Times have changed, and women funeral directors are no longer unusual. Neither are female embalmers. In 2010, 57.1% of mortuary science students in the United…Continue
Added by Florence Isaacs on January 28, 2013 at 9:00am — No Comments
Q. I don’t understand why anyone would want to be cremated, but it seems like more and more people insist on it, including my own father. Why has it become so popular?
I’m on your side. The very thought of cremation gives me the shivers. It’s so final—no chance of coming back. (I know. I know.) Others, however, feel differently. Their worst nightmare is…
Q. My aunt died suddenly and was buried in a plot she purchased years ago. Because she had no children, I am now in charge of buying a cemetery stone. What’s the best way to do this and how should I proceed?
Begin by calling the cemetery to find out its rules for markers, headstones, and other options. Size, shape, design, and other requirements vary widely.
You can buy the stone from a monument retailer and ask friends, neighbors, or relatives for…
Added by Florence Isaacs on May 29, 2012 at 9:00am — No Comments
Q. My father, who is frail and elderly, wants his body donated to science when he dies. Does that mean there’s no funeral or memorial service? Why do people want to do this?
A. Those who make this choice usually wish to benefit society. The decision is sometimes difficult for survivors to accept, but it’s a matter of carrying out the loved one’s wishes. We hear less about whole body donations than about donations of body parts, but cadavers play a critical role in…
Q. Why do so many people refuse to prepare funeral and end-of-life instructions while they’re well, instead of saddling next of kin with all the decisions? It’s not morbid to discuss funeral arrangements and end-of-life care.
Before you take the step of planning for your own death, you have to accept the fact you’re going to die—and you don’t know when. Those are very disturbing thoughts, and there’s a tendency to deny or banish them. Your own…Continue
Q. My cousin just died, leaving his family high and dry. Money management wasn’t one of his talents, and he left no insurance. His wife is disabled, and their son is unemployed. Funeral expenses will more than wipe out what little savings there are. I know it’s incredibly tacky, but I think they should request monetary donations instead of flowers from people to help pay the funeral costs. Is there a tactful way to ask for money?
There are times when…Continue
Q. My brother-in-law wants to be cremated after he dies and have his ashes shot into space. I laugh when he mentions it, but he’s serious. Do people really do this?
You’d be surprised. The man who invented Pringles potato chips wanted his ashes buried in a Pringles can. Ashes can be scattered in space—or in the great blue yonder from airplanes and balloons—and even in fireworks.
Some people prefer a body of water, as in…Continue
Q. Why do some people prepay funerals—and how is it done?
There can be advantages to prepaying a funeral—your own or the funeral of a loved one, such as an elderly parent. For example, my siblings and I prepaid our mother’s funeral a few years ago, after her nursing home notified us that her condition (dementia, along with severe heart disease) had suddenly deteriorated. She would die soon. At my suggestion, we decided to use the time we…Continue
Q. My neighbor just died, and I’d like to go to the funeral. I’ve been told, however, that the funeral is private. What exactly is a private funeral and why does a family make this choice? It bars people like me who wish to pay their respects.
A. My dictionary defines the word “private” in this context as “confined to or intended only for the person or persons immediately concerned.” Unless you are specifically invited, you should not…Continue
Q. I recently attended the funeral of a coworker, who was an active environmentalist. She was buried in a biodegradable coffin. I’ve never heard of such a thing. I thought caskets were pretty routine—pine or some other wood. Is this something new?
A. There once was a time when a casket was just a casket. But that’s long past. Along with the trend toward “green”…
Q. A dear friend of mine since our high school football days recently drowned in a tragic accident, leaving a widow and three children. His wife asked me to arrange funeral services near my home. I live several states away, but my friend was born and grew up here. Is it proper to suggest that, in lieu of flowers, people send memorial contributions to the family to help pay…Continue
Q. My father died recently, but I did not learn of his death until weeks after the funeral. He lived with his second wife, who caused a family rift after their marriage, and kept me out of the loop. (I live halfway across the country.) I feel angry and bereft at the same time. Are there any words of comfort you can offer? Also there is no head stone at the grave. Can I put one up?
A. I can’t imagine how painful your situation is. You’ve been denied closure and the…
Q. The love of my life died a few years ago after a long illness and was cremated. His sister kept the urn in her home. He was all she had and I felt I had to accede to her wishes. She planned to bury the ashes near her home. However, her company has now transferred her 2000 miles away and she wants to lay him to rest in the new location. I won’t be able to regularly visit the grave. There is a cemetery plot in our area where many members of his family are buried, and I…