Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Is embalming required by law?


A: No, embalming is not required by law. It is however required in certain instances such as a visitation or service with a public viewing, or if the body of the person that died will be traveling across state lines, out of country, or on a public passenger carrier.  In many instances immediate family members are able to arrange a short period of time to view their loved one privately, without embalming, for the purpose of positively identifying them prior to burial or cremation. You can arrange for other types of services such as a closed casket viewing if embalming is not wanted.


Q: Why have a public viewing?


A: Viewing the body and spending time with the person that died offers many benefits. It allows you time to say good-bye, it allows you time to accept the reality and finality of death, and it allows you time to mourn publicly with the support of family and friends. Many experts on the psychology of grief agree that viewing your loved one helps facilitate a healthy grief process.


Q: Is a casket required for cremation?


A: No, a casket is not required by law for cremation. The law requires a minimal alternative container (usually cardboard). Families always have the option to use a casket if they so desire and there are many reasonably priced caskets made specifically for cremation. Many families choose to have a visitation and/or service with open casket viewing prior to cremation and would like to select a suitable casket.


Q: What are some of the best ways to honor a person's life?


A: The key to commemorating a person's life is to highlight what was unique about that person somewhere within the funeral process. Was the person a gardener? His favorite types of flowers could be incorporated into the funeral flowers. A grouping of favorite plants, even shrubs, could be arranged as a miniature garden during the visitation and later planted in his memory. Music can also evoke memories of the person or her heritage. For people of Scottish or Irish heritage, the bagpipes can provide a poignant touch to the ceremony. Choosing a favorite place for the visitation or memorial service can be comforting for family and friends. Many places other than funeral homes are available, such as the individual's home, place of worship, a favorite park or stream. More and more people are spending their last years in retirement villages or assisted living centers. These locations usually have a community room or chapel that quite often is available for a memorial service or even a visitation. There are as many ways to commemorate a person's life as there are people; but giving thought to this in advance is the best way to assure that the plans are carried out well.


Q: What are some alternatives to having a visitation in a funeral home?

A: There is no limit to the possibilities for where a visitation can be held. Many people choose to use their church. With an increasing number of people living in retirement or assisted living homes, many of these have facilities have begun allowing visitations for residents. Some community, historic, or locally significant facilities provide a very comfortable but unique setting for visitations. And of course a person's own home is still a perfectly appropriate option.


Q: What's the purpose of an outer burial container (vault) and are the required by law?


A: An outer burial container, commonly called a vault, is the container that surrounds the casket in the grave. They are made of either concrete or metal. There is no law that requires you to purchase an outer burial container or vault. However, most cemeteries do have a minimum requirement of at least the most basic form of outer burial container, a grave liner or grave box, to protect the integrity of both the casket and the cemetery grounds. A grave liner is a concrete enclosure that covers the top and sides of the casket. A burial vault, which is also a type of outer burial container, is more substantial than a grave liner and will include some type of a seal and a warranty. It will also enclose the entire casket, including the bottom. Burial vaults are more expensive than a grave liner or other types of outer burial containers but also have more features. The two main categories of burial vaults are air seal or top seal. Each main category will feature a variety of sub-categories that range from increased forms of reinforcement, protective coating, a liner (whether inside, outside, or both), and a variety of additional functional and aesthetic features to choose from as well.


Q: How do I get candid information about funeral and cremation prices?


A: You can call or visit our funeral homes. We would be honored to discuss funeral service options and prices available to you. You can also find information online. Some sites that we suggest include the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA), The Cremation Society of North America (CANA), The International Cemetery, Cremation, and Funeral Association (ICCFA), or our state Funeral Directors Association.


Q: What is the difference in a funeral service and a memorial service?


A: A funeral service includes the presence of the body of the person that died, whether the casket is closed or opened. A memorial service is any service that commemorates a death and honors a life lived, but does not include the presence of the body of the person that died.


Q: What is the purpose of embalming?


A: Embalming is the sanitation, preservation and restoration of the body by a licensed funeral director and/or embalmer. Embalming does not prevent the process of decomposition but it typically will slow the process down enough for public viewing and funeral to take place.


Q: I want to be cremated but I also want a public viewing time for my family and friends, is that possible?


A: Yes, you can have a complete funeral, often referred to as a traditional funeral, with public viewing and funeral service while still choosing cremation as your final form of disposition. Cremation is simply an alternative to earth burial and follows whatever type of visitation and funeral service planned.


Q: What does the average funeral cost?


A: According to the National Funeral Directors Association the average cost of a funeral in 2009 was $7755.00. That cost includes a metal casket and an outer burial container, but does not include cemetery costs (grave space, opening and closing of the grave, grave marker) or other third party charges such as flower, burial clothing, hair dresser fees, clergy fees, or newspaper notices.  Caskets and outer burial containers and vaults vary greatly in price, too, depending on materials and features and affect the final cost of the total funeral bill.


Q: What should I do if a death occurs in the middle of the night or on a weekend?


A: We are available to assist you and care for your loved one at any hour, seven days a week.


Q: Will someone from the funeral home come to pick-up our loved one right away?


A: If you want immediate assistance, yes. If you prefer a little time with your family members to say good-bye to your loved one that is perfectly understandable and we will come when you are ready for us to.


Q: If our loved one dies out of state can you still help?


A: Yes, we will handle all of the out-of-state arrangements on behalf of your family and we will schedule transportation for your loved one to be returned home.