Funeral Guidance 101 – What Happens After a Death

Rembs Funeral Home Shares Insight on Funeral Process

Marshfield, WI (OnFocus) During the first few days after a death, grieving family members or friends have many demands placed on them in preparation for a funeral.

Rembs Funeral Home in Marshfield acts as a guide during this difficult time, assisting with funeral decisions and preparations. Greg Jackan, funeral director and owner at Rembs, helped explain some common questions for those not familiar with post-death arrangements.

“What kind of funeral should it be? Should the person be buried or cremated? What do you need to buy from the funeral home? Where do you arrange for a grave marker? People looking back on the period right after a death often wonder how they managed to cope with the all the decision-making required for a funeral,” said Jackan. “Some families discuss the dying person’s wishes for a funeral well in advance, but in many families, decisions are made after the death has occurred.”

Jackan added that funerals are influenced by cultural and religious traditions, family preferences, and costs.

“Very often traditional funerals are held one to four days after death. If they are held more than four days after death, the reason is usually to accommodate people who are travelling long distances and need more time to arrive,” he explained. “The traditional funeral offered by funeral homes usually includes a viewing of the body in advance of the funeral service, the funeral service, burial, entombment or cremation.”

Funeral services are often held in a funeral home or a religious building, but they can be held anywhere the family chooses. After the funeral service, the remains of the deceased are usually transported by hearse to a cemetery or mausoleum. In the case of cremation the ashes may be buried in a cemetery but some families may choose not to bury the ashes. They may keep them in an urn, or scatter or bury them on private property.

“The traditional funeral is not the only option,” said Jackan. “Some families choose to bury or cremate the body soon after death, without holding a viewing or funeral service. These families may choose to hold a memorial service later. Memorial services can be held anywhere, in a hall or home, or by a gravesite if the family wishes.”

The funeral home is very often the family’s main resource in planning a funeral, and the funeral director is usually sensitive to the many kinds of mourning rituals, taking into account different religious or cultural beliefs.

In addition to caring for the deceased person’s remains, presenting options for the funeral, and offering guidance to the family, the funeral director acts as an overall coordinator, often linking with religious institutions or businesses involved with the funeral.

“The funeral director assists the family with filling out forms, getting necessary permits, requesting death certificates, notifying Social Security, life insurance companies and the Veterans Administration,” said Jackan. “Also, coordinating arrangements with religious institutions, cemeteries, or crematoriums, obtaining musicians, ordering flowers, arranging for a luncheon, and taking care of the remains of the deceased after death.”

A funeral director may also remind about the many details that need to be taken care of, such as bringing clothing for the deceased to the funeral home, providing a photo to the funeral director for restorative purposes as well as for a newspaper obituary, deciding on pallbearers, choosing someone to deliver a eulogy, choosing a charity, and selecting a company to provide a monument or memorial.

“Making arrangements for your own funeral can be as simple as writing down your preferences for what kind of funeral you would like and where you want it to be held,” said Jackan. “These instructions can be left with family members, but if you have chosen a funeral home, the funeral director can file the instructions for safekeeping.”