Why is having a funeral ceremony important?

Throughout human history, around the globe, people have gathered together to acknowledge the death of community members. No matter who the deceased was, a funeral ceremony is an opportunity for everyone to come together to acknowledge the death, recognize the community’s shared loss, and share the burden of grief. Sometimes, a funeral ceremony is the only opportunity for this important process.

What is the average cost of a funeral service?

According to the National Funeral Directors Association, the national median cost of a funeral in 2016 was $7,360. However, if a burial vault was required by the cemetery — and it usually is — the median cost was $8,508.

These statistics aside, the cost of a funeral service is wholly dependent on the specific services and products selected by the family member(s) responsible for making funeral arrangements. Your funeral director will thoroughly explain all of your options, ask the important questions about your family’s budget restrictions, and otherwise do everything he or she can to provide you with a funeral, memorial service, or celebration of life that meets your emotional and social needs, all while staying in line with your financial expectations.

How does the cost for a funeral ceremony compare to the cost of a memorial service or celebration of life?

Attempting to compare the costs of the three is rather like trying to compare apples to oranges and mangoes — it can’t be done. Perhaps it’s easier to see funerals, memorial services and celebrations of life as three points on a spectrum of ceremonial formats. At one end is the funeral, and at the other is the celebration of life. In the middle is the memorial service. The funeral is most commonly the most expensive of the three, which is especially easy to see when you consider the significant cost of the casket. However, the cost of any of the three is ultimately dependent on the choices you make during the arrangement conference.

Who should be invited to a funeral?

This is a lot like asking who should be invited to a wedding. Generally, it’s best to invite people who would want to be there. A guest typically has two roles at a funeral: First, they are there to demonstrate support for the bereaved family. Second, funeral guests are there to tend to their own grief — to begin to come to terms with the death of someone they held dear while in the safety and comfort of a shared group environment.

Generally, the service details are published in the newspaper or online, and those who wish to attend the service will do so. While it isn’t common to send out invitations to a funeral, it does make a certain amount of sense to reach out to certain individuals by phone, email, or social media to ensure they are aware of the service date and time, and express your desire for their presence. When preparing the guest list for a funeral service, you should both listen to your heart and use common sense. You know the people that mattered most to your loved one, as well as those who mattered least. Whatever you do, don’t invite more people than the venue can handle comfortably.

Is it necessary to have flowers at the ceremony?

Flowers create a vision of warmth and beauty that adds to the elegance and consolation of the funeral service. They aren’t essential, but there’s no doubt that flowers at a funeral or other end-of-life ceremony serve many valuable purposes, including a visual expression of sympathy, love, and respect, or a means of lending support.

What’s involved in preparing the body for viewing at a visitation or funeral?

The preparation of the deceased can involve a number of different tasks performed by trained and licensed embalmers and restorative artists. The body is temporarily preserved by embalming, refrigeration, or a combination of the two. It is washed, dressed, and groomed, then placed in the casket selected for the viewing. Should you wish to know more about the details of this process, feel free to contact us. There are also many excellent articles online describing the process in greater detail.

If it makes people uncomfortable, why is it necessary to view the body in the casket?

Human beings are interesting creatures. Sometimes we need to see in order to truly believe. It’s a way of confirming the fact that this individual is indeed dead. It helps us come to terms with death as a reality. Additionally, the viewing is an opportunity to say one’s good-byes. Many find it a cathartic time where they can quietly share a long-held secret, let go of any anger or resentment, pass on any other final messages, and more generally come to terms with the death.

How can I best prepare my children to attend a funeral?

We advise that this is best done with honesty and awareness. Let your children know what they can expect from the funeral. Tell them that there will be people there who will be sad and may cry openly. Tell them there will be time for some people to stand up and talk about how much they loved the person who is now gone — but they won’t be required to do so. Let your children ask all the questions they need to ask, and reassure them you’ll be right next to them throughout the experience. Never force them to go to a funeral, and always give them the opportunity to change their mind about attending.

What is a celebrant?

The Celebrant Foundation & Institute (CF&I) defines celebrants as “trained professionals who believe in the power and effectiveness of ceremony and ritual to serve basic needs of society and the individual.” CF&I states that “the Celebrant’s mission is to help the client create a ceremony that reflects his or her beliefs, philosophy of life, and personality.”

A life-cycle celebrant is especially valuable when a family has no religious affiliations or ties to a clergy person or minister who can officiate the funeral service, but involving a celebrant in the funeral planning process has been found to enhance the funeral experience for all concerned.

“The Celebrant comes to the table with no agenda,” says CF&I, “and no preconceived notion of what the ceremony should or must look like. Instead, through careful interviewing, the Celebrant elicits what is meaningful for each client.” If you think hiring a celebrant is the right for your family’s situation, contact us for more details.

How long is a funeral service?

The length of a funeral depends on the service. Just as no two movies or novels are the same length or cover the same emotional ground, no two end-of-life ceremonies are the same.

Do I need to wear black to the funeral ceremony?

Black used to be the only color to wear to a funeral, but not anymore. Today the dress code is less formal than it once was, and it’s not uncommon for families to ask prospective guests to avoid wearing black altogether. If you have additional questions about funeral attire or etiquette, please contact us.

Did we answer all your questions? If not, contact us.