Funeral Arrangements & Procedures

The article below describes the procedure for a traditional funeral, which consists of the embalming and viewing of the deceased, public visitation period, public funeral and public committal service.  The family has the option of having the funeral completely private or having an immediate disposition of the body with or without a memorial service.  There are also many variations between the immediate disposition of the body and the full traditional funeral.

When a death occurs, a series of events unfolds and many details must be taken care of by both the deceased’s family and their funeral director.  When the funeral director receives notification of a death, he asks for the deceased’s name, where the remains are, and who will be responsible for making the funeral arrangements.  The funeral director sets a time for the family to come to the funeral home to make the funeral arrangements.  If the family has clothing they wish to be used on the deceased, they bring it with them at this time.

The funeral directors next concern is to obtain the remains as soon as possible.  If the person passed away in a hospital, the funeral director can usually obtain the remains within an hour unless the family signed for an autopsy, which would necessitate a delay.  If the death occurred at home, the funeral director can call for the remains immediately unless the deceased was not under a doctor’s care.  In this case, the Medical Examiner must be notified to come and examine the remains.  The Medical Examiner must also see all persons who die accidentally or by violent means.  An autopsy may be ordered to determine the exact cause of death.

When the family arrives at the funeral home, the funeral director procures all the information for the death certificate, death notices for the newspapers, and other necessary forms.  The details of the funeral are discussed, and the family is informed about social security and veteran’s benefits they may be entitled to receive.

The day and time of the funeral is determined upon consultation with the chosen clergyman.  If the funeral is to be held in a church, the arrangements are made.  Sometimes the deceased is not viewed in the city where the death occurred, but is taken by hearse, plane, or train to another city, state, or country.  A funeral service might be held where the deceased now lives and the remains sent elsewhere for burial.

After the details of the funeral are completed, the family makes their casket, and other burial case selection.  A funeral director who does a volume of business will have dresses, suits, shoes, and underclothing on hand if the family wishes to purchase new apparel for the deceased.  Before the family leaves, the funeral director sets the time that the deceased will be ready for viewing.  It is sometimes easier on the family to designate specified hours for visiting at the funeral home.

If the deceased is to be buried, the family must select a cemetery lot if they do not already have one.  If the deceased is to be cremated, the cremains can be scattered, buried, or placed in a columbarium niche.

If the funeral director does not have his own hearse or flower car, he arranges for them.  He orders the outer burial case and notifies the cemetery so they can open the grave.  Memorial cards are printed and placed on the register stand.

The funeral director fills out two sections of the death certificate and has the doctor fill out the medical certification.  He then files it with the registrar of vital records in the district where the death occurred to obtain the burial, cremation, or transit permit.

Meanwhile the deceased is brought to the funeral home, embalmed, and any necessary restoration work done before cosmetics are applied.  The remains are then dressed and placed in the casket the family selected.  Since embalming preserves the body, it can be kept for viewing or burial in a distant place, or while awaiting the arrival of relatives to attend the funeral.

The viewing of the restored remains helps the bereaved family face the reality of the physical death.  The last picture of a loved one can have a strong psychological effect on the mourners by relieving painful memories of a lingering illness or a bad accident.  After several days of transition, the bereaved are able to release their desires for the body.

On the day of the funeral, the funeral director makes sure the cars are in the proper order for the funeral procession.  The lead car with the funeral director and clergyman is followed by the pallbearers, then the hearse.  Next come the immediate family, other relatives, and finally the friends of the deceased.  After the funeral service, the funeral director reads the car list and the mourners go to their cars.  At this time, the funeral director and an assistant close the casket.  After the pallbearers place the casket in the hearse, they go to their car(s).  The procession drives to the church if there is to be a church service and then to the cemetery.  After the clergyman performs the committal service at the grave or mausoleum crypt, the mourners usually leave the site before the casket is interred or placed in a crypt.  The conscientious funeral director remains at the gravesite until the cover is placed on the outer burial case.

Some Ways To Personalize The Funeral

Display pictures or a collage of pictures taken throughout the person’s lifetime.

Display personal items which depict awards, hobbies, sports, interests, etc.

Service Options

Open or closed casket for the service.

Family participation in the funeral service.

Family leaving the parlor first or last.

Family staying near the grave until the casket is lowered.

Family may want a flower from the grave site to keep.

Funeral home music or family’s CDs may be played before the service or sometimes a family member or friend plays an instrument before or during the service.

Copyright © 2013 Harry A. Wedekindt Funeral Home.  All rights reserved.