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Funeral and Burial Questions


What purpose does a funeral serve?

It is the customary way to recognize death and its finality. Funerals are recognized rituals for the living to show respect for the deceased and to help surviving family and friends to begin the grief process.

What do funeral directors do?


Funeral directors are caregivers and administrators. They make the arrangements for transportation of the body, complete all the necessary paperwork, and implement the choices made by the family regarding the funeral and final disposition of the body. Funeral directors are listeners, advisers, 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 an the funeral home or in the community.

Do you have to have a funeral director to bury the dead?

In most states, family members may bury their own dead although regulations vary. However, most people find it very trying to be solely responsible for arranging the details and legal matters surrounding a death.

Why have a public viewing?

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 and find closure. Viewing is encouraged for children, as long as the process is explained and the activity is voluntary.

Is it possible to have a traditional funeral if someone dies of AIDS?


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.

Isn't burial space becoming scarce?

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 multilevel grave burial.