Common Questions about Funeral Services

Many people have questions but aren't sure what to ask first.  We hope these questions, and those on the other FAQ pages, will be of some help to you. If you think of something else you would like us to add to this list of questions, please let our Allen Brothers staff know.



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 Why is a funeral important? TOP

For thousands of years, funerals have allowed survivors to express their feelings about the death of someone they love.  The rituals provide comfort when things seem chaotic and out of control.  The funeral is for expressing intense grief.

For many, a visitation followed by a funeral or memorial service is the first step in the grieving process. It is a time when friends, family and other guests can come together to grieve openly and to support one another in a community environment. It is also a time to say good-bye. Viewing the deceased can bring a sense of closure to the bereaved who may be in shock and denial.

It is possible to have a full funeral service even for those choosing cremation. The importance of the ritual is in providing a social gathering to help the bereaved begin the healing process.



What does a funeral director do? TOP

Our funeral directors and arrangement counselors are here to help meet the needs of families. They give direction to disorganization and demonstrate compassion and professionalism while assisting your family in your time of grief.  In short, our funeral directors and arrangement counselors are both facilitators and organizers.

They are also caregivers and administrators.  As a caregiver, our funeral directors and arrangement counselors are listeners, advisors and supporters. They have experience assisting the bereaved in coping with death.  They are trained to answer questions about grief, recognize when a person is having difficulty coping, and, at times, recommend sources of professional help.

As administrators, the funeral directors and arrangement counselors make the arrangements for transportation of your loved one, complete all necessary paperwork, and implement the choices made by your family regarding the funeral and final disposition of your loved one.  Below are some of the ways the staff at Allen Brothers Mortuary will assist you and your family:

  • Pick up and transport your loved one to the funeral home (anytime day or night)
  • Notify proper authorities
  • Arrange and prepare death certificates
  • Provide certified copies of death certificates for insurance and benefit processing
  • Work with the insurance agent, Social Security or Veterans Administration to ensure that necessary paperwork is filed for receipt of benefits
  • Submit your loved one's obituary to the newspapers of your choice
  • Create an on-line Eternal Tribute memorial page for your loved one
  • Bathe and embalm the deceased body, if applicable
  • Prepare the body for viewing including dressing and cosmetizing
  • Assist the family with funeral arrangements and purchase of casket, urn, burial vault and cemetery plot
  • Schedule the opening and closing of the grave with cemetery personnel, if a burial is to be performed
  • Coordinate with clergy if a funeral or memorial service is to be held
  • Arrange a police escort and transportation to the funeral and/or cemetery for the family, if applicable
  • Order funeral sprays and other flower arrangements as the family wishes



Does the funeral director also handle arrangements with the cemetery? TOP

In most cases, the cemetery will require you to make separate arrangements directly with the cemetery where final disposition will take place.

Once the arrangements are made, our staff will coordinate with the cemetery to conduct the burial or entombment. The same holds true for the placement of a cremation urn in a cemetery plot, niche, or urn garden.



What is embalming and is it required?  TOP

Embalming is a process that sanitizes and preserves the body of a deceased person.  It delays the decomposition process and allows time for viewing and services by the family prior to burial or cremation.  Embalming restores a life-like appearance to the body and can enhance the appearance of a body that has undergone a trauma 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 a type of service most comforting to them.

Except in special cases, embalming is not required by law.  Embalming may be necessary, however, if you select certain funeral arrangements, such as a service with viewing.  If the deceased is to be directly buried or cremated, embalming is not necessary.



What type of service should I have? TOP

Only you can answer that question. The type of service(s) conducted for your loved one, if not noted in a pre-plan, is decided by your family.

Services may vary in ritual according to religious denomination or the wishes of the family.   The presence of friends at this time is an acknowledgment of friendship and support.   The visitation service is usually held at our chapel.  The funeral service may be held at our chapel or your place of worship.  Graveside services are held at the cemetery. 

A private service is by invitation only where selected relatives and a few close friends attend the funeral service. A memorial service is usually a service without the body present and can vary in ceremony and procedures according to the family's community and religious affiliations.

Our Allen Brothers staff will answer all of your questions, personalize each step as you direct, and handle the details for your choices.  We will do everything in our power to relieve as much stress as possible during this difficult time.  The choices are yours; it will be our honor to carry them out.



How do I decide if the casket should be open? TOP

The decision on having an open casket if entirely your choice; there is no right or wrong way.  Since this will be the last time family and friends see their loved one, the viewing can provide a positive lasting memory.  Most times, a loved one will look more peaceful than they did in the hospital or during a lengthy illness.

Some families choose to have an open casket for public viewing.  Some families choose to have the casket open for the immediate family only and then the casket is closed by our staff prior to the arrival of friends and neighbors.  And some families prefer to have the casket closed during the entire service.   

There are many reasons to view the deceased.  It is part of many cultural and ethnic traditions, and many grief specialists believe that viewing aids the grief process, by helping the bereaved recognize the reality of death.  Some grief counselors even encourage viewing for children, as long as it is their desire to do so, and the process is explained well.  Your decisions should be based on what gives your family comfort.

Whatever your choice, our staff will work diligently to make your final goodbye a positive experience.



What should the obituary say? TOP

An obituary is a "news article" that reports the recent death of a person, typically along with an account of the person's life and information about the upcoming funeral services.  Obituaries are normally printed in local newspapers but can also be printed in out-of-the area papers if your loved one spent many years in another city, state, or country.

Two types of paid advertisements are related to obituaries. One, known as a death notice, omits most biographical details and is usually, but not always, printed in local newspapers at no charge.  The other type, a paid memorial obituary, is usually written by family members, perhaps with assistance from our staff.  Newspapers charge fees based on which day of the week the obituary will run, the number of words in the obituary, and if a photo is to be included.  Price quotes are given and a family must approve the obituary and fees before it is run. 

Our Eternal Tribute Memorial  provides for an obituary space with photo and unlimited words, at no charge to our families.   An email link allows you to send notice of this tribute to family and friends across the nation or in other countries.

Writing an obituary can be very difficult and stressful for families.  We hope to reduce this stress by providing this "WHAT TO SAY IN AN OBITUARY OR TRIBUTE" article from our partners at  Please feel welcome to print this article for your convenience.  It includes examples of the different styles that can be helpful when writing the obituary for your loved one and may help you in creating a lasting memorial obituary.

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