodate these requirements.

Is a funeral service required to be held?

No. In some circumstances people choose to have no ceremony. This is called a Disposition Funeral. Alfred James still arranges all the paperwork and care of the deceased but without the funeral service.

Why have a funeral?

A funeral allows family and friends who have been touched by the life of the deceased to celebrate and honour that life. Through sharing memories, tears and laughter, those coming together for the funeral of a loved one can support one another marking the passing of the deceased as an historic event. For many, a funeral allows friends and family to express love and their spirituality.

How do we deal with the death of a child?

The loss of a child is particularly difficult for it is also the loss of a future. A child who dies, no matter at what age, has touched many lives. The funeral can help family and friends deal with the reality of the loss and to begin the grieving process.

We encourage parents to spend as much time as they wish with their child. Alfred James was at the forefront in the early 1980s when we were the first funeral directors to conduct funerals for still born children and instigated the Stillbirth And Neonatal Death Support Group (SANDS).

Where can we hold a funeral?

Funerals can be conducted in many different places throughout South Australia. Many families will have a funeral in a traditional venue such as a church, chapel or one of our seven funeral homes located in Unley, Prospect, Lockleys, Alberton, South Plympton, Morphett Vale and Holden Hill.
There are many other options available including:

  • Beaches
  • Bushland
  • Ovals
  • Parks
  • Family homes
  • Racecourses
  • Golfcourses
  • Wineries

Your Alfred James funeral director can make all the arrangements for your venue.
When booking a funeral venue or location it’s also important to think about the number of people who will be attending. The following considerations can influence the number of people likely to attend: age of the deceased (the younger the more people); size of the family; number of friends; deceased’s membership of clubs and organisations; and employment history.

In some circumstances people choose to have no ceremony. This is called a Disposition Funeral. In these cases, Alfred James can still arrange all the paperwork and care of the deceased, just without the funeral service.

Does it matter what day or time we hold the funeral?

Not at all. The purpose of a funeral is to create an environment for people to focus on the deceased person’s life. This may mean holding a funeral at a time that suits most mourners. We have even held a funeral on public holidays.

Can the service be recorded?

Yes. We can arrange audio and video recording of the service and provide you with a well packaged and documented DVD within days of the funeral.

What is a “private funeral”?

A private funeral occurs when newspaper notices are not published until after the funeral, if at all. The publication of funeral notices is entirely at the family’s discretion.

Families may have many and varied reasons for wanting a private funeral and Alfred James will help you arrange this.

At a private funeral the mourners will attend only at the invitation of the family and Alfred James will not provide any information to people requesting details about time and place of the funeral.

What is a “viewing? Is it required?

A viewing is when close family and friends view the deceased in a private and quiet area before the funeral. This can be a special time for family to reflect on a more personal level with their loved one.

At Alfred James you can choose to have a number of viewings and select any one of our seven funeral homes as the venue. When the deceased is for cremation or burial formal identification is legally required.

Should children attend?

Parents want to protect their children from pain but children also need to be allowed to accept the death of the person and to feel the pain of grief. Through a loving and caring explanation of what will happen at the funeral children can be encouraged, although not obliged, to share the experience with the rest of their family.

What do you wear to a funeral?

Gone are the days when mourners’ clothing had to be black. You are attending a funeral to pay your respects to the deceased and the family so your clothing should reflect the location of the funeral and what the deceased would have expected in life.

On a more practical level be mindful of the weather, the venue and length of the funeral and if there is to be a burial.

Dress appropriately for the weather and be prepared for possible long periods of standing (congregating before the funeral, standing during the service if not enough seating and at refreshments following the service). In wet conditions cemeteries can be muddy.

Do you need to attend a burial or a cremation?

No, it is entirely your choice. If you would prefer the family can say their goodbyes at the funeral service and the deceased will then be cared for by Alfred James for burial or cremation.

What happens to the cremated remains?

Following the cremation, the cremated remains are ready to be interred or returned to the family. However, there is no requirement for this to happen immediately.

The cremated remains can be returned to Alfred James to hold for the family or they can be held at a crematorium pending selection of a memorial position in the adjoining memorial gardens or cemetery.

Cremated remains can be sent intra-state, interstate or overseas. If you wish Alfred James can scatter the cremated remains locally in accordance with the family’s instructions. We can discuss options for the cremated remains after the funeral.

How do you write a eulogy?

Where do you start? Many of the mourners will know only part of your loved one’s life.

The eulogy tells the story of the deceased’s life outlining the important milestones and providing a reflective observation of his/her personality and character.

One person may deliver the eulogy or you may want to divide aspects amongst a number of speakers.

When do we need to pay the bill?

When we meet with you to arrange the funeral we will provide an itemised estimate of expenses.

An itemised account will be sent approximately 1 week after the funeral and payment is due 30 days after the funeral.

We do not require a deposit or part-payment before the funeral.