What purpose does a funeral serve?
It is the customary way to recognize death and its finality.
Funerals are recognized rituals for the living to show respect
for the dead and to help survivors begin the grief process.
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
Funeral directors are listeners, advisors and supporters.
They have experience assisting the bereaved in coping with
death. Funeral directors are trained to answer questions about
grief, recognize when a person is having difficulty coping,
and recommend sources of professional help. Funeral directors
also link survivors with support groups at the funeral home
or in the community.
you have to have a funeral director to bury the dead?
In most states, family members may bury their own dead although
regulations vary. However, most people find it very trying
to be solely responsible for arranging the details and legal
matters surrounding a death.
have a public viewing?
Viewing is part of many cultural and ethnic traditions. Many
grief specialists believe that viewing aids the grief process
by helping the bereaved recognize the reality of death. Viewing
is encouraged for children, as long as the process is explained
and the activity voluntary.
is the purpose of embalming?
Embalming sanitizes and preserves the body, retards the decomposition
process, and enhances the appearance of a body disfigured
by traumatic death or illness. Embalming makes it possible
to lengthen the time between death and the final disposition,
thus allowing family members time to arrange and participate
in the type of service most comforting to them.
a dead body have to be embalmed, according to law?
No. Most states, however, require embalming when death was
caused by a reportable contagious disease or when remains
are to be transported from one state to another by common
carrier or if final disposition is not to be made within a
prescribed number of hours.
burial space becoming scarce?
While it is true some metropolitan areas have limited available
cemetery space, in most areas of the country, there is enough
space set aside for the next 50 years without creating new
cemeteries. In addition, land available for new cemeteries
is more than adequate, especially with the increase in entombment
and multi-level grave burial.
cremation a substitute for a funeral?
No. Cremation is an alternative to earth burial or entombment
for the body's final disposition and often follows a traditional
funeral service. In fact, according to FTC figures for 1987,
direct cremation occurred in only 3% of deaths.
it possible to have a traditional funeral if someone dies
Yes. A person who dies of an AIDS-related illness is entitled
to the same service options afforded to anyone else. If public
viewing is consistent with local or personal customs, that
option is encouraged. Touching the deceased's face or hands
is perfectly safe.
Because the grief experienced by survivors may include a variety
of feelings, survivors may need even more support than survivors
of non-AIDS-related deaths.
much does a funeral cost?
In 1998, the charge for an adult, full-service funeral was
$5,020. This price includes a professional service charge,
transfer-of remains, embalming, other preparation, use of
viewing facilities, use of facilities for ceremony, hearse,
limousine, and casket. The casket included in this price was
an 18-gauge steel casket with velvet interior which may or
may not be the most common casket chosen. Vault, cemetery,
and monument charges are additional.
(Source: 1999 NFDA Survey of Funeral Home Operations)
Funeral Directors Association has a number of resources
available with funeral cost statistics and information.
this cost increased significantly?
Funeral costs have increased no faster than the consumer price
index for other consumer items.
are funerals so expensive?
When compared to other major life cycle events, like births
and weddings, funerals are not expensive. A wedding costs
at least three times as much; but because it is a happy event,
wedding costs are rarely criticized.
A funeral home is a 24-hour, labor-intensive business, with
extensive facilities (viewing rooms, chapels, limousines,
hearses, etc.); these expenses must be factored into the cost
of a funeral. Moreover, the cost of a funeral includes not
only merchandise, like caskets, but the services of a funeral
director in making arrangements; filing appropriate forms;
dealing with doctors, ministers, florists, newspapers and
others; and seeing to all the necessary details.
Contrary to popular belief, funeral homes are largely family-owned
with a modest profit margin. The average statistics below
may be helpful in assessing the true economic picture of a
Firm in business for 63 years
167 average calls/year
BEFORE tax profit 11.3%
(Source: 1995 NFDA Survey of Funeral Home Operations)
recourse does a consumer have for poor service or overcharging?
Funeral service is regulated by the Federal
Trade Commission and state licensing boards. In most
cases, the consumer should discuss problems with the funeral
director first. If the dispute cannot be solved by talking
with the funeral director, the consumer may wish to contact
the Funeral Service Consumer Assistance Program. FSCAP provides
information, mediates disputes, provides arbitration, and
maintains a consumer guarantee fund for reimbursement of services
rendered. (To contact FSCAP, you may call 800-662-7666).
funeral directors take advantage of the bereaved?
Funeral directors are caring individuals who help people deal
with a very stressful time. They serve the same families 80%
of the time, and many have spent most of their lives in the
same community. If they took advantage of bereaved families,
they could not stay in business. The fact that the average
funeral home has been in business over 59 years shows that
most funeral directors respect the wishes of the bereaved
it right to make a profit from death?
Funeral directors look upon their profession as a service,
but it is also a business. Like any business, funeral homes
must make a profit to exist. As long as the profit is reasonable
and the services rendered are necessary, complete, and satisfactory
to the family, profit is legitimate.
funeral directors mark caskets up tremendously, at least 400%?
No. Talking about the mark up on caskets is really not the
point. Most items - clothing, furniture, jewelry - are marked
up as much or more than caskets. The real question is whether
the funeral director is making an excessive profit, and that
answer is "No." Profits run around 12.5% before taxes - not
excessive by any standard.
pays for funerals for the indigent?
Other than the family, there are veteran, union, and other
organizational benefits to pay for funerals, including, in
certain instances, a lump sum death payment from Social Security.
In most states, some form of public aid allowances are available
from either the state, county, or city or a combination. Most
funeral directors are aware of the various benefits and know
how to obtain them for the indigent. However, funeral directors
often absorb costs above and beyond what is provided by agencies
to insure the deceased a respectable burial.
should I do if the death occurs in the middle of the night
or on the weekend?
Most Funeral Directors are available 24 hours a day, seven
days a week.
someone come right away?
If you request immediate assistance, yes. If the family wishes
to spend a short time with the deceased to say good bye, it's
acceptable. They will come when your time is right.
a loved one dies out of state , can the local Funeral Home
Yes, they can assist you with out-of-state arrangements, either
to transfer the remains to another state or from another state.
I've decided on cremation. Can I still have a funeral or a
Yes, quite often some sort of viewing precedes the actual
cremation. Your Funeral Home can assist you with the necessary
information for a funeral with a cremation following or a
government agencies help defray final expenses?
Usually, Funeral Directors will help gather the necessary
information to apply for financial assistance from Social
Security, Veteran's Affairs,
retirements, and any others.