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The Funeral Process
When death has taken away a loved one, it seems that a part of us has also died. The pain can be unbearable, and may make us feel helpless. We may just want to give up and stop doing whatever it is we have to do, but we’ve got to keep going. After all, going through the funeral arrangements is undeniably difficult because of the heartbreaking memories it will bring back. However, death is a natural part of life. It is something inevitable, and it is necessary for us to accept it in time.
The death of a loved one comes with the funeral arrangements that have to be done. This involves a lot of organizing and coordinating on the type of funeral services to be used, funeral costs, and other essential factors. Most of us may not be able to handle it properly because of the stress we are going through, both emotional and financial. This is why funeral planning is important. It reduces the problems the bereaved have to face such as funeral expenses and emotional strain.
Funeral definition and etymology
A funeral is a type of ceremony in relation to the burial or cremation of a dead person. These funeral practices vary depending on the culture and religion of the deceased.
The word funeral was derived from the French funerailles, which came from the Latin word fūnerālia. It means “funeral rites”, and was also linked to the words “death” and “corpse”. The word was first known to be used in the 14th century.
What is a funeral process like?
The first thing to do would be to report the death so that funeral arrangements can be done. If the deceased was in the hospital, it would be much easier because they will guide you on how to proceed with the death certification process. If the deceased was at home (or workplace), calling 911 would be the best option.
Most people would be interested to know how funeral homes work. It often starts with the family looking for a funeral home and contacting a funeral director. They will go to the place where the deceased is located, whether it be the home of the deceased or a hospital, and check the necessary paperwork (such as the death certificate) to ensure the correct identity of the deceased. This can help the process go smoothly as possible.
Once the body is brought to the funeral home, the family will coordinate with the funeral director on whether the body will go through a cremation service or a burial, the cremation or burial products chosen (e.g. casket, burial clothing, etc.), and the mode of transportation. If a funeral plan was availed of before the death of the deceased, make sure to check all the expenses to avoid being double-charged.
How long after death can the funeral service take place?
The length of time between the death and funeral service varies. Most families would already have it in two days. In other cases, it also takes less than a week to have the funeral services, depending on how long they can contact and inform other family members and friends. The funeral service itself is usually reserved on a per-hour basis, although some even last more than two hours, depending on the schedule. As to the day of funeral services, some funeral homes are open on Sundays and holidays, but these tend to be more expensive since the payment to the employees are also taken into consideration.
What is a good funeral home?
There are certain characteristics family members can check when looking for a funeral home that will fit their needs.
– The location of the funeral home is important to ensure convenience on the part of the family members. You can choose a funeral home near your home or a place of worship.
– This is an important factor especially for budget-conscious families.
Religious and/or cultural affiliations
– The religious and/or cultural affiliations will also play a role in determining the most suitable funeral home for your family.
– Preferring a funeral home with its own crematory or cemetery can also be another deciding factor.
– You can check the caskets and burial vaults they offer if you will have a burial service, or their selection of cremation urns and cremation vaults if you plan to have a cremation service. Some funeral homes provide funeral flowers, make tribute videos, and offer grief support services.
– A funeral home that has a chapel, reception facilities, and a parking lot can be a plus.
Feeling of ease
– An accommodating and patient funeral director will be highly appreciated.
One of the popular funeral homes in California is Preferred Cremation and Burial because not only does it offer the usual services, but also helps family members cope with the pain through counseling services. The Callaghan Mortuary and Livermore Crematory is another good funeral home because it aims to personalize the funeral services to the benefit of the grieving party.
Is embalming necessary?
This would depend on the type of funeral service you would have for your deceased loved one. If the family has decided that they will proceed with cremating the remains without any public viewing (also called direct cremation), then embalming will not be required by the funeral home. The corpse will be stored in refrigeration area until the cremation process can take place.
On the other hand, the funeral home will require you to have the embalming if you are going to have an open casket for public viewing.
The embalming process is done by removing organs and replacing blood with chemicals, formaldehyde being the most common. Its three main purposes are the sanitization, presentation, and preservation of the body. Here are the steps taken for the embalming process:
Clean the body with the use of a disinfectant solution.
The limbs are also massaged by the embalmer to prevent rigor mortis or the stiffening of muscles and joints.
Set the facial features.
The eyes are closed through the use of skin glue and artificial eye caps. The mouth and lower jaw are secured with the help of sewing or wires.
Remove the blood from the body.
This is also known as arterial embalming. The blood is replaced with embalming fluids such as formaldehyde and glutaraldehyde, although other chemicals can also be mixed with the solution. Dyes are also included to give the corpse a more life-like color.
Make an inclusion near the navel.
A trocar (sharp medical instrument) is placed in the body cavity. This will result to the drainage of the body organs, and will be replaced with an embalming solution. The incision is closed afterwards.This process is called cavity embalming.
Inject an embalming fluid to the tissue.
This is called hypodermic embalming, and is only done when arterial embalming is not successful in some areas. This is done with the use of a hypodermic needle and syringe.
Use embalming chemicals on the body.
This is placed on damaged body parts especially when the deceased suffered from an accident or decomposition. This is also known as surface embalming.
Cremation vs burial
Bereaved family members can choose between a cremation service and a burial service. The burial process is the act of burying the body and involves digging a pit, placing the dead body (along with objects, if any), and covering it over. Family members can choose the casket to be used, the burial clothes, objects that may be included when burying the body, and the prayers or hymns that will be recited. These practices vary depending on the religious and/or cultural beliefs of the family and the deceased.
The cremation process, on the contrary, is a cheaper option. It is the method of burning the body at a temperature of approximately 1,400 to 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit through large furnaces (also known as cremators) of a crematory. The corpse is placed in a casket, then situated inside the chamber where the burning takes place. Cremation of the body normally takes one to three hours, depending on the weight, size, and percentage of body fat, performance of the furnace, the set temperature, and the type of casket material.
What is the next step of the funeral process?
In the United States, the funeral process comprises of three parts. These are:
- burial service/memorial service
The open casket for viewing normally takes place one or two days before the funeral. The body will either be dressed in the deceased’s everyday clothes or something more formal. Family members may place personal belongings in the body such as watches and brooches. These things may or may not be included when burying the body, based on the decision of the deceased’s family. Meanwhile, these things will be removed if the body will be cremated.
A guestbook is also provided to record the names of the people who attended the gathering. Pictures of the deceased (can be a portrait or more candid photos) are usually displayed during the viewing. Favorite songs and video clips of the deceased may also be aired during the visitation.
What happens during the funeral service?
The funeral, also known as a memorial service, is presided by a minister of the deceased’s or the bereaved family’s religion. It may be held in a funeral home, cemetery chapel, crematory chapel, or a church. Special prayers will be recited during the funeral, along with hymns and eulogies from family members and friends of the deceased. Funeral flowers and other decorations are also placed near the casket. If the deceased and/or the family do not practice any religion, this event can be spent by narrating their most memorable experiences with the deceased and reciting favorite poems.
After the funeral service, the casket is transported through a hearse. In most cases, a funeral procession will take place from the funeral home to the location where the body will be laid to rest. Funeral procession cars can also be availed of to transport family members, friends, and other visitors.
Funeral procession laws and guidelines
When getting in a funeral procession car, keep in mind that the car will be moving at a slow pace. If you are driving the car, stay close to the other funeral procession cars to avoid other vehicles from cutting in. A funeral attendant will assist you when you reach the venue.
People must comply with funeral procession laws to avoid penalties.
Nevada is the only state that allows the funeral procession cars to move through a red light. Meanwhile, the states of Arizona, Idaho, Kentucky, Montana, and North Dakota give funeral processions the right-of-way at intersections regardless of the traffic control signals. In Iowa, the funeral procession cars are required to have lit emergency lights, headlights, and flags. They also cannot be charged with the violation of traffic rules, except when the driver is maneuvering the funeral procession car recklessly.
It would be best to give way when you come across a funeral procession as a sign of respect. You can look for the last funeral procession car as it usually has two flags and a hazard light. You can resume once the last funeral procession car has passed.
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