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.
- Pick up the deceased and transport the body to the funeral home (anytime day or night)
- Notify proper authorities, family and/or relatives
- Arrange and prepare death certificates
- Provide certified copies of death certificates for insurance and benefit processing
- Work with the insurance agent, Social Security or Veterans Administration to ensure that necessary paperwork is filed for receipt of benefits
- Prepare and submit obituary to the newspapers of your choice
- Bathe and embalm the deceased body, if necessary
- Prepare the body for viewing including dressing and cosmetizing
- Assist the family with funeral arrangements and purchase of casket, urn, burial vault and cemetery plot
- Schedule the opening and closing of the grave with cemetery personnel, if a burial is to be performed
- Coordinate with clergy if a funeral or memorial service is to be
- Arrange a police escort and transportation to the funeral and/or cemetery for the family
- Order funeral sprays and other flower arrangements as the family wishes
- Provide Aftercare, or grief assistance, to the bereaved
The funeral home will help coordinate arrangements with the cemetery.
- Bring the following information to complete the State vital statistic requirements:
- Birth Date
- Father's Name
- Mother's Name
- Social Security Number
- Veteran's Discharge or Claim Number
- Marital Status
- Contact your clergy. Decide on time and place of funeral or memorial service. This can be done at the 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).
- 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, and a list of survivors in the immediate family. Include time and place of services. The funeral home will normally write an article and submit it to newspapers (newspapers will accept pictures and they will be returned intact).
- Arrange for members of family or close friends to take turns answering door or phone, keeping careful record of calls. If Social Security checks are automatic deposit, notify the bank of the death.
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.
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, limousines, 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.
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.
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.