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Home Consumer Resources

Consumer Resources

Whether you're interested in planning a funeral or memorial service, or are curious about what's expected of you when you attend such an event, this page contains a variety of resources from FAMIC-member organizations about what you should know as a consumer.

Curious about pre-planning?  Looking for information about cremation? Looking for grief and bereavement resources?  Maybe you're just wondering about funeral etiquette - whatever your question, we urge you to spend a few minutes perusing the consumer pages of the International Order of the Golden Rule, the National Funeral Directors Association, the Selected Independent Funeral Homes, and National Funeral Directors & Morticians Association, four of the major associations for funeral service professionals.  Here you will find information about all aspects of funeral service, and the resources to find a compassionate, trustworthy funeral director in your community.

Questions about caskets?  The Casket & Funeral Supply Association of America has information ranging from casket design to costs to outer containers and vaults, which most cemeteries require.

Permanent memorialization is for most people an important element of their funeral or memorial service.  The Monument Builders of North America have many helpful recommendations for how to purchase a memorial and where to look in your community.

We hope the information on these pages answers any questions you might have about funerals and memorialization, but if there's anything else we can do to help you, please don't hesitate to contact us.


What is Have the Talk of a Lifetime?

Have the Talk of a Lifetime™ is designed to help families talk about what matters most in their lives and how they made a difference. These discussions can help families make important decisions about how they wish to remember and honor the lives of their loved ones.

Why is having the talk important?

Deep down, most of us want to know that we, in some way, made a difference in this world. Having the Talk of a Lifetime can make the difference of a lifetime. It can help reacquaint us with our loved ones and help us get to know them in a new and different way.

Sitting down with your loved ones to talk about their lives can be rich and satisfying. Learning about memorable events and people, places and favorite activities, values and lessons they have learned can help bring us closer to those we care about most. The talk helps us reaffirm to our loved ones how much they have impacted our life.

Who should have the talk?

You can have the talk of a lifetime with anyone you hold dear – your parents, children, grandparents, aunts and uncles, a spouse or a friend. It can happen anywhere you and your loved one are most comfortable – over a meal, at home, on a walk, while playing a game. The talk can be between you and your loved one, or you could include others, like family or friends. Your conversation can take place at any time, not just at the end of life.

How do I start the talk?

Sometimes, using a visual prompt, such as a photo album, souvenir, or memento, can be a great way to start a conversation. Memorable occasions, such as the church where your loved one was married or a favorite park can also help someone begin to open up and share their story.

You could share a memory about a vacation you took together and will always remember, a piece of advice that you cherish, a song that reminds you of them or the ways you will never forget them.

You may wish to take notes during or after your conversation, or make an audio recording. You should choose whatever method seems most appropriate and comfortable given the setting of your conversation.

Some questions you could ask to start the talk are:

·         What is your proudest achievement?

·         What was the one piece of advice you received from your parents or grandparents that you never forgot?

·         Tell me about the most memorable summer you had growing up.

·         Tell me about your favorite teacher; what did you learn from him or her?

·         If you could spend a day doing anything you like, what would it be?

·         Who has been your greatest inspiration?

We had the talk. What happens next?

Having The Talk does not have to be a one time occurrence. Rather, think of it as a beginning of a dialogue during which you can openly talk about a number of things – from reflecting on the past to planning for the future.

The things you discuss may also be helpful when you must make important decisions in the future about how you wish to remember and honor your loved ones.

My loved one doesn’t want us to make a fuss, why do we need to have the talk?

The desire for simplicity with regards to one’s own final arrangements is very common. Recognizing our loved ones’ fundamental need to remember, honor and celebrate our life and achievements is the key to understanding why the talk is extremely important.

Our loved ones need to understand about all of our lives and especially how we want to be remembered. Ultimately, their final tribute to us allows them to begin their grief journey.  In a way, the talk is the most unselfish gift we can give to those we love.

What is memorialization and why is it important?

Memorialization fills a vital role for those mourning the loss of a loved one and encompasses all aspects of honoring a life that has been lived. Funeral services, visitation, placement in a cemetery, creating a memorial marker or monument, and any other means of paying tribute to our loved ones are all considered to be part of the process of memorialization and are vitally important. By providing surviving family members and friends a caring, supportive environment in which to share thoughts and feelings about the death, funerals are the first step in the healing process.

Individuals and their families have more options than ever for memorializing their loved one at the end of life. From simple to very elaborate, there are a variety of ways a family can honor their loved one in a personal and meaningful way.

In addition, the ritual of attending a funeral service provides many benefits:

§   Providing a social support system for the bereaved

§   Helping the bereaved understand death is final and that death is part of life

§   Integrating the bereaved back into the community

§   Easing the transition to a new life after the death of a loved one

§   Providing a safe haven for embracing and expressing pain

§   Reaffirming one’s relationship with the person who died

§   Providing a time to say good-bye

It is possible to have a full funeral service even for those choosing cremation. The importance of the ritual is in providing a social gathering to help the bereaved begin the healing process.

After we had the talk my loved had questions about arranging a funeral. How can I learn more?

Whether there is an immediate need due to the loss of a loved one or if you are planning in advance, your local funeral director can provide information to get you started. The average person makes funeral arrangements only once or twice in their lifetime. It is natural to feel overwhelmed or perhaps have a fear of the unknown. A funeral director is familiar with the laws of your state as they pertain to your loved one’s arrangements and will help take care of all necessary details. They will contact all interested parties on your behalf, obtain all required permits, file the death certificate and guide you through the decision making process as it relates to services and funeral merchandise.

If you are not familiar with a local funeral director, you can seek a recommendation from a neighbor, clergy person, relative or other trusted individual. In addition, you can contact one of the FAMIC member organizations for assistance finding a local provider.

Through compassionate education and guidance, your funeral director will help you make informed choices and enable you to arrange a tribute for your loved one that is fitting and appropriate.

Does choosing casket burial or cremation affect my options?

No it does not. Whether you select casket burial or cremation, your options for viewing, visitation, funeral services and permanent memorialization are very similar.

Common options selected for those choosing cremation or casket burial include:

·         Public viewing/visitation at the funeral home or your place of worship.

·         Funeral services with or without the casket present at the funeral home or your place of worship.

·         Committal services at the final resting place.

·         Permanent memorialization with a marker or monument.

It is important to remember that should you desire cremation, it does not limit your options. Cremation is process that is a preparation for permanent memorialization. You should be aware of all of your options before making a selection.

Why a cemetery?

The idea of honoring our loved one at their final resting place is a time-honored tradition and part of our history.  Whether it was the ancient Egyptians constructing the pyramids, the erection of a grand private mausoleum, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington Cemetery, or a simple burial space with a marker, the idea of a dignified burial and remembering our deceased loved ones is an important part of maintaining the history of our people for generations to come.  We care for these places and visit them to remember and feel connected to this special person in our lives, a place that says you mattered.

A cemetery provides a peaceful environment for our loved ones to rest and for us to honor their memory...

What are my cemetery options?

Cemeteries can provide many dignified options for a family, depending on their personal taste and budget. You can select individual burial spaces for a casket or urn (if selecting cremation) or a group of spaces for multiple family members. The options are varied and will depend on the individual cemetery’s offerings and available inventory.

Some typical options for those selecting casket burial or cremation that cemeteries may offer include, but are not limited to:

§   Ground Interment for Caskets or Cremation Urns

§   Mausoleum Entombment for Caskets

§   Columbarium Niche for Cremation Urns.

§   Family Lots for Multiple Burials of Caskets or Urns

§   Private Family Estates

When selecting a cemetery, you may want to seek personal recommendations from friends, business associates, your clergy or a funeral director. Be sure to inquire with the cemetery representative as to their maintenance practices, whether it is a “perpetual care” cemetery (a portion of the purchase price is placed into a fund for the upkeep of the cemetery) and any other pertinent rules or regulations regarding: flower placement, allowing upright monument and/or flat markers, special seasonal decorations on graves, etc.

What purpose does an outer burial container serve?

Many cemeteries have a requirement that an outer burial container be placed around the casket in the ground. The primary reason for this is that the casket is not designed to withstand the weight of the grave and the heavy equipment used in the routine maintenance of the cemetery.

The most commonly selected outer burial container option would be a vault. Vaults help support the weight of the grave, protect the integrity of the casket and can aid in keeping the grave level, which contributes to the overall positive appearance of the cemetery.

What purpose does having a marker or monument serve?

First, it is important to distinguish between these two options that are available for permanent memorialization. The term “marker” is typically used to identify a memorial, constructed of granite or bronze, which is flush with the ground and typically covers one or two grave spaces. A “monument,” typically constructed of granite, is a raised memorial that is used to identify one or two graves spaces. In addition, a monument can be used to identify a larger group of individual grave spaces.

The first purpose of a marker or monument is to identify a grave space which holds the casket or cremated remains of a deceased person. Also it can be a memorial in honor of someone who is not buried in that location.

Today’s computer technology allows for many additional options for inscribing a monument to marker with personalized artwork which reflects the person’s life and accomplishments.

Not all cemeteries allow upright monuments or may restrict them to certain sections or a minimum number of spaces. Be sure to consult with your cemetery regarding their specific rules and regulations regarding the placement of a marker or monument.

How can I obtain financial assistance for funeral expenses?

It is understandable that expenses related to funeral, cremation and burial services can sometimes be unexpected. Assistance with funeral related expenses may be available for persons who are on a government assistance program or who can demonstrate a legitimate need. These programs vary greatly from one state to another and usually originate with the state, county or local government. Each program has unique qualifications for assistance and benefits that are provided, if any.

The best source of information is your funeral director who should be familiar with all local programs.

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Copyright © 2016 Funeral and Memorial Information Council. All Rights Reserved.