Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Q: What purpose do funerals serve?
A: Funerals are an important step in the grieving process, as well as an opportunity to honor a life lived. They allow family members and friends a caring, supportive environment to gather to support each other in a loss, as well as to celebrate the life that has been lived. They are important because they remind us that each life is special. You are significant, and the funeral service allows us – the living, an opportunity to reflect on this.
Q: What is the purpose of public viewing?
A: Viewing of the deceased is an important part of the funeral service. Many grief counselors feel that viewing of the deceased is important because it helps the bereaved realize the reality of the passing of a loved one.
Q: Must I purchase a burial vault?
A: In most areas of the country, state or local law does not require that you buy an outer burial container or vault 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 graveliner or a burial vault will satisfy these requirements.
Q: What is cremation and how does it compare in cost to a traditional earth burial?
A: Cremation is an alternative method of disposition to earth burial. It is simply the process of reducing the body to bone fragments through the application of intense heat for several hours in a cremation furnace. When selected as a substitute for a traditional funeral followed by earth burial, the cost will be considerably less.
Q: What should I do if death occurs away from home?
A: After the death has occurred, the most prudent decision would be to call your home town funeral home. Your funeral director will be able to make the necessary arrangements and coordinate transportation with another funeral home in the location where the death occurred. This will save you and your family additional expense.
Q: What determines the cost of a funeral?
A: You and your family do. A funeral can be as extravagant or as simple as you desire. Preplanning your funeral can help control costs. By making decisions ahead to time, you avoid having to make choices at a time when your emotions are heightened. It also provides an opportunity for you to set aside funds that can be used to pay for part or all of the service.
Q: What is embalming and is it required?
A: Embalming is the process funeral homes use to chemically preserve and disinfect the body. This procedure is performed to allow family members time to gather for the funeral. By law, embalming is required for the following reasons – if the body will be transported by public transportation, final disposition will occur more than 72 hours following the death, body will be publicly viewed, or if ordered by Department of Health for disease control.
Q: Does the VA pay for veteran’s funerals?
A: Although the Veterans Administration does not pay for complete funerals, it does provide certain merchandise, services and reimbursements. In general, any veteran with a discharge other than dishonorable is entitled to a grave space in a Veteran’s cemetery, a grave liner, opening and closing of the grave, Veteran marker, and an American flag. Funeral benefits vary depending on the rank and other variables.
Q: What if I do not wish to use all the services a funeral home has to offer?
A: The Federal Trade Commission Funeral Rule requires that all funeral homes itemize their charges for professional services, facilities and motor vehicle equipment and that they provide a General Price List to all clients. You have the right to select and pay for only those services you choose.
Q: Should children attend funerals?
A: Children grieve just as adults do. Any child old enough to form a relationship will experience some form of grief when a relationship is severed. As adults we may not view a child’s behavior as grief as it often is demonstrated in ways which we misunderstand as “moody”, “cranky”, “withdrawn” or other behavioral patterns which do not appear to us to be grief. When a death occurs, children need to be surrounded by feelings of warmth, acceptance and understanding. Caring adults can guide children through this time when the child is experiencing feelings for which they have no words. This time can be a growth experience for the child, teaching them about love and relationships. You should create an atmosphere in which the child’s thoughts, fears and wishes are recognized. This means that they should be allowed to participate in any of the arrangements, ceremonies and gatherings which are comfortable for them. First, explain what will be happening and why it is happening at a level the child can understand. A child may not be able to speak at a grandparent’s funeral but would benefit greatly from the opportunity to draw a picture to be placed in the casket. Be aware that children will probably have short attention spans and may need to leave a service or gathering before the adults are ready. The key is to allow participation, not to force it. Forced participation can be harmful. Children instinctively have a good sense of how involved they wish to be. They should be listened to carefully.