The staff at Forest Lawn has compiled a list of frequently asked questions and answers to help you better understand the value of a funeral, what happens during the cremation process, the importance of preplanning your final wishes and more.
If you do not see your question below, please call. Our staff is always available to help.
Q: Do you have to have a vault to be buried?
Our state laws do not require a vault for burial. However, most cemeteries do require an outside container for the casket. The purpose is two-fold: First, the outside receptacle keeps the earth from settling, thus preventing the unevenness of the land which makes the cemetery less attractive. Second, it allows cemetery caretakers to more easily maintain the landscape, which is an advantage to you in a more beautiful cemetery at a lower cost. A vault provides more durability than a grave liner. The vault is usually selected by the family because of their desire for further protection of their loved one in addition to the casket. There are many types of vaults and we would be happy to show you the differences.
Q: How much does a funeral usually cost?
It is difficult to give an average cost because funeral services vary so much. The total cost depends on three main areas: the services selected, the casket and vault chosen and the automotive equipment utilized. While national average for funeral costs would be from $4,000 to $6,000, in actuality it depends on what you select. We encourage people to ask questions and find out about the costs so they can make informed choices. Our firm is affordable because we offer so many different options, all with dignified service.
Q: My mother was cremated and now I'm considering it. What do you think of cremation?
Cremation is a very personal decision. Everyone should find out what is involved in cremation and be sure to discuss the choice with other family members to be sure they are comfortable with the decision to cremate. Also, if you are considering cremation, we recommend you find out your clergy person’s position. For example, some churches permit cremation, but do not condone it. Whether you choose to be buried in the ground, entombed in a mausoleum or scattered at sea, the most important decision is to have a memorial service. Some people think if they are cremated they cannot have a funeral. A funeral is such a help in recognizing the importance of the life that has been lived. The funeral begins the grieving and healing process for friends and family.
Q: At what age should you tell your children about death?
It depends on the child and the circumstance. If a child has just experienced the loss of a grandparent or other family member, it may be necessary to discuss death earlier than usual. Some children mature faster than others and will often ask questions about life and death themselves. Most parents find that even in the preschool years, children want answers about why their pet died or what happens when you die. The important issue is not “when” you tell your children about death, but rather “how” you tell them. It is important to be honest and not resort to false stories such as “God picks the prettiest flowers” or “Grandma is asleep”. We have a practical brochure for explaining death to children, which will advise you step by step on the right words and attitude.
Q: Why do you believe we need death education?
Death education is important because there are so many myths regarding death. If we understand it better, we are then better prepared to cope with grief. Some of the important topics include: “How to explain death to children”, “Suicide Prevention”, “What are the stages of grief”, “How to help friends who have lost a loved one”, and “Various religious customs for funerals”. We work with the teacher or group leader in creating a curriculum, which is helpful and informative. We find adults appreciate the information as well, since our society tries to deny death, and therefore are poorly informed.
Q: I think viewing the body is ridiculous. I don't want anyone gawking at me after I'm dead. After all, what good is a funeral anyway?
Most families choose to have a viewing because it helps them to come to the reality that their loved one is truly gone. If you do not have an opportunity to view, you can fool yourself into thinking the person has not died. Of course, this is an option for each family because you can certainly have visitation and a funeral without a viewing. Remember though, people are gawking because they were friends of the person who has died – not curiosity seekers.
Q: If my family decides they don't want the so-called "traditional funeral" for me, what other options do they have?
Many people falsely believe that everyone has to have a “traditional” funeral. However, we believe that every service should be personalized in order to honor the person who has died and be meaningful to the survivors. We offer alternatives such as humanistic services instead of religious services, visitations with or without viewing, and unique ceremonies to honor the person who has died. For example, one of the most meaningful services when a teenager dies is to hold the service in the high school gymnasium with the school band playing and the principal or teacher making remarks. We try to be creative in helping the family make funeral arrangements so the decisions truly reflect their personal preferences and the life that has been lived.
Q: What purpose do these fancy caskets serve?
Choosing a casket is a very personal decision. To many people, it is important to select a casket made of very durable steel or semi-precious metal. They feel peace of mind knowing the selection they made protects against the outside elements. Often, families will want to select a casket that seems fitting for their loved one. For example, interiors with quilted patterns, hardwoods with tree designs, religious symbols such as the Last Supper or praying hands and sometimes floral designs, which may represent their family member’s favorite color or flower. We believe finding exactly what is right for you is so important; we offer many choices in caskets and vaults.
Q: Why not eliminate all the fuss, bother, and expense of flowers and funerals and donate the money to charity?
There certainly are many worthy charities. Experience shows that most people see value in both. For example, if the person died from cancer, a donation to the Cancer Society in memory of the individual is especially meaningful. At the same time, it is nice to send flowers to the family left. There is nothing like the beauty of flowers to soften the sadness and truly express the caring felt by friends for the bereaved. The best way to understand the value of flowers is to attend a funeral where there are none. Then attend one where different floral arrangements have been sent and listen to the families when they see the flowers and read the attached notes.
Ceremony marks every transition in life; weddings, baptisms, graduation, and funerals. We need the service to recognize the importance of the life that has been lived. Through music, poetry, and often scriptures, friends and family can face the reality of the death and begin to cope with grief. The family draws comfort from the gathering of all those people whose lives have been touched by the person who has died.
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