Frequently Asked Questions...What purpose does a funeral serve?
What do funeral directors do?
Do you have to have a funeral director to bury the dead?
Why hold a public viewing?
What is the purpose of embalming?
Does a dead body have to be embalmed, according to law?
Isn't burial space becoming scarce?
Is cremation a substitute for a funeral?
Is it possible to have a traditional funeral if someone dies of AIDS?
How much does a funeral cost?
Why are funerals so expensive?
What recourse does a consumer have for poor service or overcharging?
Do funeral directors take advantage of the bereaved?
Who pays for funerals for the indigent?
What should I do if the death occurs in the middle of the night or on the weekend? Will someone come right away? If a loved one dies out of province, can the local Funeral Home still help? So, I've decided on cremation. Can I still have a funeral or a viewing? What government agencies help defray final expenses?
It is the customary way to recognize death and its finality. Funerals are recognized rituals for the living to show respect for the dead and to help survivors begin the grief process.
Funeral directors are caregivers and administrators. They make the arrangements for transportation of the body, complete all necessary paperwork, and implement the choices made by the family regarding the funeral and final disposition of the body. Funeral directors are listeners, advisors and supporters. They have experience assisting the bereaved in coping with death. Funeral directors are trained to answer questions about grief, recognize when a person is having difficulty coping, and recommend sources of professional help. Funeral directors also link survivors with support groups at the funeral home or in the community.
In Saskatchewan it is required that a licensed funeral director transport and care for the remains of the deceased as in most cases people would find it very trying to be solely responsible for arranging the details and legal matters surrounding a death.
Viewing is part of many cultural and ethnic traditions. Many grief specialists believe that viewing aids the grief process by helping the bereaved recognize the reality of death. Viewing is encouraged for children, as long as the process is explained and the activity voluntary.
Embalming sanitizes and preserves the body, retards the decomposition process, and enhances the appearance of a body disfigured by traumatic death or long term 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 the type of service most comforting to them.
No. Most provinces, however, require embalming when death was caused by a reportable contagious disease or when remains are to be transported from one province to another by common carrier or if final disposition is not to be made within prescribed number of hours.
While it is true some metropolitan areas have limited available cemetery space, in most areas of the country, there is enough space set aside for the next 50 years without creating new cemeteries. In addition, land available for new cemeteries is more than adequate, especially with the increase in entombment and multi-level grave burial.
No, cremation is an alternative to earth burial or entombment for the body's final disposition and often follows a traditional funeral service.
Yes, A person who dies of an AIDS-related illness is entitled to the same service options afforded to anyone else. If public viewing is consistent with local or personal customs, that option is encouraged. Touching the deceased's face or hands is perfectly safe. Because the grief experienced by survivors may include a variety of feelings, survivors may need even more support than survivors of non-AIDS-related deaths may.
Today at our funeral home, the average charge for an adult, full-service funeral, is approximately $6500.00; this includes a professional service charge, transfer-of remains, embalming, other preparation, and use of viewing facilities, use of facilities for ceremony, hearse, and casket. The casket included in this price is a mid-range wooden casket with satin interior, which may or may not be the most common casket chosen. Vault, cemetery, cash disbursements and monument charges are additional.
When compared to other major life cycle events, like births and weddings, funerals are not expensive. A wedding costs at least three times as much; but because it is a happy event, wedding costs are rarely criticized. A funeral home is a 24-hour, labour-intensive business, with extensive facilities (viewing rooms, chapels, hearses, etc.); these expenses must be factored into the cost of a funeral. Moreover, the cost of a funeral includes not only merchandise, like caskets, but also the services of a funeral director in making arrangements; filing appropriate forms; dealing with doctors, ministers, florists, newspapers and others; and seeing to all the necessary details. Contrary to popular belief, funeral homes are largely family-owned businesses.
Not much recourse is available in Saskatchewan. In most cases, the consumer should discuss problems with the funeral director first. If talking with the funeral director cannot solve the dispute, the consumer may wish to contact the Funeral & Cremation Services Council of Saskatchewan. The FCSCS provides information, hears complaints and regulates the industry.
Funeral directors are caring individuals who help people deal with a very stressful time. They serve the same families 80% of the time, and many have spent most of their lives in the same community. If they took advantage of bereaved families, they could not stay in business. The fact that the average funeral home has been in business over 59 years shows that most funeral directors respect the wishes of the bereaved families.
Funeral directors look upon their profession as a service, but it is also a business. Like any business, funeral homes must make a profit to exist. As long as the profit is reasonable and the services rendered are necessary, complete, and satisfactory to the family, profit is legitimate.
Other than the family, there are veteran, union, and other organizational benefits to pay for funerals, including, in certain instances, a lump sum death payment from Canada Pension. In most provinces, some forms of public aid allowances are available from the province, or city or a combination. Most funeral directors are aware of the various benefits and know how to obtain them for the indigent. However, funeral directors often absorb costs above and beyond what is provided by agencies to insure the deceased has a respectable burial.
Contact Us as soon as possible so we can serve your needs immediately.
If you request immediate assistance, yes. If the family wishes to spend a short time with the deceased to say good bye, it's acceptable. They will come when your time is right.
Yes, they can assist you with out-of-province arrangements, either to transfer the remains to another province or country or from another province or country.
Yes, quite often some sort of viewing precedes the actual cremation. Our Funeral Home can assist you with the necessary information for a funeral with a cremation following or a memorial service.
Statistics show that in Saskatchewan the rate of cremation being the chosen method of disposition by families is on the rise. Nationally, earth burial is still the chosen means of disposition by the majority. Yet, many people know little about their options - such as, what type of service or gathering is available and where should it be held? What type of container and final resting place is preferred? And, what type of memorial and where should it be displayed?
It is often found that many people decide upon cremation having only received very little information by word of mouth from friends. The members of the Saskatchewan Funeral Service – your local funeral directors believe that the general public needs more information on cremation.
What Is Cremation?
We feel any decisions made about cremation should be educated decisions. Cremation is, in fact, only one process in a series of events that will take place. Cremation is where the body is prepared for final disposition. Over a period of 2 to 3 hours the body is transformed by intense fire (1600 - 2000 degrees Fahrenheit) to a state of small skeletal fragments and not fine ash as some people believe.
After the cremation process is complete, the cremated remains are removed from the cremation chamber and placed in a tray for cooling. They are then processed by crushing or grinding to their final reduced consistency. The processed cremated remains are generally placed in a small cardboard box or other temporary container at the crematorium. Most cremated remains weigh between 4 - 8 pounds. The cremated remains are returned to the family or to the Executor / legal representative of the deceased.
Now that you understand the process of cremation, there are still many other decisions that will have to be made.
No Service By Request
- Margaret Mead
One of the biggest misconceptions about cremation is that there can't be any funeral, or because the final disposition is cremation, there will be no funeral. Nothing could be further from the truth. Even with cremation many families choose the comfort of a traditional funeral with the cremation taking place afterwards. A memorial service differs from a funeral in that it takes place after the cremation. Often the urn containing the cremated remains is present with memorabilia, photographs, awards or any personal effects that are meaningful or special.
Sometimes we hear of "No Service by Request" or "Immediate Disposition". This generally refers to the fact that a service will not be held for the deceased, however, it should not be confused with the many details that will have to be tended to prior to the cremation taking place. This is important to understand. Requests for “immediate disposition” can be misleading because there are still many details which need to be tended to before cremation may take place. Immediate disposition includes: the transfer of the deceased from the place of death; obtaining and securing documentation for the registration of death; securing the necessary permit in order for cremation to take place.
The deceased need not be presented in a casket for cremation but, in the absence of a casket, a suitable container must be utilized that is sufficient to aide in the handling of the remains to prevent a health hazard to crematorium personnel. The container or casket is then placed into the cremation chamber. Only one container or casket is placed in the crematory at a time. If the deceased had a pacemaker, this must be removed by the funeral home staff prior to cremation. A person can be buried or cremated with simplicity; however, there is a certain amount of administrative duties and physical preparation of the deceased that may need to be performed prior to the cremation taking place.
What Happens After Cremation?
For individuals and families choosing cremation a decision regarding a final resting place must also be made. A cemetery with its many options for final disposition and memorialization provides permanency. A place for family to visit and remember their loved one, on important family occasions such as special holidays and anniversaries.
Usually cremated remains are placed in some type of permanent receptacle, or urn, before being committed to a final resting place. An urn is a container designed to hold cremated remains permanently. It can be constructed from a variety of materials including: hardwoods such as oak, cherry and mahogany; metals such as bronze, copper, brass and pewter; or stone such as granite, marble or cultured marble. An urn should be approximately 3,277 cubic centimetres (200 cubic inches) in capacity. Some families choose to provide their own urn which was purchased somewhere else or home-made. It is important that such urns be of an appropriate size. In Saskatchewan, you may purchase an urn or casket from any funeral provider or retailer or may utilize one which was made at home and the funeral provider may not refuse to use it or charge a surcharge to use it, however they may require you to sign a waiver indemnifying the funeral provider from any and all claims against them due to failure on the part of the merchandise in such instances.
Earth Burial of the Urn
Among the many options available, a very common choice is burial. If another member of the family has, or does not choose cremation, burial of the cremated remains offers families the flexibility to still be placed to rest near each other.
A columbarium is an above-ground structure, usually in a cemetery, where an urn is placed in a small compartment called a niche.
Cremated remains also may be scattered in cemetery gardens especially created and dedicated for this purpose. The location where the cremated remains have been scattered in the garden can be identified by name on a special memorial plaque or marker. Some cemeteries have gardens that are designed specifically for the scattering of cremated remains.
There are no provincial regulations that prohibit the scattering of cremated remains on land, sea or by air. However, municipal by-laws may dictate otherwise. You may wish to check with your local city hall to ensure that scattering is not prohibited in your area. Once you have checked and you have decided to scatter the cremated remains, it is highly advisable that a site be chosen with a permanent member that will provide a place of pilgrimage for immediate and future generations who want to remember and celebrate the life of their loved one.
The decision to scatter should be chosen carefully. Although the act of scattering over land or water may have romantic and idyllic appeal to some, it is an irreversible decision. Already we are starting to see the emotional results this has had some years later on the survivors, who have come to regret no permanent memorial site. The emotional value of establishing a permanent site is worthy of consideration.
In Saskatchewan, there are hundreds of cremated remains that have never been claimed from the funeral home. Many funeral directors have gone to great lengths in order to ensure dignified final disposition for these unclaimed cremated remains. Under provincial regulations, if the cremated remains are not retrieved within one year from the date of cremation, the funeral home has the right to bury the cremated remains in common ground at a local cemetery.
All funds for prepaid funeral plan contracts with funeral providers must be placed in a provincial government regulated funeral home trust account. Or pre-planned arrangements may be funded by insurance policy, ask your funeral director for additional information regarding such methods of pre-funding funeral arrangements. We hope that you have found this information helpful by showing the variety and flexibility that cremation offers.
Burial At Sea
Federal government law must be adhered to with respect to a burial at sea. Strict regulation and guidelines now make a burial at sea virtually prohibitive. A permit application must be made well in advance of need (at least 8 weeks). A notice of intent must be published in a local newspaper. Proof of the notice must be sent to Environment Canada and include an application fee. Other stringent regulations include nautical miles from land for burial site and casket specifications.
It is recommended that alternative arrangements be made since burial at sea regulations and costs have become very restrictive, if not impossible.
The Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology at the College of Medicine of the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon has a program for those wishing to offer their bodies to the college for the purpose of teaching normal human anatomy to medical and dental students. It should be understood that this program is not the same as "donation to science" for the purpose of scientific or disease research. As well, it should be understood that at the time of death the body must be deemed by the institution to be “at need” and "medically acceptable". Donation of a body does not necessarily mean the institution will accept the body and alternative arrangements should be stated in your Last Will and Testament. Medical conditions that can prevent acceptance as a donor include: advanced metastic cancers, Hepatitis B and C, AIDS virus, Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, Tuberculosis, muscular atrophy and any disease of unknown etiology. Extensive trauma to the body at the time of death, recent surgery, decomposition, autopsy or obesity may also make the remains unsuitable for anatomical study. To be accepted the body must be "needed" and "medically acceptable". For those considering body donation, there are three key points:
- Prior to death, forms must be obtained from the University of Saskatchewan, Department of Anatomy, and completed and returned.
- You must state in your Will that you wish to donate your body for “medical instruction”.
- All human remains received by the University of Saskatchewan will be embalmed by the University and not by a funeral home.
For more details about the donation process and body donor consent forms you can telephone the University of Saskatchewan Department of Anatomy & Cell Biology at 306-966-4075
CAUTION - make alternate pre-arrangements ... not all human remains will be accepted. Before you consider this option it is also important to discuss it with your family, Executor and physician.
When Death Occurs Away From Home
Should a death occur when you are away from home, contact Kopan’s Funeral Service at 1-306-783-0099. The funeral director will act on your behalf and help coordinate all the details required in order to have the deceased transferred back to their hometown. If you are in another country where there may be language or cultural barriers, it is recommended that if logistically possible, you contact the nearest Canadian Consulate to also assist you or visit www.embassyworld.com The Department of Foreign Affairs offers an enquiries service and an excellent brochure called "Bon Voyage But ..." Call 1-800-267-8376 for a free copy of this brochure or visit the D.F.A.I.T. website at www.dfait-maeci.gc.ca
Usually, Funeral Directors will help gather the necessary information to apply for financial assistance from Canada Pension, Social Services and The Last Post Fund.