What do I do when death occurs? If your loved one has died while in professional care, much of the information needed will be provided by the hospital, nursing home, or hospice. Part of their support includes making the initial call to the funeral home of your choice for you regardless of time of day. The Funeral Director will call you shortly to offer condolences, and to ask when it would be convenient to talk.
What information will we need to provide to the Funeral Director? If your loved one has died while in professional care, much of the information needed will be provided by the hospital, nursing home, or hospice. The Funeral Director will need to spend some time gathering additional information such as place and date of birth, parents names, discharge papers (if appropriate), maiden name, and education history. In order to help prepare for the obituary notice, he/she may also ask for family/survivor information and occupation. He/she will want to begin to learn more about your loved one in order to understand what their preferences may be for services and ceremony, so he/she will ask about spiritual preferences, flowers, hobbies/interests, organizations and family activities. Please let your funeral director know where family is located, so that allowances are included for adequate travel time.
What if death happens away from home? When a person dies away from home, it is good practice for the survivors to immediately contact the funeral director in the area where the deceased is to be buried/commemorated. The funeral director can properly advise the best approach to take in having the body returned to the local area in the most suitable manner.
What help is available for Veterans? There are many benefits available to veterans and spouses of veterans. We suggest you call to make an appointment to talk with us regarding how you may be eligible for assistance.
How do I tell out of town family and friends? It is appropriate and important to let your social circle know of your loss. The support they can provide through attending the funeral, sending cards and letters, and return messages will go a long way to helping you through the loss by acknowledging that they understand you are going through a difficult time. In today’s social media environment it is sometimes difficult to know the best form of communication. In communicating with close family and friends of the deceased, a telephone call is preferred unless there are extenuating circumstances. If the survivors do not feel up to it, perhaps a friend could assist in making the calls. It is certainly acceptable to share the information through your social media channels, but only after the closest family and friends have been notified. Someone very close to the deceased could feel a shock in finding out about their loss second or third hand via an electronic means which does not always successfully convey the sense of loss or condolence. The traditional newspaper obituary and the obituary page on the funeral home’s website are very helpful in providing the details.
What does the funeral director actually do? Very often the deceased and/or the family may have documented their end of life preferences. If they have, much of the decision making burden has already been taken care of. If not, the funeral director will guide the family through the options available in the decision making processes. Depending on the type of services decided upon by the family, a funeral director can ease the process of caring for your loved one by coordinating any/all of the following:
Why should I have visitation and/or a ceremony? Wouldn’t it be simpler and less emotionally difficult to skip that part? Many people who select direct cremation or burial without family and friends being present to express their grief may not realize that a major purpose of a funeral is for the living to express sadness. It is usually important in the grief process to acknowledge the reality of death. “Funerals make a social statement that says, “Come support me.” Whether they realize it or not, those who choose not to have a funeral are saying, “Don’t come support me.”(Alan D. Wolfelt, Funeral Home Customer Service A-Z).
What is meant by creating an experience? Aren’t all funerals basically the same? Throughout time, different religions, cultures and geographies have created funeral traditions that lend a consistency to funerals of people in those social groups. However it is common today to create a unique ceremony to pay tribute to the individuality of a loved one. People have come to appreciate the comfort and reassurance of having a farewell that carefully honors the deceased. This can be done with a distinctive celebration that features a variety of elements expressing what made the deceased special. It can include music, photos, readings, hobbies (cooking, gardening, quilting, woodworking), sports (golf, cycling), activities, collections, cars, food & beverage presentations, and more. The list is endless.
What is the appropriate thing to say to the family? We all have had experiences where words just can’t express how we feel about the family’s loss. Perhaps you knew the individual, but didn’t now the family well. Sympathy should be expressed by clasping hands, an embrace or a simple statement such as:
“I am sorry for your loss”
“My sympathy to you (or your mother, etc.)”
“It was a pleasure knowing John”
“Jane was a good person and my friend. I will miss her”
It’s also appropriate to express something personal about the deceased or how he/she will be remembered:
“I will always remember our school days”
“John had so many friends”
“Jane always worried about everyone else’s problems”
“John was a pleasure to work with”
Some remarks to be avoided may include:
“You can have other children”
“He is in a better place”
“Only the good die young”
“I know what you are going through”
Should I have the body present? Whether or not to have the body present during the calling hours or services is a personal decision. Many grief specialists have written that having the body present helps in the grief process by allowing family and friends to witness a final farewell. When cremation is chosen for final disposition, it is very common for families to choose to have calling hours (or visitation) with the body present prior to the cremation.
How do I talk to children about death? Children are unique. They provide an integral part of the family support unit and what they experience when they are young can stay with them. Depending on the relationship with the deceased and their age, they may too need to be part of a healing experience. May I recommend this link to Hospice: http://www.hospicenet.org/html/talking.htm
What do I need to know about preparing an Obituary? The family is encouraged to compose the information to be included in the obituary. Your funeral director can place obituaries in the newspapers of your choice, both local and in communities where the person was known. Just let him/her know in which papers you would like the information to appear. There are charges that can be expensive for lengthy messages. Most funeral homes now include a page for obituaries which may or may not have charges or limits. (Hill Funeral Home does not charge for this.) Many people choose to expand the information on the funeral home website. Social media such as a Facebook is also a preferred choice for communicating information for services. Hill Funeral home has a Facebook page, and we welcome you to post information and comments regarding your loved one’s funeral.
Catholics and Cremation?(quoted from United Conference of Catholic Bishops)http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/bereavement-and-funerals/cremation-and-funerals.cfm Catholics do not favor cremation because they believe in resurrection of the body after death. They follow the custom of burying the dead, as Jesus Christ was buried in a tomb. Nevertheless, the attitude of the Church has changed in the recent years. It does not prohibit the process of cremation unless it is chosen as a way to deny the Christian teaching on Resurrection and reverence of the human body.
“The Church earnestly recommends that the pious custom of burial be retained; but it does not forbid cremation, unless this is chosen for reasons which are contrary to Christian teaching.”
– The Code of Canon Law, 1985, #1176.3
However, the Church maintains that the cremated remains should still be treated with the same respect as the corporal remains. In fact, the remains should be treated with respect while handling and transporting them. As of the cremains, it requires interment or entombment of the remains in a columbarium, burial plot in a cemetery, or mausoleum. Options like scattering the ashes from the air, on the ground, floating them on the sea, or keeping the cremation ashes at home are not considered respectful.
Can I provide refreshments? Whether you are looking to host a lunch, a wine and cheese reception, or just provide snacks for the family during calling hours, our recent remodeling at Hill Funeral Home was done with a commitment of providing the facilities that many families are looking for in contemporary celebrations of life. Our large chapel has been remodeled in contemporary earth tones with a fireplace and to an area for staging the catering of your choice. We also have a family area that is convenient for a funeral lunch, or for snacks for family and friends. We are happy to assist with those arrangements. Please feel free to call us for additional details.