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Funeral Homes - What They Can Do For You

By S Matthews

When somebody dies, it's a shock. And once the shock wears off, there's the question of what to do next. Few of us are fully prepared to make funeral arrangements, unless we've had the dubious honor of doing it all before, and most of us don't even know the location of our local funeral home.

A funeral is intended to celebrate a person's life. Planning the right type of funeral, one that can give comfort to friends and family while remembering the deceased, is a feat in itself.

Once you do find its location (just look in the phone book), it's not really that difficult to plan the funeral - with their advice and help. Of course, there are cheaper ways of planning a funeral, but leaving the arrangements in the hands of the professionals is by far the easiest way to go - both figuratively and literally. They will take into account the wishes of both the deceased and surviving family members, and plan a funeral that meets both expectations.

Remember, you are by no means obligated to use all the services that a funeral home offers. For example, they may provide only top-of-the-line caskets (read: expensive) and you may prefer a cheaper one, one that is "green" and made of cardboard, bamboo or jute, or just a simple cremation urn. They may urge you to hold a five-course meal at a fancy restaurant following the wake, or gently suggest that you hire a fleet of limousines to carry the grieving party. Don't be pressured into purchasing items or services that you do not want or need - just say no!

What is a Funeral Home?

Also known as a funeral parlor or mortuary, a funeral home is a business that does everything to care for the deceased. From memorial services to burials, they do everything possible to help the local community when loved ones have passed on.

Here are a few of the services funeral homes or mortuaries offer:

* Funeral pre-planning. Some people choose to pay in advance and have their funeral ready well in advance of their death. This makes it easier on surviving friends and family, and also makes sure your own funeral lives up to your last wishes.

* Document preparation. Many documents, including Social Security forms and death certificates, will have to be prepared after death. The Funeral Director will have a list of what needs to be done and take care of most of it for you.

* Funeral services. A funeral ceremony or memorial service does not have to be held a a funeral home or place of worship, it can be at a home, cemetery, park or garden. The funeral home can help you decide where you want it to be and advise you on the arrangements that need to be made.

* Merchandise. Many funeral homes these days offer a wide variety of merchandise, including caskets, burial vaults, urns, monuments and keepsakes - ranging from necklaces with a thumb print of the deceased indelibly put on to teddy bears with tiny urns inside.

* Cremation services. While cremations take place in crematoriums, the funeral home can help you make all necessary arrangements.

* Preparation of the body. If you want your loved one to be embalmed the funeral home can do this for you, as well as choose a suitable goodbye outfit for the deceased etc. A trained mortician will explain what has to be done beforehand, if desired, and you will have some say in the proceedings.

* Transport. A funeral director will make arrangements for the transport of the deceased. If you wish the body to cross state lines, there are often additional considerations to take into account.

* Contact of clergy. You can ask for this to be done for you, which may be helpful.

* Arrange a reception in a restaurant. Ditto, as above. But be aware that some homes will recommend only those eateries from which they will receive a hefty commission.

* Obituary writing. Most funeral homes will help you gather information you need to write an obituary. This will include vital statistics such as age, place of birth, occupation and names of survivors, but will also include more interesting tidbits such as hobbies, interests, educational and other achievements and club affiliations. You can either write the article yourself or have the funeral director or undertaker do it for you, then submit it to publications requested by you.

* Florist. Many people choose to use one designated florist for the funeral. The funeral home will have a list on hand and can make contact for you if needed, although you are welcome to use anyone you wish.

* Grief support. Grieving doesn't end when the lid snaps shut on the coffin. Many people find they still need help and support for months - even years - after a loved one dies. Good funeral homes will provide a list of what grief support services are available, and explain what it all means.

Having a funeral is difficult both emotionally and financially, and for many people finding a helpful, supportive and affordable funeral home is the solution to many problems. A funeral director can guide you through all the decisions you have to make, and give advice on planning a memorable funeral that is tailor-made to meet your specific needs.

A funeral is intended to celebrate a person's life. Planning the right type of funeral, one that can give comfort to friends and family while remembering the deceased, is a feat in itself. The right funeral home can provide all the help you need to make this a day to remember - and one that hopefully will not break the bank.

Sarah Matthews is a writer for Yodle, a business directory and online advertising company. Find a Healer at Yodle Local or more Health & Medicine articles at Yodle Consumer Guide.


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