PO Box 522
KEENE, NH 03431
Phone: (603) 903-4699
Fax:

Frequently Asked Questions

We are happy to answer any and all questions which come our way – and we hear some over and over again. Those are the ones we’ve included in this section of the website.

However, if you’re question isn’t listed, don’t hesitate to email us. If yours is an urgent need, please call.

1. What is a funeral?
 
2. What purpose does a funeral serve?
 
3. What do funeral directors do?
 
4. Do you have to have a funeral director to bury the dead?
 
5. Do funeral directors take advantage of the bereaved?
 
6. How much does a funeral cost?
 
7. Has this cost increased significantly?
 
8. Why are funerals so expensive?
 
9. How do I make funeral arrangements?
 
10. What is a pre-arranged funeral?
 
11. How do I make funeral arrangements?
 
12. What type of funeral service should I have?
 
13. Can I personalize my funeral service?
 
14. Why should we have a public viewing?
 
15. What should I do if a death occurs in the middle of the night or on the weekend?
 
16. Will someone come right away?
 
17. What should I do if a death occurs while away from home?
 
18. If a loved one dies out of state , can the local Funeral Home still help?
 
19. What recourse does a consumer have for poor service or overcharging?
 
20. What happens if I have a problem with how a funeral was handled?
 
21. Why do we need an obituary notice?
 
22. What is included in an obituary?
 
23. What is embalming?
 
24. Is embalming necessary?
 
25. What is the purpose of embalming?
 
26. Does a dead body have to be embalmed, according to law?
 
27. What is involved in cremation?
 
28. Do I need a casket if I choose cremation?
 
29. Can I have a visitation period and a funeral service if cremation is chosen?
 
30. What can be done with the cremated remains?
 
31. Isn't burial space becoming scarce?
 
32. Is cremation a substitute for a funeral?
 
33. Is it possible to have a traditional funeral if someone dies of AIDS?
 
34. Is it right to make a profit from death?
 
35. Don't funeral directors mark caskets up tremendously, at least 400%?
 
36. Who pays for funerals for the indigent?
 
37. So, I've decided on cremation. Can I still have a funeral or a viewing?
 
38. What government agencies help defray final expenses?
 

Question #1What is a funeral?
Answer:A funeral is a time when friends and family gather to celebrate a life and mourn the loss of a loved one. They occur in cultures and societies around the world, and have deep personal and social significance. We know a funeral is the starting point of the recovery process and the first step toward healing.

Question #2What purpose does a funeral serve?
Answer:It is the customary way to recognize death and its finality. Funerals are recognized rituals for the living to show respect for the dead and to help survivors begin the grief process.

Question #3What do funeral directors do?
Answer:Funeral directors are caregivers and administrators. They make the arrangements for transportation of the body, complete all necessary paperwork, and implement the choices made by the family regarding the funeral and final disposition of the body.
Funeral directors are listeners, advisors and supporters. They have experience assisting the bereaved in coping with death. Funeral directors are trained to answer questions about grief, recognize when a person is having difficulty coping, and recommend sources of professional help. Funeral directors also link survivors with support groups at the funeral home or in the community.

Question #4Do you have to have a funeral director to bury the dead?
Answer:In most states, family members may bury their own dead although regulations vary. However, most people find it very trying to be solely responsible for arranging the details and legal matters surrounding a death.

Question #5Do funeral directors take advantage of the bereaved?
Answer:Funeral directors are caring individuals who help people deal with a very stressful time. They serve the same families 80% of the time, and many have spent most of their lives in the same community. If they took advantage of bereaved families, they could not stay in business. The fact that the average funeral home has been in business over 59 years shows that most funeral directors respect the wishes of the bereaved families.

Question #6How much does a funeral cost?
Answer:The cost of a funeral depends entirely on your wishes for the funeral. Funeral costs are made up of professional services, charges for transporting the body and presentation of the body, casket costs, vehicle charges, and fees for the doctor, minister, or cremation. Personalizing a funeral is also a factor in the cost. While we have many options to help you memorialize your loved one in a meaningful way, those options all have costs attached.

Question #7Has this cost increased significantly?
Answer:Funeral costs have increased no faster than the consumer price index for other consumer items.

Question #8Why are funerals so expensive?
Answer: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.
Contrary to popular belief, funeral homes are largely family-owned with a modest profit margin. The average statistics below may be helpful in assessing the true economic picture of a funeral home:

85% Family-owned
Firm in business for 63 years
167 average calls/year
BEFORE tax profit 11.3%
(Source: 1995 NFDA Survey of Funeral Home Operations)

Question #9How do I make funeral arrangements?
Answer:You can call a funeral director to make an appointment or plan it online. We offer this service free of charge, and without obligation.

Question #10What is a pre-arranged funeral?
Answer:A pre-arranged funeral is a funeral arrangement made prior to death. You can pre-arrange your own funeral or you can pre-arrange a funeral for a loved one. Pre-arrangement is a way for you to make sure your life is celebrated in a way that is meaningful to you. It also relieves your loved ones of the burden of arranging a funeral for you.

Question #11How do I make funeral arrangements?
Answer:You can call a funeral director to make an appointment or plan it online. We offer this service free of charge.

Question #12What type of funeral service should I have?
Answer:The answer to that question is very personal – how would you like it to be? A funeral service can be open to the public or accessible by invitation only. You can choose a large service or a small one. And, if you’re deeply religious, you can follow the liturgy of your faith.

Perhaps you want something completely out-of-the-ordinary, and that’s possible too. Our funeral directors are trained to provide you with support and guidance to help you plan a funeral that truly reflects your needs and desires.

Question #13Can I personalize my funeral service?
Answer:In a word, yes. We believe that each funeral should reflect the life of the deceased – and no two people are the same. We invite – no, we encourage –you to let us know exactly how you want you or your loved one to be remembered, and we will do our best to create a ceremony that will truly celebrate the life lived.

Question #14Why should we have a public viewing?
Answer:Not every tradition encourages a public viewing, but we believe that they serve a purpose. In making a viewing part of your funeral service, you provide a certain amount of closure to all in attendance. This isn’t just our opinion; studies show that viewing the body helps everyone recognize the reality of death which is an important stepping stone in the grieving process.

Question #15What should I do if a death occurs in the middle of the night or on the weekend?
Answer:It’s simple: call us. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If you need immediate assistance, one of our funeral directors will be there.

Question #16Will someone come right away?
Answer:If you request immediate assistance, yes. If the family wishes to spend a short time with the deceased to say good bye, it's acceptable. They will come when your time is right.

Question #17What should I do if a death occurs while away from home?
Answer:It’s comforting to know that our funeral directors can help you no matter where a death has occurred.  We’ll take care of everything from bringing your loved one back home; to helping you arrange the service. All you need to do is call us. We’ll take care of the rest.

Question #18If a loved one dies out of state , can the local Funeral Home still help?
Answer:Yes, they can assist you with out-of-state arrangements, either to transfer the remains to another state or from another state.

Question #19What recourse does a consumer have for poor service or overcharging?
Answer:Funeral service is regulated by the FTC and state licensing boards. In most cases, the consumer should discuss problems with the funeral director first. If the dispute cannot be solved by talking with the funeral director, the consumer may wish to contact the Funeral Service Consumer Assistance Program. FSCAP provides information, mediates disputes, provides arbitration, and maintains a consumer guarantee fund for reimbursement of services rendered. (To contact FSCAP, you may call 800-662-7666).

Question #20What happens if I have a problem with how a funeral was handled?
Answer:If you’re not satisfied with how we attempt to resolve the issue, then you can reach out to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and/or our state licensing board.

Consumer Response Center, Federal Trade Commission
600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC  20580

www.ftc.gov

1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357).

Question #21Why do we need an obituary notice?
Answer:An obituary notice is helpful for friends and family of the deceased. It informs them that a death has occurred and gives them information about the service.  Obituaries can be placed in newspapers and online.

Question #22What is included in an obituary?
Answer:"Funeral arrangements are being made by the funeral home and will be announced at a later date."

You may wish to add additional details, such as the names of any children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, parents, other close relatives or special friends. You may wish to write about the deceased’s life, accomplishments and legacy. You may suggest preferred charities for memorial contributions and let people know if you would rather not receive flowers.

Question #23What is embalming?
Answer:Embalming is the temporary disinfection, preservation, and restoration of the body. During the embalming process, the body is washed and dressed and cosmetics are applied.

Question #24Is embalming necessary?
Answer:If the body has to be transported to a country that requires embalming, then yes, it is necessary. Otherwise the decision is up to you. Some religious traditions forbid embalming. If your religion allows it, we recommend embalming if there is a long wait before burial or cremation.

Question #25What is the purpose of embalming?
Answer: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.

Question #26Does a dead body have to be embalmed, according to law?
Answer:No. Most states, however, require embalming when death was caused by a reportable contagious disease or when remains are to be transported from one state to another by common carrier or if final disposition is not to be made within a prescribed number of hours.

Question #27What is involved in cremation?
Answer:The casket or container is placed in the cremation chamber where the temperature reaches 1,400-1,800 degrees Fahrenheit. After approximately 2.5 hours, all organic material is consumed by heat and evaporation, and the bone fragments are left behind. These are known as the cremated remains, which are then carefully removed from the chamber and processed into fine particles to be placed in a container or urn for the family.

Question #28Do I need a casket if I choose cremation?
Answer:No, you do not need to purchase a traditional casket. But, for sanitary reasons, crematories usually require a combustible, leak-proof, covered container. Commonly, a relatively-inexpensive cardboard cremation container is all you need to purchase. However there are other, more elegant options available as well. Visit our online cremation container showroom to explore your options.

Question #29Can I have a visitation period and a funeral service if cremation is chosen?
Answer:By all means, yes. We encourage families to have a gathering – whether it’s a simple visitation, or a more elaborate funeral or memorial service – to support the bereaved and begin to mend the social fabric, torn by the loss of a member of the community.

Question #30What can be done with the cremated remains?
Answer:The cremated remains can be interred in a cemetery plot or retained by a family member -- usually in an urn, scattered on private property or at a place that was important to the deceased. The cremated remains can be scattered at sea, or the skies above a special, well-loved place. You can also incorporate the remains into an artificial reef, to be lowered onto the sea floor. There, your loved one provides sanctuary for sea life for years to come.

There are also elegant ways to memorialize a loved one using small amounts of the cremated remains, including art glass, oil paintings, and man-made diamonds. Or you can take a small amount of the cremated remains to include in a piece of cremation jewelry. Please view our online cremation keepsakes and jewelry selection for inspiration.

Question #31Isn't burial space becoming scarce?
Answer:While it is true some metropolitan areas have limited available cemetery space, in most areas of the country, there is enough space set aside for the next 50 years without creating new cemeteries. In addition, land available for new cemeteries is more than adequate, especially with the increase in entombment and multi-level grave burial.

Question #32Is cremation a substitute for a funeral?
Answer:No. Cremation is an alternative to earth burial or entombment for the body's final disposition and often follows a traditional funeral service. In fact, according to FTC figures for 1987, direct cremation occurred in only 3% of deaths.

Question #33Is it possible to have a traditional funeral if someone dies of AIDS?
Answer:Yes. A person who dies of an AIDS-related illness is entitled to the same service options afforded to anyone else. If public viewing is consistent with local or personal customs, that option is encouraged. Touching the deceased's face or hands is perfectly safe.
Because the grief experienced by survivors may include a variety of feelings, survivors may need even more support than survivors of non-AIDS-related deaths.

Question #34Is it right to make a profit from death?
Answer:Funeral directors look upon their profession as a service, but it is also a business. Like any business, funeral homes must make a profit to exist. As long as the profit is reasonable and the services rendered are necessary, complete, and satisfactory to the family, profit is legitimate.

Question #35Don't funeral directors mark caskets up tremendously, at least 400%?
Answer:No. Talking about the mark up on caskets is really not the point. Most items - clothing, furniture, jewelry - are marked up as much or more than caskets. The real question is whether the funeral director is making an excessive profit, and that answer is "No." Profits run around 12.5% before taxes - not excessive by any standard.

Question #36Who pays for funerals for the indigent?
Answer:Other than the family, there are veteran, union, and other organizational benefits to pay for funerals, including, in certain instances, a lump sum death payment from Social Security. In most states, some form of public aid allowances are available from either the state, county, or city or a combination. Most funeral directors are aware of the various benefits and know how to obtain them for the indigent. However, funeral directors often absorb costs above and beyond what is provided by agencies to insure the deceased a respectable burial.

Question #37So, I've decided on cremation. Can I still have a funeral or a viewing?
Answer:Yes, quite often some sort of viewing precedes the actual cremation. Your Funeral Home can assist you with the necessary information for a funeral with a cremation following or a memorial service.

Question #38What government agencies help defray final expenses?
Answer:Usually, Funeral Directors will help gather the necessary information to apply for financial assistance from Social Security, Veteran's Affairs, retirements, and any others.

www.ssa.gov/

www.va.gov/