Planning a Funeral

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions
  • General Questions

    Funerals are part of our culture's need to have “closure” after death occurs, and to help those left behind begin the grief process. At the time of the funeral service we tend to reflect back on the joyous times that we spent with our loved one, and begin to condition ourselves to the idea that they will no longer be with us. Funerals can be personalized by the individual who has died (by pre-arranging) or by the family members making the funeral arrangements.

    What's the best way to save money on a funeral?

    Plan ahead! Pre-arrange with a funeral home of your choosing. By pre-paying (whether all at once or multiple payments over time) you can lock in today’s pricing for the majority of the funeral costs. You may also want to look into taking out a reasonable insurance policy that will cover the cost of an average funeral.

    If you choose cremation, the family may still have a casket and viewing of their loved one like a traditional funeral service, but typically there will be no procession to the cemetery. If the family is choosing cremation with no public viewing of the body, it is important to let your funeral director know this before the body is removed from the place of death. By doing so, embalming will not be performed and the family will not have to incur this charge.

    Why have a public viewing?

    Many grief specialists believe that the viewing of the body aids the grief process by helping the bereaved recognize the reality of death. Viewing is encouraged for all, including children, as long as the process is explained and their participation is voluntary.

    What is the purpose of embalming?

    The embalming process sanitizes and preserves the body, slows the decomposition process, and in some cases can enhance the appearance of a body.

    Embalming makes it possible to increase the time between death and the final disposition, allowing the family time to arrange and participate in the type of service most comforting to them.

    What should I do if my loved one has passed out of town?

    There are a couple different options to consider in this situation. If you would like to have your loved one brought home immediately, you will need to contact your funeral home as soon as death occurs, and they will make the proper arrangements to have that person shipped home.

    If you would like to have a viewing or funeral service out of town and then have your loved one brought home for final disposition, you will want to contact a local funeral home where the death has occurred, and that funeral director will arrange for shipment back to your home city.

  • Questions about Cremation

    Are you considering cremation? Click here to visit our full line of cremation products.

    Is a Remembrance Service Appropriate?

    Yes, a remembrance is a caring and meaningful event in which family and friends have an opportunity to honor their loved one and say a last "good-bye." Viewing the deceased's body before cremation often helps the bereaved accept the fact a death has occurred and resolve grief more readily.

    Urn in niche
    How is a cremation service different from a traditional funeral service?

    It isn't. At least it doesn't have to be different. The extent and the content of a cremation service is entirely subject to the wishes of the family. They may choose as much or as little as they want.

    Is a casket required?

    Most crematories require that the body at least be enclosed and in an acceptably rigid container. This container or casket must be strong enough to assure the protection of the health and safety of the operator. It should provide a proper covering for the body and meet reasonable standards of respect and dignity. Some crematories will accept metal caskets and some require that the casket or container be fashioned of a combustible material. The body is cremated in the same enclosure in which it arrives at the crematory.

    How is cremation accomplished?

    The enclosed body is placed in the cremation chamber where through heat and evaporation the body is reduced to its basic elements, which are referred to as cremated remains. It may surprise many to learn that ashes are not the final result since cremated remains have neither the appearance nor the chemical properties of ashes - they are, in fact, bone fragments. After preparation, these elements are either placed in a permanent urn or in a temporary container that is suitable for transport.

    Isn't cremation an end in itself?

    Some people may regard it as such, but most families feel that the cremated remains of someone they love should be afforded a resting place that can be identified by the name and dates. This is memorialization. Most families find that a memorial, regardless of its size, serves as a basic human need to remember and be remembered.

    What choices of memorialization are available?

    A final resting place for cremated remains can be provided by various means. The family may choose from a full selection of urns for permanent containment of the cremated remains. The urns may be placed in a columbarium, which is a building or structure where single niche space or family units may be selected. Niches are recessed compartments enclosed by either glass protecting the engraved urn or ornamental fronts upon which the name and dates are engraved. Of course, family lots may be used and cemeteries often permit the internment of more than one person in an adult space if cremation has occurred. In some cemeteries there are also specially designed areas for this purpose, which are called urn gardens.

    How does the cost of cremation compare with burial or entombment?

    The basic charge for just cremation is somewhat less than traditional burial. However, with so many items of service available both in the funeral service before and in the mode of disposition after, it's not possible to make an accurate comparison. Again, the family has the option to select as much or as little as they so choose.

    Is a funeral director necessary?

    Some governmental jurisdictions require a licensed person to transport a body and to obtain the necessary permits. Funeral directors are among those so licensed and are the only ones permitted to do so in some jurisdictions. Normally, the funeral director performs the same professional functions regarding cremations as in any other service.

    Is embalming necessary?

    No, but the factors of time, health and possible legal regulations and religious beliefs might make embalming prior to cremation either appropriate or necessary.

    Are more people choosing cremation today?

    Yes. The subject should certainly be resolved among family since that determination will have to be made at the time of death. The family should consult together ahead of time to decide what is best for all. Arrangements for memorialization also should be made at this time. This way one of life's most difficult decisions need not be made alone at a time of grief and confusion.

    If you have any questions about cremation which have not been answered here, please feel free to call us at (313) 873-0771, or fill out our Ask the Director form and be sure to leave your E-Mail address so we can respond to your inquiry.