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.
Published with permission from www.FuneralMatters.com