Frequently Asked Questions
What purpose does a funeral serve?
The funeral service serves a number of important purposes. The service:
- Helps confirm the reality and finality of death
- Provides a climate for mourning and the expression of grief
- Allows the sorrows of one to become the sorrows of many
- Is one of the few times love is given and not expected in return
- Is a vehicle for the community to pay its respects while encouraging the affirmation of religious faith
- Celebrates a life that has been lived
- Serves as a sociological statement that a death has occurred
In other words, a funeral helps to meet basic needs by providing a means for bereaves to be with people and greet friends and relatives. It is the time when the community, family and friends gather to express sympathy and support. For all people, it is a moment of honest expression of feelings.
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 grieving process.
What do funeral directors do?
Funeral directors help meet the needs of families. The funeral director gives direction to disorganization and demonstrates compassion and the ability to be receptive to grief. In short, the funeral director is the facilitator and organizer.
Also, funeral directors are caregivers and administrators. As a caregiver, the 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. As administrators, the funeral directors 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 their loved one. Funeral directors also link survivors with support groups at the funeral home or in their community.
Funeral directors also understand the needs of the person(s) they serve. For example, the year in which one is born has an enormous effect on the way one thinks, the way one views the world and the way one lives. Each generation of people has its own characteristics. The funeral director is aware of that fact and strives to serve the needs of each person. It is useful to acknowledge the characteristics of the different age groups, from the pre-World War II to the Baby Boomer generations, and beyond.
Why have a public viewing?
Public viewing of the deceased is a 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. A public viewing allows people of the community to show their concerns to the family and respect to the deceased.
What is the purpose of embalming?
Embalming is necessary to sanitize and preserve human remains.
The process provides an efficient and secure manner of restoring the dead body while affording family and friends the time to adjust to the loss, conduct ceremonies of remembrance, and decently care for the deceased. Embalming has been accepted as the most practical manner of treatment.
Does someone have to be embalmed, according to law?
No. There is no law that requires embalming. However, most states require embalming when death was caused by a reportable contagious disease, when remains are to be transported from one state to another by common carrier or when 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 and often follows a traditional funeral service.
How much does a funeral cost?
In 2006, the average charge for an adult, full-service funeral was $7,320. This typically includes charges for a professional service, transfer of remains, embalming, other preparation, use of facilities for viewing, use of facilities for ceremony, hearse, limousine, and casket. The casket typically included in this price is an 18-gauge steel casket and concrete burial vault. Cemetery and monument charges as well as other cash advanced items obtained by the funeral home are additional. (Source: National Funeral Directors Association website 2007 General Price List survey)
How does one pay for the funeral expense?
You may pay with cash or certified check, which is the preferred way. Credit Cards, such as VISA or MasterCard are accepted.
You may also use life insurance. Please know that your beneficiary is not required by law to use the money for the funeral expense. Please exercise caution when selecting your beneficiary.
Altmeyer also accepts funding vehicles, such as "Homesteaders". Under these programs, you make pre-arrangements for a funeral service and take out funeral expense insurance. The insurance is used to pay the funeral expense at the time of death.
Another funding vehicle is the "Trust," where you pay on installments. If at the time of death, the full amount of the pre-arrangement has not been paid, then the balance is due and must be paid.
Under certain situations, Social Security (http://www.ssa.gov), Veteran Administration (VA) (www.va.gov), or fraternal organizations may pay part of the funeral expense.
For more information about pre-arrangement, please see the pre-arrangement section of our web site.
Who pays for funerals for the indigent?
Other than the family, there are veteran, union, and other organizations' benefits to help pay for funerals. In most states, some form of public aid allowance is available from state, county, city or a combination. Most funeral directors are aware of the various benefits and know how to obtain them for the indigent. Nevertheless, the funeral home often absorbs costs above and beyond what is provided by agencies to insure the deceased a respectable burial.
What should I do if a death occurs in the
middle of the night or on a weekend?
Just call Altmeyer Funeral Home. At Altmeyer, a funeral director is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We may be reached by telephone.
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. Someone from Altmeyer will come when the 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, to transfer your loved one respectfully to another state.
I've decided on cremation; can I still have a funeral or a viewing?
Yes. You have several options when you decide on cremation. You may have a direct cremation. You may cremate and then have a memorial service. Or you may have the traditional funeral service and then cremate. Altmeyer Funeral Home, can assist you with further information regarding these options.
What do I need to bring to the funeral home
when making an arrangement?
No one knows exactly how to plan for death or exactly what do when a death occurs. So it is natural for families to have many questions. At Altmeyer Funeral Home we take great pride in being the people to ask... when you don’t know who to ask. Below is a list of important items to consider in preparing for the funeral service.
Funeral Arrangement – Be prepared to discuss the following items for the funeral service:
- Funeral Agenda/Program (and photos)
- Flowers (casket spray, etc.)
- Location for service (Place of Worship, Funeral Home etc.)
- Clergy or Life Celebrant
- Information for the death certificate
Some of the information required on the death certificate is often rather difficult to obtain. Each family should have the following information: full name and residence of the deceased; length of residence in locality; nationality; occupation; Social Security number; military service record; if married, widowed or divorced; name of husband or wife; date and place of birth; name and birthplace of father; maiden name and birthplace of mother; place and date of interment.
Cemetery Arrangement – Cemetery arrangements are separate transactions between the family and the cemetery facility. The family must also make contact 48 hours prior to burial to complete arrangements for interment.
- The funeral home can provide you with a sheet of phone numbers to most local cemeteries
- In the case of military cemetery, the funeral home will make the schedule arrangements
Military Arrangement – The requirements for veterans wishing to use National Cemeteries are as follows:
Insurance Policies – Life insurance policies may be used to settle the charges associated with the funeral. We will call the insurance company for verification that the policy submitted is active. Most life insurance companies require the following to process the claim:
- Assignment signed by the beneficiary for proceeds
- Copy of the certified death certificate (family to provide)
- Original policy or lost policy statement
- Copy of the funeral statement of goods
Payment Terms – payment for funeral home services is required at the time of the arrangement or not later than 48 hours before scheduled funeral services. The payment types accepted are listed on the General Price List.