From coffin to plot, grave issues get demystified

FLORENCE KERR
Last updated 10:03 14/04/2014
 Matthew Sadlier
Bruce Mercer/Fairfax NZ

FUNKY COFFINS: Seddon Park Funeral Homes owner Matthew Sadlier rides a Harley-Davidson motorcycle at the funeral expo in Hamilton. 

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Having your funeral immortalised on film or being buried in a Lego casket are just a few of the weird and wonderful ways people are shuffling off this mortal coil. 

Gone are the days of dreary funerals. Many are choosing to go out with a bang with all the trimmings you could imagine - including funeral packages which can record your special day on DVD.

Seddon Park Funeral Home flung the doors wide open at its Funeral Expo at the weekend, to allow people from all walks of life to get a taste of what is in store when they go - from the time the body arrives to when it is put to rest.

Seddon Park Funeral Home owner Matthew Sadlier said the expo was a result of requests from members of the public who were unaware of the options available.

"Our team is in constant contact with people who want to know more about what happens when someone dies, and this led us to the idea that we could show them everything under one roof."

The funeral home can livestream your service on the web to allow mourners all over the world to be involved - so bye-bye, expensive airline tickets.

The expo, in its second year, has also breathed life into your last goodbye by showing a variety of custom caskets that reflect the occupant's personality.

Dying Art, a subsidiary of branding company Rocket, is a provider of catalogue or custom-made caskets.

The business allows you to put your personality on display as loved ones bid you farewell.

Dying Art promoter Marc Veldhuisen said the most popular casket was the "rambling rose" - a white casket with a single rose on the top and a loop of roses going around the side of the casket.

However, the firm can design a casket with your favourite pictures, objects or images that portray your favourite hobby, or you can imprint your favourite "selfie" as a lasting reminder of how good you once looked.

"If you can imagine it, we can do it," Veldhuisen said, while showcasing their new Lego casket, which sold during the expo.

"We have a Rubik's Cube design for people that like them."

The business has been around for 10 years.

But if these options are not to your taste, the classic funeral casket is still alive and well - are new and improved "eco caskets" that allow you to depart the "green way".

And you don't have to wait for your final days to quickly throw together your funeral plan. Pre-paid funeral plans that give you good discounts - pay today's rates for tomorrow's tears.

When you're in the planning stages of your funeral, think a year or two out - the final stage, the unveiling of your headstone or plaque - depending on which one you go for - will depend on which Hamilton cemetery you can be buried in.

If you go for a classic bronze, granite or porcelain plaque, your cemetery of choice is Chestnut Lawn cemetery, which was opened in 2011, the Hamilton City Council pamphlet says.

"The lawn has a simple aesthetic with sloping concrete beams for either plaques or tablet memorials.

"The area offers an alternative to low-rise or upright memorial."

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If you prefer a headstone that is slightly inclined and raised off the ground, your choice will be Olive Lawn cemetery.

It is aptly named given the cemetery is "encircled by olive trees".

The Lawn was opened in 2013 and has a more "formal layout" feel.

For eco-friendly burials, there is a cemetery just for you - no memorial stone at all, and your death will be marked by a tree planted above your plot.

The Forest Grove features a natural burial area, nestled alongside a gully filled with native trees. It "aims to return the body back to earth as quickly as would naturally occur".

The whole area will ultimately be restored to native bush.

Finally, for those that like to make a statement, there is Oak Lawn Cemetery.

"The Oak Lawn has been designed to accommodate individualised headstones as a lasting memorial," the Hamilton City Council pamphlet says.

COSTS

Caskets can range in price from $1100 to $8000 Dying Art custom-made caskets cost $4000, with the catalogue-range caskets costing $3500 Hamilton Park Cemetery burial fees Adults: $4280 Child: $2230 Stillborn: $203 Military personnel: $1315 Cremation excluding interment costs: Adult: $560 Child (under 15): $280 Stillborn or under one year: $115 

- Waikato

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