Funeral Options

Funeral Options

Environmentally Friendly Funerals

In these current times “Eco” friendly options are becoming more popular and we are able to offer this option to you.

Eco-friendly funerals can mean different things to different people. An eco-friendly funeral is intended to empower families who want to organise a funeral that has a low impact on the environment. The term eco-funeral is sometimes confused by people who associate eco with economy, while other people think this term represents ecology.  Eco funerals can encompass many aspects of the funeral process such as burial, cremation, embalming and coffins/caskets.  If you have a loved one to take care of or you are planning ahead to ensure your funeral is eco-friendly, please ask us for about this option and we can guide you through the process.

Natural burial grounds (sometimes called woodland burial grounds) are still in the early stages of development in New Zealand.  The first dedicated natural burial ground opened near Wellington in March 2008, another followed soon after in Auckland.  More recently the South Island's first natural burial ground opened in Motueka and progress is being made for one in Palmerston North and New Plymouth.

“This link will take you to a film that was created in Canada following one persons decision to fulfil his wish to have an environmentally friendly burial. Here in New Zealand various local body councils including the Palmerston North City Council are exploring several options available to them, including an option of to have a section of the Kelvin Grove Cemetery made available for such burials. “

To Embalm or not to Embalm

Is Embalming Necessary?

Strictly speaking no, however, embalming disinfects and preserves the body and therefore is important care to reduce any health hazards before the deceased is viewed and/or transported.  Embalming helps to restore the deceased person's natural appearance and allows time for family and friends to say goodbye. There are various levels to the embalming process and we are happy to discuss these options with you.

Excerpt from the FDANZ Website:

Embalming, an essential service provided by funeral directors, is frequently misunderstood.  Many people associate embalming with ancient and primitive cultural practices and have misgivings about its relevance, value and purpose today.  It enables everyone connected with the funeral - family, friends and professionals - to take part in rituals with no unpleasantness or embarrassment and without risk to their health, whatever the cause of death. Without embalming, nature begins to take its course very soon after death.

Embalming has three main purposes:

Sanitation- The body becomes safe for handling and viewing when micro-organisms are made harmless.

Preservation - Embalming allows adequate time for relatives and friends to grieve and say goodbye.  It enables the person who has died to be taken home or to a marae.  It ensures that there will be no problems of  odour or deterioration.

Presentation - Embalming restores the person's natural appearance, giving mourners a much better memory picture.  This brings a sense of relief and comfort and helps peace of mind.

What does embalming involve?

Modern embalming is a careful scientific procedure performed by skilled personnel.  Facial features are posed pleasantly and naturally.  Disinfecting and preserving fluids are distributed through the body's arterial system.  Preparation also includes washing, dressing, hairdressing and restoration of natural skin colour.

Viewing your Loved One

Spending Time With The Person Who Has Died

Spending time with a person who has died is traditional for many people around the world. This pattern changed during the last century for some groups of people and they began to feel uneasy about being with the body of someone close. In recent years that has changed again, and the practice of spending time together has become more common across cultures in New Zealand. Most people find great comfort in doing so, even if at first they feel uncomfortable of the idea.

Feeling Uncomfortable

If this is the first time you or members of your family, have been around someone who has died, you might feel anxious about what it will be like, or what you should do. Many people have only seen a dead body on television or at the movies, and are worried or unsure about what the appearance of the person who has died will be like. Please ask us to explain to you beforehand what you can expect. Knowing this takes a lot of the fear of the unknown out of the situation.

Helping You To Accept What Has Happened

Sometimes it is hard to believe what has happened when someone dies, especially if it is a sudden or unexpected death. Seeing the person who has died can begin the process of believing that the death is real.

The Chance To Say What You Need To Say

Bereaved people often feel overwhelmed by many intense emotions. For many, spending time with someone who has died gives them an opportunity to express some of these feelings. Others appreciate the opportunity to see the body of a person they love for the last time.

When There Are Visible Injuries

Even when the person who has died has visible signs of injuries, spending time with their body gives some comfort to bereaved people. We at The Lychway will advise you about the extent of the injury and help you deal with this. In extreme circumstances this may mean viewing is not possible.

Where You Can Spend Time With Someone Who Has Died

Having the body of the person who has died, at a home or on the Marae provides family and friends with an opportunity to spend time with that person before the funeral takes place. Others prefer not to have them at home, but like to spend time viewing them at our funeral home. We can arrange either of these options.

What You Can Do

Many families provide clothing belonging to the person who has died to be dressed in. If you want to, you can dress them yourself, or we will do it for you. You may like to find some special mementos to place in the casket or write a letter to put into it. There are many ways you can make this time with the person who has died special for you, and we will help wherever we can to make this possible.

What about Children?

Spending time with someone who has died is just as important for children and teenagers as it is for adults. In many cultures children, commonly play around the open casket when somebody dies and therefore feel more comfortable about death as a result.

Younger children are usually very accepting and curious about a person who has died.  Seeing the person helps them to understand and realise that death is final.   This also makes it easier for them to cope with the death process.

What do they need to know

Older children and teenagers are often uncomfortable being with a person who has died if the adults around them seem to be uneasy.  If viewing someone who has died is a new experience for you, it is often best that you do so alone first and then bring your children in when you are ready.

It's very important that they are well prepared, know what they will see and what is expected of them. Give them time to get used to the situation and don't force them to do things like kissing the person if they don't feel comfortable about doing it.  Encourage them to ask you questions that may puzzle or worry them, or seek help from The Lychway team if you don't know all the answers. Children also often like to draw a picture or write a letter to put in the casket when they spend time with  someone who has died.

Our Unique Service

We at The Lychway are privileged to have working with us Jewel Griggs, wife of the late Colin Griggs who was a grandson of the founder of our business.

Jewel, a hairdresser for over 40 years, is available to work alongside you and your family to ensure your loved one is looking their best for the viewing.  She can help you decide what clothes to dress your loved one in, how their hair can be done and also the makeup.  As a consultant, Jewel prides herself on going the extra mile for the family.

Multicultural Funerals

The Lychway specialises in multicultural funerals.  We serve a number of the different communities living in the Manawatu, including Maori, Indian and Chinese, and we know the importance of observing the rites and rituals of a culture in a time of grief.  We work closely with community leaders and elders to ensure that the funeral service meets the needs of the bereaved family and their specific community.

Burial or Cremation

Making a Choice

If you are planning ahead for your own funeral, or planning the funeral of a family member or friend, a decision will need to made with regard to burial or cremation. Some people have very strong views about this decision, but to others it can be a difficult choice. Normally people express their wishes verbally to family or via a written pre-arrangement. Their wishes are generally respected and followed. If a choice has not been made clear, what happens, who chooses then between burial or cremation? This decision is made by the immediate family or the executor of the estate.

The Needs of Bereaved People

Whether you are planning your own funeral or someone else's, please try to think about what might be best for the people who will be grieving. For you, a grave or memorial site might not be important, but to someone else who goes about grieving differently, it will be. Rituals of farewell can be insignificant for some, but tremendously useful to others. If your first thought is "why bother with all the fuss or expense" check that others feel the same way before making a final decision. Attempts to minimise pain in the short term can lead to regret later on for some people.

What are the Options?

In New Zealand there are four options available: burial; cremation; burial at sea; or donating a body to medical science.


In the past, burial was the most common choice and it is still favoured by many people. Family members appreciate having a grave to go to, a place to visit to focus on making a connection with the person who has died; thinking of them, crying, talking to them, or tending their grave.

Burial involves buying a plot and paying an interment fee which covers the cost of digging the grave. The purchase of a headstone also needs to be considered. For many people, the unveiling of a headstone is an important part of the grieving process. In New Zealand, apart from a few exceptional circumstances, the place a person can be buried is limited by law to official cemeteries or Maori burial grounds.


Cremation provides greater flexibility when choosing a final resting place. Ashes can be buried in a cemetery, but some families like to scatter them on a family plot or memorial garden, at sea, or in a favourite place. It is important to be careful that the area you have chosen is not close to a traditional Maori food gathering ground. Some people choose to divide the ashes, and have them placed in separate areas. Families often choose to have some sort of memorial in a special place for the person who has died. For many grieving people organising this is a positive way of dealing with their loss, and again we are happy to help with this.

The process of cremation is something people often wonder about. The casket, with the body inside, is put into a cremator. In some instances it is possible for families to watch the casket being put into the cremator. The process of cremation takes place under very high temperatures and generally takes from 2 to 4 hours. There is room for only one casket, and all the ashes are taken from the cremator before it is used again, so it is not possible for ashes to be mixed with others. The whole process is governed by local body by-laws.

After cremation the ashes are crenulated or broken up. They are all put into a simple plastic container which is about 30 cm long and 15 cm deep. This container is designed so it can be placed into a wooden or ceramic urn as chosen by the family.

Burial At Sea

Burial at sea has to take place at a specially designated marine burial location. It is an option that can be chosen by the person when preparing their funeral, or by the family. A special type of casket is required, and this is usually buried at sea from either a boat or a helicopter. There are specially designated areas of the New Zealand coastline for burial at sea. We can give you further information about this and make the necessary arrangements for you.

Donating A Body For Medical Science

New Zealand medical schools do not have a constant requirement for donations. If you are interested in this option it is essential that arrangements are made prior to the death and that the medical school’s requirements and criteria have been met. As an alternative, you may want to be an organ donor. We are able to give you further information on these options.