Traditional Funerals

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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, 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 your funeral; which funeral home will take care of the service, what types of services will be held, how much will be spent on the funeral service, etc.

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.

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.

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. Your funeral home will gladly discuss prices on the phone, send you a copy of the price list or arrange an appointment to see available caskets.

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.

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 grave liner or a burial vault will satisfy these requirements.

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 which 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 can not identify. In a very real way, this time can be a growth experience for the child, teaching them 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 and 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.

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.

Does Veterans Administration pay for veterans' 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.

Cremation

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.

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 including visitation, with the cremation disposition taking place after the service. The psychological benefits of viewing our loved ones and having the opportunity to say goodbye are well documented and are available with cremation.

Isn’t direct cremation easier?
Direct cremation usually means cremation with no visitation or services. Some people choose direct cremation believing that the quickest, most 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.

What do you do with cremated remains?
Most families select a form of memorialization with their cemetery of choice. At Clements Funeral Service we view the inurnment as the dignified act of memorializing cremated remains within a place of permanent rest.

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 addition, 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.

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.
Embalming

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 life-like appearance. This process dramatically retards tissue decomposition creating a time frame for a viewing and/or funeral service.

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 which 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.

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.
Prearrange

Why should I prearrange my funeral or burial?
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.

If I pre-plan and prepay my funeral or burial, how do I know that the money will be there when I die?
It’s important to remember that prearrangement is a two part transaction. The first is the funeral agreement between you and the funeral home and/or cemetery. That agreement is comprised mostly (sometimes completely depending upon your state laws) of elements that are guaranteed to be performed at no additional costs to your family once the funding is complete. The second is the actual funding of the agreement. Ironically, it’s the prearrangement provider who is the most concerned with the question of the funds being available at death. That’s why they carefully consider the financial soundness of where funds set aside for funeral and cemetery prearrangement agreements will be placed.

If I prepay my funeral, what happens to the interest that my money earns?
If you have a prearranged funeral or burial agreement that is comprised of items that are guaranteed to be performed by the funeral home or cemetery at no additional cost to you, the interest (or growth if a life insurance policy) is retained by the funeral home/cemetery to offset the rising costs of those specified goods and services over time. That’s the value of prearranging and prefunding at today’s costs!

Can I change any of these prepaid funeral services later?
Changes are generally possible, but be careful. When changes are made, they oftentimes affect the terms of guarantees that were created under the original agreement. In the event funds paid toward a funeral plan are excludable resources for purposes of receiving social services (SSI or Medicaid), changing the terms of that agreement could jeopardize one’s qualification for assistance. It is not recommended that irrevocably assigned funeral plans be changed in any way.

What if your funeral home or cemetery changes ownership?
Prior contractual agreements are not voided simply because a change of ownership occurs. The funeral planning agreement you have with the prior ownership is carried forward with successor owners as part of the purchase agreement.