Planning your funeral

Some people may find planning their own funeral difficult or morbid, while others may be comforted that it will be carried out according to their wishes and that their family or friends won’t have to guess what they would have wanted. Still others think that funerals are for the family, and should be organised by them. Some people decide they don’t want a funeral at all. This is a valid choice, but one that is worth discussing with your family and friends ahead of time.

What are the options?

Most people do have a funeral of some sort. It is probably not easy for most of us to hear or think about funerals. However, there can be a satisfaction in leaving your mark on the occasion, and also involving your family in the planning. If you feel you need to make preparations but you can’t do the work, or prefer not to, talk to a social worker or spiritual care practitioner who can help you.

You might simply discuss your wishes with your family, or you can record them in writing or lodge a plan with a funeral director of your choice. There are no rules.

You can personalise your funeral to meet your cultural or spiritual preferences. You may just have a few simple requests for music you want played or poems you’d like read, or you may have detailed plans for the full service.

Prearranging a funeral

To prearrange or prepay a funeral, talk to a funeral director. You can find a funeral director through the Australian Funeral Directors Association. Copies of a prepaid funeral contract should be provided to members of your family or filed with your will. If the funeral is not prepaid, payment is made once the service is conducted.

The Australian Funeral Directors Association has created the Your Goodbye website to help people who want to plan their own funeral.

This information was last reviewed in January 2017
View who reviewed this content
View our editorial policy

Support services

Need legal and financial assistance?
Pro bono services, financial and legal assistance, and no interest loans

Coping with cancer?
Speak to a health professional or to someone who has been there, or find a support group or forum

Cancer information

Advanced cancer
Information for all stages of advanced cancer, from the initial diagnosis to palliative care and grief

Legal and financial issues fact sheets
Downloadable PDFs with information around common legal, financial and workplace issues for people affected by cancer