The loss of a loved one is one of the most painful and difficult experiences in life. In the midst of dealing with the shock and grief, there are a number of final arrangements that must be made. Even if the deceased made plans prior to passing, there are usually still a number of details to be seen to. A reputable funeral home will be able to assist with these needs. They are trained to help the bereaved family with compassion and professionalism with respect to every aspect of the final arrangements, from composing and placing an obituary to choosing a casket or an urn. They will oversee the details of the visitation and funeral services as well. The entire process can seem daunting and it is always best, whenever possible, to discuss final wishes with your loved ones prior to the need for such services. In this way, you are sure to be able to honor their memory.
Buying A Casket Or Cremation Services
Depending on whether your deceased loved one will be buried, placed in a mausoleum or family crypt, or cremated, the purchase of a casket (also called a coffin) will be necessary. While funeral homes do offer a variety of caskets for sale, there is no requirement that one be purchased from the funeral home where services will be held. There are a number of companies that sell caskets. They can even be purchased online from WalMart! No matter where you purchase the casket, the funeral home is required by law to use it without charging an additional fee. This leaves the family free to shop around and choose the option that meets their needs.
Cremation is another option. If cremation is chosen, the remains will be placed in a sealed container and buried or placed in a columbarium, a public mausoleum-like structure where the ashes are interred. The family may also choose to store the ashes in an urn which will be kept with them. There is also the option of scattering the ashes outdoors, in a favorite location of the deceased, for example. This is most often done in accordance with the deceased's wishes as to where they would like their ashes spread.
By law, a body must be cremated in a specific type of container. If there will be a funeral service prior to cremation, a casket may be rented from the funeral home to display the body. The family may also purchase a more elaborate casket for both the funeral and the cremation.
Planning The Funeral
Planning a funeral service is likely to be a very emotional experience. This is where the life of the deceased will be honored with cherished memories of special life events. Many decisions will need to be made and details seen to (in the event the deceased has done no pre-planning), from the clothing the deceased will be placed in, to who will officiate the service, to music played and/or photos displayed during the services. Flowers are usually chosen to be laced atop the casket. These range from small, simple arrangements to larger, more elaborate sprays. If a memorial service is to take place in lieu of a funeral service - often the case following cremation - decisions regarding music, photo displays, and flower arrangements will still need to be made.
Many families opt to have the funeral service broadcast via a live feed online. A DVD recording of the service is also made for the family. Not every funeral home offers this option. If this is a service your family is interested in, be certain to ask about it during the initial planning process.
Placing Or Finding Obituaries
To place an obituary (a public notice, placed in the newspaper, of your loved one's passing and information regarding funeral arrangements), you can access instructions by visiting the paper's website and following the directions found there, or you may call or go to the newspaper's office for instructions. Most newspapers charge between $200 and $500 to publish an obituary. Cost is determined by length and content (such as including a photo of the deceased). Some families choose to place an obituary in more than one newspaper. For example, if the deceased had lived in more than one city/state and had a number of friends there, the family may wish to have the obituary placed in newspapers in those areas as well.
Funeral homes place obituaries regarding upcoming services on their websites unless otherwise requested by the family. This includes an online "Guest Book" where visitors can leave messages and condolences. This service is included in the price of the funeral services and is independent of any newspaper-published obituaries, although the family can opt to use identical content for both.