Funeral, Burial and Memorial Service Questions


What purpose does a funeral serve?

The funeral allows family and friends to remember and honor their loved one in a special way. It serves as a central gathering place for family and friends to give emotional support to one another and encourages mourners to face the pain of their loss and express their thoughts and feelings. The funeral also celebrates the deceased’s life, and not their passing. The funeral service allows a time of remembrance and celebration, and allows the healing process to begin.


Is a funeral or memorial service always held in a funeral home or place of worship?

No. As long as local laws permit it, a funeral service can be held anywhere-from a local park to a boat at sea! A service can usually be held at any location that family and friends feel would be comfortable and appropriate. Your funeral director will be able to advise you on regulations and help you plan the funeral.


How can I personalize a funeral service?

We can review a myriad of ways to personalize your loved ones funeral. One way is to bring personal items into the funeral home to be displayed in or near the casket. For example: an avid quilter might have a favorite quilt placed in the casket. An athlete may have some of their personal effects or trophies displayed on a memory table. There are numerous ways to incorporate your loved ones passions and hobbies into the service.


Will life insurance pay for funerals?

Most funeral homes will allow for an insurance assignment. This assignment transaction is processed by the funeral home, and releases only the funeral expenses to the funeral service provider, with any remaining balance going directly to the beneficiary. Be sure to check with your insurance company to make sure this is the case.


Do clergy always officiate at a funeral service?

Depending on religious beliefs, the type of ceremony would vary. It is not uncommon for family or friends to share personal thoughts, memories and feelings about the deceased as part of the service.


How soon after or long after a death must an individual be buried?

Laws regarding internment or burial issues vary from state to state. Your local Health Department can advise you on basic timelines.


What are the options concerning the time of a service?

Traditionally, services have been typically held in the mornings or afternoons. It is becoming more common, however, for these services to take place in late afternoon or evening to accommodate work schedules. This enables more people to attend the service who otherwise might be unable to be excused from their place of employment during the day.


What if I do not wish to use all the services a funeral home has to offer?

We itemize our charges for professional services, facilities and equipment and provide a General Price List (GPL) to all clients. You have the right to select and pay for only those services you choose.


Should a child attend a funeral?

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. You should explain what is happening and why it is happening at the child’s comprehension level. What a 3 year old understands is much different than what a 12 year old understands. The key is to allow the participation, not to force it.


May I make the necessary arrangements in advance?

All of your funeral and burial arrangements can be made years before you need them. This is commonly referred to as ‘Pre-Planning’. We can assist you in your planning process.


What is cremation?

Cremation is simply a form of disposition. The "crematable" casket is placed in a cremation chamber where, through a process of heat and evaporation,the body is reduced to its original elements- bone fragments, not ashes.


Can you have cremation with an open casket visitation?

Yes, many families select an appropriate service to take place before the cremation or after. You may still have a traditional funeral with visitation, with the cremation disposition taking place following the service.


Where does the cremation take place?

As specialized equipment and training is required for cremations, they typically occur at designated locations. Some funeral homes do have onsite cremation facilities. If you are planning on a cremation, ask where they actual cremation process will take place.


Isn't direct cremation easier?

Direct cremation usually means cremation with no visitation or services. Some people choose direct cremation believing that the quickest, simple option is best.


What do you do with cremated remains?

Most families select a form of memorialization with their cemetery of choice. Others keep the remains and the urn with them in their home, or the home of a loved one.


Can cremated remains be scattered?

A family may scatter the cremated remains of their loved one on privately owned property with the consent of the property owner. If you select scattering, always be sure to check your local, state and federal laws concerning scattering of remains.


Do Catholics allow cremation?

The Vatican now permits funeral Masses with cremated remains present in the United States. It will be the decision of each bishop to determine if this is pastorally appropriate in his diocese. The Bishop can also instruct you on Vatican regulations.


Does cremation require pre-planning?

Cremation does require the same degree of pre-planning as does traditional burial. After the death of a loved one, families and friends are grieving. Pre-planning for your cremation removes the burden from friends and family.


Does the process of cremation transform human remains into ashes?

The encased body is placed in the cremation chamber where, through heat and evaporation, the body is reduced to its basic elements. These elements are referred to as cremated remains. Ashes are not the final result since cremated remains have neither the appearance nor the chemical properties of ashes. Cremated remains are, in fact, bone fragments. Following preparation, these remains are either placed in a permanent urn or in a temporary container.


Do families who choose cremation need to purchase a traditional casket?

Generally speaking, no. Most crematories have regulations regarding the container in which human remains intended for cremation be presented. There are containers specifically designed for the cremation process.


Is memorialization necessary when a loved one is cremated?

Mental Professionals agree that memorialization of a loved one aids friends and family with the grieving process. Memorialization allows family members to publicly acknowledge a loved one's life and death.


Is embalming required for cremation?

Embalming is required in some States if the remains are not crematedor buried within 48 hours of death, or if the deceased had certain communicable diseases.


Is cremation not socially or theologically accepted?

Most religious faiths accept cremation. In fact, cremation is increasing in popularity across the nation. More people are turning to cremation as a more environmentally conscious option to traditional burial.


Are the services of a funeral director necessary to bury the dead?

Technically speaking, no. But each state does have different regulations. During your time of need, there are numerous forms to fill out, agencies to notify and piles of paperwork. Not to mention the planning of the actual memorial service and funeral. We can be as involved as you would like us to be - whether it's doing everything for you, or simply taking care of all the necessary paperwork and insurance forms.


What do funeral directors do?

One of our main functions has to do with preparing the body for disposition. We are also listeners, advisors, and supporters. We will support your personal needs, answer questions about grief, recognize when you have difficulty coping, and recommend sources of additional assistance.


Will the funeral home help with Social Security and Veterans death benefits?

We will not only assist with securing these death benefits, but will complete all the paperwork for you.


Must an obituary be published in a newspaper?

The publication of an obituary notice is a matter of your personal choice. You are able to control what information is published. The newspaper's editorial staff will determine the format.


How can I get an idea about the costs of caskets?

Federal laws dictate that all funeral homes itemize their charges for professional services, facilities and equipment. We provide a General Price List (GPL) to all clients.


What are the different types of burial caskets?

Typically, caskets are made of either wood or metal. Metal caskets are made of either bronze, copper, steel or stainless steel. Wood caskets are available in a variety of types of wood. Interiors of caskets are usually made with velvet or crepe; however, other materials may be available.


Why are some casket prices more than others?

Just as with many items, the cost of a casket is based on how it's made. A casket made of bronze would be priced higher than one made of steel. A casket made of solid mahogany would be more expensive than one of soft pine wood. It depends on the materials the casket shell is made of, the interior materials and any protective features included in that particular model.


What are burial vaults and grave liners?

These are the outside containers into which the casket is placed. Burial vaults are typically made of materials including concrete, stainless steel, galvanized steel, cooper, bronze, plastic or fiber glass. A grave liner is a lightweight version of a vault which simply keeps the grave surface from sinking in.


Must I purchase a burial vault?

In most areas, local laws do not require that you buy a container to surround the casket in the grave. However, many cemeteries do require that you have such a container so that the ground will not sink.


What are the principal types of cemeteries and how do they differ?

Cemeteries usually are divided into two broad categories: traditional cemeteries and memorial parks or gardens. A traditional cemetery has upright monuments, usually made of stone. Many traditional cemeteries also have private mausoleums for above ground interment. Because many have functioned in their communities for over 100 years, traditional cemeteries often contain a great deal of history, such as architecture and statuary. Memorial parks and gardens were introduced about 75 years ago. They are cemeteries without tombstones: they more closely resemble a park or a garden than a traditional cemetery. Typically, bronze memorials are placed level with the ground to blend with the beauty of the landscape.


What are my choices in ground burial?

The most common type of ground burial is a single or double grave, although family plots are often available. Not all types of graves are available at all cemeteries. Please check with the cemetery of your choice for availability of specific graves.


How do I choose the right type of grave?

This is dependent upon your personal preferences. Just as with choosing any personal item, you need to consider which appeals most to you –a marker set flat on the ground or an upright monument. Do you prefer to be cremated? You also need to consider whether the grave is for yourself only, or for a family.


What options are available besides ground burial?

Besides ground burial, many cemeteries offer interment in lawn crypts, or entombment in mausoleums. In addition, some cemeteries provide a columbarium or interment in an urn space for those that have been cremated.


Why is having a place to visit so important?

A memorial provides a focal point to remember the ones we love. Remembrance practices, from the funeral or memorial service to something more permanent serve an important part of helping survivors bring closure and allowing the healing process to begin.


What is Opening and Closing a grave and why is it so expensive?

"Opening and Closing" fees can include 50 or more separate services provided by the cemetery. Typically, the opening and closing fee includes administration and permanent record keeping (determining ownership, obtaining permission and completion of other documentation which may be required, entering the interment particulars in the interment register, maintaining all legal files); opening and closing the grave (locating the grave and laying out the boundaries, excavating and filling the interment space) installation and removal of the lowering device; placement and removal of artificial grass dressing and coco-matting at the grave site, leveling, tamping, re-grading and sodding the gravesite, leveling and re-sodding the grave if the earth settles.


What happens when a cemetery runs out of land?

When a cemetery runs out of land, it continues to operate and serve the community. Since more and more individuals and families are purchasing their graves in advance, graves which have been sold will be opened when a death occurs, markers will be placed and other services will be provided. Most states have laws that require funds to be set aside from each sale for the long-term care and maintenance of the cemetery.


What is double depth?

Many cemeteries either allow for the burial of two caskets in a grave or have specific sections where this type of grave is available. Double depth just means that one casket is placed in the grave at an approximate depth of seven feet. When a second interment is required, the second casket is placed on top of the first casket at standard depth.


How much do grave spaces cost, and why aren't they priced the same all over?

Grave prices can vary significantly. Grave prices are normally set based on their location. Normally, graves in urban centers are more expensive than in rural centers because of the replacement value of land. In addition,within the cemetery, grave prices can vary by the section in which thegrave is located. For example, graves in a "feature" section-- where there is a central feature, such as a sculpture for the benefit of lot owners in that section -- may be more expensive than in non-feature sections. The number of interments permitted in a grave may also affect the price, as may the size of the grave.


What is entombment?

Entombment is the interment of human remains in a tomb or mausoleum. It involves placing a casket or cremation urn in a crypt or niche (individual compartment within a mausoleum or columbarium) which is then sealed.


What is a mausoleum?

A mausoleum is a large building designed to provide above ground entombment for a large number of people. Sharing the costs of the mausoleum with other individuals makes it more affordable than a private mausoleum. Crypts are designed to hold caskets; after the casket is placed, the crypt is sealed, and a granite or marble front is attached. Niches accommodateurns contain the cremated remains. After the urn is placed, a niche front of granite, marble, bronze, wood or glass is attached.


What are the advantages of a mausoleum burial?

Many people have an aversion to being placed in the ground. Since mausoleum crypts are clean and dry, the offer a viable alternative for those who do not wish to be placed in the ground. Mausoleums also allow a maximum number of entombments in a minimum amount of space, which is critical in areas where land space is at a premium.


Are there different types of crypts?

Single or private crypts are designed for one entombment only. For communal Mausoleums, there are three different kinds of double crypts:

·         Tandem crypts which permit two entombments lengthwise in a crypt

·         Companion crypts permit two entombments side-by-side

·         Westminister crypts permit two entombments; the first below floor level, and the second above it.


Most mausoleums are built five, six and seven crypts high. The price of the crypt will depend on its location and the type of crypt. For example: upper level crypts are usually less expensive than those located at eye level.


What is a columbarium?

A columbarium, often located within a mausoleum, chapel or in a garden type-setting, is constructed on numerous small compartments designed to hold urns containing cremated remains. Once the urn has been placed, the niche is sealed with a marker.


How does a mausoleum protect the body?

Since the casket is placed in a clean, dry, above ground crypt, there mains are protected from water and the elements of the earth which may affect the casket if it were placed in the ground.


How can a mausoleum help eliminate expenses?

When you select a mausoleum, you eliminate the need for expensive vault sand monuments or memorials which almost always are purchased with ordinary earth burial. You also avoid any damage to the grave marker or headstone, which naturally occurs over time.


What are lawn crypts?

Lawn crypts are essentially underground tombs, constructed of reinforced concrete, steel and waterproof materials.


What is the difference between lawn crypts and double depth burial spaces?

Lawn crypts are preset. Double depth burial lots are set at the time of need.


What happens if I buy cemetery property here in advance and later want move to another area of the cemetery?

Many cemeteries allow for a dollar-for-dollar transfer of property between locations within the cemetery. This is very useful if families are tryingto be placed in the same area years down the road. When prearranging, be sure to ask about future exchange privileges offered.


What is Endowment Care?

A portion of the purchase price of the grave is contributed to an endowment care fund. Income from the endowment care fund is used to provide regular care and maintenance at the cemetery. Regular care and maintenance activities can include cutting grass, re-grading of graves, planting and caring for trees, maintenance of water supply systems, roads, drainage, etc. The minimum amount to be contributed to the endowment care fund is normally governed by law.


What guarantee do I have that Endowment Care will take care of the cemetery?

While not guaranteed, endowment care funds are very conservatively managed. Income from the fund can only be spent on care and maintenance of the cemetery -- the capital is not touched. Endowment care funds are governed by laws in most states for consumer protection.


Can I re-sell my grave?

It really depends on the rules and regulations of the cemetery and the laws of the state or province in which the cemetery is located. While some cemeteries will re-purchase graves, others have policies regarding sales to a third party.


Will a cemetery ever be used for something else? Can the bodies be moved and building built?

Strict rules govern the use of cemetery lands. Graves are normally considered to be sold in perpetuity which restricts possible re-development.


What does the government give a veteran in regards to a marker?

The United States Government provides headstones and markers for the graves of veterans and eligible dependents anywhere in the world which are not already marked. Flat bronze, flat granite, flat marble, and upright marble types are available to mark the grave of a veteran or dependent in the style consistent with existing monuments at the place of burial. Bronze niche markers are also available to mark columbariums in national cemeteries used for internment of cremated remains.


If I am a veteran and plan to be buried in a national cemetery, is my spouse eligible to be buried next to me?

A space for your spouse or any other minor children can be authorized at the time of your death


Does the Veterans Administration pay for veteran's funerals?

Although the Veterans Administration does not pay for complete funerals, it does provide certain merchandise, services and reimbursements. Your local VA office can provide you with a variety of benefits available. Generally speaking, any veteran with a discharge other than dishonorable is entitled to be buried in an accepting national cemetery. They also may receive a free grave space, with bronze, granite, or marble memorial marked with veteran's rank, war served and religious icon.


How long do I have to wait before ordering a memorial?

If you have not preplanned your memorial ahead of time with your spouse, wait until you are comfortable talking about the memorial. Most people wait about 3 months until they know their financial position and when most of the emotional shock has passed. Pre-planning and discussing the memorial design with your spouse beforehand takes away much of the financial and emotional burdens.


Will the foundation that goes under the upright memorial interfere with the burial?

No, all cemeteries have adequate space built into the graves to allow for the burial and a memorial foundation.


Why does the cemetery require a concrete foundation under the memorial?

If the concrete foundation is dug and poured below frost level it will ensure that the memorial will continue to stand up nice and straight for many decades to come. Without a foundation, ground freeze can literally destroy the monument.


My cemetery will only allow me to have a flat granite or flat bronze marker. Why is this?

Cemeteries will only allow flat markers are almost always a Memorial Gardens type cemetery. Different cemeteries allow for different markers. If the type of marker you prefer is not allowed at a particular cemetery, check other local cemeteries.


Will my memorial fade in time/How long will my monument or marker last?

Most memorials today are made from granite. High quality granite will not fade or discolor in time. But as with any natural stone - it will not last forever. The writing may last hundred years or more- but not forever. The monument itself could quite possibly last hundreds of years.


Why can’t cemeteries pour foundations in the winter?

In many locations across the country, ground freeze delays the building of foundations- not only for grave markers but also for construction in general. Concrete does not set well if the temperatures are below freezing, and setting concrete in place in freezing temperatures will cause the monument to fall, break or crack.


What happens if someone close to me dies away from home?

After the death has occurred, the most prudent decision would be to call us. We will be able to make the necessary arrangements to transfer the deceased, relieving the family of the burden of dealing with unfamiliar people, places and related issues.


How long can you wait to have a funeral without embalming?

Most states require that a deceased person either be embalmed or placed in refrigeration after a period of 24 hours from the time of death. Funeral Services can be held at any time after that. In some areas of the country that time frame can be as long as three weeks.


Does a body have to be embalmed before it is buried?

Embalming is not required for burial. It is your choice. It may depend on such factors as whether the family selected a service with a public viewing of the body with an open casket; or to enhance the deceased's appearance for a private family viewing; or if the body is going to be transported by air or rail, or because of the length of time prior to the burial. In most cases, if the body is going to be transported across state lines, embalming is required.


Does a casket have to be transported to the cemetery in a hearse?

While a hearse or casket coach is most commonly used for this purpose, other options are often appropriate. Families might consider more personalized and meaningful options. Whatever your needs are, Hugh B. Hughes will take care of them.


Why would I need to purchase Certified Copies of a death certificate?

Certified copies are used as proof of death for the transfer of stocks and bonds, banking transactions and life insurance. We can help you determine how many you may need to settle an estate and can also secure them for you.


If I donate my remains to medical science, can there still be a service?

Yes, in addition to coordinating the donation of your remains, your funeral home can arrange for either a Memorial Service or a gathering of friends to be held at a time and place convenient for the family.



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