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the funeral kete - a final act of love

One of the greatest gifts you can give to your family and friends is the knowledge of what you would like to happen to you when dying, and after your death. This final act of love will bring reassurance to family and friends at a time of intense raw emotions and that creates more space for grieving. And the more space we give to grieving, the more empowered we are to heal.⁠ So, take a few deep breaths and imagine this if you can.....

A box, kete, vessel of some sort is nestled safely away in a cupboard or shelf. On the outside are words that give indication of what's inside, like - 'My Funeral Box', 'When I'm Gone' or some other such thing. You told your family what you want to happen but they are grieving and may not recall what you said. There's a lot to process. They go to the box, open it up and there it all is - a taonga waiting to give them direction. Consider the clarity and peace this box could bring them.

The concept of the 'funeral box is not that radical. It's simply a tangible way of condensing, in advance, the many aspects of end of life planning in one easy to find place. The vessel absolutely does not need to be an expensive purchase, a shoe box will do just fine (although if you want a fire proof chest studded with jewels then go right ahead!) The work is in knowing what to put into the box, and gathering it together. And it's also about accepting that, by doing this planning, your life is finite. Are you ready to take that leap?


Here are some ideas with links (in green text) to help you put your unique funeral 'box' together. It's not intended as a checklist to tick off but simply a guide to start you on the journey. What you choose to include will be very personalised (although I would recommend you put the legal documents in place). Review the contents regularly, change it as many times as you want until you feel you have the right fit that reflects your aspirations. Make sure you can access it quickly in case of a house emergency, and that at least 1 other trusted person knows where to find it when the time comes.

  • Important documents - either as printed copies or as digital files, if so where they are stored. This could include:

Last Will and Testament

Advance Care Plan (Living Will) 

Advanced Directives 

Enduring Power of Attorney document

Insurance policies

Deeds and ownership papers to property, cars etc

Birth, marriage, prenuptial and citizenship certificates (as appropriate).

Your wishes regarding organ donation

Financial information - tax, bank accounts, shares, pension etc

  • Instructions on what to do with your online assets, such as closing email accounts, social media, shopping accounts, cloud based storage and subscriptions to cancel. Consumer NZ has created a free  digital will template to download.

  • Your shroud - if you've choosen one.

  • Clothing, or list of clothes, that you wish to be buried or cremated in (if any).

  • Readings, letters, prayers or poetry you'd like read at your service. Maybe you'll write your own obituary.

  • Music for the service - originals, digital files, Spotify playlists or sheet music.

  • Photographs for the Order of Service - write about them on the back.

  • A list of jewellery, taonga, recipes, items of sentimental value etc not covered in the legal will. What would you like to happen to them, and where they are located?

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