The Bereavement Bill of Rights

We Recognize That

  • every human life is unique and of singular value, worthy of respect and meaningful remembrance;  
  • the dead have a moral right which confers duties upon those who survive them; and  
  • bereavement is a time of great vulnerabilities for families and communities, placing unique responsibilities on all who care for them. We want to ensure our society honors the dead, protects the bereaved and reflects our diversity. We are committed to helping each other plan for death, and to dispatch our duties to the dead with sensitivity, compassion and respect. We support regulatory change as required to ensure these principles are upheld and enforced.

Everyone is Entitled to the following rights

1. The right to clear information

a) in preparing a will,

b) in consenting to organ donation,

c) in making bequests,

d) in deciding how they want to be cared for when they die, including

(i) what is involved in burial and cremation;

(ii) available funeral options and full disclosure of all costs;

(iii) where the body will be prepared for burial;

(iv) whether the funeral director is licensed, and has good references; and

(v) who owns the funeral home.

2. The right to be treated with dignity and respect, including

a) care and respect for the dignity of the whole person and family, especially when facing progressive life-threatening illness or disability; and

b) full disclosure of the use of commissioned sales staff before consultations with a funeral home, cemetery, memorial society and related enterprises.

3. The right to choose and have decisions respected

a) in deciding what happens to the body upon death, including conditions for organ donation;

b) in deciding what happens to the body before the funeral, including:

(i) whether it should lie at home, subject to statutory restrictions;

(ii) what cloths are to be worn for the laying out and the funeral;

(iii) whether the body should rest overnight in a church or in any other place where the funeral service is to be held.

c) in choosing between burial and cremation, subject to religious requirements;

d) in deciding who shall direct the funeral service and to know the location or address of their operation;

c) in choosing whether or not the body should be embalmed, subject to statutory health and safety restrictions; and

f) in deciding where funeral services will be held

4. The right to meaningful remembrance and privacy

a) ensuring a funeral service reflecting one's own religion, culture, convictions or affiliations;

b) ensuring an affordable grave or final resting place for ashes that is local, accessible to the survivors, well tended and safe from vandalism;

c) ensuring the use of a family plot in subsequent generations, i.e.. every 40 years, where desired by the family;

d) restoring cemeteries as sacred public spaces, and

e) preserving the confidentiality of all health and funeral care records.

5. the freedom to make funeral arrangements in advance, and to alter the arrangements without reprisal or undue cost.
6. The right to help and support for their survivors

e) ensuring that the death is registered simply and conveniently;

b) ensuring that arrangements for registering the death and for the funeral will be conducted with sensitivity to the feelings and convenience of the relatives and friends;

c) ensuring that the family's request for a Coroner's inquiry will be heard where death has occurred under unusual circumstances.