Frequently asked questions
What purpose does a funeral serve?
A funeral is the customary way to recognize death and its finality. Funerals are recognized rituals for the living to show respect for the dead and to help survivors begin the grief process.
What do funeral directors do?
Funeral directors are caregivers and administrators. They make the arrangements for transportation of the body, complete all necessary paperwork, and implement the choices made by the family regarding the funeral and final disposition of the body.
Funeral directors are listeners, advisors and supporters. They have experience assisting the bereaved in coping with death. Funeral directors are trained to answer questions about grief, recognize when a person is having difficulty coping, and recommend sources of professional help. Funeral directors also link survivors with support groups at the funeral home or in the community.
Why have a public viewing?
Viewing is part of many cultural and ethnic traditions. Many grief specialists believe that viewing aids in the grief process by helping the bereaved to recognize the reality of death. Viewing is encouraged for children, as long as the process is explained and the activity voluntary.
Viewing the body is a way of honoring the transition from life to death and saying our last goodbyes. Embalming is a familiar and standard part of funerals in North America today, though it is optional. Embalming the body temporarily preserves it so family and friends can say goodbye.
What is the purpose of embalming?
Embalming sanitizes and preserves the body, retards the decomposition process, and enhances the appearance of a body disfigured by traumatic death or illness.
Embalming makes it possible to lengthen the time between death and the final disposition, thus allowing family members time to arrange and participate in the type of service most comforting to them.
Does a dead body have to be embalmed, according to law?
No. Most states, however, require embalming when:
Death was caused by a reportable contagious disease
Remains are to be transported from one state to another by common carrier
If final disposition is not to be made within a prescribed number of hours
Isn't burial space becoming scarce?
While it is true some metropolitan areas have limited available cemetery space, in most areas of the country, there is enough space set aside for the next 50 years without creating new cemeteries. In addition, land available for new cemeteries is more than adequate, especially with the increase in entombment and multi-level grave burial.
Can you conduct services nearer to my home?
Absolutely, through an association with other family owned and independent funeral homes you can have visitations, services, and memorial services at other funeral homes, churches, community centers, and/or other facilities of choice conveniently located to you upon request. Unlike cremation or memorial societies and other alternative funeral operations who offer limited service, we are a full service funeral and cremation service, able to meet every need of families we serve.
What if I die away from home?
If you are traveling out of town or to another state when death occurs, your family should contact our funeral home immediately. We will make the necessary arrangements with a well respected firm in that location to assist with the transfer.
Can I purchase merchandise from you to use at other funeral homes?
Yes, according to the Federal trade Commission Funeral Rule you can purchase caskets, urns, and/or burial vaults to be used at other funeral homes through us.
Is cremation a substitute for a funeral?
No, cremation is an alternative to earth burial or entombment for the body's final disposition and often follows a traditional funeral service.
Is cremation as a means of disposition increasing?
Yes, but not dramatically.
Can I have a viewing if I select cremation?
Absolutely. You can have a full traditional service, with viewing, and a funeral service at the funeral home or church. The cremation will then take place the following day. The cremains can be kept by the family or interred in your cemetery plot.
Is it possible to have a traditional funeral if someone dies of AIDS?
Yes, a person who dies of an AIDS-related illness is entitled to the same service options afforded to anyone else. If public viewing is consistent with local or personal customs, that option is encouraged. Touching the deceased's face or hands is perfectly safe.
Because the grief experienced by survivors may include a variety of feelings, survivors may need even more support than survivors of non-AIDS-related deaths.
Why are funerals so expensive?
When compared to other major life cycle events, like births and weddings, funerals are not expensive. A wedding costs at least three times as much; but because it is a happy event, wedding costs are rarely criticized.
A funeral home is a 24-hour, labor-intensive business, with extensive facilities (viewing rooms, chapels, limousines, hearses, etc.), these expenses must be factored into the cost of a funeral.
Moreover, the cost of a funeral includes not only merchandise, like caskets, but the services of a funeral director in making arrangements; filing appropriate forms; dealing with doctors, ministers, florists, newspapers and others; and seeing to all the necessary details.
Contrary to popular belief, funeral homes are largely family-owned with a modest profit margin.
What is pre-arranging?
Pre-arranging is a way of making informed decisions ahead of time instead of hasty, emotional choices often made at the time of need. Your true wishes about your funeral can be expressed and made with your family and friends. Pre-arranging your funeral also spares your family stressful decisions at a difficult time by eliminating doubt about what you wanted for your funeral. There are also a wide variety of funding options including life insurance, designed to make pre-payment simple and easy. By choosing to prefund your funeral, it is guaranteed at today's prices without the risk of inflation.
How do I write a eulogy?
These questions should get you thinking:
How did you and the deceased become close?
Is there a humorous or touching event that represents the essence of your passed loved one?
What did you and others love and admire about the deceased?
What will you miss most about him or her? Some of the simplest thoughts are deeply touching and easy for those congregated to identify with. For example, "I'll miss her smile," or "I'll never forget the way he laughed," are just as good as "I admired her selflessness."
Be honest and focus on the person's positive qualities.
Humor is acceptable if it fits the personality of the deceased.
"If you are inclined to be a perfectionist, lower your expectations and just do what you can given the short time-frame and your emotional state," writes Schaeffer in Labor of Love.
Keep it brief. Five to ten minutes is the norm, but it's a good idea to verify that with the minister or funeral director.
Interviewing family and friends will give you more ideas.
Put the eulogy on paper - at least in outline form.