Answers to Common Questions About Funeral Arrangements

Making funeral arrangements is very difficult for anyone, no matter their relation to the deceased, but knowing what is involved in such arrangements can make it easier for you, if you should find yourself needing to make such plans. Note a few common questions about funeral arrangements and then discuss any other questions you have with a funeral director, as needed.

Is embalming required by law?

Laws will vary from location to location, so you might ask a funeral director if embalming is required in your city or state. In most areas, it's not legally required unless the deceased died due to a condition that would make close contact with their remains a danger to others. Also, embalming helps to preserve the remains so that you can take longer to bury the deceased; if you need to give out-of-town guests more time to travel, for example, you may want to have the remains embalmed.

What are the pros and cons of open and closed casket?

An open casket allows persons to view the deceased, giving friends and family closure at this time. However, a closed casket may be preferred if the deceased suffered an injury or medical condition that affected their appearance. Someone with cancer of the throat or jawbone may have had much of their face removed or altered throughout their treatments, for example, and seeing them in this condition could be upsetting to funeral goers. An open casket might also be very frightening to younger children, or the deceased may have been a private person who would not appreciate being viewed openly and publicly by others.

Can funerals be held anywhere?

Note that you may need a permit for a large group to meet in a public area, including a park. You may also need a permit for any type of procession, including for a funeral; ask a funeral director about what is required in your area, so you know if you need special paperwork from your city or state to have a memorial in a park or elsewhere, or for several cars to drive in a row to a gravesite. Note, too, that getting a certain permit doesn't mean that you can bury a body in a state park; a public gathering and the disposing of remains are two entirely separate matters. A funeral director can advise you on how to scatter cremated ashes, or what permission you might need if you want to bury remains in a location other than a standard gravesite.