Funerals fill an important role for those mourning the loss of a loved one. By providing surviving family and friends with an atmosphere of care and support in which to share thoughts and feelings about death, funerals are the first step in the healing process. It is the traditional way to recognize the finality of death. Funerals are recognized rituals for the living to show their respect for the dead and to help survivors begin the grieving process.
You can have a full funeral service even for those choosing cremation. Planning a personalized ceremony or service will help begin the healing process. Overcoming the pain is never easy, but a meaningful funeral or tribute will help.
A funeral or memorialservice helps a grieving family, friends and community meet four basic needsall of us experience in the aftermath of a death:
Remember ~ a service helps families remember their loved one and gives an opportunity to reflect on the loved one's impact on others.
Reaffirm ~ a personally meaningful ceremony helps identify the spiritual principles that anchor people in the midst of loss, allowing to reaffirm some basic beliefs and values.
Realize ~ we live in a world that frequently denies death's reality. A service helps people to realize that death has occurred and that their world has indeed changed.
Release ~ the final need people all experience in grief is the need to release or say goodbye to their loved one.
Today's funeral director is more than a caretaker of the deceased; he or she also is a memorial event planner. A funeral or memorial service often involves the same level of planning as a wedding. However, the planning for this event usually must be accomplished in a few days rather than over several months. This is done while the family is coping with the sometimes overwhelming emotion and physical exhaustion common to the death of a loved one. The funeral director is a caring, extensively-trained professional who brings a diversity of skills to the logistics of this event so that the family is free to focus on their family and friends.
A few of the tasks that the funeral director and staff will complete:
Into Our Care:
We will take your loved one into our care and transport him/her to the funeral home (24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year).
Notify proper authorities, family and/or relatives.
Perform professional care of the deceased as requested by the family. This may include washing, embalming, restorative art, dressing, casketing, hairdressing, and cosmetology.
Prepare the deceased for cremation if applicable.
If at all possible, we will use a special program to record your loved one's fingerprint. which will be kept on file.
Issue checks on the family's behalf to pay for flowers; lunch or refreshments; hall rental if applicable; death certificates; publication of obituary; honorariums for clergy, musicians, special groups, servers; service of opening and closing a grave; vault and/or tent service at cemetery as well as final date inscription if applicable. The funeral home issues all these checks and the expenses are added to the funeral home bill. This allows the family the convenience of writing one check to cover most expenses.
Arrange and prepare death certificates.
Provide certified copies of death certificates for insurance and benefit processing (this may take up to 2 weeks after death depending on how quickly the attending doctor or coroner signs the death certificate).
Complete and submit all paperwork required with cremation.
Work with the insurance agent, Social Security or Veterans Administration to ensure that necessary paperwork is filed for receipt of benefits. Please note that Social Security is notified of a death when the funeral director files a death certificate.
Prepare and submit obituary to the newspapers of your choice.
Upload obituary and photo to our website and notify all subscribers.
Post obituary and photo on our Facebook page to notify followers.
Prepare and submit burial permit to both the cemetery sexton and then the Registrar of Deeds for registration with the state.
Visitation (if applicable):
Assist the family with visitation details.
Coordinate with clergy, musicians, and special groups if needed.
Arrange for prayer service, time of remembering or other service as requested by the family.
Set up the funeral home or other venue for the visitation and/or service to follow and arrange for any equipment needed.
Schedule staff to work and clean up the visitation and/or service to follow.
Arrange for the family to have private time prior to the visitation.
Arrange all floral arrangements delivered.
Assist family with display items, photos and other memorial pieces. Carefully transport these items to the funeral service.
Assist the family with funeral arrangements and purchase of casket, urn, burial vault.
Coordinate with clergy if a funeral or memorial service is to be held.
Schedule organist, soloist, reader and/or servers as needed for the service.
Order funeral sprays and other flower arrangements as the family wishes. Transport and set up flowers from visitation site to funeral site to final destination as requested by the family.
Coordinate the lunch or refreshments for after the service.
Contact and coordinate with pallbearers or urn-bearers.
Direct the service of choice in a professional and compassionate manner.
Arrange any family memorial items and/or photos.
Arrange register books and memorial folders and assist guests when arriving for the service.
Assist church or other venue staff as needed.
Provide hearse and funeral van. The van will transport clergy, flowers and any equipment needed at the cemetery.
Create a personalized memorial folder with the family. Copy as many as requested by the family. Upload the completed memorial folder to the funeral home website.
Create personalized thank you cards with the family. Print as many as needed by the family.
Create a personalized register book for guests to sign when offering their condolences at a visitation or funeral service.
Create a personalized sign for the chapel prior to any service.
We will take pictures of each floral arrangement and card upon delivery. These will be uploaded to create floral pages for the register book.
Create a personalized tribute video if desired by the family. This video can be shown at visitation and before and/or after some funeral services, depending on the church and is also uploaded on our website.
If requested by the family, we can create personalized candles, prayer cards, bookmarks and Christmas ornaments.
Contact cemetery sexton to mark the grave.
Schedule the opening and closing of the grave with cemetery personnel, if a burial is to be performed.
Arrange for vault and/or tent and chairs set up, if applicable.
Arrange an escort from the Sheriff's Department.
Arrange with military as appropriate (see below).
Assist with committal service at cemetery.
Staff will remain with deceased until lowering into the earth has taken place.
Provide a temporary marker at the grave with name, year of birth and year of death. This will remain until monument is set or existing monument has final date inscribed.
Please note: Military Honor Guards require a copy of discharge papers before military honors may be requested.
We will fly the appropriate branch flag at the funeral home in honor of your loved one.
Arrange for active duty honor guard.
Arrange for local VFW/American Legion honor guard.
Complete paperwork for each honor guard request.
Complete and forward request for military marker for cemetery.
Complete request for American flag.
Obtain American flag; transport to Pantorium Cleaners in Aberdeen for pressing.
Properly fold flag for use with urn carrier or properly fold on veteran's casket.
After the Service:
Provide assistance with documentation and insurance forms as needed.
Arrange for date of death inscription on existing headstones.
Assist with ordering a new headstone or memorial.
In November, invite family to participate in annual "Christmas Service of Remembrance".
The funeral home will help coordinate arrangements with the cemetery. Please bring the following information to complete the State vital statistic requirements::
Mother's Name including maiden name
Social Security Number
Veteran's Discharge or Claim Number
Contact your clergy. Decide on time and place of funeral or memorial service. This can be done at the funeral home with the assistance of the staff to ensure availability with the clergy and funeral home.
The funeral home will assist you in determining the number of copies of the death certificates you will be needing and can order them for you.
Make a list of immediate family, close friends and employer or business colleagues. Notify each by phone.
Decide on appropriate memorial to which gifts may be made (church, hospice, library, charity or school). The funeral director can offer guidance with this.
Gather obituary information you want to include such as age, place of birth, cause of death, occupation, college degrees, memberships held, military service outstanding work, list of survivors in immediate family. Include time and place of services. The funeral home will assist in writing the obituary and submit to newspapers.
If you request immediate assistance, yes. If the family wishes to spend a short time with the deceased to say good-bye, that’s perfectly acceptable. Your funeral director will come when your time is right.
Burial in a casket is the most common method of disposing of remains in the United States, although entombment also occurs. Cremation is increasingly selected because it can be less expensive and allows for the memorial service to be held at a more convenient time in the future when relatives and friends can come together.
A funeral service followed by cremation need not be any different from a funeral service followed by a burial. Usually, cremated remains are placed in urn before being committed to a final resting place. The urn may be buried, placed in an indoor or outdoor mausoleum or columbarium, or interred in a special urn garden that many cemeteries provide for cremated remains. The remains may also be scattered, according to state law.
Embalming sanitizes and preserves the body. Embalming makes it possible to lengthen the time between death and the final disposition, allowing family members time to arrange and participate in the type of service most comforting to them.
The Federal Trade Commission says, "Except in certain special cases, embalming is not required by law. Embalming may be necessary, however, if you select certain funeral arrangements, such as a funeral with viewing. If you do not want embalming, you usually have the right to choose an arrangement that does not require you to pay for it, such as direct cremation or immediate burial."
When compared to other major life 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, hearses, etc.), these expenses must be factored into the cost of a funeral.
Additionally, 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. Funeral directors look upon their profession as a service, but it is also a business. Like any business, funeral homes must make a profit to exist.
It really depends entirely on how you wish to commemorate a life. One of the advantages of cremation is that it provides you with increased flexibility when you make your funeral and cemetery arrangements. You might, for example, choose to have a funeral service before the cremation; a memorial service at the time of cremation or after the cremation with the urn present; or a committal service at the final disposition of cremated remains. Funeral or memorial services can be held in a place of worship, a funeral home or in a crematory chapel.
With cremation, your options are numerous. The cremains can be interred in a cemetery plot, i.e., earth burial, retained by a family member, usually in an urn, scattered on private property, or at a place that was significant to the deceased. (It would always be advisable to check for local regulations regarding scattering in a public place-your funeral director can help you with this.)
Today, there are many different types of memorial options from which to choose. Memorialization is a time-honored tradition that has been practiced for centuries. A memorial serves as a tribute to a life lived and provides a focal point for remembrance, as well as a record for future generations. The type of memorial you choose is a personal decision.
You might choose ground burial of the urn. If so, you may usually choose either a bronze memorial or monument. Cremation niches in columbariums are also available at many cemeteries. They offer the beauty of a mausoleum setting with the benefits of above ground placement of remains. Many cemeteries also offer scattering gardens. This area of a cemetery offers the peacefulness of a serene garden where family and friends can come and reflect. Your funeral director can assist with this.
If you wish to have your ashes scattered somewhere, it is important to discuss your wishes to be scattered ahead of time with the person or persons who will actually have to do the cremation ashes scattering ceremony, as they might want to let your funeral professional assist in the scattering ceremony. Funeral directors can also be very helpful in creating a meaningful and personal ash scattering ceremony that they will customize to fit your families specific desires. The services can be as formal or informal as you like. Scattering services can also be public or private. Again, it is advisable to check for local regulations regarding scattering in a public place-your funeral director can help you with this.
Yes — Depending upon the cemetery's policy, you may be able to save a grave space by having the cremains buried on top of the casketed remains of your spouse, or utilize the space provided next to him/her. Many cemeteries allow for multiple cremated remains to be interred in a single grave space. Again, your funeral director will be able to assist you.
Uncertainty about income tax issues can add to the stress experienced from the death of a spouse. You should meet with your family attorney and/or tax advisor as soon as possible to review your particular tax and estate circumstances. Bring a detailed list of your questions to the meeting. If you do not have an attorney or tax advisor, call the IRS toll-free at 800-829-1040 for answers to specific tax questions.
There are a number of options available, including:
Determine if the deceased person qualifies for any entitlements. Check with the Social Security Administration, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and with your State Fund. Many people are entitled to get financial assistance with their funeral costs from these agencies if they qualify.
Review all insurance policies the deceased person has, including life insurance. Some life insurance policies have coverage clauses for funeral related costs.
Find local charities providing financial help for funeral expenses. Search for non profit organizations and for churches in your area.
Talk to your funeral director about cremation options - these can be much less expensive depending on your choices.