Questions, Answers to Common Questions

About Funerals
Funeral and Cremation Services
What to do when death occurs

What is a funeral? top
A funeral is a gathering of family and friends who come together to honor the memory of a loved one who has died. Funerals provide an important rite of passage. Similar to rituals which mark other transitions in life–such as baptisms, graduations, and weddings–funerals provide a time for family and friends to celebrate the life of the loved one and share their feelings concerning the loss of this person in their lives. Coming together like this helps people accept the death, which is a critical part of adjusting to the loss.

Funerals can be as unique as the people planning them. While they are often held at churches, synagogues, or funeral homes, they may be held in any location requested by the family. Funerals that remember the loved one in personal ways can be very healing. We all carry memories and it is helpful to share these memories through readings, music, or other forms.

Funerals are an important ritual in our lives. They affirm our basic beliefs about life and death, and help us through our loss.

Why do I need the services of a funeral home?top
When a death occurs, people seek the help of a funeral home. Funeral Directors are licensed professionals who are knowledgeable about state and federal laws. Cheshire Family Funeral Home can help you plan a service that will meet your needs and guide you through this time of emotional distress.

There are more than one hundred decisions that must be made during the funeral process. The best time to choose a funeral home and to make these decisions is before the death occurs.

During the funeral process it is important that you have confidence in the funeral home to attend to every detail. Mistakes at such a highly emotional time can add undue stress to the family. It is important that the funeral home have adequate facilities and staff to serve your family and friends.

The funeral home you choose will play a very important roll in helping you through the grief process. The better funeral homes will offer support groups and aftercare materials to help families after the loss of a loved one.

Why have a funeral? top
Commemorating the important events which occur throughout the course of our lives is important to most of us. Christenings and baptisms, graduations from high school and college, weddings, birthday and anniversary celebrations, and funerals are all examples of important events. These events are acknowledged through some form of ritual or ceremony.
Funerals serve a valuable function by providing a time and place for commemorating and acknowledging the life of an individual who has died. Funerals confirm and reinforce the reality of death, assist in the expression of grief and feelings of loss, begin the process of reintegrating the bereaved back into the community, and convey our values and beliefs regarding the meaning of life and death.

Funerals may be as unique as the individual whose life they celebrate. A funeral director can provide many suggestions and options for ensuring that a funeral, for a loved one or for yourself, truly honors and celebrates the life that was led.

What do funeral directors do? top
The primary role of a funeral director is to assist and serve people experiencing the death of a loved ÷`¯â¸Ú” øÆôù|s is immediately after the death has occurred, but increasingly it involves planning well ahead of the time of need.

The funeral director relieves the family of many details. The director transports the body to the funeral home, arranges for the wake and gets information to the proper authorities for the death certificate. The funeral director places obituary notices in newspapers and helps fill out claim forms for Social Security survivors benefits, Veterans benefits, and life insurance. He or she also secures the location for the funeral and arranges for someone to officiate the service. On the day of the funeral, the director takes care of transportation and other logistics. The funeral director is also responsible for preparing the body of the deceased for the service and making certain that its presentation fulfills the wishes of the family.
In all of these activities, the funeral director is the primary organizer and counselor to the survivors of the deceased.

What is embalming? top
Embalming is the process of sanitizing and chemically treating the body of the deceased. This process retards decomposition of the body, and restores an acceptable physical appearance. Embalming is the first step in the process of preparing the body for viewing.
Embalming is usually not required in cases of immediate burial or immediate cremation, and for some religious groups who bury within twenty-four hours of death. Most funeral homes require embalming if there is to be a public viewing, if the body is to be kept more than twenty-four hours, or if the body is to be transported across state lines.
In addition to embalming, preparation of the body also includes shaving, hair dressing, make-up, dressing, and placing the body in the casket prior to viewing and services.

Why is embalming important? top
The cells of the human body begin decomposition immediately after death. Embalming is the process of sanitizing and chemically treating the body of the deceased. This process prevents decomposition for a period of time which is often necessary to allow family members time to gather for funeral services. Embalming is also a step in the process of preparing the body of the deceased for viewing. When there is to be a viewing of the body, either public or by the family, embalming restores a more healthful physical appearance. This preparation helps modify and remove signs of accidents or disease, and can provide survivors a more acceptable memory of the deceased.

Permitting family and friends to view the body of the deceased at a visitation or wake, or during the funeral service can be a valuable experience. The most important reason for viewing the body is to help people accept the reality of the death that has occurred. An important part of the grieving process is the acceptance of loss, and viewing the body may be a cathartic way to help survivors toward acceptance, and to start the process of healthful mourning.

A funeral director will discuss the option of the viewing the body with the immediate family when services are being planned. The survivors may choose whether the casket is open or closed during the public visitation and funeral.

Insisting that a person, especially a child, view the body is not recommended. Children have many questions concerning death, and it is often helpful for them to view the body and receive factual answers. However, viewing the body is a personal choice for both adults and children, and no one should be forced to do so against their will.

Viewing the body can be an important part of the funeral experience. Talking with a funeral director about your thoughts and concerns can help you reach an understanding of what choices would be best for your family. Viewing may also be possible without embalming in circumstances prescribed by your funeral director. Please consult one of our professionals for more information.

Why are flowers such a meaningful way to express sympathy? top
Sympathy flowers have been a part of funeral and memorial traditions in nearly every culture throughout history. Changing trends in how we say good-bye to loved ones, however, often leave family and friends uncertain about how to express their condolences. Below, the Society of American Florists answers the most commonly asked questions about sympathy flowers:

“Is there a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ type of arrangement to send to people as a sympathy gift?”

Although very traditional sympathy arrangements are still requested, most florists today are happy to create a floral tribute that is original and creative. Mixed flower arrangements that look “just-picked-from-the-garden,” or green or flowering plants are popular options. These more contemporary alternatives provide the family with the option to take them home, or deliver them to hospitals or places of worship after the service.

“What can I do to make my arrangement special from the rest?

To make your floral tribute particularly special, ask your florist to create an arrangement that fits the deceased’s personality. For example, a rustic basket of wildflowers might honor someone who loved the outdoors. Whatever you do, the family is sure to notice and appreciate the effort.

“Sometimes I see a charity mentioned ‘in lieu of flowers’ in the death notice. Is it still appropriate to send flowers?”

Because flowers help you say what is often difficult to express, they are always appropriate and in good taste.

However you choose to express your sympathy, any support will let the family know you care.

What are traditional funeral services? top
A traditional funeral service is a type of service that a particular family, ethnic, or religious group has established as being compatible with its beliefs and traditions.

In most of these groups, a traditional funeral service includes several common elements. A gathering of family and community is held at a church or funeral home, most often with the casketed body present. The casket may be open or closed, and there is generally a defined order of service. The service is often followed by the burial, but in some traditions, may be followed by cremation.

The service is normally organized by custom, tradition, or religious law to provide structure for the mourning and grief process, and speaks about the death and loss. The traditional service usually has a time limit, but is also flexible to meet the individual needs of the survivors. Traditional services are group-centered, with family, friends, and members of the community of the deceased invited to participate.

A wide range of services, from simple to elaborate, are available. Regardless of the type of funeral service, acknowledging the death of a loved one can be important to the future adjustment of the survivors.

What are memorial funeral services? top
Memorial services and receptions differ from full traditional services in that the service may be simplified and may be less expensive. However, it is possible and reasonable that a memorial service or reception may be more expensive and elaborate than a traditional service.

The memorial service is generally held at the funeral home, although a church, meeting hall, home, or other location may be chosen.

Funeral homes charge a basic fee which covers the common services which everyone who uses the funeral home will require. Some of these services include removal of the remains from the place of death to the funeral home, use of the basic facilities of the funeral home, and staff services for a basic arrangement conference.

In addition to the basic services, a family may choose services that involve additional charges for items such as certified death certificates, newspaper obituary notices, and a container for the remains such as a casket. The use of the funeral home chapel, and/or visitation rooms, flowers, and printed materials, are also considered additional services.

Why might I choose memorial services and receptions? top
The deceased or their survivors may not belong to a community that has a defined funeral service, or they may be in a situation where a traditional service would be inappropriate. In these cases, memorial services and receptions can be chosen as an alternative to traditional services. These events are less formal than traditional services. Most funeral homes will provide facilities for receptions or can assist you with arranging them.

As a focal point of the service, pictures of the deceased, memorabilia from his or her life, hobby items, or mementos may be brought to the place of gathering. This is a way of focusing on the life of the person being remembered. Memorial services can be held at a funeral home, church, private home, or almost any place of community gathering.

Receptions, where coffee and cookies or more elaborate food is provided, may follow memorial services, or may be the principle form of the remembrance service. Receptions give family and friends an opportunity to support each other in their loss, to renew relationship bonds and to formalize new relationships which no longer include the active participation of the deceased.

What are the alternatives to traditional funeral services? top
Today, there are many ways to organize and conduct celebrations which acknowledge that a life has been lived and that a death has occurred. Some personalized formats that are commonly used include: a service or party at a workplace, favorite park, or camping spot, or an open house at a favorite gathering place. Other formats might include a sports event, a dinner, an art show, or other events reflective of the life of the deceased and dedicated to them. At these gatherings, family members or friends may present a program of reminiscence, where they exchange favorite stories of the deceased and reflect on the contributions made by that person.

An important facet of any of these alternative service events is to acknowledge the mourning process, and acknowledge the death and the loss that follows. It is also important to encourage the expression of feelings, and speak directly about the individual life that has been lived. There are no absolute standards for an alternative service. An experienced funeral director will be willing to help you explore the alternatives which are best for your family.

What do alternatives to traditional funeral services cost? top
Some families chose to design their own ceremony or remembrance service. There is no limitation as to the type of service that may be designed. The important thing is that the ceremonies chosen, whether simple or complex, be fulfilling to the survivors. There is no right or wrong, just satisfying or not satisfying.

Funeral homes charge a basic fee which covers the common services which everyone who uses the funeral home require. Some of these services are: removal of the remains from the place of death to the funeral home, use of the basic facilities of the funeral home, and staff services for an arrangement conference.

Some examples of alternative services are:

A memorial party held in a favorite gathering spot complete with potluck or catered food, music and a time of reminiscence and sharing.

A picnic or backyard gathering at which the guests are invited to share stories of the deceased, pictures, and favorite activities.

Should children attend the funeral?top
The death of a loved one can be a very confusing and bewildering experience for children. Attendance at the funeral may be helpful for a child to realize the finality of death, and also allows the child to share in the emotional experience with the family. However, you should not insist that they attend. Let the children express sorrow in their own way and do not force ideas on them, such as grieving or funeral attendance. Talk with younger children. If they want to attend the funeral, prepare them for the experience and answer any questions they may have. Many funeral homes have brochures or helpful videos that can help provide answers to questions children might have.

How much do funerals cost?top
Most funeral homes offer funerals from simple to elaborate, with pricing to match. Stating an average cost can be somewhat misleading. With a vast number of options from which to choose, you would benefit greatly by taking time to visit the funeral facility, meeting the staff, and allowing the staff to help you determine what best meets your needs.

According to Federal Law, all funeral homes must give price information over the phone. In addition, funeral homes must provide you with their current General Price List, which should itemize the costs associated with funerals.

Funeral costs can generally be put into four categories:

• the merchandise purchased for the funeral, such as caskets, vaults, flowers, register books and memorial folders

• the professional services of the funeral director and staff

• the transportation required for the funeral

• cash advance items. Cash advance items are third party charges that the funeral home includes on their bill as a courtesy to the family. Some of the most common cash advance items are death certificates, newspaper notices, musicians, and hair dresser.

It is important to realize that within each of these categories, there are choices you may make based on your wishes for the funeral and your budget.

What are the payment options?top
Preplanning and prepaying for funerals enables you to make decisions and financial arrangements more calmly than your family may be able to at the time of your death. If a funeral has not been prepaid, most funeral homes will request payment prior to the service or require an assignment of insurance proceeds large enough to cover the funeral bill. If an individual has good credit, some funeral homes will allow the payment to be deferred for 30 days, but a substantial down payment is usually required.

Today more and more people are paying for funerals in advance because funeral homes are able to freeze the cost. With studies showing that funeral costs tend to double every ten years , you can have peace of mind in knowing that the cost of the prearranged funeral will not increase.

Many families choose to make one single payment for their prearranged funeral, while others choose to pay over time. If paying over time, look for a plan that does not have a finance charge. Some funeral homes offer time payment plans with insurance protection. If death occurs before all payments are completed, the insurance will cover the remaining balance.

Regardless of which plan is selected, the cost will remain frozen. This ensures that your family will not have to worry about cost at a most difficult time.

What are “funeral trust accounts?”top

Funeral trust accounts are supervised by a state agency to ensure safety. When you establish a funeral trust account with a funeral home licensed to offer them, under State law, 100% percent of the funds you deposit are placed in a trust account. Over time the interest income from the investments will increase the account to offset inflation. Interest earned is subject to income tax.

Funeral homes arranging trust accounts will meet with you to estimate the funds needed to provide the services you desire, and to help you establish an account to provide those funds. They will also place your plan on file so that you may change it at any time.
Fore more specific information regarding funeral trust accounts and other valubale pre-arrangement options, including other approved investment vehicles, please contact one of our professionals.

What are the advantages of preplanning funerals?top
By preplanning and filing a funeral plan with Cheshire Family Funeral Home, you provide several major courtesies for your survivors. Your family will know for sure what your wishes are, as most people discuss the plan once it is completed. Your survivors will more than likely follow your wishes, unless extenuating circumstances prevent it. If you have set money aside to pay for services, you will have also saved your family from the financial burden of funeral expenses during an emotional time in their lives.

There are dozens of separate decisions and choices to be made when death occurs. Most of these can be made in advance and kept on record at the funeral home. The funeral director can show you a complete list of services and merchandise available as well as current pricing. You can also decide about visitation or wake plans, and how and where the funeral is to be held. Some people select their casket, vault, memorial folders, and prayer cards in advance. Each individual can decide how many decisions about their funeral they wish to make in advance.

Prepaying is also helpful in preventing inflation. Most prearrangements made with funeral homes either guarantee the final expense or make provisions for growth in the account.

What are the typical cremation services?top
There are several preplanning decisions to consider it choosing cremation. Will there be a service for viewing the deceased before cremation? A wake or visitation hours can be arranged with a funeral home just as they are for earth burial or entombment. Although a casket is not required for cremation, if a viewing is chosen before the cremation, a casket can be rented or one that is combustible can be purchased for the cremation. Few crematories will accept plastic or fiberglass caskets.

Cremation can be considered as an end in itself, and Tennessee laws make no specific requirements for the disposition of cremated remains after the process is complete. Nevertheless, most families feel the remains should have a final resting place that can be identified with names and dates. This is called memorialization. Many urns are available for permanent containment of the cremated remains. The urn can be placed in a columbarium, which is a building or structure for cremated remains, where single niche spaces or family units may be purchased for burial. Many cemeteries have specially designated areas, called urn gardens, for this purpose. Scattering the remains is also an option, and can be legally done in most areas.

Some cemeteries have scattering gardens. These allow the deceased’s wishes to be carried out, yet allow the family some form of memorialization because they are assured the site chosen will not be developed for another use at a later time. Often, these scattering gardens have the option of personal memorials.

Our staff will be happy to explain the many options available to families who choose cremation.

What do cremation services cost?top
Because there are so many service options available with cremation, precise estimates are difficult to make. The family has the option to select as much, or as little, as they wish with cremation.

Several factors, however, can influence the cost of the cremation. If a wake or church service is planned before the cremation, a casket is needed. Most crematories require a rigid, combustible container and usually will not accept plastic or fiberglass. If a non-combustible casket is chosen for viewing, an alternative container would need to be purchased for the cremation, increasing the cost. However, in such situations, it is often possible to rent a casket for viewing, at about half the cost of purchasing the casket. If a wake or viewing is not chosen, and if economy and simplicity are a concern, there are many types of containers acceptable for cremation. Containers can be made from pine, plywood and pressboard. The least expensive containers are typically labeled “alternative containers.” These alternative containers are generally made of heavy cardboard and fulfill the crematory requirements.

The final resting place of the remains is also a factor in the cost of cremation. There are various costs associated with the cremation process itself, including advance payment before the cremation occurs. Other costs include the purchase of an urn for permanent containment and a final resting place for the remains such as a columbarium: a building or structure for cremated remains where single niche spaces or family units can be selected or where a burial lot may be purchased.

The extent and the content of the cremation service is up to the family, and helps to determine the costs.

What are the advantages of preplanning cremation services?top
If a person wishes to be cremated, it is recommended they have their choice for the service legally documented. By selecting the services in advance, an individual will have had a chance to research all their options and make a well thought out decision. In addition, preplanning can take the decision-making process out of the hands of the family during an emotional time. Generally, the family will be more likely to follow the deceased’s wishes. When cremation is chosen, it is also recommended to inform family members of the decision. There can be differences of opinion among survivors as to the desirability of cremation. Pre-purchasing of property for cremated remains is also an option. Generally, the cremation property that is pre-purchased will not go up in price.

Benefits from the Veteran’s Administration are available to any honorably discharged individual, surviving spouse, and children of the veteran. These benefits include an American flag, a grave marker, and in some cases military honors. If a veteran and spouse are buried in a national cemetery, they will also receive a grave space and the minimum outer burial container, called a grave liner.

For more information, contact one of our professionals. We are pleased to offer these services to you as part of our professional commitment to your family. Call or email us today!

Why do we need a cemetery?top
A cemetery is a place where a loved one may be buried. Many people choose to have a burial plot in a cemetery because it provides a physical place for family and friends to gather in memory of a deceased loved one. The most common cemetery sites are privately owned cemeteries, churchyard or synagogue cemeteries, and municipal cemeteries.

If a cemetery is needed, in most cases you will need to contact either a funeral director or a cemetery manager. They are the people who make all of the arrangements, such as time of burial, and will provide information on the particular policies of that cemetery.

One policy that most cemeteries require to prevent the ground from settling after burial is the use of either a grave liner, or a vault. Another item that is needed for burial in a cemetery is a marker for the grave. The style and type chosen will determine the marker’s price. As with any purchase, investigate the full range of options before making a decision.

What services do cemeteries provide?top
Cemeteries generally provide several kinds of services, including earth burial. Cemeteries usually give you the choice of single or double occupancy of the grave, or above the ground burial in a garden or in indoor mausoleums.

Many cemeteries also offer earth burial for cremated remains, often in specially designed gardens. Also available are above ground placement of cremated remains in a garden or in indoor columbariums. A Columbarium is a structure of vaults lined with recesses for urns.

When selecting a cemetery, remember you will be entrusting it with a precious part of your heritage and dealing with it for many years. You may wish to look for well-maintained grounds; friendly, confident, and knowledgeable staff; and a willingness to show and discuss with you a wide range of options and prices. In addition you might want to seek recommendations from such sources as neighbors, the Better Business Bureau and other consumer groups.

Do we need a vault?top
Most cemeteries require a grave liner or a vault. A burial vault is a structure that is placed underground to hold the casket. It provides protection for the casket and prevents the ground from sinking at the grave site.

Burial vaults are constructed from various materials including concrete, plastic, and metal. The burial vault is often lined with a material which provides additional reinforcement, as well as a permanent seal for the casket. The highest quality of liners are non-corrosive metals such as bronze, copper, or stainless steel. Like caskets, burial vaults are available in a range of models and prices. To find out if burial vaults are required at your family’s cemetery, contact the cemetery office.

For additional information on burial vaults, please visit http://www.wilbertonline.com or contact us today.

What do cemetery services cost?top
The choice of cemeteries today is not as great as it once was. Many of the small church cemeteries have no spaces left to be sold. As the supply of cemetery spaces decreases, prices increase. Due to this fact, buying cemetery property in advance can give peace of mind and the savings can be great.

Ground burial spaces are the least expensive. Price depends on location and how many spaces are left in the development.

The opening and closing fees have increased to as much as $1000. Some larger cemeteries offer burial spaces which include the outer container. These burial spaces are called Lawn Crypts. If this type of space is purchased, the family could save money since an outer container does not have to be purchased from the funeral home.

Above ground mausoleums are more expensive than ground spaces, but like the Lawn Crypts, an outer container does not have to be purchased from he funeral home. There are few cemeteries that have an indoor mausoleum.

Other burial sites include private estates and spaces especially designed for cremains. The better cemeteries will have many options in price and many payment plans to meet your needs.

What are the advantages of preplanning cemetery services?top
Prearranging cemetery wishes and expenses is an integral part of estate planning, and a major courtesy to survivors. Just as we prepare a will to spare our family the grief and disruption of being forced to decide how our assets and possessions should be divided, we can show the same consideration by making plans for the cemetery arrangements we think important. In the planning process you can research your options and make a well thought out decision.

By selecting cemetery property and services in advance and filing the plan with the cemetery office, several major courtesies are provided for your survivors. They will know for sure what your wishes are, as most people discuss the purchase and their planning with their family when it is complete. Your survivors will be more likely to follow your wishes unless extenuating circumstances prevent it. Finally, if you have set money aside to pay for the services, you will have saved your family from a difficult problem. They will not be burdened by the expenses nor will they overspend in the hurry and emotion of the circumstance.

Pre-purchase is also an absolute hedge against inflation. The cemetery property you already own can not go up in price.

What should I do when a death occurs?top
If the death occurs in a hospital or nursing home, the nursing staff will assist you in contacting Cheshire Family Funeral Home. It is not necessary for family members to wait on the funeral home staff to arrive, but it is critical that the next of kin contact the funeral home as soon as possible due to the state law that requires the funeral home to obtain permission before embalming. In addition, a time will need to be agreed upon for the family to come to the funeral home to make arrangements.

If the death occurs at home and the deceased was under the care of one of the local hospital hospice programs, the hospice nurse should be contacted for assistance in contacting the funeral home.

If the death occurs at home and the deceased was not under the care of hospice, you should contact the police and the funeral home. An officer will come to your home and will release the deceased to the funeral home. In some counties, the deceased must be taken to an emergency room so that a doctor can examine and pronounce the person dead.
If death is imminent, it is helpful to contact the funeral home in advance of the death.

Regardless of where the death occurs, remember that it is critical that the next of kin call the funeral home to discuss embalming and to discuss a time to come to the funeral home to make arrangements.

For more information on what to do when a death occurs, contact us at Cheshire Family Funeral Homes: (603)357-2980 or email us today!

How do I handle death benefits?top
When a loved one dies, survivors may be eligible for benefits from Social Security or the Veterans Administration.

The qualifications for Social Security benefits depend on age, marital status, number of dependents, and whether the deceased contributed to Social Security. It is important to remember that the payment of Social Security benefits is not automatic; survivors must apply for benefits through the Social Security Administration.

Benefits from the Veteran’s Administration are available to any honorably discharged individual, surviving spouse, and children of the veteran. These benefits include an American flag, a grave marker, and in some cases military honors. If a veteran and spouse are buried in a national cemetery, they will also receive a grave space and the minimum outer burial container, called a grave liner.

For more information, contact one of our professionals. We are pleased to offer these services to you as part of our professional commitment to your family. Call or email us today!

Can you help me record my memories in an autobiography ?top
One of the most valuable gifts you can give your children and grandchildren is your memories. After all, your life story is the beginning of their life story as well – especially the origins of your family values and traditions.

But how do you get started on your informal autobiography? A new guide helps you organize your thoughts and put the first words down on paper. Prepared by the Southeast Florida Center on Aging, Florida International University , for the Hospice Foundation of America, the guide consists of an introductory book and five workbooks.

Although it was created for the terminally and chronically ill, the guide can be used easily by anyone who wants to share information that helps descendants see themselves as part of a larger family and community. Using a series of “questions for reflection,” the workbooks help you discuss your family, growing up, your adult life and growing older. There’s also a workbook where you can record your reflections on your life.

What memories should you share with your family? Some suggestions include information about your parents and siblings, the neighborhood where you grew up, and how new inventions–like television–and world events affected your life.

Here are more tips from the Hospice Foundation for telling your life story:

• Don’t be critical of yourself.

• Try to include names, dates, and as many historical facts as you can remember.

For information about purchasing the Guide for Recalling and Telling Your Life Story , contact the Hospice Foundation of America at 1-800-854-3402.

(The above content has been sampled and altered from other informational on-line sources regarding funeral services and adheres to the fair use qualifier/exception outlined by the Library of Congress pertaining to Copyright Law.)