The following are questions most frequently asked by people who want to know more about funerals and funeral service. Your local funeral director will be happy to supply you with any additional information, or answer specific questions relating to funeral service, preplanning and end-of-life issues.
What purpose does a funeral serve?
A funeral is the customary way to acknowledge death and its finality. Funerals are recognized rituals for the living to show respect for the dead, and to help survivors begin the grieving process. Funerals in one form or another have been conducted to honor the dead in most cultures since as early as 35,000 B.C. when Cro-Magnon man practice ritual funerals.
Why have a public viewing?
Viewing is a part of many cultural and ethnic traditions. Many grief specialists believe that viewing aids the grieving process by helping the bereaved recognize the reality of death. Viewing is encouraged for children, as long as the ritual is explained and the activity is voluntary.
What do funeral directors do?
Funeral directors are caregivers and administrators. They make the arrangements for transportation of the body, complete all necessary paperwork and implement the choices made by the family regarding the funeral and final disposition of the body.
Funeral directors have the experience to help the bereaved in coping with the death of a loved one. They are trained to recognize when a person is having difficulty with the grief process, and can recommend sources of professional help or link grieving family members to support groups at the funeral home or in the community.
Must you have a funeral director to bury the dead?
Yes. In New York State, a licensed funeral director or undertaker must be present and personally supervise the burial or cremation, or the transfer of the deceased from or delivery to a common carrier i.e. airlines, railroads, etc. A licensed funeral director must sign and file a certificate of death in the district where the death occurred.
Who pays for funerals for the poor?
There are veteran, union and other organizational benefits to pay for funerals including, in certain instances, a lump sum of death benefit payment from Social Security in the amount of $255 payable only to the surviving spouse or dependent child. In most states, some form of public aid allowances are available from the state.
Most funeral directors are aware of the various benefits and know how to obtain them for poor families. However, funeral directors often absorb costs above and beyond what is provided by public assistance to insure a respectable funeral for the dead
From: "Transitions: A Consumer Guide to End-Of-Life Issues and Funerals"
Copyright © 2001 New York State Funeral Directors Association