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Some Common Misconceptions About Funeral Planning

In 1998, as a third career, I knew when I graduated as a Class 1 Funeral Director that I wanted to specialize in the prepaid funeral planning with private, family owned Ontario funeral homes.  Coming from a professional educator background, I knew that there was void to be filled in educating people and helping them to know what has to be done and what can be done when setting up their eventual prepaid funeral plans.

Over the years I have had the privilege of assisting thousands of people with funeral planning.  The type of celebration they selected to reflect their wishes, values, beliefs and budgets.  Preplanning and prepaying your eventual end of life celebration is the literally the last loving gift you can give your family.

Over the years not one family has been annoyed or upset that their loved one let them know exactly how they wanted their life celebrated.  In addition to this, the family did not have an invoice to pay within 30 days’ time.  In many cases the family got a refund.  Imagine the emotional and financial relief for these families.

In response to the CBC Market Place review of funeral homes I would like to comment on the following:

1. Embalming is not mandatory

Unless a person died from an infectious disease and wishes to be buried, embalming is not mandatory.  A few years ago when we had the SARS outbreak, one family comes to mind.  When their father died he wanted to be buried, and as the family had been visiting him, ill with SARS in the hospital – they the family were quarantined for 2 weeks following his death.  As the family wanted to bury their father, their father had to be embalmed to accommodate the mandatory quarantine waiting period.

2. Identification of the deceased is not mandatory

It is entirely at the funeral home’s discretion to have this policy in place or not.  Many family-owned funeral homes will most certainly accommodate this for a family and generally do not charge a fee to identify the deceased, prior to cremation.

3. You do not have to purchase an urn from the funeral home

Cremated remains are returned to the funeral home in a temporary container.  The cremated remains are usually in a plastic bag within a temporary container, made of plastic or cardboard. You may choose to provide your own urn or no urn at all.

4. A rigid solid bottom combustible container must be used for cremation

Many funeral homes will not use cardboard for this.  Although cardboard is solid it is not necessarily sturdy.  I am sure you could imagine that it would not be a good day at the funeral home for the bottom to drop out of a cardboard cremation container.

Knowing What IS and What IS NOT Included

If you have a prepaid funeral plan in place, be sure you know exactly what is prepaid and guaranteed AND what is not prepaid or guaranteed.

The 2012 Funeral, Burial and Cremation Services Act mandated that Funeral Homes in Ontario must guarantee the future cost of the fully prepaid goods and services selected.  Prior to 2012, it was at the Funeral Home’s discretion to have a policy in place to guarantee or not guarantee the future cost of the fully prepaid goods and services selected.

Knowing What Type of Prepaid Contract You Have

Do not assume what is in place or not in place.  If you’re unsure, ask for clarification. One family comes to mind.  Their mother said “don’t worry everything is looked after. When I die all you have to do is call the funeral home.”

What did that mean exactly?

The family was thinking that Mom had set everything up and prepaid her Celebration of Life. When they called the funeral home – indeed there was a completed file – BUT the plan was not prepaid.

Don’t be caught with surprises on one of the worst days of your life! If you would like to discuss any of these issues or if you would like me to review your plan I would be thrilled to do so.

You can find out more about preplanning funerals here, or read my previous blog on pre-paid funerals here.

I would love to hear from you and help get the conversation started.  You can connect with me via email or telephone, leave a comment here on the site or click the contact tab at the bottom of the screen if you are reading this post on the website. Don’t forget to join in the conversation on Facebook and Twitter too.

Until next time,

Kat

Katherine Downey is the #1 Funeral Preplanning Professional in Canada for the fourth time. She is a professional educator, author, licensed funeral director and insurance advisor. Not only is she a Certified Professional Consultant on Ageing and an Executive Advisor, but she is compassionately understanding.  To set an appointment or have your questions answered, please contact Kat directly.

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Celebration of Life: Online Tribute and Social Media – Part 4

Another way to celebrate the life of a deceased loved one is via main stream media or online social media tributes. This could be a standalone celebration of life or used to augment a funeral, memorial, or committal service.

Online tributes and social media memorials are gaining in popularity because of their ease of accessibility. Whether it is the celebration of life of a prominent public figure, or if people are emotionally, physically, financially, legally or logistically unable to attend in person, they can still participate virtually from anywhere in the world.  Some people also just prefer to grieve in private, while still paying their respects.

Live-Streaming a Celebration of Life: a Virtual Funeral

The celebration of life could be watched on television for thousands to view or on a smaller scale there could be live streaming of the celebration from the funeral home or church.  If the funeral home does this for the family they will often have a recorded copy to give back to the family afterwards.

With the massive increase in social media, this is a wonderful way to have family and friends participate in the celebration of life no matter their physical location.  Live streaming of the celebration of life allows multiple people to contribute from vast distances.  There is also the ability to record the celebration of life and have a permanent record to share with others or add pictures to after the service.

Online Obituaries

Newspaper death notices are becoming more obsolete, partially due to the cost and the prevalence of online media.  Many funeral homes will also have an online obituary page for the deceased.  Comments sent in from the public are moderated before they are posted online.  There is also the option to make memorial donations or purchase flowers, candles in memory of the deceased.

Facebook Remembrance Pages

The family could set up a private Facebook Remembrance Page and provide access to people who wish to contribute their memories, photos or condolences.

A lady I worked with recently elected to keep her mother’s Facebook page open.  Her rational was that her mom was very active online and knew many people from different interest groups.  She had her hiking club, church groups, family members, friends from work and her book club.  As these different groups did their activities they were able to virtually share them with their deceased friend and often commented how much they missed her and how she would have enjoyed participating.

It may seem slightly creepy to some people to see a deceased person pop up on social media, yet in this situation the daughter was very glad she made this decision and found it very comforting for the family and her mother’s associated Facebook community.

As always please be sure that your trusted representative knows your social media user names and passwords.  For more information on what happens to their social media after a loved one passes, please click here to see my previous blog.

There are many different ways to have a Celebration of Life.  To make sure that your life is celebrated the way you like, start planning now.  Let your loved ones know how you would like to be celebrated and remembered, to relieve stress on their end and to make sure you are remembered the way you like best.

I would love to hear from you and help get the conversation started.  You can connect with me via email or telephone, leave a comment here on the site or click the contact tab at the bottom of the screen if you are reading this post on the website. Don’t forget to join in the conversation on Facebook and Twitter too!

Kat

Katherine Downey is the #1 Funeral Preplanning Professional in Canada for the fourth time. She is a professional educator, author, licensed funeral director and insurance advisor. To set an appointment or have your questions answered, please contact Kat directly.

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Celebration of Life: Committal Service – Part 3

There are several ways to celebrate the life of a deceased loved one.

In part 1 of this blog I mentioned that a funeral service means that the body of the deceased is present at the service. In part 2 I mentioned that at a memorial service the body is not present.  Now, I will explain what a Committal Service is and how it is different from the other two services.

A committal service may be the last step in a funeral or memorial service.  Alternatively a committal service could be a standalone celebration of life.

A committal service can be associated with cremation, burial or entombment.

With cremation the committal service could be at a cemetery or at a private location.  If the committal service for cremation is at a cemetery than the cremated remains can be buried into the ground, scatted in a memorial garden or inurned into a niche in a columbarium.

A committal service may also be held at the crematorium prior to the initiation of the cremation process.  This may also be called witnessing cremation and is especially important to people observing Hindu funeral traditions.

With earth burial the committal service is held at the graveside and the final benediction is observed before the casket is lowered into the grave.  Often people will put flowers on top of the casket to pay their last respects to the deceased.  It is the family’s choice to remain to see the casket lowered into the grave and the grave filled in.  Some families elect to participate in this by added a handful or shovelful of soil into the grave.

With entombment of a casket the committal service is held in the mausoleum.  After the final benediction many families remain to witness the casket being raised into the mausoleum space and sealed.

Whether you would like your life celebrated with a funeral, memorial or committal service, it is important to create the right type of service to say goodbye.  This helps your family and loved one express their grief and comfort each other.

You can take this pressure off of your family and friends by creating your own funeral file.  Things to consider doing now are to write your own obituary.  If you are not sure where to start, read other obituaries in print or online.  What do you like about them?  What don’t you like?  The important part is to start.  Perhaps think of three words that sum up your life contributions and achievements.  By outlining what is important to you and what your life means to you; you are letting others know about you and how you want to be remembered.  Just start, something is better than nothing.

Consider also including pictures, songs, poems, readings, or scriptures that you like. The absolute best way to record your wishes for your celebration of life is to have it written down and prepaid at the funeral home.

If you are unsure how/where to start, I invite you to connect with me.  I work with my clients to make this process easier and to avoid any headaches for the family during an already emotional time after the deceased has passed.  To help start the discussion, I offer a free consultation to see the available options and how to get started preplanning.

I would love to hear from you.  You can connect with me via email or telephone, leave a comment here on the site or click the contact tab at the bottom of the screen if you are reading this post on the website. Don’t forget to join in the conversation on Facebook and Twitter too!

Kat

Katherine Downey is the #1 Funeral Preplanning Professional in Canada for the fourth time. She is a professional educator, author, licensed funeral director and insurance advisor. To set an appointment or have your questions answered, please contact Kat directly.

 

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What is the difference between a funeral service and a memorial service? Part 1

There are several ways to celebrate the life of a deceased loved one.  Sometimes the terms can be a bit confusing.  Many people do not know the main difference between a funeral service and a memorial service.  At a funeral service the body is present, while at a memorial service it is not.

A funeral service means that the body of the deceased will be present at the funeral service.

The body will be in a casket and the casket may be open or closed.  What I see more often now is that the casket is open initially for the immediate family members only prior to the public visitation.  This private time allows the immediate family members to view the deceased and pay their final respects as they say good-bye for the last time.

The casket is then closed for the public visitation.  Typical visiting times are from two to four in the afternoon and then again from seven to nine in the evening.  These times are not obligatory.  Some families may elect to have visiting from four to nine in the evening or any variation of this.  It is quite uncommon now to have visiting for two or three days.  If there are multiple visiting times it is usually to celebrate the life of a public figure or perhaps it was a sudden and tragic death.

The next day the funeral service may be held in the funeral home or place of worship. If the casket was open for the visitation, it will be closed for the funeral service.  If the funeral is held in a place of worship, then clergy presides.  If the funeral is held in the funeral home, then clergy or a funeral celebrant usually presides.  This is not mandatory and some families elect to have family members conduct the funeral service.

Following the funeral service the deceased is either buried or cremated.

Many families are now electing to have a reception immediately following the funeral service, and the final committal will be done later and privately with the immediate family only.  The rationale here is that if the family has the burial immediately following the funeral service many people will not remain in attendance for the reception and will leave after the funeral service.  Of course this is situational as sometimes the cemetery is close by and people will attend the committal service and/or wait until the family returns from the committal service for the reception.  A reception is not mandatory, yet many families appreciate the social aspects of a reception and the opportunity to catch up with family members and friends.

If the casket is to be cremated and if the funeral was at a place of worship the casket will be returned to the funeral home and then transferred to the crematorium.  The cremated remains will be returned to the funeral home within a few days.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this blog next week to help you decide what type of service is best for you.

I would love to hear from you.  You can connect with me via email or telephone, leave a comment here on the site or click the contact tab at the bottom of the screen if you are reading this post on the website. Don’t forget to join in the conversation on Facebook and Twitter too!

Kat

Katherine Downey is the #1 Funeral Preplanning Professional in Canada for the fourth time. She is a professional educator, author, licensed funeral director and insurance advisor. To set an appointment or have your questions answered, please contact Kat directly.

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Do I need a Casket, a Container, a Coffin…?

funeral preplanning Mississauga Oakville

click to enlarge

Have you asked the question – do I need a casket, a container or a coffin? Did you know that when an individual wants to be cremated, buried or entombed, by law the body must be in a casket or container?

A coffin is rarely used in Ontario and differs from a casket. A coffin is 8 sided and usually made of wood (see right). It is more common to see coffins used in Europe rather than Canada.

For earth burial many people are familiar with the casket (pictured above) being lowered into the ground. A casket is a 6 sided container made of particle wood with a felt cloth covering, a mix of particle wood and solid woods, soft woods, hard woods or metal. The range in price of a casket can vary widely from $500.00 to over $10,000.00. Read more

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Is that Really my Loved One’s Cremated Remains?

prepaid funerals Mississauga Oakville

A concern that people have shared with me is “How do I know that it is really my loved one’s cremated remains that I am getting back?” The answer to this is that our full circle of care of loved one’s cremated remains starts from the initial transfer and there is a very detailed and organized method of identifying your loved one.

When someone dies and they are to be cremated, the deceased is transferred from the place of death to the funeral home. At the place of death the identification of the deceased is checked before the body is transferred to the funeral home. Once the deceased is at the funeral home, a cremation application is filled out and signed by the Estate Trustee. Each cremation application has a unique number. This number identifies the deceased and the coroner that signed the cremation application. The Estate Trustee is given copies of these forms. Read more

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Remembrance Day – What Coin Will You Leave Today?

Canadian Soldier WW2

During the time of the Roman Empire, as a way of leaving money for the deceased in the hereafter, people would place a coin on the headstone to indicate they had visited. The tradition continued after the Vietnam War on Remembrance Day as a popular way to pay one’s respects to fallen soldiers.

The coin denomination indicated your relationship to the deceased. For example, if you left a: Read more

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Snowbirds – What Happens if you Die Away from Home?

Travel Protection Insurance Plan

Snowbirds, have you stopped to consider what happens if you die away from home? This is not a very pleasant topic to think about, but it does happen. How would your family deal with this? If you have not made your funeral arrangements in advance including the Safe Return Travel Assistance coverage, then your family will have a lot of work to do to get you home. Read more

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Securing Clergy to Officiate Funeral Services in Ontario

clergy for funeral Ontario

Funeral directors can act as a tremendous resource and connector for grieving families and those wishing to pre-plan their funeral. One of the things they have a good handle on is securing appropriate clergy to officiate during a funeral or memorial service. Many families do not have a religious affiliation or perhaps their loved one died in a town unfamiliar to them. Read more

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5 Tips for Delivering a Powerful Eulogy

eulogy template

Today your best friend’s wife called and asked you to deliver the eulogy for her husband’s upcoming funeral. A eulogy is a speech or written tribute giving high praise to a deceased person. Immediately you agree to do this and feel honored to have been asked. Later that day as you sit down to write the eulogy you might find yourself feeling overwhelmed, have no idea where to start, and stare at the blank paper or screen for a long time. What do you say? What impact did this person have on your life and on the life of others? How do you begin to sum up the accomplishments and the influence your best friend had on you and others over the years? These are great questions and certainly not an easy task.  A well prepared and delivered eulogy not only helps the family but helps those attending the service who did not know the individual as well, have a great sense of who they were, what mattered to them and how they positively impacted other people’s lives. I thought it might be helpful to provide the following 5 steps to help you craft a powerful eulogy. Read more