Frequently Asked Questions
What purpose does a funeral serve?
It is the customary way to recognize death and its finality. Funerals are recognized rituals for the living to show respect for the dead and to help survivors begin the grief process.
What do funeral directors do?
Funeral directors are caregivers and administrators. They make the arrangements for transportation of the body, complete all necessary paperwork, and implement the choices made by the family regarding the funeral and final disposition of the body. Funeral directors are listeners, advisors and supporters. They have experience assisting the bereaved in coping with death. Funeral directors are trained to answer questions about grief, recognize when a person is having difficulty coping, and recommend sources of professional help. Funeral directors also link survivors with support groups at the funeral home or in the community.
Why have a public viewing?
Viewing is part of many cultural and ethnic traditions. Many grief specialists believe that viewing aids the grief process by helping the bereaved recognize the reality of death. Viewing is encouraged for children, as long as the process is explained and the activity voluntary.
A relative or friend has died, what should I do?
There are many things you can do. Offer sympathies and be supportive. Make arrangements to attend planned services. Send a card, flowers, or a memorial donation.
How do I prepare a child for a funeral?
It is very suitable for children to be involved in a funeral. The more they understand about the visitation and the funeral service before arriving, the more comfortable they are likely to be. "A funeral home is a place where people gather when someone dies. People share memories and offer support to the family and one another. At the funeral home, you may see the body in a casket, the casket may be closed, or an urn may be present. Flowers from family and friends and photos may be set up throughout the room. Some people may be crying; it is okay to show grief. It is also okay to touch the body gently; it will feel cold to the touch."
What is the purpose of embalming?
Embalming sanitizes and preserves the body, retards the decomposition process, and enhances the appearance of a body disfigured by traumatic death or illness. Embalming makes it possible to lengthen the time between death and the final disposition, thus allowing family members time to arrange and participate in the type of service most comforting to them.
Does a dead body have to be embalmed, according to law?
No. Most states, however, require embalming when death was caused by a reportable contagious disease or when remains are to be transported from one state to another by common carrier or if final disposition is not to be made within a prescribed number of hours.
Is cremation a substitute for a funeral?
No, cremation is an alternative to earth burial or entombment for the body's final disposition and often follows a traditional funeral service.
Cost of a funeral
Why are funerals so expensive?
When compared to other major life cycle events, like births and weddings, funerals are not expensive. Like a wedding, a funeral service involves facilities, merchandise, and people to assist and coordinate so that everything runs smoothly. Unlike a wedding, a funeral is typically planned within only a day or two. A funeral home is a 24-hour, labor-intensive business, with extensive facilities (viewing rooms, chapels, hearses, etc.), these expenses must be factored into the cost of a funeral. Moreover, the cost of a funeral includes not only selected merchandise, like caskets, but the services of a funeral director in making arrangements; filing appropriate forms; dealing with doctors, ministers, florists, newspapers and others; and seeing to all the necessary details. Contrary to popular belief, funeral homes are largely family-owned with a modest profit margin. The statistics below may be helpful in assessing the true economic picture of a funeral home:
Don't funeral directors mark caskets up tremendously?
- Family-owned 85%
- Firm in business for 63 years
- Average calls/year 167
- BEFORE tax profit 11.3%
- (Source: 1995 NFDA Survey of Funeral Home Operations)
No. Talking about the mark up on caskets is really not the point. Most items--clothing, furniture, jewelry--are marked up as much or more than caskets. The real question is whether the funeral director is making an excessive profit, and that answer is "No." Profits run around 11.3% before taxes -- not excessive by any standard.
Who pays for funerals for the indigent?
Other than the family, there are veteran, union, and other organizational benefits to pay for funerals, including, in certain instances, a lump sum death payment from Social Security. In most states, some form of public aid allowances are available from either the state, county, or city or a combination. Most funeral directors are aware of the various benefits and know how to obtain them for the indigent. However, funeral directors often absorb costs above and beyond what is provided by agencies to insure the deceased a respectable burial.
What to do when a death occurs
What should I do when a death occurs in my family?
Contact us as soon as a death has occurred. A time will be set up with the funeral director to come in and make arrangements. The funeral home will help coordinate arrangements with the cemetery, church and clergy.
What should I do if the death occurs in the middle of the night or on the weekend?
Most funeral directors, including Mays Funeral Home, are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Will someone come right away?
If you request immediate assistance, yes. If the family wishes to spend a short time with the deceased to say good bye, it's acceptable. They will come when your time is right.
If a loved one dies out of state, can the local funeral home still help?
Yes, they can assist you with out-of-state arrangements, either to transfer the remains to another state or from another state.
So, I've decided on cremation. Can I still have a funeral or a viewing?
Yes, quite often some sort of viewing precedes the actual cremation. Your funeral home can assist you with the necessary information for a funeral with a cremation following or a memorial service.
What should I do if a death occurs while I am away traveling?
Contact us immediately, and let us coordinate with a funeral home in the area where the death has occurred. We will take charge from then on and make all the arrangements for transporting the deceased to a local funeral home for embalming and preparation for return to home. You only need contact us with some basic information and call us when you return home to set a time
Mays Funeral Home
26 Church Street