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Memorial service important for grieving process

Cheap cremations that are held without any follow up memorial service were highlighted as a major concern for New Zealand’s largest independent body of funeral directors at its recent annual conference.

The New Zealand Independent Funeral Homes (NZIFH) was formed by a group of leading New Zealand Funeral Directors to set standards in client service, funeral home premises and training and has 21 member businesses from around the country.

Twentymans Funeral Services Director Adrian Catran – newly-elected Chairman of the NZIFH – says a growing number of people are opting for cremations without any sort of ritual and should be aware that this had concerning consequences with the lack of closure.

Members of the NZIFH are in close and regular contact with grieving families from all sectors of the community and have a wealth of professional advice and experience in preparing the deceased, liaising with authorities following a death, and ascertaining a family’s wishes for commemorating a loved one.

The organisation provides advice to people on the process of grief when a loved one is lost. Members often refer people to the services of a suitable professional grief counsellor during the readjustment period following a death.

Mr Catran says funerals were an important aspect of helping people cope with bereavement. “For the majority of people throughout history, the simple act of gathering together following a death has had a major positive impact on closure.

“Grief can cause people to have physical as well as emotional trauma following a death. They may suffer from headaches, temporary loss of memory and concentration, loss of appetite, sleeplessness, low defence to flu and infections and lack of energy or motivation.

“Throughout the grieving process, many people find it hard to return to normal activities and routines of life. Over time, life becomes more bearable, but we know from experience that there is value in the closure that comes from gathering together family and friends following a death.”

He adds: “Evidence in the United States is showing us that people who do not have any sort of ritual following the death of a loved one are having issues with their own well-being, and requiring counselling further down the track.”

Mr Catran says NZIFH members were concerned that some funeral companies were promoting direct cremation without any sort of ceremony despite evidence that it was beneficial in the grieving process to hold a funeral of some type.

Mr Catran says professional funeral directors were able to work with families to guide them on the simplest and most cost-effective of gatherings and ensure that the benefits of closure were gained. “It does not need to be large or costly to be effective.”

All 21 NZIFH Funeral Homes are independently family owned and operated and give on-going professional development to staff with training through the Funeral Services Training Trust (FSTT).

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