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When death occurs away from home, it is important to know what to do. These circumstances present no difficulties to the funeral director as plans can be made from anywhere in the world. Call your local funeral director for help if confronted with this situation. At that point, they will assume responsibility for the return of the deceased to their community. They will engage the services of a funeral director in the place of death to act as their agent.

When a death occurs within 24 hours of admission to a hospital, in a nursing home, in an institution, or is due to other than natural causes, a medical examiner may investigate. The authorization of a medical examiner is required prior to cremation.

Death Certificates are issued in the city or town within the state where the death occurred. The funeral director will file the death certificate and obtain certified copies for the family, which are used for purposes such as obtaining insurance benefits, bank or credit union releases, pension claims and other legal matters. (They are not issued by the funeral home).

More times than not, there is no more difficult time than that encountered immediately after death. Death touches and affects relatives, friends, and associates in a direct way. Consider the feelings of others who shared in or benefited by the life of the deceased when planning a funeral service. A funeral gives the community an opportunity to acknowledge and respond to the changes that death has brought about. The funeral is an opportunity to pay tribute to a life lived.

The importance of a clergy members to the family at the time of death is something that is recognized by funeral directors. Religious advisors give warmth, understanding, and support to those who mourn. Their experience and training can help the family reaffirm its values and think again on the meaning of life. Clergy members can make a service thoughtful and inspiring by working with the family and the funeral director. They can make sure that the emotional and social needs of the survivors are met.

Family, friends and the community can express their personal feelings and respect for the deceased during the period of sharing time that is often referred to as 'the visitation', 'calling hours' or 'the wake'. This sharing is important to the bereaved family. It can also be important to others who may share a special bond to the person who has died.

Children have awareness and a response to death at a very early age. An option of attending the visitation and funeral service should be presented to children. They need to participate with their family in sharing the sorrow and expressing love and devotion in their own special way. By shutting them out of the experience, they are denied the meaningful experience, which can affect their future emotional development. If a child is unwilling to participate, they should not be forced to attend a funeral. However, they will appreciate being given the choice.


Local government, church groups or private enterprises operate cemeteries. Some cemeteries permit traditional upright monuments, other permit only ground level markers. Others contain a mausoleum, in which entombment is above ground.

Some cemeteries require the casket to be placed in an outer burial container. This container, which prevents excessive earth settlement, is usually made of concrete, steel or fibreglass and will vary in price and quality.


Cremation does not mean elimination of the funeral and the value that the funeral provides. Visitation and a service in the funeral home can still take place. The body is cremated in the casket that is purchased. Some funeral homes provide a rental casket for the visitation and funeral service. However, an alternative casket or container must be used for the cremation.

Normally, the cremated remains are available for disposition shortly after the service and in some cases can be present for the service. Urns and other types of containers to hold the cremated remains are available from the funeral home. Many cemeteries have various options for the disposition of the cremated remains.

Funeral Costs

Preferences and tastes vary, as do financial circumstances. The cost of a funeral will depend on the extent of services provided by the funeral director and upon the options selected. Funeral services are available in many different forms and therefore the costs will vary according to the family's wishes.

Body/Organ Donations

An individual may not give both organs and the body for transplant and research purposes. Body donations go to a medical school of anatomy where they are used by medical students for anatomical study and dissection. There may be a cost to the deceased person's estate when donating a body to a medical school.

Those considering organ or body donation should advise family members. At time of death, unexpected requests may cause confusion and strife among distraught family members.

Funeral Etiquette

The funeral is a ceremony of proven worth and value for those who mourn. The type of service conducted for the deceased is specified by the family. Funeral directors are trained to help families arrange the type of service they desire. A brief overview of all that is involved with funeral services is as follows:

Private Service - this is a service by invitation only and may be held at place of worship or funeral home.

Memorial Service - a memorial service is a service without the body present. It can vary in ceremony and procedures according to the family's community and religious affiliations.

Pallbearers - pallbearers are men or women who carry the casket before and/or after the funeral service. Friends, relatives or business associates may be asked to serve as pallbearers.

Honorary Pallbearers - if the deceased were active in political, business, religious or civic circles, it may be appropriate for the family to ask close associates of the deceased to serve as honorary pallbearers. Honorary pallbearers don not actively carry the casket, they may follow immediately behind the casket before and / or after the funeral service.

Eulogy - the eulogy is a brief speech that offers praise and celebrates the life of the person who has died. A eulogy may be delivered by a member of the family, clergy, a close friend or a business associate of the deceased.

Funeral Procession / Cortege - this is lead by the funeral director form the funeral home, to church or place of worship then lead to the cemetery.

Expressions of Sympathy

Flowers - The presence of flowers can bring a sense of comfort. Flowers add beauty during the period of the funeral. When placed in the funeral home or place of worship, they add warmth to the visitation and to the service. The value of flowers can remain for days or weeks. They can be further enjoyed in someone's home, at place of worship or in an institution to which they were taken from after the service. The family can then share in the beauty of the flowers, which were part of the funeral service.

Memorial Donations - Memorial donations to a specific cause or charity can be just as appreciated as flowers. There are a large number of charities available and your Funeral Director can give an explanation of each. If made to a charitable institution, some donations may be tax deductible.

Mass Cards - The offering of prayers is a valued expression of sympathy to a Catholic family. A card indicating that a Mass was arranged for the deceased person can be obtained from any Catholic parish. It is possible to obtain Mass cards at the funeral home. A Mass offering card or envelope is provided to the family as an indication of understanding, faith and compassion.

Proper Acknowledgments - Floral gifts, memorial donations, and spiritual offerings should be acknowledged.

Pallbearers - an informal personal note or suitable thank you cards is best.

Letters - an informal reply is desirable.

Sympathy Cards - do not require acknowledgment

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