Many people have questions that they would like to ask of a funeral director. Let's face it, death is not exactly a subject that many of us prefer to discuss. Death and dying have always been taboo subjects, and many go through life with the wrong information. Television and the movies all give us the wrong impression of how death should be dealt with. A death of a loved one takes a great emotional toll on everyone. In fact a death of a spouse has more impact than losing a job, or losing your personal belongings to a fire. Over the past 15 years more and more research has been done on death and dying than in the past century. We now know that there are particular stages that every one goes through to cope with their grief.
The main reason for us establishing this Internet site, was to educate people in the areas of death and dying. We have put together some Commonly Asked Questions here, but if you have a question that is not listed, please feel free to contact us. No question is too "stupid" to ask, so please ask away. This is our sole purpose on this site. Your confidentiality will always be respected.
What is the purpose of a funeral?
Why are funerals so expensive?
Is embalming necessary?
Is cremation the way of the future?
I would like to have a traditional funeral, but with cremation as a means of disposition.
I hear that more and more people are pre-planning their own funerals, is that true?
What does it mean to Pre-Plan your funeral?
What is the difference between Pre-Arranging and Pre-Paying?
Who should consider Pre-Planning and at what time in there lives?
Why should I Pre-Plan?
How does Pre-Planning work?
If I Pre-Pay my funeral, how is the money invested?
What are the advantages if I Pre-Pay my funeral expenses?
What is required to become a funeral director or embalmer?
My question was not answered here. Where can I go for my answer?
Q. Why are funerals so expensive?
A. Although laws vary from state to state, the Federal Trade Commission is currently one of the regulating agencies overseeing funerals.
It is now required of all funeral homes in the United States to itemize their funeral charges, and you, as the consumer, have the ability to put together the funeral that will suit both your psychological and financial needs. Most all funeral homes will offer some type of a funeral from under $1,000.00. It is YOU that decides what you will be spending.
Q. Is embalming necessary?
A. In New York State, embalming is not required by any law. But embalming may be required by the funeral home if you select certain funeral arrangements, such as a funeral with open casket visitation.
Q. Is cremation the way of the future?
A. Cremation is certainly on the rise. In many large cities, the shortage of grave space is creating a need to use cremation as a means of disposition, due to the high cost of cemetery space. People have also changed their traditional values, and now cremation is not considered any different than earth burial.
Q. I would like to have a traditional funeral, but with cremation as a means of disposition.
A. Many people are under the influence that if they select cremation, then the only form of memorialization is a memorial service. That is not true. You may have open casket calling hours (wake), a funeral service in a church, or other traditional funeral options, and still use cremation as a form of disposition.
Q. I hear that more and more people are pre-planning their own funerals, is that true?
A. Yes, Over the past ten years pre arrangement has been on an incline. There are many reasons for this increase. One of the major reasons people do this is to relieve the burden put on their survivors. The burden of deciding type of funeral, place of funeral, etc.
Another reason is price. Some funeral homes will guarantee that if you pre pay the funeral now, you will NOT be charged an increase in dollars at the time of death. There are basically three types of pre-arranged funerals:
1)- The funeral is all arranged and paid for in advance
2)- The funeral is all arranged and partly pre-paid
3)- The funeral is arranged, and no money is transacted until the time of death. Either of these still let your wishes be known, and relieve the burden put onto your survivors.
If you are discussing advanced planning with any funeral home or company, plans should be flexible enough to accommodate a wide range of wishes (i.e. different religious or cultural customs), as well as all financial circumstances. More preplanning information is available here
Q. What is the difference between Pre-Arranging and Pre-Paying?
• A Pre-arranged Funeral Service is when the details of the service are arranged prior to the time of a loved-one's death, but no money is paid until the time of the funeral. This is often helpful when a family member is very elderly or suffering from a terminal illness. It can give families peace of mind in knowing that all the details have been arranged.
• A Pre-paid Funeral Plan is when you arrange and purchase your funeral in advance at today's prices. This means that you make all the important decisions yourself, taking away the emotional and financial burden from your family. Funeral homes can assist you in planning your funeral and help you to arrange a Pre-paid Funeral Plan.
Q. Who should consider Pre-Planning and at what time in there lives?
A. Young or old, single or married, pre-planning is beneficial for everyone at any age or life cycle. Pre-Planning is not just about planning your own funeral. Many people today are finding themselves caring for their parents, grandparents or other family members. Handling other people's responsibilities is difficult at the best of times. Without the benefit of planning ahead, many find themselves financially and emotionally burdened when having to deal with a death. Since the late 1980’s pre-planning funerals has increased significantly as more and more people understand the peace of mind that comes with Pre-Planning. Encouraging and helping others you love to plan their own funeral needs - before the need arises - is something you can both do together, today.
Q. Why should I Pre-Plan?
• Pre-planning gives you the opportunity to reflect and outline your final wishes. It allots people the capacity to have input into the final conclusion of their lives. A pre-arranged funeral also minimizes the anxiety and pressure that your loved one’s may experience when making funeral arrangements on your behalf. Considering the difficulty of dealing with the death of a loved one, those left behind often make decisions based on sheer emotion. Family members may end up spending a significant amount of money on funeral arrangements, more than their loved one would have wanted them to spend. Pre-planning gives you the option to manage the financial responsibilities involved in planning your funeral and providing a detailed guide of your final wishes. This may help ease many of the financial and emotional pressures on family members. Pre-arranging and pre-paying for your funeral is a safe and guaranteed investment.
• When you pre-pay, you are actually paying for the entire arrangement based on current day prices. Did you know that the average cost for a funeral can range between $3,000.00 and $10,000.00. Pre-Planning allows you the opportunity to determine the type of funeral that best suits your budget and personal desires. Your investment will be absolutely guaranteed. As your investment increases in value over time, it will counter balance inflationary increases, providing adequate funds for the future cost of the funeral. Pre-Paying funeral expenses helps get your affairs organized and it is a responsible part of protecting your family's future.
Q. How does Pre-Planning work?
A. When you meet with a Funeral Director or Pre-need Specialist at your home or at a funeral home to discuss Pre-Planning you will want to express to them in detail the type of service you or your loved one’s may desire. Once they have organized all the details, they will record and file your wishes for future reference, which may be revised upon request. (We would caution against only recording your wishes in your will. Many times it is difficult to have the will available when needed.) At this point they will determine what costs will be associated with the type of funeral service you wish to have. This information will allow you to make an informed and intelligent decision about your last wishes or those of a loved one.
• The laws and regulations for Pre-Planning a funeral may differ from Province to Province and from State to State. It is advisable that you contact a local licensed funeral home or Provincial or State Association to ensure you are receiving accurate information.
• Be sure to select a funeral service provider that is reputable and that you feel comfortable with. If you sense that you are being pressured to purchase something that you are not comfortable with always consider the option of walking away and reporting your experience to the proper authorities.
Q. If I Pre-Pay my funeral, how is the money invested?
A. In the USA a good resource for more information on how your money is invested and the advantages is the National Funeral Directors Association www.nfda.org.
Q. What are the advantages if I Pre-Pay my funeral expenses?
A. There are many advantages to Pre-Paying once you have made your arrangements. Such as:
• locking in costs at today’s rates
• avoiding inflation
• relieving family of the financial and emotional burdens
• plus many more…
Q. What is required to become a funeral director or embalmer?
A. Each state has their own rules and regulations, however most of the 50 states will require at least the following. You should contact your state Department of Health for the specifics of your state.
1)- At least 2 years of college studies. This may be done in conjunction with a school that is accredited as a Mortuary Science school and offers a degree program in Mortuary Science. Some prior college credits may be transferable, and in those cases, you may be able to complete your educational requirements in one year. Here is a website that shows most of the schools offering this program:
2)- After completion of school, it will be necessary to successfully pass either a state board exam or the National Board of Funeral Service Examiners test.
3)- You must serve a period of residency or internship in a funeral home in the state in which you choose to become licensed. This residency may be 1 or 2 years, depending on your state regulations.