Frequently Asked Questions
General Funeral Service
Who are funeral directors and what do they do?
Funeral directors are in charge of all the logistics following a death. They complete all the necessary paperwork, make arrangements for the transportation of the body, and put into action the choices made by the family in regards to the funeral service and the final resting place of the body. Beyond the logistics, funeral directors are there to provide moral support and guidance for someone coping with death.
What is a funeral?
A funeral is a ceremony for a deceased person prior to burial or cremation. A funeral gives the opportunity for family and friends of the deceased to gather and mourn the passing of their loved one, to share cherished memories and celebrate their life. A funeral is a vital first step to help the bereaved heal after the loss of someone special.
Why are funerals so expensive?
Funerals are labor intensive and require a lot of work from a lot of people. The cost of a funeral goes beyond merchandise such as caskets, it includes the services of a funeral director in making the necessary arrangements, filling out forms, and dealing with all the other people involved in the death (doctors, lawyers, insurance companies). Funeral directors work an average of 40 hours per funeral. The cost of operating a funeral home is factored into the cost as well. Funeral homes are a 24 hour operation, with extensive facilities that need to be maintained and secured.
How much does a funeral cost?
The cost of the funeral varies depending on the wishes you have. The average cost of a funeral is between $5,000-$7,000, however, the most basic of services can cost as little as $1000. The cost includes all professional services including transportation, embalming and other preparations, the use of a facility for the ceremony, and the purchase of a casket or urn.
Will life insurance pay for funerals?
Life insurance funds can be applied to the funeral service fess. Not all funeral homes will accept life insurance assignments. N.F. Walker, Inc. Funeral Home is able to process your life insurance claims either for assignment to the funeral home or just to get you started.
Why are public viewings important?
Public viewings allow people who could not be with the deceased prior to death to say goodbye face to face. Viewing of the deceased is a cathartic experience that helps to move people from the aspect of denial that this could happen to the knowledge that support of family and friends will be there to see us through the tough times in adjusting to this loss. Viewing of the body reaffirms that the care we have show the people we love while alive has in fact continued with the care they receive when dead.
How can I make sure my funeral arrangements are carried out according to my wishes?
If this a concern, you should have a recording with your funeral home, your lawyer and a family member who wishes to do as you have directed. Your lawyer can make sure that if sufficient funds are available your wishes can not be contradicted. Your funeral home can assist in setting up a trust account to place funeral funds. Your family member or friend will be able to direct your survivors to both the lawyer and funeral home, both of which will have records of your selections.
What are your payment options, both pre-need and at need?
Pre-need funds must be received in check form or electronic transfer. At-need funerals can be paid in any traditional manner including credit cards.
What is typically involved with making funeral arrangements?
There are discussions related to the care the deceased will need based on your service selections. There are discussions of service itinerary. There are discussions with other entities such as religious organizations, cemetery and/or crematory facilities. There are opportunities to select items of merchandise such as stationary, casket, vault or urn. There is the composing of obituaries and if needed service folders. When all of this is able to be summarized a statement of funeral goods and service is presented to relay the associated cost.
Should a child attend a funeral?
It is our experience that children benefit from attending funeral visitations and religious services. They do very well in the afternoons and tend to not do so well in the evenings as they tire. It is suggested that a family member or dear friend stay with the children at home during evening services. It is your judgment as the parent to decide if this will be okay for your child.
Do clergy always officiate at a funeral service?
There have been less conforming funeral services. Some families gather and conduct services that are more a reflection of the life lived and less focused on the religious protocols of a particular religion. Stories are shared, poems are read and music selections are enjoyed.
What type of service should I have?
If no pre-arrangements have been made, the type of service is entirely up to you. Services are usually held at a funeral home or a place of worship. There is a wealth of different services, ranging from a traditional religious or military service to something a little more non-traditional. Our funeral directors are more than happy to work with you to figure out what would be the most appropriate.
Can I personalize a funeral?
Of course you can, in fact more and more people are opting for a more non-traditional personalized service. There is no right or wrong way to celebrate somebody’s life. There are many unique ways to celebrate life, let the funeral director know exactly what your desires are and they will honor your wishes.
Do we need to have an obituary notice and what is included in one?
It is highly recommended to have an obituary notice that’s either placed in a local newspaper, or placed online. An obituary lets the public know that a death has occurred, and gives them information about the service. Obituaries generally include the deceased’s full name, age, city and date of birth and the city they were living in when they died. It also includes the name of the deceased’s spouse, along with the names of anyone else significant in their lives, such as parents, children or grandchildren. Space may be limited in a newspaper obituary, but you may include a little blurb on the life and legacy of the deceased. An online obituary or memorial website offers you the chance to add a lot more about the deceased.
What happens if the death occurs in the middle of the night or on the weekend?
We are here to help, funeral directors are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year.
What if a death occurs away from my home town?
We are here to help, we can arrange to have the remains transported home from anywhere in the world. We will assume responsibility and make the proper arrangements to have the remains return to the community.
What is embalming and what purpose does it serve?
Embalming sanitizes and preserves the body; it also slows down the decomposition process and enhances the appearance of the body damaged by traumatic death or illness. Embalming gives time to the family of the deceased to arrange a service, and allows the family the option of having an open-casket viewing.
Do I need to have an embalming?
No. In fact some religions forbid embalming. However, some countries require embalming by law in order for remains to leave or enter the country. If it is not against your religious custom, embalming is recommended, especially if there is an extended gap between death and burial or cremation.
What do I do if I am not satisfied with the way a funeral was handled?
Funeral Services in the United States is regulated by the Federal Trade Commission, they can be reached by telephone at 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357) or you can fill out a form online at www.ftc.gov. In Canada, funeral services are regulated provincially and this information can be found on the Canadian Consumer Information website at www.consumerinformation.ca
Why should I prearrange my funeral or burial?
The impact of having your funeral plans recorded is best felt in the comfort the survivors get from knowing that your funeral selections are being followed. They have less to worry about and are able to participate rather than plan and worry that they are doing the right thing.
If I pre-plan and prepay my funeral or burial, how do I know that the money will be there when I die?
New York State has very tough laws regarding this. It is the law that all money placed in trust for a funeral can only be obtained by providing a Certified Death Certificate.
Can I transfer my pre-paid funeral from another funeral home to your funeral home?
Yes, your account can be transferred to another funeral firm.
What Happens to the Cremated Remains?
After cremation the inert cremated material is returned to the family. The ashes can be kept at home, placed in a cemetery or arrangements can be made to have them taken out to sea.
What is involved in the cremation process?
The crematory introduces fire in the form of gas jets. After the ashes have cooled the remains are milled so that there are no identifiable fragments.
Is memorializing important when a loved one is cremated?
It is always suggested that a respectful location be selected for the ashes. There is a very strong need for people to know that the ashes are in a location that has meaning or reverence.
Can I still have a funeral service with the body present if I choose cremation?
Yes. The witnessing of the dead is a very strong human need. It lends importance and reverence to the gathering of family and friends.
What are my choices in ground burial?
Every cemetery has burial options that differ in the style of memorials that can be erected and in some cases if an additional grave liner or vault needs to be used.
What options are available besides ground burial?
Some families do not want to have a ground or earth burial, for them there is the option of mausoleum entombment. This is an above ground building that holds caskets.
What is the best way to deal with the death of a loved one?
There is no best way to deal with such an important life experience. What worked for your friend may not help you the same way. Talk to your friends, your clergy and your doctor. Please refer to our resources section.
How can I help a child deal with the death of a loved one?
There are mental health professionals and grief counselors that should be the front line regarding this issue. They are trained to deal with children and can help them come to terms with what is happening as their lives change so dramatically. Pediatricians would be the avenue for initial referral. Please refer to our resources section.