Frequently Asked Questions
It is common to have questions about the funeral process. This section answers some commonly asked questions to help make this process easier for you. If additional questions arise, please feel free to contact us directly at the funeral home.
What is a funeral?
A funeral is a ceremony for a deceased person, prior to burial or cremation. A funeral gives the opportunity for family and friends of the deceased to gather and mourn the passing of their loved one, to share cherished memories, and to celebrate their life. A funeral is a vital first step in helping the bereaved heal after the loss of someone special.
What type of service should I have?
If no pre-arrangements have been made, the type of service is entirely up to you, but it is best to consider what the deceased may have wanted. Services are usually held at a funeral home or a place of worship. There are a wealth of different services, ranging from traditional religious or military services, to something a little more unique. Our funeral directors are more than happy to work with you to figure out what would be the most appropriate.
Can I personalize a funeral?
Of course you can! In fact, more and more people are opting for non-traditional, personalized services. There is no one way to celebrate somebody’s life. Let the funeral director know exactly what your desires are and they will honor your wishes.
Do we need to have an obituary notice and what is included in one?
It is highly recommended to have an obituary notice that is either posted in a local newspaper or online. An obituary lets the public know that a death has occurred, and provides them with information about the service. Obituaries generally include the deceased’s full name, age, city, and date of birth, as well as the city they were living in when they died. It also includes the name of the deceased’s spouse, along with the names of anyone else significant in their lives, such as parents, children, or grandchildren. Space may be limited in a newspaper obituary, but you might also wish to include a short sentiment on the life and legacy of the deceased. An online obituary or memorial website offers you the chance to add a lot more about the deceased.
Who are funeral directors and what do they do?
Funeral directors are in charge of all the logistics following a death. They complete all the necessary paperwork, make arrangements for the transportation of the body, and put into action the choices made by the family in regards to the funeral service and the final resting place of the body. Beyond all of this, funeral directors are there to provide emotional support and personal guidance in the wake of a loss.
What happens if the death occurs in the middle of the night or on the weekend?
We are here to help. Funeral directors are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year.
What if a death occurs away from my home town?
We can arrange to have the remains transported from anywhere in the world. We will assume responsibility and make the proper arrangements to have the remains return to the community.
What is embalming and what purpose does it serve?
Embalming sanitizes and preserves the body. It also slows down the decomposition process and enhances the appearance of a body impacted by a traumatic death or illness. Embalming gives time to the family of the deceased to arrange a service, and allows for the possibility of an open-casket viewing.
Do I need to have an embalming?
No. In fact, some religions forbid embalming. Some countries do require embalming by law in order for remains to leave or enter the country. If it is not against your religious custom, embalming is generally recommended, especially if there is an extended gap between death and burial or cremation.
How much does a funeral cost?
The cost of the funeral depends on the services selected. The average cost of a funeral is between $8,000-$11,000; however, the most basic of services can cost as little as $2000. The cost includes all professional services including transportation, embalming and other preparations, the use of a facility for the ceremony, and the purchase of a casket or urn.
Why are funerals so expensive?
Funerals are labor intensive A funeral's cost extends beyond the merchandise, and includes the services of the funeral director. Their role in making the necessary arrangements, filling out forms, and dealing with all the other figures involved after a death (doctors, lawyers, insurance companies). Funeral directors work an average of forty hours per funeral, and the cost of operating a funeral home is included as well. Funeral homes are a 24 hour operation, with extensive facilities that need to be maintained and secured.
What is opening and closing, and why is it so expensive?
Opening and closing fees vary from each cemetery but can range from $200-$1200. The fee covers the cemetery administration portion as well as the actual opening and closing of the grave.
Can we dig our own grave to avoid the charge for opening and closing?
The actual opening and closing of the grave is just one component of the opening and closing fee. Due to safety issues which arise around the use of machinery on cemetery property, and the protection of other gravesites, the actual opening and closing of the grave is conducted by cemetery grounds personnel only.
Why is having a place to visit so important?
To remember, and to be remembered. A permanent memorial in a cemetery provides a focal point for remembrance and memorializing the deceased. Memorialization of the dead is a key component in almost every culture. Psychologists say that remembrance practices serve an important emotional function for survivors by helping them bring closure, which allows the healing process to begin. The provision of a permanent resting place is an important part of this process.
How soon after a death must an individual be buried?
There is no law that states a specific time-span for burial. Considerations that will affect the timeline include: the need to secure all permits and authorizations; notification of family and friends; preparation of cemetery site, and religious considerations. Public heath laws may limit the maximum amount of time allowed to pass prior to final disposition. Contact your local funeral provider for more details.
Does a body have to be embalmed before it is buried?
No. Embalming is generally a choice, one which depends on factors like if there is to be an open casket viewing of the body, or if there will be an extended time between death and internment. Public health laws may require embalming if the body is going to be transported by air or rail.
What are burial vaults and grave liners?
These are the outside containers into which the casket is placed. Burial vaults are designed to protect the casket and may be made of a variety of materials, including concrete, stainless steel, galvanized steel, copper, bronze, plastic, or fiberglass. A grave liner is a lightweight version of a vault which keeps the grave surface from sinking in.
Must I purchase a burial vault?
Most large, active cemeteries have regulations that require the use of a basic grave liner for maintenance and safety purposes. Either a grave liner or a burial vault will satisfy these requirements. Some smaller rural or churchyard cemeteries do not require use of a container to surround the casket in the grave.
What is cremation?
Cremation is the process of reducing the human body using high heat and flame. Cremation is not the final disposition of the remains, nor is it a type of funeral service.
Is a casket needed for cremation?
No, a casket is not required. Most states require an alternative container constructed of wood or cardboard; however, in some states, no container is required.
Is embalming required prior to cremation?
No. It is against the law for a funeral home to tell you otherwise.
Can the body be viewed without embalming?
Yes, most crematories allow immediate family members to view the deceased prior to cremation.
Can the family witness the cremation?
Yes they can; some cremation providers will allow family members to be present when the body is placed in the cremation chamber. Some religious groups ask for this as part of their funeral custom.
Can an urn be brought into church?
Nearly all Protestant Churches allow for the urn to be present during the memorial service. Most Catholic Churches also allow the remains to be present during the Memorial Mass. Including cremated remains as a part of the funeral provides a focal point for the service.
What can be done with the cremated remains?
While laws vary state by state, for the most part, remains can be buried in a cemetery lot or in a cremation garden, interred in a columbarium, kept at home, or scattered.
How can I be sure I receive the correct remains?
All reputable cremation providers have developed rigorous sets of operating policies and procedures in order to maximize the level of service and minimize the potential for human error. Since it is illegal to perform more than one cremation at a time, and the vast majority of crematories can only cremate one body at a time, it is next to impossible to receive the incorrect remains.
How long does the actual cremation take?
It all depends on the weight of the individual. For an average sized adult, cremation can take two to three hours at a normal operating temperature of between 1,000 and 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
What do the cremated remains look like?
Cremated remains resemble coarse sand and are whitish to light grey in color. The remains of an average sized adult usually weigh between 7 and 8 pounds.
Do I need an urn?
An urn is not required by law. An urn may be desired if there is to be a memorial service or if the remains are to be interred in a cemetery. If an urn is not purchased or provided by the family, the cremated remains will be returned in a temporary plastic container.