Funerals are recognized rituals for the living to show respect for the dead and to help survivors begin the grief process.
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 are listeners, advisors, and supporters. They have experience assisting the bereaved in coping with death, and link survivors with support groups at the funeral home or in the community.
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.
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.
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.
No. Most states, however, require embalming when death was caused by a reportable contagious disease, 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.
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.
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.
According to a 2010 NFDA Survey of Funeral Home Operations, the average cost for a funeral is $6560. This includes a professional service charge, transfer-of remains, embalming, other preparation, use of viewing facilities, use of facilities for ceremony, hearse, limousine, and metal casket. Vault, cemetery and monument charges were not included in the above average.
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.