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Under The Willow Tree Blog

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Whether its expected or comes as a complete surprise, losing someone you love or care for can be quite an emotional and sometimes traumatic experience. Amidst all the chaos it's important to know what to do next and more importantly, how soon after their passing.  From here it all depends on where and how the death has occurred. So let's break down the process in easy steps.


This is probably the easiest of locations. When a death occurs the nursing staff or the medical team will let you know if you are not already present. If A Dr wasn’t present at the time they will inform the Dr who will then attend to confirm the passing of your loved one. They will then write a medical cause of death if the death is straightforward. They will also notify the necessary authorities. No need to feel alarmed, this is normal and a required procedure.

From here you then need to contact a Funeral Director. Willow Tree Funerals are available 24 / 7 , and our job is to make the next step as easy and stress-free as possible. We, Will, make arrangements to bring your loved one into our care, all we need from you at this point is for you to sign an authority, then you can leave it up to us to make all the arrangements and take care of any extra paperwork.

If your loved one, prior to their passing has already made arrangements, then you need to follow those instructions on whom to contact, but if they haven’t …. then the executor of the estate or the Next of Kin will need to make those decisions.

This can be quite a tough decision, so we encourage you to shop around and ask as many questions as you need to. The most expensive does not mean they will be the best, just the same way as the cheapest does not mean you won't receive a great service. At Willow Tree Funerals, we pride ourselves on our Professionalism, Integrity, and Genuine Empathy, We treat your family as if they were our family.  Compassion and sensitivity are at the core of what we do.


If the death has occurred at home or a place of business, the first thing you need to do is called the deceased Dr. The Dr will explain what you need to do in order to obtain a medical cause of death. If They ( The Dr ) can not attend to sign the MCOD ( Medical Cause of Death ), then generally the matter is handed over to the Police or the Coroner in your state.  This process is called a “Reportable Death”.

An Order of Disposal, provided by the Coroner, or an MCOD signed by the Dr, are the legal documents required for a death to be registered with Births, Deaths, and Marriages ( BDM ) in any Australian state or territory.  At Willow Tree Funerals, we can lodge those documents on your behalf and then provide a copy of the supplied Death Certificate from BDM when the time comes.

A copy of the registered certificate will be kept on file in our office should you ever misplace it in the future.


For many, this is where realization kicks in. Sitting down with an arranger can be quite overwhelming and probably one of the hardest things you will need to do. At Willow Tree Funeral, our staff is specially trained to ensure this stage is as easy as possible.  There’s no rush, we take it at a pace that’s comfortable to you. It's okay to cry and be visibly emotional. Please don’t feel embarrassed at all, we fully understand the process of grief and bereavement.


The arrangement is broken down into two parts, The first part is gathering the required information to submit to Births Deaths and Marriages. Information that we will need will include the following.

The Deceased:


  • Full name

  • Last known address

  • Last known occupation

  • Date and place of birth

  • Date and place of death

  • Their father’s name

  • Their mother’s name including maiden name ( Before she was married )

  • Marital status at time of death ( Single, Married, Divorced or Widowed )

  • Details of all marriages, where, when and to whom ( even if they have been married multiple times )

  • Names and dates of birth of children, including legally adopted or stillborn children, as well as any who have died.

  • Centrelink and Medicare numbers

  • Veteran / Returned Serviceman status .


It will help if you have this information at the time of the arrangement, but if you don’t have it all .. don’t stress. There’s time to get it later. We will provide you with a little reminder of the things that are still needed.

It will help if you have this information at the time of the arrangement, but if you don’t have it all .. don’t stress. There’s time to get it later. We will provide you with a little reminder of the things that are still needed.


The second part is making the arrangements for the funeral. In this part of the process, you will be guided through the options available to you in order to give your loved one a beautiful and memorable send-off. At Willow Tree Funerals all of our funerals are bespoke. We will work to your specifications keeping in mind the budget that you have in place. There are no high-pressure sales, or upselling. You may want a religious funeral or something more secular (Non-Religious). You have the option of a Church, Chapel, Crematorium, Private Venue, or even just a Grave Side Burial. You may want to go all out and have something grand or keep it low-key with a few close families and a memorial service.  You will have options of coffins and caskets, flowers, music and singers …… the choice is completely yours.  Once your decision is made, we get to work to make it happen, we will organize everything from the church/chapel, the cemetery, the priest/celebrant, the flowers, cars, and so on. We will take care of everything so all you need to do is spend time with your family and then be there on the day. Your Peace Of Mind is our focus. 


Whats the Significance of 40 Days After Death?



In many traditions around the world, the memorial of a loved one doesn’t end after the funeral. While the memorial service is the last chance to say goodbye to the deceased in many cultures and religions, some believe the mourning process lasts for 40 days.


There is a belief that the soul continues to wander the Earth for another 40 days after the initial death. While wandering, the soul visits significant places from their life as well as their fresh grave.


At the end of the 40 days, the soul finally departs from this world. Many families choose to host another celebration on this 40th-day mark. In this guide, we’ll explore the significance of the 40 days after death.

History of 40 Days After Death

If you’re not from a tradition that practices the 40th-day memorial after death, you might wonder where it came from. The answer lies in the Bible. In the Bible, the number 40 is of great significance. The Flood lasts 40 days and 40 nights. Moses was on Mt. Sinai for 40 days. Jesus fasted for 40 days after his Baptism. and so on.

Those from Eastern Orthodox traditions use this framework for their own memorials. In Russian funerals, this 40 number also relates to pagan traditions. The 40 days is an opportunity for judgment before God.

It’s believed in Eastern Orthodox religions that the soul completes many obstacles known as the aerial toll houses. The soul passes through the aerial realm, which is home to evil spirits. These spirits attempt to drag the soul into hell, and the soul needs to find the strength to stay with God. This is a judgment of the soul’s sins. At the end of the 40 days, the soul finds its place in the afterlife.

Modern Traditions and Practices in Each Religion

Like most funeral practices, no two cultures have the same beliefs. Let’s take a closer look at modern traditions and practices for each religion.

The Roman Catholic doctrine rejects the 40th-day belief, despite this belief being so widespread in other sects of Catholicism. According to Roman Catholic beliefs, judgment occurs at the time of death. The soul will either travel directly to Heaven, Purgatory, or Hell. There are no toll houses or evil spirits.

In Roman Catholic tradition, the soul does not wander the Earth for any period of time. That being said, Catholicism mixed with local cultures and customs around the world to create the 40th-day tradition that is still in practice today.

Filipino Catholicism

In Filipino Catholicism, the 9th and 40th days are significant after the death of a loved one. For 9 days after the death, the family recites prayers. In Filipino tradition, the name for this is “pasiyam” which means “that which is done for 9 days.”


Where did these beliefs come from, especially considering how many Catholics don’t believe in the 40th-day tradition? Because the Spanish colonized the Philippines, there was a lot of mixing of beliefs and traditions. Today, most Filipino families follow Catholic funeral traditions.


According to ancient beliefs, the deceased’s soul stays on Earth for up to 9 days after death. During this time, the family gathers for prayers and a celebratory meal in honor of the deceased. On the 40th day, a rosary is said. This is a way to protect the soul of the departed as they finalize their place in the afterlife. All of these traditions are a way to help with mourning the loss of a loved one and you’ll see them displayed at some Filipino funerals.


The Russian-Orthodox tradition has strict beliefs around the days following a death. It is important for memorial prayers to be said on the 1st, 3rd, 9th, and 40th days after the death of a loved one. It’s also tradition to host a memorial on every anniversary of the family member’s death. Why are these numbers significant for Russians in particular?


  • 1st day – After the death of a loved one, the family says special prayers to ensure their loved one’s soul has safe travels from the body. The soul spends the first three days traveling to places of significance, such as relatives’ homes.

  • 3rd day – On the 3rd day after death, the soul passes through the toll houses.

  • 9th day – The soul completed the toll-house journey. Now, it wanders between both Heaven and Hell. It doesn’t know where it belongs just yet.

  • 40th day – On the 40th day, the soul finds its final place in Heaven or Hell.

In the Russian funeral tradition, families gather on these days to say prayers and enjoy a meal. Families enjoy a delicacy known as kollyva. This is a dish made of fruit and wheat. It’s often decorated with sweets and other local favorites.


Because many Russian traditions have their basis in folk traditions, other unique practices go along with the 40th-day tradition. First, candles are placed in the koala, then blessed before meals. Next, the family leaves a towel and a cup of water by the window. This is because the deceased’s soul visits the home during the 40 days, and this gives them a space to rest. At the end of the mourning period, the family shakes the towel into the cemetery to release the soul from the home.


Finally, the family places bread and a glass of water in front of religious icons to help ancestors remember the deceased. The family replenishes this bread and water over the full 40 days. After this period of mourning is over, the family no longer visits the loved one’s grave. Though these traditions might sound unusual, they’re a way of bringing the family peace and comfort in a time of need.


Greek-Orthodox memorial services are similar to other Orthodox sects. The mourning process is strict in this tradition. The family will avoid social gatherings for at least 40 days after the passing of a loved one.

During this time, the family wears all black. Close male relatives don’t shave for 40 days.


Throughout the mourning period, friends and family will bring flowers to the grave. The gravesite is cleaned and kept in perfect condition. Again, this is a way to show respect as the soul transitions to the afterlife.


There is a memorial service hosted close to the 40th day after death. This will be hosted on a Sunday, likely during mass. Many families in the Greek-Orthodox tradition also hold a “Trisagion Service.” This is a brief service performed by a priest specifically for a person who died. The family goes with the priest to perform this ceremony at the gravesite.


Many modern Greek-Orthodox individuals believe the soul lingers on Earth until the 40th day. Others simply believe it’s important to pay respects to the dead on these historic days. Either way, this tradition is a way to bring families and congregations together.

Paying Respects for 40 Days

It’s interesting to compare the post-funeral traditions across the globe. There are striking similarities in how people from a variety of cultures pay respects to those they love. Mourning is a time to come together, reflect, and focus on the importance of life. In many traditions, the 40 days after the death of a loved one are vital. The souls of loved ones are currently undergoing the biggest transition from Earthly life to the afterlife.


Families and friends use their customs and practices to aid the deceased during this transition. While these practices above all help the soul of the deceased, they also help the family find its own peace. Finding peace in the passing of loved ones is a part of life.

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Understanding the Stages of Grief.

Grief and Bereavement is very much personal thing. There’s no exact time frame for when things start to feel better. Coping with the loss of a loved one, a close friend, a family member or even someone you looked up to in society such as a celebrity or music artist can and will take time. So it stands to reason that when we understand the process and stages of grief, we begin to gather an understanding of why we feel the way we do when someone passes away.


The first thing to remember is that Grief is Universal, meaning that at some point in our life, everyone will experience grief.  For the most part, it stems from the death of someone we know and love, however it may be as a result of the loss of a job, or even the end of a relationship.


It does not follow timelines or schedules, it is not neat nor is it linear. It will stir up a roller coaster of emotions at any given time. One moment you may feel angry and frustrated, while at other times you may withdraw from those around you and take some time to cry and reflect….. this is all very normal. Grief often is accompanied by a sense of feeling empty.


As previously mentioned, grief is very much a personal thing, but what we have noticed is that there are some responses that are common in those going through this process. So let's touch on the 5 main stages of grief. You may experience some, or you may experience all of them. and not always in the same order.

Stage One: DENIAL.


Losing someone can be pretty overwhelming. It may even come unexpectedly through an accident or sudden illness, so it's normal to respond by acting like it never happened. The very act of denying it happened gives you time to process what happened. to gradually get your head around the changes and absence of your loved one being there when you expect them to be. Denial is the most confronting of all the stages. This is because your mind has refused to accept reality and pushed all those emotions to a part of your brain where you don’t have to deal with them. However, at some point, you will be confronted by all those emotions and it can be a very difficult time.

Stage Two: ANGER.


Where the denial is considered a coping mechanism, Anger is very much a masking effect. This stage of anger is hiding away all those emotions, pain, and suffering that you now carry. As a result, you may direct your anger at those around you, your family, work colleagues, pets, and even inanimate objects, or even at the person who died.


Your anger may come across as resentment or bitterness, and not always present with the obvious signs of anger such as fury and rage.  At this stage you may find it to be temporary or on the flip side, might last longer than expected. However, at some point, this too shall pass. your anger will begin to subside and you will begin to process the feelings that you have been suppressing with a bit more rational and logical. It's important to remember that you are not always going to feel this way, and even more important to not allow others around you to tell you to “Get over it, accept it and move on”. This journey is yours, and it could be a long road ahead.

Stage Three: BARGAINING 


Right now, it may feel like it's just too much to handle. You may be feeling helpless and vulnerable like the pain will never go away.  This may cause you to look for ways to make sense of it all and regain some kind of control. And here enters the bargaining process. As if by negotiating you can change the outcome of what happened. You may find yourself asking “If only” or “If “, or “how about if I do this or that” will that make things go back to the way they were? Some religious individuals may even try and make a deal or a promise to God in return for relief from grief and pain.  It has been quoted that ” Bargaining is a line of defense against the emotions of grief. It helps you postpone the sadness, confusion and hurt”. At any stage, especially now, it's a good time to talk to someone. perhaps a counselor, your priest, a family member, or a good friend who is willing to listen. Remember …… you don’t have to journey alone.




The previous stages of grief such as anger and bargaining can feel very active, depression on the other hand is quite the opposite. Previously you were doing all you can to stay one step ahead of your emotions, trying to control them, however now things have started to make sense and have become more real, you may choose to isolate yourself from others to deal with your loss in a more structured manner.

Depression may give you the sense of feeling vague or mentally foggy, heavy, and confused. It can be difficult to navigate your thoughts and you may have a stronger sense of frustration and feelings of hurt. This is normal and you should not be alarmed, however, if you feel that you become stuck in this stage, it's best to seek professional advice. No, it does not mean that you are crazy just because you are seeking help. It's a very mature approach to dealing with things that are just a bit too much.  In time you will see the benefits and things will become much easier…. trust me on this one when I say, getting help is so worth it.




You are now at a stage where you have come to accept what happened. what it does not mean however is that you have moved past or forgotten about the loss of a loved one, the feeling, and emotions.  It’s a time when you can fully process what this loss means to you at this moment, giving you a gateway to move forward and find comfort, peace, and happiness. You still may feel upset, different, emotional, and so on, and this is to be expected … after all you have just experienced a life-changing event. Take this as an opportunity to see that what lies ahead is more good days than bad. One step at a time, One day at a time, and before you know it, all those uncontrollable emotions you experienced in the past will hopefully remain there… In the past! You may still get days that you may just want to sit quietly by yourself and cry, and that’s perfectly ok. No one expects you to completely forget, after all this person meant something to you.


Below are some useful links if ever you need to seek advice or have a chat. They are strictly confidential so you need not worry about what is said being passed on.

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July 17, 2021

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