Get answers from our professionals to frequently asked questions about funerals, cremation, customs, laws and more.
I think viewing the body is ridiculous. I don't want anyone gawking at me after I'm dead. After all, what good is a funeral anyway?
Most families choose to have a viewing because it helps them to come to the reality that their loved one is truly gone. If you do not have an opportunity to view, you can fool yourself into thinking the person has not died. Of course, this is an option for each family because you can certainly have visitation and a funeral without a viewing. Remember though, people are gawking because they were friends of the person who has died - not curiosity seekers.
Why not eliminate all the fuss, bother, and expense of flowers and funerals and donate the money to charity?
There certainly are many worthy charities. Experience shows that most people see value in both. For example, if the person died from cancer, a donation to the Cancer Society in memory of the individual is especially meaningful. At the same time, it is nice to send flowers to the family left. There is nothing like the beauty of flowers to soften the sadness and truly express the caring felt by friends for the bereaved. The best way to understand the value of flowers is to attend a funeral where there are none. Then attend one where different floral arrangements have been sent and listen to the families when they see the flowers and read the attached notes.
Ceremony marks every transition in life; weddings, baptisms, graduation, and funerals. We need the service to recognize the importance of the life that has been lived. Through music, poetry, and often scriptures, friends and family can face the reality of the death and begin to cope with grief. The family draws comfort from the gathering of all those people whose lives have been touched by the person who has died.
What purpose do these fancy caskets serve?
Choosing a casket is a very personal decision. To many people, it is important to select a casket made of very durable steel or semi-precious metal. They feel peace of mind knowing the selection they made protects against the outside elements. Often, families will want to select a casket that seems fitting for their loved one. For example, interiors with quilted patterns, hardwoods with tree designs, religious symbols such as the Last Supper or praying hands and sometimes floral designs, which may represent their family member's favorite color or flower. We believe finding exactly what is right for you is so important, we offer many choices in caskets and vaults.
Should I join a Memorial Society?
A Memorial Society charges a membership fee for which you receive paperwork for organizing your pre-arrangement and a recommendation on a funeral firm who would provide services at an agreed upon price. There is no need to join a Society because we offer the same pre-arrangement information and alternatives to the traditional funeral and will commit to the cost. We can provide the same service without charging a membership fee.
If my family decides they don't want the so called "traditional funeral" for me, what other options do they have?
Many people falsely believe that everyone has to have a "traditional" funeral. However, we believe that every service should be personalized in order to honor the person who has died and be meaningful to the survivors. We offer alternatives such as humanistic services instead of religious services, visitations with or without viewing, and unique ceremonies to honor the person who has died. For example, one of the most meaningful services when a teenager dies is to hold the service in the high school gymnasium with the school band playing and the principal or teacher making remarks. We try to be creative in helping the family make funeral arrangements so the decisions truly reflect their personal preferences and the life that has been lived.
Are you afraid of dying?
No matter how much you are involved in helping people cope with death -- you never lose your sensitivity. Being a part of helping other people cope with loss actually reminds you daily how precious life is.
Do you ever have a difficult time performing your job or have you become hardened to it?
It is always hard experiencing the pain and sorrow families feel when someone they love dies. What helps you get through it is hearing people later say "Thank you for helping me get through it." "Thank you for taking care of all the details." You never get used to death. Confronting death gives you a greater appreciation for life... and helps you enjoy your family even more.
Why do you believe we need death education?
Death education is important because there are so many myths regarding death. If we understand it better, we are then better prepared to cope with grief. Some of the important topics include: "How to explain death to children", "Suicide Prevention", "What are the stages of grief", "How to help friends who have lost a loved one", and "Various religious customs for funerals". We work with the teacher or group leader in creating a curriculum which is helpful and informative. We find adults appreciate the information as well, since our society tries to deny death, and therefore are poorly informed.
At what age should you tell your children about death?
It depends on the child and the circumstance. If a child has just experienced the loss of a grandparent or other family member, it may be necessary to discuss death earlier than usual. Some children mature faster than others and will often ask questions about life and death themselves. Most parents find that even in the preschool years, children want answers about why their pet died or what happens when you die. The important issue is not "when" you tell your children about death, but rather "how" you tell them. It is important to be honest and not resort to false stories such as "God picks the prettiest flowers" or "Grandma is asleep". We have a practical brochure for explaining death to children which will advise you step by step on the right words and attitude.
My mother was cremated and now I'm considering it. What do you think of cremation?
Cremation is a very personal decision. Everyone should find out what is involved in cremation and be sure to discuss the choice with other family members to be sure they are comfortable with the decision to cremate. Also, if you are considering cremation, we recommend you find out your clergy person's position. For example, some churches permit cremation, but do not condone it. Whether you choose to be buried in the ground, entombed in a mausoleum or scattered at sea, the most important decision is to have a memorial service. Some people think if they are cremated they cannot have a funeral. A funeral is such a help in recognizing the importance of the life that has been lived. The funeral begins the grieving and healing process for friends and family.
Do you have to have a vault to be buried?
Our state laws do not require a vault for burial. However, most cemeteries do require an outside container for the casket. The purpose is two-fold: First, the outside receptacle keeps the earth from settling, thus preventing the unevenness of the land which makes the cemetery less attractive. Second, it allows cemetery caretakers to more easily maintain the landscape which is an advantage to you in a more beautiful cemetery at a lower cost. A vault provides more durability than a grave liner. The vault is usually selected by the family because of their desire for further protection of their loved one in addition to the casket. There are many types of vaults and we would be happy to show you the differences.
How much does a funeral usually cost?
It is difficult to give an average cost because funeral services vary so much. The total cost depends on three main areas: the services selected, the casket and vault chosen and the automotive equipment utilized. While national average for funeral costs would be from $4,000 to $6,000, in actuality it depends on what you select. We encourage people to ask questions and find out about the costs so they can make informed choices. Our firm is affordable because we offer so many different options, all with dignified service.
Why do people select cremation?
The reasons for selecting cremation are varied and personal. Some choose cremation for economic reasons or because of their religious beliefs. Others choose cremation for the option of dividing the cremated remains, scattering them in a meaningful location, keeping them at home or placement in a cemetery or memorial park.
What is cremation?
First, it is very important to know that all cremations are not the same. Nowadays, almost all funeral homes offer cremation services. What most people do not know is that many of these funeral homes or other providers of cremation services utilize third parties to perform their cremations. In many instances, these cremations are performed off-site and sometimes out of the county in which the funeral home resides. We, however, operate our own crematory. By operating our own crematory, we ensure that your loved one never leaves our care.
Second, not all crematory operators have the same levels of education and discipline. In Florida, you do not need to be a licensed funeral director to operate a crematory. Many operators employ low-cost labor to perform their cremations. All of our cremations are performed by licensed funeral directors who have been certified to perform cremations. It is our belief that every individual should be handled in a dignified manner.
Cremation defined is the technical process, using direct flame and heat, that reduces human remains to bone fragments. The reduction takes place through heat and evaporation. Cremation includes the processing and usually includes the pulverization of the bone fragments.
Do all religions permit cremation?
Most religions do allow cremation while some either disallow it or advise against it. If you are unsure as to your religion's position, it is advised that you consult with your clergy.
Can we inspect the crematory?
By having our own on-site crematory, you are afforded the opportunity to personally inspect our cremation facility.
Where will the cremation take place?
For your peace of mind, we perform the cremation process in our own private on-site crematory. Unlike many crematories which are located in "industrial" settings, our crematory is located inside of our funeral home. Your loved one will never leave our care.
For your benefit we control and supervise all aspects of the cremation process.
Who performs the cremation?
Licensed funeral directors perform all of our cremations. Prior to any of our cremations, two licensed funeral directors review all aspects of a family's wishes. While this is not necessarily standard with other cremation service providers, we believe it results in the most dignified and accountable service possible.
Can we have a viewing?
Yes, you may have a viewing of your loved one prior to the cremation process. It is important to know that there are different types of viewings available.
First, we provide and include an identification viewing for all immediate next of kin. The primary purpose of this viewing is to positively identify the deceased. Nationally, some medical facilities have made mistakes in identifying the deceased. For your peace of mind, we encourage all families to positively identify their loved one prior to the cremation process.
The second type of viewing offered is a "public viewing".
Can we have a funeral?
One of the biggest misconceptions about cremation is that there can't be a funeral or similar service prior to cremation.
In reality, there is no such thing as a "standard cremation". All options available to traditional funerals are available for those seeking cremation.
Is embalming required?
No, embalming is not required. Embalming most often does improve the appearance of the deceased and can serve to restore certain personal features. Embalming is not required for identification viewings or private family viewings. Embalming is required for public viewings.
Can we witness aspects of the cremation?
Yes, you are able to witness aspects of the cremation. While discouraged or disallowed by many other cremation service providers, we allow families to witness aspects of the process.
By having our own on-site crematory, we can provide you with the peace of mind available in witnessing the placement of the cremation casket or alternate container into the crematory.
Why choose a firm that owns and operates their own crematory?
Generally, firms that own and operate their own crematories have a deeper commitment to families choosing cremation. Cremation facilities are expensive and are regulated by many governmental agencies. The operation of a crematory requires extensive training and supervision. For these reasons, firms that have their own crematory tend to have a more thorough knowledge of all cremation processes, service options to families and an understanding of what families are looking for. More specific reasons for choosing a firm that owns and operates their own crematory include:
- Convenience of location
- Experience of staff
- Integrity of the cremation process
- Dignity in the treatment of your loved one
- Accountability of staff to you
- Availability of facilities for inspection
- Peace of mind in knowing where your loved one is
- The cremation process can quite often be performed in a more timely manner
Don't all funeral homes have their own crematories?
No. Very few funeral homes or other providers of cremation services have their own crematories. Because of the financial investment, government regulation, need for skilled staff and extensive training, most funeral homes and other providers of cremation services choose to be middlemen by contracting with "third-party" crematories.
"Third-party" crematories often deal with a wide variety of funeral homes and providers of cremation services. Many of these crematories are located in cemeteries or industrial type warehouses.
How are we assured that we received the correct cremated remains?
Since we operate our own on-site crematory without the use of a "third party," we are able to offer and achieve high levels of accountability during the cremation process. All cremations are reviewed by at least two licensed funeral directors. All family wishes are confirmed and verified prior to the cremation process. Put simply, we control the entire process.
We believe that all individuals should be treated as if they were members of our own families. For most, these are important considerations when choosing a cremation provider.
What is required prior to cremation?
Cremation is an irreversible act. For that reason, we treat every cremation with the highest level of care.
In the state of Florida, cremation may not take place within the first 48 hours following the death. In addition, a signed death certificate by an attending physician and Medical Examiner permission must be granted prior to the cremation.
All cremations must be accompanied by a signed "cremation authorization". This authorization must be signed by the appropriate legal next of kin.
For the safety of the crematory operators and the cremation equipment, it is also important that certain medical devices such as pacemakers and radioactive implants be removed as they can explode when subjected to high temperatures.
As directed by you, we will either include or remove any personal items prior to the cremation process. Common examples include, jewelry, special clothing, letters, cards and other keepsakes.
What is a standard cremation?
Just as there is no standard funeral, there is no standard cremation. Having said that, all of our cremation services include, at a minimum, the "Basic Cremation Package". Cremation services can be as unique as the individual they have been selected for. Most families want selections that are personal, unique and meaningful to them.
Many families we serve are completely unaware of their options. Many do not realize they can have a funeral, memorial service, celebration of life or gathering of some kind.
What do families do with cremated remains?
Like the funeral or memorial tribute, most families seek something personal and unique for the placement of the cremated remains. Some of the more popular options include:
- Placement in an existing family burial plot or columbarium
- Creation of a new family burial plot or columbarium
- Placement in a granite cremation bench
- Placement in a granite cremation boulder or memorial boulder
- Placement in an urn for display in the home
- Placement in an artificial reef located in the Gulf of Mexico or ocean
- Division of remains for multiple urns or keepsakes
- Scattering of remains in a meaningful location
Is it legal to scatter cremated remains?
Yes, it is legal to scatter cremated remains in the ocean or other legally permitted areas. All scatterings in the ocean must occur at least three miles from the shoreline. Additionally, you will want to obtain permission to scatter remains on private property. Scattering is irreversible. It is important that you consider this when making the decision to scatter. As circumstances change, families often regret scattering in locations that become difficult, if not impossible to visit. For these reasons, many families choose to establish a permanent memorial for a portion of the cremated remains and scatter the rest.