Case Studies

A Death while on Holiday Overseas

Family "A" contacted Canterbury Christian Funeral Services (CCFS) late one evening to inform us they had just received word that their mother had suffered a heart attack and had passed away unexpectedly whilst on a cruising holiday in Europe. Their immediate concerns were the difficulties with

  • Not knowing what to do next,
  • How to overcome the language barrier
  • What rules and regulations they needed to adhere to in order to get their mother home to NZ

Unfortunately for many families this is not an uncommon occurrence and we tend to deal with several of these cases every year so the procedures from a Funeral Directors perspective is well established and set out.

One of the first things we need to know is

  • Who or what entity has jurisdiction of the deceased, i.e. where is the deceased?
  • Is the deceased in a hospital or a Funeral home?
  • Have the New Zealand authorities been informed? If not; is there a consulate or an embassy that can provide local support etc?

Once the answers to these basic questions are known we can generally liaise with the appropriate individuals and organizations to either bring the deceased's body back to New Zealand or arrange a cremation and the subsequent return of the deceased's ashes to the family.

We will (in most cases) work with the local funeral director to arrange for the appropriate preservation (full arterial embalming) and transport via air transport back to New Zealand. As New Zealand is a tourist destination, we are often involved in the process from the other side of the equation and are able to help the local funeral director with paperwork, shipping regulations and other legal matters.

Once we have received the deceased back onto New Zealand soil we will assess the deceased's body to ensure that everything has been completed to our exacting New Zealand standards before either bringing in the family for viewing or returning the deceased home to lie in state.

(New Zealand is one of a few countries in the world to commonly practice hygienic preservation or embalming. Consequently we find that work completed overseas is not as professional as we are used to here and in some situations will need further intervention by our highly skilled mortuary team.)

Once the deceased is  back in New Zealand then the funeral will proceed as per a normal arrangements.

Continue to "The Process"


The Death of an Infant or Very Young Child.

This is perhaps the most difficult scenario for both the team here at CCFS and the Family who have suffered what we term ‘a death out of the natural order'. No one likes to deal with infant death including, fetal death, still birth or infant and child death. Unfortunately there are still a significant number of these sad events each year so we at CCFS as a company are confronted with this scenario on a regular basis.

In most cases there will be a significant liaison with the hospital or medical team as most of these deaths are not entirely unexpected (although still very traumatic nonetheless). In the cases that involve a fetus or preterm baby; embalming or hygienic preparation is difficult to achieve effectively so time constraints play a factor in the timing of any memorial service or family gathering. In the case of a child then we have a skilled team that can allow the family time, space and safe handling of their child to ensure that proper good bye can take place.

In a recent child death, the client family was well aware that their little girl was not going reach her first birthday. When she did pass, we went to the family home and arranged a little intimate family service for late in the week. Our mortuary team brought her home in a carry cot and prepared her body so she could go home that evening to be with her parents and young brother. We like to present children in their own clothing as we do with adults, but generally use a white casket that is rectangular in shape quite dissimilar to the receptacle used for an adult. We also will use a smaller sized vehicle for transportation and cover the deck with a pure white sheepskin to soften the overall look.

The little girl was then returned to her family and in due course we conducted an appropriate service and arranged for her remains to be cremated and the ashes returned to the family in a small urn to be interred with her grandmother. Every family has different needs so detailed discussion is always the key to making the best of what is one of the saddest events in any parents life.

As a company we do not like to profit from a Childs funeral so our fees will be severely curtailed and often will only include our actual disbursement costs without any recompense for time or a professional service fee. We assess each families need individually and are more than happy to discuss these issues and provide an estimate if required.

Depending on the age of the child we have several different procedures necessary to record the death, arrange for a burial or cremation and any service or memorial. Please feel free to discuss any aspect of this with our experienced team.

Continue to "The Process"