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Funeral Services

What is a Funeral?

All we need to do is say the word "funeral" and within microseconds, you have an image in your mind of what a funeral looks like. This mental image comes from many sources: the geographical place, culture and society in which we live; our faith; our life experience. Obviously then, a funeral service in Borneo would look very different from one held in Tanzania; there are even significant differences between the funerals held in ethnically and/or geographically diverse regions of North America.

Yet, despite the differences, these funeral services have much in common. We invite you to read further to learn the really simple answer to the question "what is a funeral?" Should you have questions about what you read here, we encourage you to call us. One of our funeral professionals will be delighted to explore the commonalities behind the wide spectrum of funeral ceremonies seen around the world.

What Makes a Funeral?

No matter where it's held, a funeral is a structured ceremony, with a beginning, middle and end. Each is intended to engage the living participants in activities which will transform their status within the community, provide mourners with a collective grieving experience, and celebrate a life lived. It's a socially-acceptable way for members of a community to re-affirm and express their social attachments.

Anthropologists label a funeral as a rite of passage, which affects everyone involved–including the deceased. His or her social status changes dramatically, from a living contributing member of the community to one whose contributions are in the past, and relegated to memory. But the status of each of the survivors—the immediate family most especially—has also changed. In fact, the funeral service can be the start of a defined period of mourning for bereaved family members, marking this transition in a uniquely identifiable way.

It could be said then, the focus of a funeral—no matter where, no matter when—lies in acknowledging change. And without doubt, human beings (as individuals and as a community) have trouble dealing with profound changes like the death of an integral member of the group. When you take this perspective, it becomes easier to understand the importance of ceremonially acknowledging the tear in the social fabric and the symbolic restoration of its integrity.

Funeral Services in Our Area

For families and individuals living in this region (as elsewhere in the nation), a funeral service can mean many things. Some fall back on what is commonly called a "traditional funeral"; others see that same traditional service as an emotionally unfulfilling event. Fortunately, thanks to a number of unique social forces, there are alternatives. Today, end-of-life commemorative services range from the traditional funeral, to a memorial service and the increasingly popular celebrations-of-life. If you have yet to realize the immense value of such a collective acknowledgement of loss, reach out to us. Call to speak with one of our experienced funeral service professionals.

Source:

  • Huntington, Richard and Peter Metcalf, Celebrations of Death: The Anthropology of Mortuary Ritual, Cambridge University Press, 1979

 


 

Traditional Funeral Services

The Basics of Traditional Funeral Services

A funeral service, whether traditional or more modern (memorial service or celebration-of-life), has two functions: to acknowledge the death and lifetime achievements of an individual and to bring grieving family members and friends together in support of one another during this difficult time.

If you are interested in making funeral arrangements for a loved one, we invite you to call us to begin.

Visitation

This is often called a viewing or a wake. Guests come to pay their respects to the deceased by viewing their casketed body and spending time with the grieving family. A visitation can occur at any time before the funeral service.

Funeral Service

This event commonly takes place at the funeral home, a church, or at the graveside. It can include music, the reading of literary or religious passages, a eulogy, prayer, and the singing of hymns.

Commital Service

If the family plans to bury the deceased, this stage involves the vehicle procession to the cemetery.

Funeral Reception

Many choose to host this post-service gathering (or repast) at a reception hall. This is considered a time to share memories, laughter, and support.

Sources:

  • Rostad, Curtis, "The Basics of Funeral Service", Indiana Funeral Directors Association, 2014

 


 

Burial Services

The earliest human burial dates back 100,000 years making it one of the longest-lived and most widespread of traditions. For an overview of the many different burial traditions, check out the websites in the Resources section below.

Understanding Burial Services

We have the deepest respect for this traditional practice. If you are interested in learning more about the burial services we offer, please review the following information. Should you have questions about anything, please call us.

There are many things to consider when deciding whether to bury a recently-deceased loved one, or when selecting burial during funeral pre-planning. One of the first decisions you'll need to make involves choosing both the cemetery and the specific place of burial within its grounds. You'll then need to select a casket and possibly a burial vault, as many modern cemeteries require their use. At some point, and this does not have to take place right away, the decision becomes one of selecting the headstone or marker and writing the inscription. A member of our professional staff will be available should you wish to have assistance in making each of these decisions.

An Open Invitation

We offer a number of affordable burial service options. They range from: simple burials where only a member of our staff oversees the interment; simple graveside services led by a minister or celebrant; and a traditional funeral service followed by burial. Each can be tailored to meet the needs and expectations of today's price-conscious families.

How to Plan a Burial Service

Burial services in one form or another have been a part of human communities for millennia. If you scan our history, it really doesn't matter "when" or "where" you look, burial practices can be found. Graveside services can be seen in hundreds of Hollywood films and television productions; some are uplifting, others are humorous; and some merely attempt to convey the emotional weight carried by the characters involved. Because of these cinematic efforts, most are familiar with the appearance and traditional ceremonial format of a burial service. But when it comes time to make arrangements for a graveside service on behalf of a deceased family member, it can be challenging to turn what is only vaguely familiar into a truly meaningful, deeply personal event. This graveside service planning guide outlines the major steps involved and identifies the primary "talking points" when meeting with the funeral director. If you have questions about what you read here, please call us. A member of our staff is available, ready with the answers you need.

What's Involved in Planning a Burial Service?

All reasons aside, let's look at what's involved in planning a burial service. We've broken down the discussion into three areas-of-concern: the selection of cemetery and burial property, choosing a casket and burial vault; and planning the details of the graveside service.

Reasons to Hold a Burial Service

 

Simplicity

Many people today hunger for greater simplicity in their lives; a life that is natural, uncluttered, and uncomplicated. This is a desire which is nothing new to the human heart. Consider the Roman Catholic, Anglican and Quaker religious orders who continue to strive for a simple, sincere approach to life. We've long wanted to focus on what is most important, and the simplicity of graveside services does just that.

 

The Natural Setting

What better place to celebrate the life of a loved one than under the open sky, beneath trees, or beside flowers? No matter the type of cemetery that your loved one's burial services is held at, the emotional and spiritual comforts of the natural surroundings will be keenly felt.

 

Religious Requirements

There are profound religious reasons families choose burial services over any other final care option. For example, the Christian concept of resurrection of the body is deeply held by many and makes burial an act of religious ceremony. Jewish families and those practicing Islamic traditions also have strong religious and social commitments to burial.

 

The Importance of Witnessing

As mentioned earlier, human societies of all times and in all places have incorporated burial into their cultural or religious practices. This long-lived social relationship with burial has resulted in a core belief shared among peoples around the globe: burial is an act of respect, made most meaningful when witnessed.

When it comes time for you to make final care arrangements on behalf of a deceased family member you may be surprised to learn of the benefits of well-crafted burial services. During the arrangement conference with a funeral director you'll have the opportunity to discuss the features and benefits of graveside services and look at the top three reasons why families choose a graveside service.

Selection of Cemetery & Burial Property

Before we get too far into the subject, we should mention that a family member may have already chosen and purchased a burial plot or mausoleum crypt. It's also very possible a distant relative purchased a large section in a local cemetery intended for the future burial of family members. In either of those situations, you'll need to obtain the documents necessary to prove ownership of burial rights and then bring them to the initial meeting with the funeral director.

What if there is no such pre-plan in place? Then you will need to locate a cemetery and select the burial property on your own. And while we know today's consumers are smart and have access to more information about products and services than ever before, we also know that the purchase of cemetery property isn't a commonly-made transaction. For that reason, we offer the following information:

  • Unlike when you purchase a house (where the structure and the land are yours to do with as you like); when you buy a cemetery property, such as a burial plot, mausoleum crypt or columbarium niche; you are merely buying the right to inter (or bury) an individual (or individuals) in that location. The property you now have the rights over remains the property (and the responsibility) of the cemetery administration.
  • A stated portion of the money you pay for these interment rights will be contributed to an irrevocable fund used in the on-going care of the cemetery grounds.
  • The burial, as well as any future commemorative visits you make to the location will be subject to the specific by-laws as written by the cemetery administration.
  • Just like when you buy a house, the cost of burial property rights range widely in price, depending on the exact location of the plot, crypt or niche. If you have time, you can certainly find resale "deals" on cemetery property; but if you're not shopping far in advance of need, this may not be of help to you.

There are other costs involved with the burial of a loved one, such as the fees charged by the cemetery for the "opening and closing" of the site, the headstone or grave marker and its installation, and the purchase of a casket and burial vault.

Because we have strong working relationships with local cemetery administrators, we want to help you with this part of the process. Simply call us to get started.

Choosing a Casket & Vault

You'll typically read that the casket is the single most expensive purchase you'll need to make during this time. And while we can't really disagree with that statement, we will tell you that the purchase doesn't have to cost you more than you can afford. We have a wide selection of affordable caskets and burial vaults to choose from, and will work closely with you to keep the cost of your loved one's graveside service within your family's budget.

The cost of a casket aside, the type of casket you select will be based largely on personal preference. Would you prefer a casket of fine hardwood or metal? There are caskets of walnut, cherry, maple, oak, pine and other species of wood. Metal caskets come in varying thicknesses and a wide array of finishes. We don't want you to guess what's best for your situation; instead we'd like you to turn to us for assistance. We've got the experience to guide you in the selection of the most appropriate casket and vault for your needs. Call us, or stop by our office.

Planning the Details of the Graveside Service

The details really depend on your motives and emotional needs. If simplicity is your primary focus, then the burial service we design could look very different from one which is guided by religious doctrine.

And while you could think of your loved one's graveside service as a modified version of a typical funeral, with a member of the clergy leading attendees in standard hymns or prayers; we'd rather you let go of your expectations. That way, we can come to the planning process with no limitations to our creativity. Together we'll determine the best date and time for the burial service, and select the most meaningful readings, songs and activities to be featured in their service.

We'll discuss who you would like to lead the event; it could be your funeral director, a member of the clergy, a celebrant, family member, or close friend. Certainly, the selection of the cemetery and burial plot are practical decisions; but planning the service format is where the heart can take over. Your funeral director will sit with you for as long as it takes to bring love and memories into the event. He or she will explore your loved one's life with you to find the essence of who they were, all in the effort to craft a fitting graveside service.

Are You Ready to Talk About Burial Services?

We're ready to listen. In fact, that's what we do best: we not only hear the words, we understand the feelings and the familial dynamics behind them. When you call us at for assistance in making the necessary arrangements for a graveside service, you'll discover the value of having an experienced ally committed to serving your family as you would wish to be served.

Sources:

  1. Wikipedia, "Burial", modified 2014
  2. National Parks Service, "Burial Customs and Cemeteries in American History", accessed 2014
  3. Funerals & Flowers, "Death and Funeral Customs", 2013

 


 

FAQ: Burial Services

What does it cost to bury a person in a cemetery?

What does it cost to bury a person in a cemetery?

First is the purchase price of the "right to use" the burial plot (unlike a real estate purchase, where you buy the land and all the structures on it; here you are only purchasing what is called the "interment rights" to the land). In addition, there are fees for the "opening" and "closing" of the gravesite; and any fees required to obtain the necessary permits and to maintain cemetery files and records. In addition, there's the fee for the use of any special equipment (such as a casket-lowering device); as well as the costs for any other services or items purchased. There's also the headstone or grave marker installation fee, and a one-time "perpetual care" (sometimes called "endowment care") fee paid to ensure your loved one's burial site is well-maintained.

Does my loved one have to be embalmed prior to burial?

Does my loved one have to be embalmed prior to burial?

This is a question we hear a lot. Many funeral homes suggest (and may even go so far as to require) embalming if you're planning a viewing or visitation. That's because they want the experience to be as good as it can be for those in attendance, and proper embalming can ensure the deceased looks as good as possible. But as a general rule, embalming is not necessary or legally required if the body is cared for in a relatively short amount of time. Please contact us for specific state or local requirements.

How much will a casket cost?

How much will a casket cost?

The Federal Trade Commission states that average casket costs around $2,000. If you are concerned about casket costs, speak with your funeral director who can advise you on the most appropriate casket for your situation and your budget.

What is a burial vault, and why do I need to buy one?

What is a burial vault, and why do I need to buy one?

Today, modern cemetery grounds are well-groomed, with vast expanses of green grass. A burial vault protects this pristine view, ensuring there is no sign of burial plots "settling". Certainly the vault also protects the casket; but the primary role of a burial vault is to protect the beauty of the cemetery environment.

What's involved in a cemetery burial?

What's involved in a cemetery burial?

If your loved one has not made previous arrangements for their burial, leaving you to pick the location of their interment, the first thing you'll need to do involves the selection of the cemetery and burial location within the grounds. You'll also choose the most suitable casket and burial vault, and provide us with the clothing you'd like your loved one to wear (and any 'special items' you'd like us to place in the casket) . Once payment is made, the date and time of interment is agreed upon. At that time, the cemetery grounds keepers will take care of the "opening" and "closing" of the grave and the proper placement of the casket in the burial vault.

Do I have to buy a headstone or grave marker?

Do I have to buy a headstone or grave marker?

The cemetery will put a temporary identification marker on your loved one's grave, but it is only intended as a placeholder until a permanent headstone or grave marker is set in place. Without one, your loved one's burial site will, when this temporary marker becomes illegible or is somehow removed, appear "unmarked".

Where do I purchase a headstone or grave marker?

Where do I purchase a headstone or grave marker?

We, and the cemetery where your loved one will be interred, have strong working relationships with trusted monument companies. When you are ready to order a granite headstone or bronze grave marker, we will come together to orchestrate its selection, manufacture and placement. Speak with your funeral director to get the details.

What is "direct burial"?

What is "direct burial"?

When we make arrangements for the direct burial of an individual, we are expediting their interment. There will be no funeral, memorial service or celebration-of-life; instead, we provide the physical care of the deceased (perhaps embalming their body, but certainly dressing and casketing) and then escort the casket to the cemetery for immediate burial.

Is direct burial right for our situation?

Is direct burial right for our situation?

It's very hard to know without having the opportunity to speak with you. Direct burial works well when there are few mourners or if your loved one's wishes were for a simple interment. It's done quickly and professionally, without ceremony of any kind. With that said, what do you think? Does direct burial feel like the right course of action for you? Speak with a funeral professional to further explore the idea.

What services do you provide when I choose direct burial?

What services do you provide when I choose direct burial?

Your funeral director will complete and file the death certificate, obtain signatures on any required permits or authorizations, helps you select a cemetery in which to inter your loved one, as well as a casket and burial vault. He or she will oversee the physical care of the deceased: they will be dressed in clothes you've provided (or purchased from us), casketed, and then escorted to the cemetery for immediate burial. This same individual will witness the burial and provide you with copies of all pertinent papers for safekeeping.

What is a graveside service?

What is a graveside service?

Rather than having a service in a church or funeral home chapel, and then adjourning to the cemetery for the burial; some families choose to gather solely at the cemetery. There, they are led through a ceremony prepared by a clergy person or celebrant and witness the in-ground committal of their loved one's casket. If the idea of a graveside service appeals to you, speak with your funeral director about your options.

What "extra" fees or charges will I need to pay?

What "extra" fees or charges will I need to pay?

Some of the things you'll discuss with your funeral director involve purchases made from outside vendors, and you will be asked to pay for those items at the time of the arrangement conference. One of the most common is the fee charged by a newspaper to print your loved one's obituary. Another cash advance charge could be for clergy or musician's fees, floral arrangements, reception necessities, such as food/beverage or facility rental. Your funeral director will provide you with a detailed invoice for all cash advance items.

When do I pay for a funeral service?

When do I pay for a funeral service?

The exact answer to this question largely depends upon the services, products and cemetery you've selected; but a good rule of thumb is to expect to pay at the time the service contract is signed (at the time of the arrangement conference, or soon afterwards). Speak with your funeral director to learn more.

Who will write my loved one's obituary?

Who will write my loved one's obituary?

We're tempted to answer this with another question: who would you like to write it? Perhaps you'd like to ask a friend or family member to do so; maybe you're thinking it's something you would like to do. Or perhaps you'd rather turn the duty over to your funeral director. He or she is experienced in obituary writing, and would be delighted to relieve you of the task; so don't hesitate to ask them to craft a suitable obituary.

Hancock
Phone: (906) 482-1717
Fax: (906) 482-1718
1017 Quincy Street, Hancock, MI 49930

Houghton
Phone: (906) 482-5252
Fax: (906) 482-1718
401 Memorial Road, Houghton, MI 49931

Chassell
Phone: (906) 523-1717
Fax: (906) 482-1718
440 US-41, Chassell, MI 49916


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