Frequently Asked Questions
What colors are appropriate to wear to the funeral if you are a friend of the family?
Generally, we see the immediate family dressed in dark, conservative colors. However, there are many factors that may encourage a change from this tradition, such as traditions of the community, religious or personal beliefs, and the age of the deceased, etc. We would encourage you to wear something that is clean and respectful in appearance. You may wear any color. Your knowledge of the family and of the circumstances surrounding the death may help you determine what you would be most comfortable wearing. We generally tell visitors to wear something that would be appropriate to wear to a church service, or an outfit that would be considered “business casual” for the visitation. We would still encourage professional dress for the funeral service. It is always better to err in the direction of formality rather than informality. RETURN TO QUESTIONS
Is it proper to have the casket open during the funeral?
If the funeral service is to be held in a church, the casket is usually closed in the sanctuary. It may remain open if the clergy person approves. When the funeral service is held at a funeral home we find that many families choose to keep the casket open for visitors to pay their final respects after the service. Also, services at the funeral home are usually less formal than in a church setting. The family makes the decision whether the casket will remain open, or if it will remain closed. The family should always consult with the clergy person before making a final decision. RETURN TO QUESTIONS
Am I supposed to send acknowledgement cards for sympathy cards I receive?
It is not necessary to send acknowledgement cards for sympathy cards, telephone calls, food items sent, or other expressions of sympathy. However, acknowledgement of such kindnesses is appreciated. It should also be noted that there is no time frame for acknowledgement cards, but we would encourage you to send those out within the few months following the death. RETURN TO QUESTIONS
Is humor ever appropriate during such a solemn time?
We often hear laughter during calling hours as family and friends share stories about the deceased. However, for teenagers and children this can be upsetting and confusing. It is best to prepare them for the possibility ahead of time. Follow the lead of those who are grieving because humor is subjective. RETURN TO QUESTIONS
Are cars supposed to pull off the road when there is a funeral procession passing?
According to Tennessee code 55-8-183, no driver shall ‘”fail to yield the right of way” to a procession “progressing through an intersection.” So, it is not state law to pull off the road, but it is considered very respectful when road conditions and traffic patterns permit. We would advise motorists to be aware of their surroundings at the time to avoid an accident. How one responds to the sight of a funeral procession when driving could become a question of safety versus sensitivity: Should people pull off, slow down, or keep going? “Drivers will not “pass or attempt to pass”; “drive or attempt to drive between” the vehicles in a “properly identified funeral procession.” There isn’t any mention of pulling off when driving behind or in front of a procession. Nor does it define what to do when meeting a procession head on. We advise a police escort. RETURN TO QUESTIONS
When visiting hours are 6-8pm, as a visitor do I stay the entire time?
Visitors are not expected to stay the entire time of visitation. If you are close to the family and see a need you can fulfill by staying, your presence would be appreciated. If there is a long receiving line, keep your remarks to the family brief to help facilitate the receiving of friends. RETURN TO QUESTIONS
What is the “number one” statement NOT to make to the grieving family?
Most individuals will indicate that the statement, “I know how you feel” is the most irritating. Most of us would prefer to hear what our loved one meant to you. If you did not know the deceased person it is helpful to say things like: “I’ll be thinking about you.”
It is also appropriate to say, “I’ll call to check on you,” if you plan to do so. It is important to follow through on offers of assistance rather than simply making the statement at the time of the services. Many families will find the need for assistance once they have begun to “settle down” after the services. Your offers to help could mean a great deal to them at this later time. Acts of kindness toward a grieving family do not have to be grand gestures, but rather sincere gestures of help on many levels. Some examples of such acts are: mow the grass, purchase groceries, change the oil in the car, baby-sit, provide a meal, or provide transportation. Avoid telling the family to “Call me if you need anything.” Generally, when we are grieving we do not have the energy to call and ask for help. Again, it is important to follow through when you make the offer to help. RETURN TO QUESTIONS
What do funeral directors do?
Primarily they care and safeguard the deceased person until final disposition, including embalming and restorative work. A growing number of funeral directors are trained as grief counselors to help families through the bereavement process. They also arrange and provide an orderly series of events that finalize the funeral, the final disposition, and legal paperwork so the family can proceed forward. They also provide the physical establishment in which all of this can be accomplished. RETURN TO QUESTIONS
What purpose does a funeral serve?
The funeral and the ceremony that accompanies it are indeed very important. For those who are left behind, a funeral provides a place for family and friends to gather for support and to reminisce; an opportunity to celebrate the life and accomplishments of a loved one; a chance to say goodbye; and the focal point from which the healing process can begin.
The funeral identifies that a person’s life has been lived, not that a death has occurred. It is also important to notify the community that this person has died. There are people beyond the immediate family who have the right to grieve a death. RETURN TO QUESTIONS
Are the services of a funeral director necessary to bury the dead?
In most states, no. But each state does have different regulations. You should call the local department of health to find out exactly what your state requires. In the State of Nebraska, a funeral director is not required to be present for the burial, as long as the cemetery has a copy of the death certificate. RETURN TO QUESTIONS
Is a funeral or memorial service always held in a funeral home or place of worship?
A service can usually be held at any location that family and friends feel would be comfortable and appropriate. Your funeral director can assist with arranging a meaningful service. RETURN TO QUESTION
Can a function less formal than a funeral or memorial service be arranged?
A Gathering of Friends is a less formal event. It allows family and friends to share their loss and treasured memories of the deceased. A Gathering of Friends may include light refreshments and can be held at any appropriate location, including an accommodating funeral home, a park, a restaurant, or the home of a family member or friend. RETURN TO QUESTION
Does the price I receive from the funeral home include everything?
The Funeral Director is responsible for explaining all the charges that specifically pertain to the funeral home’s services and merchandise sold stated on its general price list. Any additional charges may fall under the category of cash advances. These additional charges might be for opening and closing the grave, clergy honorarium, newspaper notices, flowers, organist, church sexton, etc. RETURN TO QUESTION
Why are funerals so expensive?
There is a great range in prices for services and merchandise from your local funeral directors, depending on the type of funeral you purchase and each company’s price structure. The perception that funerals are too expensive usually can be attributed to a lack of familiarity with the normal price range. If you find that the price for certain services and merchandise seems too high, you should check into different types of funerals and different companies until you find the price that fits your budget.
Obviously, it is difficult to comparison shop in an at-death situation. Therefore, it is important to speak with your local funeral director ahead of time. By preplanning, you can find a provider whose services and merchandise fit your budget. RETURN TO QUESTION
Will life insurance pay for funerals?
Yes, as a convenient method of payment, most funeral homes will allow for an insurance assignment. This assignment transaction is processed by the funeral home, releasing only the funeral expenses to the funeral service provider, and with any remaining balance going directly to the beneficiary. The insurance assignment is an effective, convenient means in which to cover funeral expenses.
Keep in mind that it’s very important to speak with your local funeral provider, to ensure that your insurance policy is applied to the type of funeral service you want. Simply having life insurance will not make the important decisions that must be made in regard to you funeral — which funeral home will take care of the service, what types of service will be held, how much will be spent on the funeral service, etc. RETURN TO QUESTION
Is it appropriate to have a viewing and not a service?
Yes, if that is the wish of the family, the funeral director will arrange designated times for calling hours, have the times published in the newspaper and simply add to the obituary that services will be private or at the convenience of the family. This information will make it clear to the public as to arrangements, and fulfill the wishes of the family. RETURN TO QUESTION
How can I personalize a funeral service?
One way is to bring personal items into the funeral home to be displayed in or near the casket. Example: an avid golfer might have a favorite putter placed in the casket. An avid hunter or fisherman might have some of their personal effects or trophies displayed on a memory table. A person who quilted could have the casket draped with a quilt they made. An artist could have their work displayed. A person’s favorite rocking chair could be brought to the funeral home and placed next to the casket. RETURN TO QUESTION
Do clergy always officiate at a funeral service?
In conjunction with, or sometimes in place of a clergy person, family or friends may share personal thoughts, memories and feelings about the deceased as part of the service. RETURN TO QUESTION
May I make the necessary arrangements in advance?
Yes, usually all arrangements may be made in advance. When you plan ahead, you will be able to consider the many options available. You will have the opportunity to make an informed decision about your funeral and cemetery arrangements, and the form of memorial you prefer. You will be able to make choices that are meaningful to both you and your family, and you will gain peace of mind knowing your family and friends will be relieved of the emotional and financial burden often associated with making arrangements when a death occurs. By prearranging your funeral and cemetery arrangements, you benefit by purchasing at today’s prices, free from inflationary pressures in the future. RETURN TO QUESTION
How soon after or long after a death must an individual be buried?
This may vary by state so check with your local funeral directory. Considerations include the need to secure all permits and authorizations, notification of family and friends, preparation of cemetery site and religious considerations. For example, Orthodox Judaism requires that the body be interred within 24 hours of death, some Muslamic faiths require that the body be interred before sundown on the day of death. Some states have limitations on the maximum length of time allowed to pass prior to final disposition. RETURN TO QUESTION
What are the options concerning the time of a service?
While most services are held in the morning or afternoon, some families are now choosing to have services held in the evening hours for the convenience of family and friends. This enables more people to attend the service who otherwise might be unable to be excused from their place of employment during the day.RETURN TO QUESTION
Do funeral directors have the opportunity to take advantage of the bereaved?
The most important quality that enables the funeral director to provide services in the community is his or her reputation for honesty and good will. In fact, a good reputation is the key factor in being able to stay in business. If a particular funeral director took advantage of the bereaved, it would not be long before the community responded to those actions by going to a different funeral director. RETURN TO QUESTION
How much does a funeral cost?
A funeral, like any other service, can have a range of prices depending on the provider. It is similar to asking, “How much does a wedding cost?” Funeral costs are divided into two categories: services, as provided by the funeral director and funeral home staff; and merchandise, such as caskets, outer burial containers, urns, etc.
The average regular adult funeral in the U.S. in 1996 cost $4,287, according to the Federated Funeral Directors of America. This price generally includes funeral home staff services, professional care, use of the funeral home and equipment, automotive equipment, visitors’ register, acknowledgment cards, and casket. However, the price will vary greatly depending on you location, the company that is serving you and the type of funeral you choose.
It is a Federal Trade Commission regulation that all funeral-related charges be itemized, printed on a general price list and made available to the public by phone, mail or in person. Therefore it is easy to comparison shop and prearrange your own funeral, taking advantage of competitive pricing by providers. RETURN TO QUESTION
What if I do not wish to use all the services a funeral home has to offer?
The Federal Trade Commission Funeral Rule requires that all funeral homes itemize their charges for professional services, facilities and motor equipment and that they provide a General Price List to all clients. You have the right to select and pay for only those services you choose to utilize. RETURN TO QUESTION
How can I best shop and compare funeral service providers?
Talking with friends who have used the services of a funeral home or your personal experience from attending funeral services of friends or relatives at a variety of funeral homes are excellent methods of comparison. You might also consider just stopping by a funeral home unannounced to experience how you are treated. To a lesser degree, you can also gain some experience from randomly contacting various firms by telephone.
You can call your local Better Business Bureau to see if complaints have been filed against a local funeral director, and whether they were satisfactorily resolved. Also, you can call one of the national funeral trade associations, which have standards of ethics, to see whether your local funeral homes are members. RETURN TO QUESTION
How can I get an idea about the costs of caskets?
All funeral homes are required by the Federal Trade Commission to have casket price lists available to the public at all times. UNITY will gladly discuss prices on the phone, send you a copy of the price list or arrange an appointment to see available caskets. Also, as an added convenience, click our SERVICES tab on this website. RETURN TO QUESTION
What are the different types of burial caskets?
Most caskets are made of either wood or metal. Metal caskets are made of 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. RETURN TO QUESTION
Why are some casket prices more than others?
It depends upon the materials with which the casket is made. Obviously, a casket made of bronze would be priced higher than one made of steel. A casket made of solid mahogany would be more costly to manufacture than one of soft pine wood. A casket with crepe interior materials would be priced less than an interior of velvet because of the cost of the material. It depends upon what materials the casket shell is made of, the interior materials and any protective features included in that particular model. RETURN TO QUESTION
What about these independent discount casket companies? Can’t I buy my casket there and use it when needed?
Yes, It is certainly a financially sound decision to purchase anything at today’s prices that can then be used at a later time; however, you need to consider several things. Who will store the casket, you or the company you purchased it from? If you buy it without delivery, you need to know how your purchase will be protected. RETURN TO QUESTION
Can I build by own casket?
As a matter of fact, you can, although as a matter or practicality, it may present some storage challenges for you. You might consult a funeral home for correct measurements, as the casket will ultimately need to be placed into a burial vault, graveliner or mausoleum crypt. RETURN TO QUESTION
What are burial vaults and graveliners?
These are the outside containers into which the casket is placed. Burial vaults are made of a variety or combination of materials including concrete, stainless steel, galvanized steel, cooper, bronze, plastic or fiberglass. A graveliner is a lightweight version of a vault that simply keeps the grave surface from sinking in. RETURN TO QUESTION
Must I purchase a burial vault?
In most areas of the country, state, or local law does not require that you buy a container to surround the casket in the grave. However, many cemeteries require that you have such a container so that the ground will not sink. Either a graveliner or a burial vault will satisfy these requirements. RETURN TO QUESTION
Will the funeral home help with Social Security and Veterans death benefits?
Quality service firms will not only assist with securing these death benefits, they will most likely complete all the paperwork for you. RETURN TO QUESTION
Must an obituary be published in a newspaper?
The publication of an obituary notice is a matter of your personal choice. While most newspapers control the editorial format, you have the right to limit the amount of information, if any provided to them. RETURN TO QUESTION
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. As adults we may not view a child’s behavior as grief as it often is demonstrated in ways that we misunderstand as “moody”, “cranky”, “withdrawn” or other behavioral patterns which do not appear to us to be grief.
When a death occurs children need to be surrounded by feelings of warmth, acceptance and understanding. This may be a tall order to expect of the adults who are experiencing their own grief and upset.
Caring adults can guide children through this time when the child is experiencing feelings for which they have no words and thus cannot identify. In a very real way, this time can be a growth experience for the child, teaching about love and relationships.
The first task is to create an atmosphere in which the child’s thoughts, fears and wishes are recognized. This means that they should be allowed to participate in any of the arrangements, ceremonies and gatherings which are comfortable for them.
First, explain what will be happening and why it is happening at a level the child can understand. A child may not be able to speak at a grandparent’s funeral but would benefit greatly from the opportunity to draw a picture to be placed in the casket or displayed at the service. Be aware that children will probably have short attention spans and may need to leave a service or gathering before the adults are ready. Many families provide a non-family attendant to care for the children in this event.
The key is to allow the participation, not to force it. Forced participation can be harmful. Children instinctively have a good sense of how involved they wish to be. They should be listened to carefully. RETURN TO QUESTION
What happens if someone close to me dies away from home?
After the death has occurred, the most prudent decision would be to call your funeral service. Your funeral director 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. RETURN TO QUESTION
Does 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. In general, any veteran with a discharge other than dishonorable is entitled to be buried in an accepting national cemetery. He or she may also receive a free grave space, with a bronze, granite, or marble memorial marked with veteran’s rank, war served and religious icon.
Other specific circumstances, better explained by your VA benefits counselor, may have additional burial-related benefits. RETURN TO QUESTION
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 could be as long as three weeks. RETURN TO QUESTION
Must a casket 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 for example, a fire fighter may be transported on a fire truck. RETURN TO QUESTION
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. Your funeral provider can help you determine how many you may need to settle an estate and also secure them for you. RETURN TO QUESTION
If I donate my remains to medical science, can there still be a service?
In addition to coordinating the donation, 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. RETURN TO QUESTION
After my death, how can my funeral home send me to my cemetery that is out of state?
In many cemeteries today, there is a funeral home on the grounds. If not, then arrangements would have to be made with the cemetery or a local funeral home to pick up the body and transfer it to the cemetery. RETURN TO QUESTION
Is it possible to have a traditional funeral if someone with AIDS dies?
Yes. Death because of AIDS is no different than any other cause of death. RETURN TO QUESTION
What recourse does a consumer have for poor service or overcharging?
The complaint should first be given to the funeral director that served the family. If the situation is not resolved to your satisfaction, then a complaint should be filed with your state’s board of funeral service, or with a consumer complaint department of the state attorney general’s office. In most instances, the complaint will be resolved by the funeral director. RETURN TO QUESTION
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. RETURN TO QUESTION
Can you have cremation with an open casket visitation?
Yes, more 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 after the service. The psychological benefits of viewing our loved ones and having the opportunity to say good-bye are well documented and are available with cremation. RETURN TO QUESTION
Where does the cremation take place?
Families who select UNITY MORTUARY are comforted in knowing that licensed professionals will do the cremation. RETURN TO QUESTION
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. However, all cultures recognize the need to come together to share and grieve at the time of death. Most people require something more than only disposing of a loved one. Grief shared is grief diminished. RETURN TO QUESTION
What do you do with cremated remains?
Most families select a form of memorialization with their cemetery of choice. At UNITY we view the inurnment as the dignified act of memorializing cremated remains within a place of permanent rest. RETURN TO QUESTION
Can cremated remains be scattered?
A family may, if they wish, 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 you local, state and federal laws concerning scattering of cremains. Scattering, however, is neither practical nor considerate of all concerned. It may be very traumatic for family members to scatter fragmented, yet recognizable bone fragments of their loved one. In additional, later generations of the family may not have a place to go to pay tribute, if that private property has been sold or developed into something else. Only a cemetery provides for the dignified, permanent record and memorialization of cremated remains. RETURN TO QUESTION
Do Catholics allow cremation?
Catholic News Service announced that the Vatican now permits in the United States funeral Masses with cremated remains present. It will be the decision of each bishop to determine if this is pastorally appropriate in his diocese.
The introductory material from the Vatican reiterated that the church prefers “that the body of the deceased be present for funeral rites” and stresses that cremated remains be treated with respect and should be buried in a grave or entombed in a mausoleum or columbarium. Scattering at sea, from the air or ground, or kept at home are not reverent disposition.
When cremated remains are present, they must be contained in a “worthy vessel” placed on a table or in the place normally occupied by the casket, and must be covered with a pall. The Easter Candle may be present. The urn may be carried to its place in the entrance procession or placed on a table before service begins. The words in the blessing and dismissal will be changed for cremation. The prayer or committal will read “earthly remains” in place of “body.” This new Vatican decision does not effect “Eastern” churches. RETURN TO QUESTION
Does cremation require preplanning?
Cremation does require the same degree of preplanning, as does traditional burial. After the death of a loved one, families and friends are grieving. In an emotional state of mind, people often have difficulty making important decisions, and they may later regret arrangements made in haste. Preplanning for your cremation removes the burden from friends and family. RETURN TO QUESTION
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. RETURN TO QUESTION
Do families who choose cremation need to purchase a traditional casket?
Most crematories have regulations regarding the container in which human remains intended for cremation be presented. The container must be rigid enough to be easily handled and it must provide coverage of the remains. Additionally, the container must meet appropriate standards to ensure the health and safety of the crematory operator will be protected. RETURN TO QUESTION
Is memorialization necessary when a loved one is cremated?
Counselors agree that memorialization of a loved one aids friends and family with the grieving process. Family members who scatter a loved one’s remains or store them in a box somewhere often regret that they have no place to go and pay their respects. Memorialization allows family members to publicly acknowledge a loved one’s life and death. RETURN TO QUESTIO
Is embalming required for cremation?
Embalming is required in some States if the remains are not cremated or buried within 48 hours of death, or if the deceased had certain communicable diseases. RETURN TO QUESTION
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. RETURN TO QUESTION
What really is embalming?
Embalming is a temporary preservation of a dead human person. This process is accomplished by a surgical-like technique of injecting chemical solutions into the deceased’s vascular system, thus producing a natural lifelike appearance. This process dramatically retards tissue decomposition creating a time frame for a viewing and/or funeral service. RETURN TO QUESTION
Regarding embalming, what are my rights as a consumer?
According to the Federal Trade Commission Funeral Rule, all funeral homes are required to get permission to embalm. If you select a funeral service that requires embalming, such as a funeral with a viewing, you may have to pay for embalming. You are not required to have embalming if you selected arrangements such as direct cremation or immediate burial. If a funeral home charges for embalming, they must explain why in writing. EXAMPLES: (i) Selected a service with a viewing or (ii) Arranged for shipment by common carrier or (iii) Selected arrangements that require the funeral home to hold the remains for more than 24 hours provided that no refrigeration is available or a hermetically sealed container is not used and provided that embalming does not conflict with religious beliefs or medical examination. RETURN TO QUESTION
Is embalming a requirement?
It may depend on such factors as whether the family selected a service with a public or private viewing of the body with an open casket; if the body is going to be transported by air or rail; or because of the length of time prior to the burial or cremation. RETURN TO QUESTION
How soon after or long after must an individual be buried?
This may vary by state so check with your local funeral director. Considerations include the need to secure all permits and authorizations, notification of family and friends, preparation of cemetery site and religious considerations. Some states have limitations on the maximum length of time allowed to pass prior to final disposition. RETURN TO QUESTION
Does a body have to be embalmed before it is buried?
No, 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. RETURN TO QUESTION
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, the type used for many generations, has upright monuments, usually made of stone. Many traditional cemeteries also have private mausoleums for aboveground interment. Because many have functioned in their communities for over 100 years, traditional cemeteries often contain a great deal of history, such as architecture, statuary and other art forms, as well as the personages interred there.
Memorial parks and gardens are a newer type of cemetery introduced about 75 years ago. They are cemeteries without tombstones: parks and gardens where bronze memorials are placed level with the ground to blend with the beauty of the landscape. In place of traditional monuments are lawns and trees, flowering beds and gardens, and often fountains, sculpture, or memorial architecture.
Some cemeteries have both traditional upright monument sections and garden sections. Both types of cemeteries may offer the aboveground interment in community mausoleums.
Both traditional cemeteries and memorial parks may be operated on a for-profit or not-for-profit basis. They may be owned by an individual or by a corporation. Some are owned mutually, and many are the property of states, towns, counties, and religious or fraternal groups. Both may have chapels, crematories, community mausoleums, mortuaries or funeral homes, and columbariums. RETURN TO QUESTION
What are my choices in ground burial?
Most common are single graves, and lots composed of two or more graves. Not all types of graves are available at all cemeteries. Please check with the cemetery of your choice for availability of specific graves. RETURN TO QUESTION
How do I choose the right type of grave?
Because it is an important question, many things must be considered. What types of memorial do you prefer? A marker set flat on the ground? An upright monument? How many burials do you expect to take place? Are you arranging for yourself or your family? How much do you want to spend? Answers to these types of questions will assist you to make the right purchase as graves vary by size, location and price. RETURN TO QUESTION
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 choices for those who have selected cremation. These often include placement of cremated remains in a niche of a columbarium or interment in an urn space. Many cemeteries now provide for scattering of the remains in a garden set aside for that purpose, which can include a plaque memorializing the deceased. RETURN TO QUESTION
Why is having a place to visit so important?
Because it provides a focal point for memorializing the deceased. To remember, and be remembered, are natural human needs. Throughout human history, memorialization of the dead has been a key component of almost every culture. The Washington Monument, Tomb of the Unknowns and the Vietnam “Wall” in Washington, D.C. are examples of memorialization which demonstrate that, throughout our history, we have always honored our dead.
Psychologists say that remembrance practices, from the funeral or memorial service to permanent memorialization, serve an important emotional function for survivors by helping to bring closure and allowing the healing process to begin.
Providing a permanent resting place for the deceased is a dignified treatment for a loved one’s mortal remains, which fulfills the natural human desire for memorialization. RETURN TO QUESTION
What is Opening and Closing 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 grave site, leveling and re-sodding the grave if the earth settles. RETURN TO QUESTION
Can we dig our own grave to avoid the charge for opening and closing?
The actual opening of the grave and closing of the grave is just one component of the opening and closing fee. Because of safety issues which arise around the use of machinery on cemetery property and the protection of property of adjacent interment rights holders, the actual opening and closing of the grave is conducted by cemetery grounds personnel. RETURN TO QUESTION
What are burial vaults and graveliners?
These are the outside containers in which the casket is placed. Burial vaults are made of a variety or combination of materials including concrete, stainless steel, galvanized steel, copper, bronze, plastic or fiberglass. A graveliner is a lightweight version of a vault. RETURN TO QUESTION
Must I purchase a burial vault?
In most areas of the country, state or local laws do not require that you buy a container to surround the casket in the grave. However, many cemeteries require that you have such a container so that the ground will not sink. Either a graveliner or a burial vault will satisfy these requirements. RETURN TO QUESTION
What happens when a cemetery runs out of land?
When a cemetery runs out of land, it will continue 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. The amount to be set aside varies from state to state. Many states require 10 or 15 percent of the grave purchase price to be placed into an endowment care fund. RETURN TO QUESTION
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. RETURN TO QUESTION
How much do grave spaces cost, and why aren’t they priced the same all over?
Grave prices can really vary. 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 the grave 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. Graves that allow for a monument are more expensive due to the space required for the monument. RETURN TO QUESTION
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) that is then sealed. RETURN TO QUESTION
What is a mausoleum?
Historically, the word mausoleum comes from the large temple-like structure that was erected by Queen Artemisia in the ancient city of Harlicarnassua as the final resting place for her late husband, King Mausolus. Mausolus, from which the word mausoleum is derived, ruled over Caria in Asia Minor and died in 353 B.C. His mausoleum is now regarded as the fifth of the Seven Wonders of the World. The pyramids of Egypt and the Taj Mahal in India are others examples of ancient mausolea.
A community mausoleum is simply a large building designed to provide aboveground 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 casketed remains. Following a casket entombment, the crypt is sealed, and a granite or marble front is attached. Niches will accommodate urns containing cremated remains. Following an urn entombment, a niche front of granite, marble, bronze, wood or glass is attached. RETURN TO QUESTION
What are the advantages of a mausoleum burial?
Mausoleum crypts are both clean and dry. They offer a viable alternative for those who simply have an aversion of being interred in the ground. Furthermore, with the growing shortage of available land for cemetery use, mausoleums will allow for a maximum number of entombments in a minimum amount of space. RETURN TO QUESTION
Isn’t a mausoleum only for rich people?
In most cases, the cost of mausoleum entombment is comparable to the costs of interment in a lot with an upright monument. RETURN TO QUESTION
Are there different types of crypts?
Yes. Single crypts are designed for one entombment only. There are three different kinds of double crypts: tandem crypts permit two entombments lengthwise in a crypt; companion crypts permit two entombments side-by-side; Westminster 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. RETURN TO QUESTION
What is a columbarium?
A columbarium, often located within a mausoleum, chapel or in a garden type setting, is constructed on numerous small compartments (niches) designed to hold urns containing cremated remains. RETURN TO QUESTION
What happens to a mausoleum if there is an earthquake?
Modern mausoleums are steel-reinforced concrete structures, covered with granite or marble. They typically are built to meet all local building specifications, including those regarding earthquakes. RETURN TO QUESTION
How does a mausoleum protect the body?
Because the casket is placed in a clean, dry, aboveground crypt, the remains are protected from water and the elements of the earth. RETURN TO QUESTION
Can you actually see the bodies in a mausoleum?
No. When you visit a mausoleum, you see the front of the crypt, which typically is made of granite or marble. The name of the person who has died, along with their years of birth and death, appears on the crypt front. The casket rests behind a solid, sealed panel that is placed behind the granite or marble crypt front. RETURN TO QUESTION
How many people will a crypt hold?
Crypts come in several sizes. Although “singles” and “doubles” are the most common, some crypts can accommodate up to four caskets. RETURN TO QUESTION
What is a tandem?
A tandem is a mausoleum space designed to accommodate two caskets lengthwise. RETURN TO QUESTION
How can a mausoleum help eliminate expenses?
When you select a mausoleum, you eliminate the need for expensive vaults and monuments or memorials that almost always are purchased with ordinary earth burial. RETURN TO QUESTION
What are lawn crypts?
Lawn crypts are essentially underground tombs, constructed of reinforced concrete, steel and waterproof materials. RETURN TO QUESTION
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. RETURN TO QUESTION
May I make the necessary arrangements in advance?
Yes, usually all arrangements may be made in advance. When you plan ahead, you will be able to consider the many options available. You will have the opportunity to make an informed decision about your funeral and cemetery arrangements, and the form of memorial you prefer. You will be able to make choices that are meaningful to both you and your family, and you will gain peace of mind knowing your family and friends will be relieved of the emotional and financial burden often associated with making arrangements when a death occurs. By prearranging your funeral and cemetery services, you benefit by purchasing at today’s prices, free from inflationary pressures in the future. Be sure to check whether the contract of your local provider guarantees prices. RETURN TO QUESTION
What happens if I buy cemetery property here in advance and later 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 trying to be placed in the same area years down the road. When prearranging, be sure to ask about future exchange privileges offered. RETURN TO QUESTION
When I buy a grave space do I receive a deed just like when I purchase other types of real estate?
When you purchase a grave space you are in fact purchasing THE RIGHT TO DESIGNATE WHO MAY BE INTERRED IN THE SPACE, rather than purchasing the grave space itself, which remains the property and responsibility of the cemetery. You also have a right to place a memorial where permitted. RETURN TO QUESTION
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. RETURN TO QUESTION
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. Laws in most states for consumer protection govern endowment care funds. RETURN TO QUESTION
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. RETURN TO QUESTION
Is cemetery property tax deductible?
No, the purchase of a grave is not tax-deductible, although the charitable donation of unwanted grave spaces may be deductible as an “in kind” charitable contribution. Check with a knowledgeable tax advisor for details. Even still, the grave is purchased in today’s dollars, free from inflationary pressures of the future. RETURN TO QUESTION
Will a cemetery ever be used for something else? Can the bodies be moved and building built?
Communities afford respect to cemeteries and to the memorialization that cemeteries provide. In order to protect interment rights holders, strict rules govern the use of cemetery lands. Graves are normally considered to be sold in perpetuity that restricts possible re-development. RETURN TO QUESTION
In a hundred years will this cemetery still be here?
We think of cemetery lands as being in perpetuity. These are cemeteries throughout the world that have been in existence well over a hundred years. RETURN TO QUESTION
What is a disinterment? What is the process and why does it happen?
Disinterment is the removal of the casket containing human remains from a grave. Laws governing disinterment vary by state or province. Disinterment may be ordered by certain public officials without the consent of the grave owner or the next of kin, for example, as part of police investigation. Individual or families may also request disinterment, if for example they would like to have the human remains relocated to another grave in the cemetery, to a mausoleum or possible shipped to the location of birth. Disinterment requires the grave to be opened. The casket containing the human remains is removed. Depending on the length of time the casket has been buried, a new casket may be required. The grave is then closed. RETURN TO QUESTION
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 that 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. When preplanning cemetery memorial arrangements for a veteran, you should check with your cemetery of choice to see the particular regulations are regarding memorial types. See our extensive entry for Veterans under our SERVICES tab. RETURN TO QUESTION
If I am a veteran and plan to be buried in a national cemetery, is my spouse eligible to be buried next to me?
Yes, a space for you spouse or any other minor children can be authorized at the time of your death. See our extensive entry for Veterans under our SERVICES tab. RETURN TO QUESTION
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