Pre-plan your funeral

What to do after someone you loves dies

When you lose someone you love, it can be hard to know what to do. Here is some simple advice. We’re also always here to support and advise you, and you can call 03 379 9920 any time of the day or night.

What to do in the hours after death

This varies a little, depending on where your loved one dies, but there are a few practical steps for you to take.

Death in a hospital, hospice, or rest home

If you were not able to be with your loved one at their death, the people caring for them will let you know they have died.

When someone dies a doctor must certify the death by completing a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death. If your loved one has been in medical care, the staff will help you with the Medical Certificate. The certificate needs to be signed before a funeral director can take your loved one into their care.

When you’re ready, contact your funeral director. They will organise the transfer of your loved one to their care and will contact you to discuss funeral arrangements.

Death at home

If your loved one dies at home, take as much time as you need to say goodbye before you start making arrangements. There’s no hurry.

  • You might like to call a family member or friend to be with you for support.
  • When you’re ready, contact your loved ones’ doctor and ask them to come to confirm that death has occurred and sign the Medical Certificate.
  • Contact your funeral director so funeral arrangements can begin. If you would like your loved one to stay at home for a while so people can say goodbye, your funeral director will discuss your different options and advise you on caring for their body.
  • Tell family, friends, and any palliative carers that looked after your loved one. You may wish to delegate this task.
  • Over the next few days, you may also wish to contact the executor of your loved one’s will, their church (if they were religious), Work and Income if they were receiving a benefit, IRD, their insurers and their bank, and their utilities (phone, power, gas etc).

Unexpected death and the coronial process

If death is sudden and unexpected then the police will report it to the coroner. If this happens, a few things may follow:

  • Your loved one will be transferred to the care of the coroner, until the coroner decides if a post-mortem is required to establish the cause of death. They will be cared for with respect at all times and they’ll remain in the coroner’s care until the coroner authorizes their release into your care.
  • A coroner’s representative, who may be a police officer, may contact you to ask for more information about your loved one’s death. You may be asked to make a formal identification.
  • The coroner will decide whether to open an inquiry into the death.

When your loved one’s body is released back into your care, you’re not obliged to use the funeral director appointed by the coroner.

If you need more information about the coronial process, please visit the Coronial Services website.

Transferring your loved one into our care

If you contact John Rhind when your loved one dies, we take a few simple details over the phone, then we aim to be with you within the hour.

A funeral director will arrive with an assistant. We’ll introduce ourselves. Often, we’ll talk for a bit about your loved one. We offer you the choice to stay in the room while we take your loved one into our care, or if you prefer, to wait outside and follow us to the car.

We bring a hospital-style stretcher with us. We’ll gently lift your loved one onto the stretcher and we may cover their face for travelling. Then we carefully carry your loved one outside and respectfully place them in the back of the car.

Sometimes families like to discuss funeral arrangements straight away. But most of the time people need some time to talk to family and consider next steps.

There are no rules around funeral timing unless your religious faith has funeral customs. We encourage you to take all the time you need, before meeting with us to discuss funeral arrangements.

While you gather your thoughts, your loved one will be safe in our care. We look after them in our peaceful premises on London Street in Richmond, where you may visit them in the days before the funeral.

The funeral planning meeting

Once you’re ready to discuss your loved one’s funeral, we’re here to talk about your wishes for the ceremony. Sometimes people leave detailed instructions for their funeral. If your loved one has recorded their wishes with us, we’ll share those with you.

There are many ways to celebrate a life. We’ll help you create a funeral that reflects the personality and values of your loved one, meets your family needs and fits your budget. If your loved one was religious, their faith may have traditional funeral customs, and we’ll explore those with you too.

At this meeting we’ll also complete the legal documents required to register the death and review the documentation required for a cremation if that’s your plan.

Please bring the following information about your loved one for these documents.

Personal details

  • Date of death
  • Place of death
  • Name of certifying doctor
  • Their name and surname at birth (if different)
  • Their date of birth
  • Their place of birth
  • If they were not born in NZ, the year they arrived in NZ
  • Their address
  • Their occupation
  • Ethnic group
  • Military details

Family details

  • Age of living sons
  • Age of living daughters
  • Full name of their mother, her occupation and
    name at birth (if different)
  • Full name of their father, his occupation and name at birth (if different)


For each person they married please bring:

  • Name of spouse at birth (if different)
  • Spouse’s current age
  • Where married
  • Marriage status
  • Age at marriage
  • Date of marriage

We're here for you

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

Call us anytime on 03 379 9920

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