Below is a list of some commonly asked questions regarding funerals
How do I start planning a funeral?
Can I Pre Plan My Own Funeral or Someone else's?
Do I have to pay now to Pre Plan my Funeral?
What happens if someone passes away while travelling?
Why should I have a viewing?
What is a viewing?
What happens when there is no viewing?
What is a direct cremation?
Tell me about the service
Tell me about Caskets & Urns
Organ and Body Donations
Telling children about a death
How to start planning for a funeral
Before you can even begin planning a funeral, you must first decide on the disposition of the body. If ground burial is to be the final resting place, is burial to take place at one of the local cemeteries or in a family plot. If it is to be a cremation, what will be done with the cremains? Will they be buried or retained? If they are to be scattered, you may need to check into local laws governing such things and may need a permit.
Can I Pre Plan my own Funeral
Yes. You can Pre Plan your funeral at any time. You can meet with our pre planning arrangement specialist by calling us to set up an appointment. Our arrangement director is a fully licensed funeral director specializing in estate planning and pre arrangment needs. We can answer all questions pertaining to funeral needs in the comfort of your own home or at the funeral home, at no cost or obligation to you. The other option now available for our families is to fill out our pre-arrangement forms online. We will then contact you to finalize the legal documents. Click here to go directly to the forms.
Can I Pre Plan someone else's funeral (for example a parent or spouse)
Yes. However you must have power of attorney for this person, and have copies of the legal documents and a reason for why they are unable to do so for themselves. (for example alzheimers patients or mentally incapacitated).
Do I have to pay now if I pre arrange my funeral
No. However there are many benefits to paying in advance for your funeral. The number one reason being that you are locking in your price at today's cost to guard against inflation. Our prices are guaranteed when you pre pay with us and we guarantee that your family will never have to pay more for the funeral services you selected. We have many payment plan options available from a one time payment to monthly plans. Please see our pre-planning page for more info or contact us for details.
What happens if someone passes away while travelling
To ensure that your family is not burdened by additional expenses, we recommend purchasing a Guaranteed Travel Assistance Plan. When you add this plan to your pre arrangement package it not only guarantees to cover all costs to bring home the deceased but also their travel companion. It covers you anywhere more than 100km from your home, has no age limit to enrol and no medical exclusions. It is a low one time membership fee with lifetime coverage. We highly recommend this program to anyone who still travels at all. Please speak to our funeral home staff for further details.
If such an Assistance Plan has not been purchased prior to travel, the funeral home staff can answer your questions on the options available to bring home the deceased respecting their final wishes.
Why have a Viewing
Whether to have the body present and available for viewing, are often the most difficult questions that families have to answer. The problem becomes even more complicated because for some seeing a dead body is helpful, but for others the very idea can be horrifying.
To make matters more complicated, the deceased sometimes requests not to have a viewing for a variety of personal reasons, but research shows that having a viewing can be vitally important for many people. Some research suggests that as many as 90% of people will have some difficulty in the grieving resulting in hostility if the body isn’t present.
Indeed, research into the grieving process supports the importance of seeing the body as it can help mourners accept that the death has really occurred. When death becomes real, we are forced to grieve; we can no longer deny what has happened. This may be especially important for those who had not seen the person for a while.
What is a viewing
A Viewing means, that the casket, or a portion of the casket lid is left open, allowing mourners the opportunity to have one last look at their loved one. The viewing can happen during the service or in private.
Whatever you decide, it is unlikely you will please everyone. A common solution to this dilemma is a private viewing, where those who need to see the body have the opportunity to say goodbye. If some people don’t want to attend, they don’t have to. It’s a personal choice.
An important question to ask is “What potential damage am I doing by not giving people the opportunity to say goodbye?” vs. “What are the negative outcomes by having the body present?.”
These are questions that can only be answered thoughtfully before someone dies as it requires reflection and discussion, which is not possible after a loved one has died. There are thousands of cases of people who have made the wrong decision for them, and they regret it for a lifetime.
When There is No Viewing
One of the most painful types of loss is when someone dies unexpectedly, and you can’t retrieve and see the body. Thousands of people have died in plane crashes, war, and events like Sept 11th. In these cases loved ones are left with no mortal remains, yet many hold desperately to the hope that such remains will be found, that this loss can’t be real because there is no proof, no body. This pain and denial can go on for many years.
This experience may be paralleled by those who have not given themselves the opportunity for a final viewing of the body. While having a viewing may be more painful for some, it is often what they need to grieve healthfully. Death is ugly, and no matter how hard we try, we can’t hide from the damage it leaves. What we can do is provide people the opportunity to recover.
What is a Direct Cremation
Direct cremation is a specific type of cremation. It is done immediately after the body has been released to the funeral director. In this instance, the body is not embalmed.
This form of cremation can be appealing to many people because it is the least expensive form of cremation. The body is not prepared for viewing, there is no casket to purchase, and there is no funeral service.
Because of the speed of the cremation, consideration must be given to the fact that in most cases there will be no opportunity for goodbyes and final viewings. Think about whether this will be appropriate for the situation.
The lack of a funeral service with a direct cremation does not mean that the deceased cannot be memorialized. A celebration of the person's life can be held in the form of a tribute service or wake or any type of service that family and friends feel is appropriate.
Why is it important to have a funeral service? is a question asked more and more frequently. And while we rightfully question the value of spending money on funerals, the funeral profession has done little to educate the public on the benefits of funerals.
The bigger question may be why do we spend time and money on any significant milestone such as engagements, weddings, birthdays, pregnancies, graduations etc? Is it because these events are important transitions and that we need to recognize their significance?
For millennia, death was considered significant and important, and we needed to honour and mourn those who died. In North America that is changing.Families often spend tens of thousands of dollars on weddings, but as little as possible on a funeral.
Is death now insignificant?
In our fast -paced and career-focused lives many now feel that death is an inconvenience and needs to be dealt with in a similar fashion as any inconvenience.
A funeral signals an end and perhaps because of this, we want it dealt with quickly and with as little inconvenience as possible. “Let’s just get it over with.”
Death is significant and those that believe that death isn’t important are often devastated by its power and ferocity. Death has no feelings and gives no mercy. No matter how hard we try, we can’t escape its clutches.
The funeral service provides us the opportunity to recognize the significance of the life that was lived, and the power of the loss to those left behind. It also provides people the chance to grieve and share in their pain.
Without a service, the pain can become denial, and the grieving doesn’t disappear; it just goes into hiding, revealing itself in many forms from guilt, to loss of sleep, to an inability move on from the loss etc.
Is a life worth remembering and honouring? Our society often responds as if it’s not, encouraging those who have suffered the death of a loved one just to get on with living. But our human frailty and psyche needs to honour, to remember, to mourn. Were all our ancestors wrong in how they dealt with death, or have we become detached from our own mortality?
The funeral service allows us the opportunity to honour, to remember, to mourn, and share our pain, and the significance in the life that was lost with those we love.
This is a very complicated subject and best discussed with a qualified funeral professional.
Caskets & Urns
Today, caskets are made of a variety of substances and designed for different purposes. They can range in price from very reasonable to expensive depending upon your wishes. Below is an overview of different types of caskets, however choosing a casket is a personal and often difficult decision, and your best source of information is to speak with one of our professional funeral directors.
Traditional Caskets are made of metal or wood and are lined with fabric.
Metal caskets — including those made from bronze, copper, stainless steel and steel — are known for their unique finishes. Bronze and copper are among the most durable and beautiful of metals; both are naturally non-rusting. Stainless and carbon steel caskets come in a variety of grades, gauges, styles and finishes.
Bronze and Copper. Bronze and copper are among the most long-lasting of metals, making them ideal for the construction of caskets. These caskets are generally more expensive, and they are of very high quality.
Stainless Steel and Carbon Steel
Stainless steel caskets are available in a variety of grades, finishes and styles. Steel caskets offer a range of colors, finishes and thicknesses.
Carbon steel caskets are available in a variety of grades. Carbon steel is not as durable or resistant to corrosion as stainless steel, but they often come in a wider selection of colors, finishes and personalization features than Stainless Steel Caskets.
Hardwood Caskets include a variety of species: mahogany, walnut, cherry, maple, oak, pecan, poplar and pine. Wood caskets are available in a variety of price ranges and styles.
Cloth Covered Caskets are made from corrugated fiberboard, pressed wood or softwoods, which are then covered with cloth and contain finished interiors. Cloth covered caskets are modestly priced and offer an economical choice for families.
Cremation Caskets are designed as a simple container for the body before the cremation process. These caskets are usually made of plain wood or cardboard.
Oversized Caskets are designed for people who require more room. Most companies have caskets in a variety of sizes.
Child and Infant Caskets Unfortunately this type of casket is necessary, and they are available in a variety of sizes for young people. There are a wide range of caskets available in this area and often personalized.
The loss of someone you love can be heart wrenching and soul stealing. How do you continue when all that you love is lost? Grief is real and all consuming for many people, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. It simply means you loved, and you lost. Getting assistance for your grief may be vitally important.
The following is a list of some of the grief and bereavement groups across Canada.
Bereaved by Suicide:
Bruce Peninsula Hospice Inc.:
Center for Loss and Transition:
The Compassionate Friends of Canada:
Good Grief Resource Centre:
Grief and Bereavement- Psychologists
Suicide Grief- Mayo Clinic:
What You Might Experience:
When experiencing a loss, it is natural that many people might suffer one or more of the following:
- Tightness in the throat or heaviness in the chest
- Thumping, erratic heart beats and very aware of all heart actions
- Empty feelings inside your stomach and loss or gain in appetite
- Have pain or nausea in your stomach
- Feeling restless and looking for activity
- Difficulty concentrating
- Feel as if you are “zoning” in and out
- Feel as though the loss isn't real, that it didn't really happen, this is just a bad dream
- Feel dizzy or light headed often
- Seeing or feeling the presence of the person you lost, hearing their laughter or their crying, seeing their faces
- Starting but not following through with things
- Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
- Dreams of the loved one
- Feeling guilty or angry over what happened, that it was them and not you
Common Steps of Grieving
Yearning and Searching
SEARCHING AND YEARNING (2 wks to 4 wks)
This is the second stage of the grieving process. Some emotions that are experienced during this stage are despair, depression, over-sensitivity, apathy, guilt, anger, hopelessness, and self-doubt. You may find yourself crying, restless, unable to concentrate, impatient, isolating yourself, angry, loss of energy, poor memory, and feeling yourself asking “What is real?” It is very important to talk to others about how you feel during this time. You cannot get through the mourning process alone.
DISORIENTATION (peaks highly 4 to 7 months)
The third stage of the grief process is the last stage before you begin to heal. You may feel great depression, disorganization, guilt, and that you will forever be grieving. Physically, you may become irritable, restless, act as if nothing happened, or hesitate in reaching out to others. You may start to really examine life and death in this stage of grieving and may question your own mortality.
Don't Rush Yourself.
After losing a loved one, the grieving process is as different for each of us as our fingerprints are. Don't rush yourself to heal and to accept. Allow yourself the time you need to grieve your loss.
Things to Consider When Selecting a Cemetery
There are many things that go into choosing a cemetery. Give these topics some thought before making a decision.
•Location - Select a location that is nearby if routine visits are planned. Most people enjoy visiting the graves of their loved ones on special occasions such as birthdays and holidays. A grave located in another city will make this difficult.
•Religion - Consider the religious preferences and beliefs of the deceased. It may be important to them to be in a religious cemetery. Some religions have specific burial requirements and practices that should be followed.
•Aesthetics - Look around the prospective cemetery and see if you like the way it is landscaped and maintained. Think about whether the deceased person would like it. Check for benches or other comfortable places to sit if you will be visiting often.
•Security - Give careful consideration to the security of the cemetery. You want to feel safe visiting the grave. There is often security evident in larger cemeteries. It is not as common in smaller ones.
•Cost - Buying a burial plot is a major investment. Prices can vary widely. Insure that you have been informed of all of the costs associated with the plot before purchasing.
Before You Buy a Headstone or Marker, Know the Rules
Before you buy a headstone or marker there are some things that you need to know. Almost every cemetery has restrictions on the type of memorial monuments allowed.
•Do not purchase any type of headstone or marker without first checking with the cemetery where it will be placed. Cemeteries can and will refuse to allow installation of items that do not fall within their guidelines.
•Ask the cemetery for a written copy of the rules. It is a good idea to take these rules with you when shopping. If you are shopping online have them in front of you.
•It is common for cemeteries to specify whether headstones or markers or both are allowed.
•They will also specify things such as size, color, material and whether vases are acceptable. It is possible that there will be provisions covering double markers and which side the husband and wife should be on. These are only a few of the items that may be governed by the policy.
•Read the rules carefully to avoid an expensive mistake. Once carved a headstone cannot be returned.
Our funeral home staff can assist with the selection of a monument. Alternatively, we recommend Shelburne Memorials for the highest quality workmanship. They can be easily contacted through their website at:
Making a Body Donation for Medical Science
Donating a body to an institution allows the body to be used for medical research or medical education.
You must first contact the staff at the funeral home who will in turn co-ordinate the necessary details with the receiving medical institution. There will also be a screening process as some bodies will not be accepted due to certain diseases or the state of decomposition. The funeral home staff will assist with completion of the required paperwork and arrange for transportation to the receiving institution. The family is responsible for the funeral home costs.
In most cases, the remains will be cremated and returned to the family after use.
How to Write Sympathy Cards
Sending sympathy cards to the family of someone who has died can serve two purposes. The first and obvious one is that it lets you extend your condolences to the family that is left behind. The second, often unrealized, purpose is a chance to express your feelings about the death.
It is acceptable to send sympathy cards with a simple short message such as "With deep sadness".The family will know that you have them in your thoughts. However, taking the time to write a paragraph or two to include with your sympathy card can be even more healing.
Writing your thoughts down is not as difficult as it seems. You can tell a fond story about the individual, say what it was about them that you liked or explain why you are going to miss them. It is often much easier to express your feelings in writing than in person to the bereaved family.
Begin by writing a rough draft. Once you have your thoughts organized write it in the card that you have selected.
Mail the sympathy card in a timely manner. You should send it as soon as you hear about the death.
A burial vault is a concrete box that is placed into the grave before the casket. It is used to protect the casket and to prevent the ground from sinking due to the decaying of the casket.
It has become common for most cemeteries to require the use of a vault. This keeps the grounds from becoming uneven and difficult to walk on. It also helps the headstones to stay upright and makes maintenance of the grounds easier.
What To Expect at a Catholic Wake
Every religion has it's own ceremonies and rituals for dealing with death. There are three primary steps in the Roman Catholic religion. They are the Vigil which is commonly called the Wake, the funeral ceremony including a Mass, and the actual burial.
Many years ago people held a vigil over a person after death to make sure that they were dead. They were watching for them to wake, hence the name. That is no longer necessary but the custom evolved into what we now know as a Wake.
A tradtitional funeral is the most common type of service in Canada. In a traditional funeral the body is picked up by a funeral home and prepared for burial by professionals at the funeral home. A funeral director will be in charge of leading the family through the process of setting up the arrangements.
There is usually a set time for visitations. The family is present and accepts visitors. The body is present in the casket and it may be open or closed.
A funeral service is held at either the funeral home or church followed by burial in a cemetery
A tribute service differs from a funeral service in that the body is not present. Because of this, the service does not have the tight time constraints that a funeral does. It can be held at a time when more members of the family can be in attendance.
There is no set ceremony for a tribute service, however they can be a traditional funeral service. Often clergy will be present and at the head of the ceremony. Customs vary but eulogies and speaches about the departed person are common. There is often a reception with food afterwards where everyone is encouraged to mingle and share their memories.
An autopsy is done after death to determine the cause of death when it is in question. If a doctor is not sure what caused the death, or the death was unattended, the body will be turned over to the medical examiner who holds jurisdiction over the area.
This is a medical procedure where the body is examined. Both the outside and inside of the body will be explored. Samples will be taken for testing and microscopic examination.
There are laws governing autopsies and when they are done. The family will often have no control over whether the procedure is carried out. In most cases, the families wishes will be considered but if the law requires that it be done it will be.
If an autopsy is called for, this needs to be taken into considersation when planning the funeral. This may delay the funeral for a day to several days. The medical examiner's office should be able to tell you when the body will be released.
As a competent funeral home we can still prepare the body for viewing after an autopsy.
Telling Children About a Death
Children need to be told of a death in the family. State it in simple terms. Give brief explanations and honest answers to your child's questions. Don't shield your children from death by telling them lies to make the subject easier. However, a child doesn't need to know every detail. The important thing is to honestly answer the questions they ask.
Children tend to have short attention spans. Along with this, there is also a limit to what information they will retain. Use simple language that the child can easily understand when explaining death to them. Don't be afraid to use words like dead or death.