It’s important to recognize that funerals and memorial ceremonies are for the living … for those who are affected by the loss of a loved one. It is through the funeral process that a number of emotional needs are met for those who grieve.
A funeral is similar to other ceremonies in our lives. Like a graduation ceremony, a wedding, a baptism, and a bar mitzvah, a funeral is a rite of passage by which we recognize an important event that distinguishes our lives.
The funeral declares that a death has occurred. It celebrates the life that has been lived, and offers family and friends the opportunity to pay tribute to their loved one.
The gathering of family and friends for a time of sharing and funeral service helps to provide emotional support so needed at this time. This will help those who grieve to face the reality of death and consequently, to take the first step toward a healthy emotional adjustment.
The funeral can and does take on many varied forms. Funerals can last from minutes to months and are usually influenced by the lifestyle and values of the bereaved family and friends.
What Options Are Available in Services and Disposition?
A valuable aspect of contemporary funerals is their individuality. Whether a ceremony is elaborate or simple, funerals are often individualized to reflect the life of the deceased and to hold special meaning for family and other survivors.
It may reflect the occupation or hobbies of the deceased. It may center around an ethnic background or social affiliation.
In our society, three basic forms of final disposition are practiced.
- Earth burial which continues to be the form of disposition chosen most often.
- Cremation this is a process of preparing the body for final disposition whereby the body is reduced by intense heat over several hours to a few pounds of small fragments. These cremated remains are usually placed in a container or an urn which may be buried, placed in a memorial niche, or kept in some other location. Cremated remains may also be scattered where permitted by law.
- Entombment in a crypt is one of the oldest forms of disposition. Today many cemeteries maintain crypts for entombment which may be in a mausoleum or in an outdoor garden.
Should I bring my child to the funeral?
Children should not be spared knowledge about the death of a loved one. When we try to protect children from the truth by not allowing them to attend the funeral, if they want to, we only intensify their feelings of loneliness and fears. Children should be invited to attend the funeral service, but not forced.
What Does a Funeral Director Do?
It has been estimated that over 136 individual activities must take place in order for one funeral to be conducted. The funeral director is actually an organizational specialist.
Here is a condensed list of some of the more visible activities of a typical funeral director.
- Removal and transferring the deceased from place of death to Funeral Home.
- Professional care of the deceased, which may include sanitary washing, embalming preparation, restorative art, dressing, hairdressing, casketing and cosmetology.
- Conduct a complete consultation with family members to gather necessary information and discuss specific arrangements for a funeral.
- File all certificates, permits, affidavits, and authorizations, as may be required.
- Acquire a requested amount of certified copies of the death certificate needed to settle the estate of the deceased.
- Compile an obituary and place in newspapers of a family’s choice.
- Make arrangements with a family’s choice of clergy person, church, music, etc.
- Make arrangements with cemetery, crematory, or other place of disposition.
- The providing of a register book, prayer cards, funeral folders, and acknowledgements, as requested by a family.
- Offer the assistance of notifying relatives and friends.
- Arrange for clergy honorariums, music, flowers, and additional transportation, etc.
- Care and arrangement of floral pieces and the post funeral distribution as directed by a family.
- Arrange for pallbearers, automobiles, and special services (fraternal or military) as requested by a family
- Care and preservation of all floral cards, mass cards, or other memorial contributions presented to the funeral home.
- Your funeral director, with his/her staff personnel, will direct the funeral in a most professional manner, and be in complete charge of the funeral procession to the cemetery or other place of disposition.
- Assist a family with social security insurance claims, veterans benefits, and other death-related claims.
When A Death Occurs
When someone you know dies, the order in which things need to be done depends on where the death occurred. But, one thing always remains the same: your heightened emotional state. That’s why so many families are relieved knowing they have found a trusted friend and advisor at Kowalchuk”s Funeral Home. We are here to assist you, and encourage you to ask a friend, relative, or even a neighbor to come to our funeral home with you.
At Home or at Work
When a death occurs at home or in the workplace, a family member or co-worker should contact emergency personnel and the person’s physician if he or she was under a doctor’s care. If in any case you are not sure of who to notify or what to do, you may call Kowalchuk’s Funeral Home, and we’ll assist you in notifying the proper agencies.
While Under Supervised Care
When a death occurs in a care facility, such as a hospital or nursing home, the professional staff will notify you and the necessary authorities. If the name of the funeral home has been left with them, the institution will notify the funeral home at the time of the death. The funeral director will contact you immediately (unless it is in the middle of the night in which case we will call you first thing in the morning in case you are trying to rest) following their notification to help you proceed. (However, we suggest you contact our funeral home immediately if you prefer, so you’ve got the reassurance you need that all is taken care of properly.
Widening the Circle
Our staff members are experienced professionals who can provide much of the information you need, emotional support and compassionate guidance.
While you may ask our director any questions at this time, you will be able to discuss the arrangements in detail later when you meet in person. During this initial call, our funeral director will gather information to be able to transfer your loved one to our care.
Our funeral director may ask you several questions, including whether your loved one made any pre-arrangements. Our director will also schedule a date and time for you to meet at our funeral home and will let you know what you should bring with you.
Others you will need to call are:
Family members and friends
Clergy or other spiritual advisors (our directors can handle this for you after our arrangement conference)
By contacting our staff, we’ll be able to help answer your questions and assist in making the appropriate plans.