Frequently Asked Questions About Traditional Funerals
You may have many questions about what is involved in a transitional funeral. Below we answer the most common questions that we receive.
Traditional Funerals - Questions
- What is The Difference Between A Funeral and Memorial Service?
- Why is a Funeral Service Important?
- What Is The Purpose of Embalming?
- Is Embalming Required By Law?
- What Times Are Available For A Visitation?
- Why Do Funerals Seem So Expensive?
- Can You Still Have a Traditional Funeral With Cremation?
- Where Can a Funeral Be Held?
- How Can A Funeral Be Personalized?
- What Cemetery Options Are Available For Burial?
Traditional Funerals - Answers
The American funeral has changed more in the past few years than in the prior fifty years. It used to be that the "Traditional Funeral" was pretty much the same. A wake or visitation period, which lasted anywhere from one to three days, followed by a church service and burial in the cemetery. Yet today, there is no such thing as a "Traditional Funeral".
People are choosing funeral services that are more reflective of the person and fit the lifestyle of the deceased.
Really the only difference between these two services is whether or not the body is present. A funeral service is conducted with the presence of the body and a memorial service is conducted in memory of the person, without the presence of the full body.
To learn more about memorial services, visit our cremation section of this guide.
In the earliest recorded times, societies honored the dead through ceremonies. According to beliefs at that time, the purpose of the ritual was to properly send the decedent on the journey into the next life. Today, however, psychologists and other experts agree that the benefits of the funeral are for those left behind; those who must reconstruct their lives following their loss. Before family and friends can fully adjust to their loss, survivors must express their grief in ways meaningful to them. They must face, openly and realistically, the fact that death has indeed occurred. The funeral provides the opportunity to do exactly that.
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.
No, in Michigan embalming is not required by law. However, if the body is not buried or cremated within 48 hours after death, Michigan does require embalming. Embalming is also required if the deceased is to be tansporting from one state to another by common carrier. For example, if an individual passes away in Florida and is to be transported to Michigan for burial, embalming would be required.
While we provide guidance with respect to visitation periods, we leave the actual time up to the family. Visitations may extend to multiple days or may take place in just an hour or so before the funeral service. Morning, afternoon and evening hours are available during the week or on weekends. It all depends upon the needs of the family.
When compared to other major life cycle events, like births and weddings, funerals are not expensive. A wedding costs at least three times as much; but because it is a happy event, wedding costs are rarely criticized. A funeral home is a 24-hour, labor-intensive business, with extensive facilities (viewing rooms, chapels, limousines, hearses, etc.); these expenses must be factored into the cost of a funeral. Moreover, the cost of a funeral includes not only 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.
Just because someone is interested in cremation does not mean that the family cannot have a viewing and funeral service. All of the customs and ceremonies associated with a traditional funeral can still be performed prior to the cremation taking place. For these occasions, we offer economical cremation caskets and rental caskets.
Traditionally, funerals are held in a church, which is still a common practice today. However, there are several other options. Funeral services may be held at the funeral home in our Chapel, at the gravesite or cemetery chapel, or at a place such as Fredrick Meijer Garden's if a family so desires.
It is becoming more common to tailor a funeral service to the personality of the deceased. Prayers and remembrances offered by family and friends, favorite music, treasured belongings, pictures and momentos can all play a major role in making the final tribute fitting and moving. The family can choose to assemble a display containing family photographs, favorite possessions, items from a hobby or awards the deceased received. These items help shift the emphasis of the services to the memories of the person's life, rather than on the circumstances of his or her death.
Most funerals in North America conclude with earth burial, which is burying the remains contained in a casket into the ground. Purchases made for this option generally include a casket, a vault, a cemetery plot and a headstone or grave marker. Above ground entombment is provided in mausoleums, buildings designed and maintained to house human remains. Mausoleums are especially popular in certain regions of North America, and the availability and price ranges of mausoleum crypts vary depending on geographic location. In our area, there are several cemeteries that operate mausoleums.