Funeral Questions and Answers

Funeral Questions and Answers
This extensive post answers all your funeral questions and their component parts and includes links to posts about cremation, burial, grief, planning, etc.
7 minute read

Guest Blog

Few people are provided with the answers to their questions about funerals until they have to arrange one for a family member or consider their own.  Funerals is not a topic that is taught in general studies at schools. Parents also tend to shield children from the topic of death and dying. Outside of what they see in movies, most people become adults armed with little understanding of what funerals are and what end of life processes entail, at least until usually an elderly member of their family dies.

At Eirene, we invest in educational material for our customers and to that end we are answering the most common questions asked about end of life processes and death and dying. For us it is a public service that is an important part of our mission.

Funeral resources and information

To get started, here are a few extensive resources we have put together. What follows those key information pages is a set of common questions and answers about funerals.

As always, if you have a question about funerals, cremation, aquamation or urns for ashes, do not hesitate to contact us via email at support@eirene.ca. You can also use our contact us page.

What is a funeral?

Learn the basics about what is a funeral, what is the history of funerals, what is the purpose of a funeral, what are component parts that make up the end of life processes and how a deceased person is prepared, memorialized and put to rest. Read more here

What are the components of a funeral?

Few people ever tell you what happens to a person when they die and are celebrated with a funeral. In this article about understanding funerals, we discuss the three basic processes and activities that define a funeral and provide tips on what to expect when a person dies and a funeral is arranged for them. Read more here.

What is cremation?

Cremation is a funerary process whereby a dead body is reduced to basic elemental materials that are called ashes, but large simply consist of course bone fragments. There are two forms fo cremation, flame cremation and a newer type of cremation called aquamation, which uses a chemical process. Read: Cremation Questions and Answers.

What is flame cremation?

Flame cremation is the process by which a body is exposed to extreme heat in a furnace and is reduced to a course powder that consists largely of course skeletal bone fragments. Learn more about flame cremation here.

What is aquamation?

Aquamation, also know as liquid cremation, is the funerary process by which a body is reduced to a fine dust that consists largely of calcium from bone using a chemical compound, water, heat and pressure. It is considered more sustainable for the environment than flame cremation or burial. Is often the choice for those that are concerned about minimizing the impact on the environment by their funeral. Learn more here on our Understanding Aquamation page.

What is direct cremation?

Direct cremation is an increasingly popular funeral option whereby a direct cremation operator picks up a person's body at the place of death and transports them to a crematory where they are held in refrigeration until all required government paperwork  has been completed. The body is then cremated and the ashes are returned to the next of kin.  There is no visitation or viewing and so embalming is not required. Any memorial service or celebration of life is held by the family after the fact, at a time when people can gather, sometimes weeks or months afterwards. Learn more in 10 things to know about direct cremation.

What is a burial?

A burial in a funeral context is the act of placing a dead person's body into as funeral container called a casket (or wrapped in a shroud) and placed in a grave four or more feet deep, usually in a cemetery. Sometimes a casket is placed in a crypt in a mausoleum, which is a building on cemetery grounds.

What does a funeral cost?

Funerals are one of the largest expenses in a person's lifetime. See what typical types of funeral costs as well as costs for cremation, burial and  the various components of a funeral all in this extensive Funeral Cost Q&A so that you can get your funeral cost questions answered.

What is interment?

Interment is the placement of a body at its final resting place, either in a grave, mausoleum, or columbarium. Learn more about the definition of interment and the various types of interment here.

What does final disposition mean and which one is most selected?

Final disposition is a term used by the funeral industry to refer to what is done with a dead body when a funeral is over. The definition of dispositon is: "The way in which something is placed or arranged, especially in relation to other things."  So a final disposition is a reference to to either burial of a dead human body in the ground (or placement in a mausoleum) or cremation of the remains. Learn more about what final disposition method most Canadians and Americans choose in this article.

How long after death is a funeral held?

A funeral can happened within a day or up to two weeks after death, however there are a variety of factors that impact this timeline. Learn more in our guide.

How long do funeral last?

Funerals are comprised of a series of events that friends and families attend to a honour a loved one that has past. Each one has a varying time commitment. Typically all events can be conducted with a week of deat, but there are exceptions. In this post learn how long funerals last and what the length of each funeral event can be.

Is embalming required by law in Canada?

Embalming is not require by law in Canada. This article discusses what is eblaming and the rationale for why you would choose or forgo the funerary procedure and what the alternatives and considerations are. Click here.

Can you pre-plan a funeral?

Yes, funerals can be pre-planned by a person that wants their end-of-life choices to be honoured by their family, so they make arrangements long before they die. Pre-planning also allows for a funeral to be pre-paid so there is no financial burden on a family. Learn more about pre-planning. Or you can initiate preplanned arrangements with Eirene.

What is a funeral urn and what are ashes?

A funeral urn or cremation urn is a container than holds the ashes of a cremated human body. Ashes consist of the remains of a person who has been cremated. To learn everything that you might want or need to know about urns and ashes, click here.  You can also buy an urn online.

What are some funeral traditions?

Here are some beautiful funeral traditions from around the world to take inspiration: Click here

What tasks need to be done in the days and weeks after a death?

When the death of a loved one occurs, it triggers a busy time for their family and the person responsible for their final affairs. Here is a checklist of tasks in the seven days after a death and the tasks that need to be handled within 30 days of a death.

Can my family handle some of the required funeral tasks to save money?

Yes, with the exception of specific tasks, like cremation or burial, a family can handle many of the funeral-related tasks themselves, in concert with a professional funeral services company. See our guide to what are called "home funerals" or what is sometimes called family-led death care.

What should I wear to a funeral?

Funeral attendees are not always clear on what to wear to a funeral service or celebration of life, especially when it comes to the seasons and type of event. This guide will help you understand what to wear to a funeral and covers attire for men, women, teens and children.  Click here.

What should I say when someone dies?

Learn what to say at a funeral if you are invited to attend one or when someone dies. Our "what to say at a funeral" guide helps you find words to express your condolences to the family and friends of someone who has died. Click here.

Is casket different than a coffin?

Yes it is. Learn more about the difference between a casket and a coffin and also how to buy one, plus costs, types and choices you will need to make.

What kinds of gravestones and memorial stones are there?

One of the final tasks a family may need to complete after a loved one has died is to choose a cemetery marker or memorial stone to mark their grave in a cemetery. This choice can be simple or surprisingly complex, depending on what type of gravestone is selected. Here is a rundown of everything you need to know about headstones, tombstones, funeral markers, cremation memorial stones, and even mausoleums.

What does a funeral cost?

Learn about the costs of the various components of a funeral, including cremation, burial, a funeral event, and the associated services that you might choose for your loved one. Also learn about the cost of direct cremation. Click here.

What does cremation cost?

Learn about cremation costs, including fees and extra services you might need to consider.  We also cover cost of flame cremation or aquamation. Find out what Eirene’s cremation pricing is here.

Will the government pay for a funeral in Canada?

In Canada, there are several program that can help pay for a funeral. The Canada Death Benefit is part of the Canadian Pension Plan social benefit program for workers. In Ontario, the Ontario Works program can help pay for a funeral.  You can also see a summary of these programs on this funeral financial assistance page and in this government funeral assistance article. Also learn what the options are if your family can't afford a funeral in Canada.

What is the newest funeral technology?

While aquamation is fairly new to the funeral industry as a flameless cremation form of disposition, the newest technology in development is called promession. It is a freeze drying technology for human remains under development in Sweden. Learn more about promession here.