Frequently Asked Questions
We have heard thousands of questions, and chosen to provide you with the answers to some of the more common questions relating to a funeral, a funeral service and funeral homes.
- What is a funeral?
A funeral is a ceremony of proven worth and value for those who mourn. It provides an opportunity for family and friends who share in the loss to express their love, respect and grief. Through the funeral, the bereaved take that first step towards healing after experiencing a loss.
- What type of service should I have?
Only you can answer that question. The type of service conducted for the deceased, if not noted in a pre-plan, is decided by the family. The service is usually held at a place of worship, at the funeral home, or at the graveside. The service may vary in ritual according to religious denomination or the wishes of the family. A private service is by invitation only where selected relatives and a few close friends may attend the funeral service. A memorial service is usually a service without the body present and can vary in ceremony and procedures according to the family's wishes and affiliations.
- Can I personalize my funeral service or the service of a loved one?
Absolutely. In fact, we recommend it. After all, the funeral is a celebration of life and should include such topics as a favorite hobby. Funeral directors are available to discuss all options and ensure the funeral is tailored to your wishes. Services may be personalized in many unique ways. Contact us to explore the possibilities.
- Why should we have a public viewing?
There are many reasons to have a public viewing. It is part of many cultural and ethnic traditions, and many grief specialists believe that viewing aids the grief process by helping the bereaved accept and adjust to the reality of death. Viewing can be appropriate and even beneficial for children as long as it is their desire to do so and the process is explained well.
- Why do we need an obituary notice?
It is helpful to friends and the community to have an obituary notice published announcing the death, type of service to be held, and the date and time of each event. A notice can be placed in a local newspaper and/or online.
- What do funeral directors do?
Funeral directors are both caregivers and administrators. In their administrative duties, they make the arrangements for transportation of the body, complete necessary paperwork, and implement the choices made by the family regarding the funeral and final disposition of the body. As caregivers, 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 can also link survivors with support groups at the funeral home or in the community.
- What should I do if the death occurs during the night or on the weekend?
We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. All you have to do is place a call to us. If you request immediate assistance, one of our professionals will be there promptly. If the family wishes to spend a short period of time with the deceased to say good bye, it is acceptable. Our professionals will come when your time is right.
- What should I do if a death occurs while away from home?
Your funeral director can assist you if a death occurs anywhere on the globe. Contact your funeral home of choice immediately. They will assume responsibility and coordinate the arrangements for the return of the deceased person to their community.
- What is the purpose of embalming?
Embalming sanitizes and preserves the body, slows the decomposition process, and can enhance the appearance of a body. It 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.
- Is embalming mandatory by law?
No. But certain factors of time, health, and possible legal requirements might make embalming either appropriate or necessary. Please note that embalming may be required if the deceased is being transported by air to another country where local laws need be observed.
- Is cremation a substitute for a funeral?
Cremation is an alternative to earth burial or entombment for the body's final disposition. If cremation is selected, we recommend having a service for your loved one, whether it be a funeral with a cremation following or a memorial service, as a service offers significant assistance in the grief healing process and allows a formal outlet for you and those close to your loved one to say a final goodbye.
- Can I have a visitation period and/or a funeral service if cremation is chosen?
Yes. Cremation does not mean you are unable to have a visitation period and/or a funeral service for your loved one. Cremation is simply one option for final disposition.
- 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 desired, that option is encouraged. Touching the deceased's face or hands is perfectly safe.
- Has the cost of funerals increased significantly?
Funeral costs have increased no faster than the consumer price index for other consumer items.
- Why are funerals so expensive?
In some respects, funerals are similar to weddings or birthday celebrations - the type and cost of a service will vary according to the tastes and budget of the consumer. Not only that, a funeral home is a 24-hour, labor-intensive business, with extensive facilities (including viewing rooms, chapels, limousines, hearses) and these expenses must be factored into the cost of a funeral. Moreover, the cost of a funeral includes not only merchandise such as caskets, but also the services of a funeral director in making arrangements; filing appropriate forms; dealing with doctors, ministers, florists, newspapers and others while seeing to all the necessary details.
- What recourse does a consumer have for poor service or overcharging?
While most funeral homes provide outstanding services, sometimes things can go wrong. Funeral service is regulated by the Federal Trade Commission and state licensing boards. In most cases, the consumer should discuss problems with the funeral director first. If the dispute cannot be solved by first talking with the funeral director, the consumer may wish to contact the FTC by contacting the Consumer Response Center by phone, toll-free, at 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357); TDD: 1-866-653-4261; by mail: Consumer Response Center, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20580; or online at www.ftc.gov, using the online complaint form. You may also choose to contact the local Better Business Bureau or your state consumer protection office.
- Who pays for funerals for the indigent?
Other than the family, there are veteran, union, and other organizational benefits that may pay for funerals for the indigent. Most funeral directors are aware of the various benefits available and know how to obtain them for the indigent. However, funeral directors often absorb costs above and beyond what is provided by agencies to insure the deceased receives a respectable burial.
- Are cemeteries running out of space?
Just like other open spaces, cemeteries are impacted by increased population density in both urban and rural areas. Cemetery spaces are a finite resource, and as such, are at a premium in some regions.
- What is Perpetual Care?
"Perpetual Care" typically refers to Permanent Care or Endowment Care. These care funds are collected with each interment space sale in order to maintain the grounds, roads, and buildings of the cemetery.
- Must I purchase a burial vault?
In most areas of the country, state or local laws do not require that you buy a container to surround the casket in the grave. However, many cemeteries require that you have such a container so that the ground will not sink. Either a grave liner or a burial vault will satisfy these requirements.
- Can a burial vault be personalized?
Yes, we can show you the variety of personalization choices including customized nameplates and military insignias.
- Are there vaults for cremated remains?
Yes. We offer urn vaults designed for in-ground burial of cremated remains.
- Can two cremations be performed at once?
Never. Not only is it illegal to do so, most modern cremation chambers are not of sufficient size to accommodate more than one adult at a time. Thus it would be a practical impossibility to conduct multiple cremations simultaneously.
- What are the advantages of a mausoleum burial?
Mausoleum crypts are both clean and dry. They offer a viable alternative for those who simply have an aversion of being interred in the ground. Furthermore, with the growing shortage of available land for cemetery use, mausoleums allow for a maximum number of entombments in a minimum amount of space.
- What is a columbarium?
A columbarium, often located within a mausoleum, chapel, or garden setting, is constructed with numerous small compartments (niches) designed to hold urns containing cremated remains.