What purpose does a funeral serve ?
It provides the family and friends with a caring and supportive environment in which to share thoughts and feelings about the death. The funeral becomes the first important step in the healing process.
What do funeral directors do ?
They are the pillars that support the survivors during one of their most difficult journeys through life. They care for the family, and safeguard and care for the deceased person. They fulfill the wishes of the family by guiding them through and fulfilling the funeral arrangements. The funeral director is trained in embalming and restorative procedures required by a funeral home, for traditional open casket viewing by family and friends. They arrange and provide an orderly series of events, culminating with the final disposition of burial, entombment or cremation. The funeral director’s responsibility of properly filing the death certificate in order to receive permission for final disposition is the first step which allows the family to begin the process of settling estate matters. The director will advise the family as to the number of certified death certificates needed to begin the process, as well as advising them on potential issues to be addressed shortly after the final disposition. A growing number of funeral directors are trained as grief counselors and continue even after the funeral to help along in the bereavement process.
Who can make funeral arrangements?
In most cases it is the closest next of kin making the arrangements. On other occasions, the executor or executrix of a will is responsible. An agent having been appointed by the deceased will supersede all others and make the funeral arrangements. The agent having been instructed by the deceased, in the form of a legal document signed by the deceased and witnessed in accordance with Public Health Laws, will fulfill the wishes and will coordinate with the funeral director the arrangements set forth in the document. The person signing the contract becomes responsible for the payment of the funeral services performed.
What should I be prepared to provide when going to the funeral home to make arrangements?
When making at-need or pre-need arrangements, the family will need to provide information required for the death certificate. This information, referred to as vital statistics consists of the following:
- Deceased legal name
- Legal address
- Social security number
- Both parents names, including mother’s maiden name
- Date of birth
- Place of birth
- Level of education
- If served in the military, years of service and a copy of the discharge papers DD214
- Employment history, position held, nature of industry and place of employment
- If in ground burial or entombment, the cemetery and the deed if available
- If open casket viewing is anticipated, clothing and a recent picture
What should I do when a death occurs?
Whether sudden or anticipated, call your funeral home of choice. A funeral director is available 24hours a day, 7 days a week, including holidays. They will guide according to your individual situation.
Can your funeral home conduct a funeral service in another location?
Yes. Many funeral homes will allow another funeral director access to their facilities for the convenience of serving the family.
What if a death occurs in another state/town ?
Upon notification of the death, call your local funeral home of choice. Your funeral director will be able to make the necessary arrangements to transfer the deceased from the place of death to the local funeral home’s care. This relieves the family of the stress and financial burden of dealing with multiple funeral homes. You funeral director can and will coordinate everything for you.
Why are public viewings important?
Viewing the deceased allows family and friends to begin the process of acceptance. Seeing the deceased does not increase the pain, on the contrary, in most cases it actually minimizes the disbelief, fantasies and often distorted images that are present when death occurs. Grief counselors recognize the importance of the funeral and the viewing of the deceased in facilitating the acceptance of a death. In the opinion of many grief professionals, families that are deprived of the opportunity to memorialize and visualize the deceased, have more of a difficult time with grief and the grief process
What is embalming?
It is the process of chemically treating the deceased human body, using the circulatory system. This is done in order to achieve disinfection, sanitation, preservation and restoration. It temporarily interrupts organic decomposition and restores a physical appearance of natural form and color. Restoration in embalming, focuses on the physical presentation of the deceased, and aims to recreate a naturalness of form and colors. Restoration is often referred to as the artistic element of the embalming process..
Is embalming required by law?
Embalming is not required by law. It is, however, generally required to allow long delays between the death and the funeral. A funeral home may require embalming for open casket viewing during the funeral process. It effectively protects funeral workers, family members and friends alike from a wide range of potential hazards, and removes the unpleasant changes caused by death. Embalming is required when final disposition is in another country. Funeral directors must adhere to the requirements of the receiving country, and will obtain such requirements from the nearest local embassy of that country.
What options are available besides in ground burial?
Besides in ground burial, a family may chose to have an entombment, placing of the casket in an above ground enclosure, or cremation.
Can I still have a funeral service with the body present if I choose cremation?
Yes, cremation, as in burial or entombment is a form of final disposition. Cremation is very much a part of the traditional funeral process. There may or may not be a wake, a funeral service is either in a place of worship or at the funeral home. Following the service, the deceased is taken to the place of final disposition, the crematory. Some families will accompany the deceased to the crematory for a final committal, much as is performed in a cemetery, while others chose not to. The cremated remains become available to the family on the average of 3 to 5 days following cremation.
Why should I prearrange my funeral or burial ?
When you plan ahead, you will be able to consider the many options available. The opportunity will be there to make an informed decision about the funeral, the type of service and final disposition of burial, entombment or cremation. The choices will be meaningful to you and your family, and you will gain peace of mind knowing your family and friends will be relieved of the emotional and financial burden often associated with making arrangements when a death occurs. If prefunding your funeral, some funeral homes guarantee their funeral home charges, while others may not. If not a guaranteed funeral trust account, the interest gained on the trust account can offset the inflationary pressures of the future.
Are there different types of Pre-Need arrangements?
As opposed to At-Need arrangements, when the death has already occurred, there are several reasons why families choose to make Pre-need arrangements. Often, when a loved one is in a terminal state, and a family is referred to a hospice care, pre-need arrangements are made. Though the reality of the impending loss is very difficult to adjust to, the funeral director will gently guide the family in planning the funeral. A family in this situation will have the option to place the funds into a trust account at this time. There are two types of trust accounts, irrevocable and revocable. Both types of trust accounts can be transferred from one funeral home to another. Pre-need trust accounts in a majority of cases are irrevocable. This is as a result of on individual requiring long term care, and is at the point of applying for Medicaid coverage. An irrevocable trust account can only be used for the funeral of the beneficiary of the trust account. The trust account can be transferred to another funeral home, but can never be revoked. A certified death certificate of the beneficiary is the only way the funds can be obtained. A prudent individual, not needing Medicaid, can also establish a pre-need arrangement and place the funds into a revocable trust account for themselves or another family member. A revocable trust account can also be transferred to another funeral home, but unlike the irrevocable trust account, it can be revoked, and the funds returned to the person(s) making the arrangements.