Funeral Home

GOAL: To develop a sensitivity to the religious, cultural, and social significance of death and funerals in the American society.

OBJECTIVES: Upon completion of this session, the participant should be able to:

  • Identify choices and decisions that the patient and/or surviving family might have to make in preparation for the funeral service.
  • List possible sources for financial assistance available to defray the costs of burial.
  • Explain the benefit of pre-arrangement for the funeral service.
  • Estimate the cost for burial, cremation and related services, including out of state burials.
  • Have an understanding of religious and cultural traditions that impact funeral arrangements.

SESSION NOTE: This is one of our two off-site sessions. Click here for directions to the
Davis Funeral Home.

Why Do We Have Funerals?
For thousands of years, funerals have been a means of expressing our beliefs, thought and feelings about the death of someone we love.

The funeral ceremony:

  • Helps us acknowledge that someone we love has died.
  • Allows us to say goodbye.
  • Helps us to remember the person who died and encourages us to share those memories with others.
  • Provides a social support system for us and other friends and family members.
  • Allows us to search for the meaning of life and death.
  • Offers continuity and hope for the living.

Meaningful funeral ceremonies are rights of passage. They help us move from life before the death to live after the death.

The funeral ritual offers predictability and order when the world around us seems chaotic and beyond our control. It also provides a socially recognized forum for expression of our intense feelings of loss.

The Visitation
Why might we want to receive friends and family before the ceremony?

Sometimes called the "wake", "calling hours" or "viewing", the visitation is a time for friends and family to support one another in their grief.

Often the body is present in an open or unopened casket, allowing mourners to acknowledge the reality of the death and granting them the privilege of saying goodbye.

People are able to visit in small groups and remember the person who died.

Receiving friends through a visitation activates your support system and allows others to express their concern and love for you.

Historically, the wake often lasted for days and was a ritual of honor and preparation for the burial to come.

The word "wake" has the same root meaning as to "wake" from sleep. In this context, the "wake" is an awakening to the reality of the death and a watchful vigil that honors the transition from life to death.

Typical Service Types

  • Traditional Burial: This type of service is when arrangements are made to have a visitation and funeral ceremony, followed by burial at the cemetery.
  • Direct Burial: This service is when arrangements are made to inter the deceased in a cemetery without having any ceremony or visitation.
  • Traditional Cremation: While very similar to traditional burial, the difference is that following the funeral, the deceased is transferred to the crematory instead of the procession going to the cemetery.
  • Direct Cremation: Direct cremation is selected when no ceremony or visitation is desired. It is most often the least expensive option offered.
  • Memorial Service: This is a service without the body present. A visitation, burial or cremation may or may not have preceded the memorial service.
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Additional Links

  • Always Go To The Funeral An Essay by Deirdre Sullivan
  • Look at some unconventional ideas for funerals and memorial rituals with FRIENDS
  • How Did 6 Feet Become the Standard Grave Depth? Article
  • 5 Essential Differences between a Burial and a Cremation Service Article

Recommended Library Resources

  • Video: The Undertaking (DVD)