Should Children Attend Funerals?

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As a parent, you have a natural instinct to protect your child from harm. So, if your gut reaction to “Should my child attend the funeral?” is “No”, it’s understandable.

Shielding your child from the pain and suffering surrounding a death seems logical. It’s a hard process for you as an adult, so how could a child possibly endure it? While a rational thought, the truth is that preventing a child from attending the funeral service or ritual could actually do more harm than good.

Excluding children from the memorialization process denies them the opportunity to mourn, be with others who are hurting, and to grieve. Children who are not allowed to attend the funeral may feel resentful if they don’t get to participate or say goodbye, which could lead them to imagine scenarios surrounding death that are far scarier than the truth.

Experts agree that children should be given the choice to attend the funeral and participate in the memorialization process, and it is important that their decision is respected.

How to Help Children Decide

To help children decide whether or not to attend a funeral they will need information about what is going to happen. Like you, their world may be turned upside down after a death in the family. When explaining the events of a funeral it is best to keep it simple. Supplying children with the basic four “W’s” can cover the critical components of a funeral:

Who they can expect to see at the funeral

What course of events will unfold during the day of the funeral

Where the funeral will take place

Why your family chooses to memorialize the dead

Describing the funeral process step-by-step can help dispel any myths or anxieties children may have. For some children, basic information is enough for them to make an informed decision. If your child has any other questions after giving them the basics, answer them honestly and respect their choice once they have made their mind up.

How to Prepare Children Who Choose to Attend

Explain Grief: Children should know that they are not expected to feel a certain way. Prepare them for being around people that may be emotional or even crying, and explain that while that is acceptable, there is no right or wrong way to express grief.

Clarify: Explain that relatives and other people may try to ease their grief by sharing inaccurate euphemisms such as, “Grandma is sleeping.” Clarify with your children that a person who has died cannot breathe, talk, think nor feel pain. Death is permanent and it can be confusing to a child if he or she is made to believe otherwise.

Involve: Children who choose to attend funerals can be involved in the funeral planning as well as in the service. Helping choose pictures for a memorial tribute video or photos for a picture board are activities that allow everyone involved help remember the dead. Giving children something to do, like handing out programs before the service can help them feel purposeful. Ask if there is anything they would like included in the casket. It is often comforting for the child to place a small gift, a drawing, a letter or a picture of themselves in the casket.

Assign a Buddy: If you yourself are not able to be with your child during the funeral service think about assigning a family member or friend to be a “buddy” with the child. This will allow you to fulfill your obligations but feel at ease that an adult is there for your child in case he or she has any questions.

After the Funeral

It is important for you feel confident in your choice to include younger family members in the funeral rituals. After the funeral, follow-up with your child to see if they have any questions or anything they want to talk about. Including your children allows you to gather with them, honor the dead and maybe most importantly, learn how to grieve and self-heal.

Click here for more detailed information on understanding the important role memorialization plays in the lives of youth:

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Discuss the Importance of Preplanning With Your Parents

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Talking with your parents about preplanning their funeral is important. Not only will it help them plan for the inevitable but it can also help the whole family by alleviating the stress of not leaving everything to the last minute, so to speak.

Start the conversation with your parents while they are still healthy. Let them know that you want to understand their wishes now so you can best plan for later.

Begin by asking questions.

Do they wish to be buried or cremated? Do they want a memorial service? A wood or metal casket?

Knowing the answers to these questions can eliminate the confusion that often occurs when there is no plan in place. It also puts your parents in control. They can discuss the type of services they want or don’t want so that there is no guessing for those they leave behind.

We offer a free, online funeral builder that can help guide you through the questions you will need to ask. The builder provides tool tips along with all of the questions, so you can educate yourself and your parents on the different funeral options.

Involve your entire family.

Be sure to include all of your siblings in the conversation. Having everyone understand your parents’ wishes ahead of time will avoid disagreements that could derail the planning later on. There is nothing more disconcerting than having an argument with your sisters about funeral options on the front steps of the funeral home.

If your parents prefer to put only one person in charge of their funeral arrangements, you should recommend meeting with an attorney to get that preference included in their will(s). Otherwise, the next-of-kin as outlined in New Jersey’s Right to Control Law (N.J.S.A. 45:27-22) will all have a say.

Discuss finances.

Preplanning a funeral also allows your parents the option to put money aside to cover the costs of the funeral. Prefunding a funeral, in whatever amount, will be crucial if the time comes when either of your parents has to apply for Medicaid or another form of public assistance. In New Jersey, moneys designated toward a prepaid funeral are considered an excludable resource for Medicaid and will not jeopardize eligibility.

Setting money aside can also help avoid a financial struggle at a time when you are grieving. It takes care of that burden in advance. Encourage your parents to meet with funeral homes nearby to discuss all the options available to them. Ask about things like prepaid funeral trusts that earn interest, life insurance assignments and funeral insurance to find the best planning options.

Address any concerns.

Your parents may be hesitant to preplan because they don’t know where they will be when one of them dies. They may have plans to retire in another state and think that a funeral prearrangement in New Jersey wouldn’t be beneficial.

When discussing your prefunding options with a funeral director, ask whether or not the moneys are revocable and portable to another state. For example, we use the New Jersey Prepaid Funeral Trust Fund which allows you to use trusted moneys to fund a funeral in any state. You can even make changes if you wish. You are not locked into anything.

Be Patient.

As difficult as it is for you to approach your parents about this topic, it’s even harder for them. No one wants to think about planning for the end of their life. Be prepared that your parents may not be receptive the first time you broach the subject. That’s normal. What’s important is that you keep trying, and that you handle the conversation with compassion. Let your parents know that making these decisions now will help you navigate their funeral later as well as provide comfort to them, knowing that the funeral that is right for the entire family is in place.  

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What to Write in a Sympathy Card

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After hearing the news of someone’s death, many of us want to reach out with condolences, but we aren’t sure what to say. It is common to struggle with crafting a sentiment that both acknowledges the loss and provides comfort to the bereaved at such a sensitive time.

To help get you started, we have provided some examples below of what to write (and what not to write) in a sympathy card based on the feelings you are trying to convey.

What you want to express: Empathy.

What not to write:

  • I know how you feel.
  • I've lost a ___ too.

Although comparing your own loss to that of a family member or friend may seem like a good idea, it can be perceived as making the situation about you. Each person and relationship is different, which means that how we deal with grief and loss will be different as well.

What to write instead:

  • I’m grieving with you.
  • I miss ___ too.

What you want to express: I want to help.

What not to write:

  • Call me if you need anything.

Offering help is well intentioned, but most grieving people struggle to reach out after losing someone close to them. Instead of making a statement, offer help that is specific to their needs.

What to write instead:

  • Here is a gift certificate to (insert name of restaurant with delivery) near you. Please use this to order delivery on a day you just need to stay in.
  • I’m going to go grocery shopping on ____, I’ll text you that morning for your list and I will be happy to pick it up for you.

What you want to express: Apology for missing the funeral.

What not to write:

  • I didn't make the funeral because ___. 

Stating the reason(s) why you could not be there may be perceived as an excuse by the bereaved. Focusing on the future and how you will support them going forward is a better approach.

What to write instead: 

  • I’m so sorry I couldn’t make it to the funeral. I’m bringing dinner for you on ___ if that works for you, and I would love to see you even for just a few moments.
  • I’m so sorry I couldn’t be at the funeral. I’d like to come and visit [name’s] grave sometime soon. Would you like to go together?

If you are still searching for the right message, read through the list of condolences below. You can use these phrases as they are, combine them or customize them to express your feelings. 

  • [Name] was a wonderful person. My condolences to you and your family.
  • We are so deeply sorry for your loss.
  • Words cannot express the sorrow and sadness we feel at the loss of your [relationship to deceased], [name]. Please accept our condolences and know that we are thinking of you.
  • No one can ever replace the amazing person that your ____ was. My thoughts are with you during this time.”
  • I am so sorry to hear about the loss of [name]. As you mourn [him/her], please know that we are grieving with you while at the same time honoring [his/her] memory.
  • I’ll always remember how [name] would [insert story or characteristic here].
  • I can’t express how much (name) meant to me over the years. He/She always brought so much light into the lives of those around him/her. My condolences to you and your wonderful family.”
  • There are no words. Just know that I love you and will also miss [name].
  • May the memories of your [relationship] provide you with comfort during this difficult time.
  • I often think about you and [name] when I [walk by your house, am at work, getting up in the morning, etc.]. I say a prayer each time. Just wanted you to know I am thinking of you and cherishing [name’s] memory.

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Why You Should Consider Preplanning Your Funeral

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Death, for many people, is an uncomfortable subject, especially if we’re talking about our own or that of a beloved family member.

It is important; however, to talk about last wishes and funeral arrangements while our family is still here. Likewise, it’s important to take those conversations to the next level – preplanning a funeral.

Multiple options for how to handle a funeral, burial or cremation, along with a host of possibilities for memorialization, are now available. Here at Krowicki Gorny Memorial Home, we are best equipped to talk you through those choices so that the funeral you want is the funeral you get. It’s better to discuss those preferences during a time when it’s not as emotional as it is immediately after someone’s death. Preplanning takes the guesswork out of funerals.

In addition, preplanning helps you to identify any potential benefits that may help pay for the funeral. Among the most common sources of benefits are the Veterans Administration, Social Security and fraternal and civic organizations.

Lastly, preplanning helps you and your family understand the various costs and fees associated with the funeral you have chosen. You can also choose methods for payment at this time.

Now that we’ve established that you can and should preplan your funeral, you may want to ask how you can do it. Luckily, Krowicki Gorny Memorial Home has made it simple for you by offering a free, easy-to-use preplanning tool. You can use the six steps below as a guide through the process:

  1.  To get started, visit our
  2. Select “I am planning a future funeral” and move to the next option.
  3.  You will be asked whether you are considering cremation or burial, followed by a series of simple questions regarding the type of memorialization you are considering. Each choice you make will have an associated price.
  4. When finished with these choices, you will be presented with the funding options available to prepay your funeral, should you so choose.
  5. Send your choices and thoughts to the funeral home you’ve selected (it’s as simple as a click of a mouse in the builder). Once the funeral home receives and reviews the information, someone from the establishment will get in touch with you to set up an appointment and finalize arrangements.

A couple of final notes for you as you embark on preplanning:

The funeral you preplan doesn’t have to be the funeral you have. In NJ, if you or your family members want to make changes to fit your changing circumstances, you can. You or your next-of-kin may wish to upgrade, reduce, transfer or even cancel the prearrangement if you choose. Also, the NJ funeral home with which you plan the arrangements doesn’t have to be the home you ultimately use. Any prepayments can be forwarded to the funeral home that does handle the services, even if that funeral home is out of state.

There is no risk in preplanning services, but plenty of reward, the biggest being that you’ve taken a weight off your own and your family’s shoulders. When the funeral is finally needed, all can focus on mourning and celebrating life rather than being concerned with arrangements and finances.

Published with permission from Funeral Matters.

What is Direct Cremation?

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Direct Cremation is a term used to describe a cremation that takes place absent any funeral service, memorial or celebration of life.

It is typically the least expensive form of disposition.

Offered by all funeral homes, the direct cremation package typically includes:

  • transferring the body to the funeral home

  • filing the death certificate

  •  obtaining a cremation permit

  • a minimum alternative container (a rigid box that encases the deceased)

  • arranging for the cremation (generally occurs between 24–48 hours)

  • transportation to the crematory

  •  returning the ashes in a simple container

There is no viewing or gathering, funeral service or embalming.

Following the cremation, you can choose to scatter, bury or keep the ashes in your home or in any other location of importance.

Memorialization Beyond Direct Cremation

While a direct cremation package handles the disposition of the dead, there are certainly many more options available to you after the cremation has taken place.

A memorial service is an option that is available any time following the cremation and can be in any location of your choosing. From formal services to casual “get-togethers,” you may wish to gather at a funeral home, church, restaurant or park. Any space you can personalize to honor the dead can be an ideal location to hold a memorial service. Many people choose to have photographs, videos or even the ashes present during the service.

If you wish to gather and honor the life of a loved one after cremation, talk to your funeral director about a cremation with a memorial service.

To see what we charge for a direct cremation package and other goods and services, visit out builder here: :

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7 Things to Consider When Planning Memorialization

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As our traditions change over time, so do the ways in which we choose to express our grief and honor the memory of those who have died. Today, there are no rules when it comes to planning a funeral or memorial service (except that in New Jersey funeral arrangements DO have to be made with a licensed funeral director). From funeral venues to body disposition, there are several things to consider that may seem like a fresh perspective when it comes to planning memorialization.

1. Disposition

Most of us grew up knowing burials as the default form of how we say goodbye to the deceased. But there are other options like cremation, entombment and body donation to consider that, once decided, can shape the way you choose to commemorate.

2. Venue

The location where you choose to gather with friends and family does not have to be in “traditional” event spaces. While churches and funeral homes will always be common choices for funerals and memorials, you are not limited to only those venues.

Depending on whether the body will be present during the service, you can gather pretty much anywhere. That’s correct–the body does not have to be present for the service. Beaches, parks, museums, scenic locations or even a family member’s boat would serve as a suitable space to gather. If you do choose to have the service at our funeral home, family and friends also can gather after the service to comfort each other and share memories.

3. Celebrants

Families who do not wish to have a religious funeral service may decide not to attend a place of worship or invite clergy to speak. Instead, you may choose to organize friends and family to conduct a service or engage a Certified Celebrant, which many funeral homes offer. Celebrants are storytellers who work closely with families to customize memorialization in fresh and unique ways.

4. Personalization

Consider personalizing elements of the service. Say the deceased was an antique car collector. Imagine all of their cars parked at the funeral home on the night of the visitation for all to appreciate. Readings, poems, prayers and music can be easily incorporated into any service. Maybe the deceased was a Jazz musician and their fellow band mates would be interested in playing live music during the time the family chooses to gather.

Personal memorabilia such as photo displays or a tribute video that presents the life and shared memories allows family and friends to feel as though they are part of the service. We can assist you in creating a tribute video from photos of memories that capture the deceased’s personality and their life’s best moments.

5. Memorial Gifts

Favors or gifts can be a nice gesture and keep your loved one in the hearts and minds of those who attended the memorial service. If the deceased was a wonderful chef you could hand out recipe cards of their homemade classics at the funeral.

6. Flowers

Floral displays are a great way to transform any room into a warm inviting space. The flowers themselves can even tell a story. Creative, personalized floral displays can showcase a hobby of the deceased, such as a love for sports. Personal items like a baseball and glove can be incorporated into the floral arrangement or you can simply ask the florist to create a wreath with flowers and personal mementos.  

7. Donations

Have you ever noticed that some people request memorial contributions "in lieu of flowers" after someone dies? The premise is that flowers are not permanent and a contribution to a charity or favorite cause can provide help to those in need. Asking for donations can be a humble way to have those who want to show support for your family contribute.

Planning a funeral or memorial service is a deeply personal process. It is likely that your decisions will be shaped by your own life experiences and your relationship to the deceased. The options may seem overwhelming but you won’t go wrong if you focus on what made your loved one special.

Funeral Planning: It’s Not As Difficult As You Think

The internet has become a vast, digital universe bursting with factoids, memes, merchandise and gluten-free paleo recipes that can be made in the microwave. This intangible space not only keeps us entertained, but it allows us to flex our independent muscles when it comes to almost everything.

We can shop, ride, evite and explore from sitting on our couch, and we feel confident planning a trip without a travel agent or buying a car without a dealer.

When it comes to planning a funeral, we’re a little less confident. We feel like we NEED someone to tell us how to navigate the situation because chances are, it’s a situation we have not been in before.

But it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. With Krowicki Gorny Memorial Home, it’s actually quite simple.

Build and Price a Funeral

Our funeral home uses an intuitive web interface that is designed for you to review the options available to you from the comfort of your own home, at your own pace, anonymously.

You start by answering a series of simple questions:

  • Has a death occurred or are you planning a future funeral? Click.
  • Are you interested in cremation or a burial? Click.
  • Would you like to gather with family and friends? Click.

As you click through the process, your answers are compiled to build an estimated funeral arrangement. Once you finish, you are presented with a summary outlining all the services and merchandise affiliated with the selections you have made. Each selection is clearly displayed with an explanation about what it is, and why it was included. And the best part is: PRICES.

You can see in real-time the costs affiliated with your selections. This is an easy way for you to fine-tune the funeral you are planning, get familiar with the arrangement process, and understand the costs.

After you are done building a funeral, you have the option to print out your price estimate and/or share it with family or friends via email. You can even compare funeral home prices to help you select the right funeral home to meet your needs and budget.

The process is free to use. All pricing and services are transparent with no hidden surprises. If you wish to remain anonymous, no worries. The only time you will be requested to give contact information is if and when you choose to finalize your selections.

Sounds pretty simple, doesn’t it? Build and price a funeral, yourself, online, anywhere, at any time.

See? Planning a funeral isn’t as difficult as you thought.

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Who Will Control My Funeral? 

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Along with many other states, New Jersey has what is called the Right to Control Law (N.J.S.A. 45:27-22).

The law outlines a family-tree hierarchy that determines who has control over the funeral and disposition (cremation, burial, entombment or donation) of a deceased person, and is ordered as follows: 

  • Court Order
  • Funeral Agent or designee of an active duty service member
  • Legal spouse, NJ registered domestic or civil union partner
  • Majority of children (over the age of 18)
  • Parent(s)
  • Majority of siblings (over the age of 18)
  • Other relatives
  • Other interested parties (if there are no known living relatives)

Now a distinction must be made here. Having the right to control the funeral and disposition of a deceased person does NOT mean having authority over the estate of the deceased, or any other business or financial matters. That person would be the executor, and they are not necessarily the same person.

What if there is no one to authorize?

“Eleanor Rigby died in the church and was buried along with her name, nobody came.” The Beatles sang about a lot of things, even inadvertently addressing an important challenge in funeral arrangements in their song, Eleanor Rigby—what happens when there is no one to make the decision?

With an average life expectancy of age 79 for men and 81 for women in the United States, there is a good possibility that individuals who exceed that age will outlive their family. In cases where there are no blood relatives remaining, an individual classified as an “other interested party” may authorize the funeral and disposition. The category would include any friend, neighbor, care worker or other person willing to take on the responsibility.

In situations where an individual does not have family or close relatives, it is highly recommended that a funeral prearrangement be made. Helpful online tools like the interactive Funeral Matters builder can help you go through the process of choosing the service and disposition options you prefer, getting prices along the way. You can then share your selections with a funeral director.

As part of the process, it is encouraged that individuals inform the funeral director of all relatives who fall within the right to control hierarchy. Names, addresses and telephone numbers should all be provided whenever available. If there are no relatives, giving contact information for friends or neighbors will also be helpful. Then, at the time of death, the funeral director would contact the person designated to carry out those prearranged wishes.

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6 Things You May Not Know About Funerals

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Most people never think about funerals until it’s time to attend one. Understandable, but not very helpful when you unexpectedly find yourself faced with the responsibility of planning one.

We’ve put together 6 interesting facts about funerals that you may be happy to know if you’re ever in an arrangement room.

1.) You cannot authorize your own funeral.

In New Jersey, you have the option to prearrange and prepay for your funeral. You can purchase a grave or tell your family where you would like your remains to be scattered. However, you cannot sign the final authorization for your own burial or cremation. New Jersey, as well as other states, has what is called the Right to Control Law. The law, absent what is called a “funeral agent designation,” outlines a family hierarchy depicting who  the right to authorize the funeral of a deceased person. It is those within the hierarchy, sometimes as a collective majority, that will determine your funeral arrangements.

2.) You can have a funeral wherever and whenever you wish.

Funerals have evolved. No longer must they conform to some prescribed format that your grandfather or great aunt may have followed. Funerals can take whatever shape you believe best reflects you or your family’s lifestyle.

For example, you can have a simple memorial service at your favorite restaurant with a certified celebrant. The body does not even need to be present if you do not want it to be. You can have a religious mass in a church for immediate family and a memorial service in a funeral home six months later for out-of-town guests. Or, you could gather at sunset on your favorite beach for a candlelight vigil or in the local park at a barbeque with fireworks. The choice is yours and any funeral home you choose can help facilitate your wishes for honoring the life that has ended.

3.) A casket and coffin are not the same thing.

People tend to use the words interchangeably, but there is a difference between the two. A coffin has six sides and is most often seen in American horror movies as what Dracula climbs out of each night. Shaped like a hexagon, coffins are designed to follow the lines of the human body, tapered at the head and foot with a wider construction at the shoulder. A casket is rectangular with four sides adjoined at right angles. It was once believed that caskets were more acceptable than coffins since, when closed, the morose reminder that there was a body inside was masked by the more appeasing fundamental shape. Sorry Dracula.

4.) You can still have a funeral if you choose cremation.

Not many people know this. Funerals are not off limits just because you want to be cremated. You can have a viewing with an open casket prior to the cremation or a memorial service with a commemorative video at anytime. Some people have services with an urn on display rather than a casket. You can even have a funeral a year after the cremation if you wanted. Your funeral options are not restricted simply because you choose cremation.

5.) You don’t have to be embalmed.

You may be surprised to learn that except in certain special cases, embalming is not required by law. You can choose not to be embalmed, be embalmed with eco-friendly preservatives or not care either way. If you do not want embalming, you usually have the right to choose an arrangement that does not require you to pay for it. Some funeral homes may require embalming if you wish to have a public viewing of the body or if it does not have refrigerated facilities. It is also worth noting that New Jersey health laws do require bodies be either embalmed or refrigerated within 48 hours after death if the body is not cremated or buried within that time frame.

6.) You can compare funeral home prices.

Prices vary from funeral home to funeral home. You have the right to call and ask what the costs are. All funeral homes have what is a called a General Price List outlining their pricing, and are required by law to share it with anyone who asks for it. Many funeral homes even have prices available online. Krowicki Gorny Memorial Home actually allows you to build and price a funeral online using an interactive builder. Do your homework. Get the facts. This way, you will have information if and when it comes time to plan a funeral.

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