Common Questions

We’ve provided a list of answers to questions we frequently receive regarding our services and other activities related to funerals. If you don't see the answer to your question here, feel free to contact us. We'd be happy to give you more information and clarify any of your concerns.

 

What is a funeral?

A funeral is a ceremony for celebrating, honoring, and remembering the life of a person who has passed away. While specific customs, traditions, and practices differ across different cultures and religions, all funerals serve the key purpose of giving the bereaved a special time and place to say goodbye and find comfort and healing in one another.

Why have a viewing?

A viewing—also known as “visitation,” a “wake,” or “calling hours”—can involve an open or closed casket, and is seen as a vital part of the grieving process. Having their loved one present often helps family and friends to accept the reality of their loss, especially for those who may not have seen him or her in a while. The opportunity to come to terms with the death and say a final farewell is an important step on the road to closure and healing.

What is the purpose of embalming?

Embalming is a process used to sanitize and temporarily preserve the body of a person who has passed away. It can also enhance the appearance of a person that has suffered damage from an accident or illness. By preserving the body through embalming, we can give you and your family time to make personalized and meaningful arrangements, including a viewing if desired.

Is embalming required by law?

No. Except in rare circumstances, embalming is not required by law. However, most funeral homes do not permit public viewing without embalming. If you opt to not use embalming, oftentimes we can offer families the opportunity for a private viewing prior to burial with minimal preparation excluding embalming.

What should I say when I run into the bereaved in public?

What you’ll say depends upon whether or not you’ve already had contact with the bereaved. If you’ve already offered your condolences, or attended the visitation or service, simply greet the bereaved warmly and express an interest in their well-being. If this is your first meeting since the death and you’re in a public setting, it’s kinder not to bring up the death directly. Instead, say something like, “I understand these must be difficult days for you,” and perhaps ask about when might be a good time to visit, or suggest that you meet for lunch.

What can I do to help later?

The grieving process doesn’t end with the funeral, and it will take time for the bereaved to heal. The family will need your support for months to come, so make sure to check in on a regular basis. Drop a note, make a phone call, and continue to invite them when you make social plans; they’ll let you know if and when they are ready to participate. Reach out to the family on special occasions, like birthdays or anniversaries, especially during the first year following their loss.

Should I bring my children to the funeral?

You should use your judgment to determine whether your child is old enough to comprehend death, whether attending the funeral will be meaningful to them. It’s important for children to be allowed to express their grief and share in this important ritual. If you bring young children, explain beforehand what they will see and experience, and make sure that they know the importance of being on their best behavior. If your child becomes cranky or noisy, remove them promptly to avoid disturbing those who are mourning.

What do funeral directors do?

A funeral director is a licensed professional who specializes in all aspects of funerals and related services. They provide support to the family, guide the arrangement of visitations and funeral ceremonies, prepare the deceased according to the family’s wishes, and ensure that everything goes according to plan. They also arrange for the removal and transportation of deceased throughout the process, and assist families with any legal or insurance-related paperwork they might need to file. They’re experienced at recognizing when an individual is having an extremely difficult time coping with a loss, and can provide extra support and recommendations for professional help if needed.

Can I personalize my service?

Absolutely! Our staff has years of experience getting to know families and incorporating their loved one’s hobbies, activities, interests, and unique requests into meaningful and memorable services. Don’t hesitate to make a request because you think it might be too “out there”—we’re honored to work with you to create a service that truly reflects and celebrates your loved one’s individual life journey.

What do I do when a death occurs while out of town or away from home?

It’s important that you contact the local medical authorities first (as well as the police, if appropriate), and then make sure to give us a call as soon as possible. We will work with you to make the necessary arrangements to get you and your loved one back home as quickly and easily as possible. Calling us will also help you to avoid duplication of efforts and fees.

Can I still have viewing and funeral services with cremation?

Definitely! In fact, we encourage you to do so. Choosing cremation only indicates how you’d like to care for your loved one after the service and doesn’t exclude you from celebrating and honoring their life in any way. Whether you’d like to have visitation beforehand, arrange a funeral service before cremation, or wait and hold the service after the cremation, we’re happy to help you design a meaningful service to accompany the cremation.

How long does the cremation process take?

This usually depends upon two things: the size of the individual and the type of casket or container used. A thin person in a cardboard container will take approximately 3 to 4 hours while a heavier person in a wooden casket could take approximately 4.5 to 5 hours.

How can I be sure that the remains I receive are those of my loved one?

First of all, cremation of multiple people at the same time is illegal in the US and many other countries, so the cremation chamber is not designed to hold more than one person at a time. In addition, cremation is a regulated process with strict procedures we follow to ensure we’re holding our services to the highest standard possible. All necessary paperwork and fees must be completed with local authorities, and then a checklist is completed at the crematory. A metal disk with a unique ID number accompanies your loved one from the time we receive the person throughout the cremation process, and after cremation occurs we attach the metal disk to the bag containing the ashes. Knowing the level of respect and meticulous care with which we treat your loved one, you can rest assured that you are receiving only your loved one’s ashes.

Where can I scatter my loved one's cremated remains? Are there any restrictions?

In general, the government does not regulate the scattering ashes. Make sure you check with your local regulations beforehand, but most locations are usually okay as long as you are considerate and dispose of the container properly. If you wish to scatter the ashes on private land, it’s good practice to consult the landowner first.

Can we have a viewing if my loved one has donated organs or had an autopsy?

Yes. Autopsies and organ donation do not affect your ability to have an open-casket visitation.

What is a columbarium?

A columbarium is a place for the interment of urns containing cremated remains. They’re often located in mausoleums, chapels, or memorial gardens, and contain numerous small compartments, or niches, designed to hold urns.

I had a loved one pass unexpectedly. How do I begin arranging a funeral?

If your loved one passes away unexpectedly, we are a simple phone call away. If they are at or near home, we will set up a time at your convenience to begin making service arrangements. If they happen to be away from home, we can coordinate transportation and the necessary legal documentation to bring your loved one home.

I want to pre-plan a funeral so my family won't have to deal with the stress of funeral arrangements. Where do I begin?

Cutler-O'Neill has on staff pre-need counselors that will come to your home or ours to discuss the benefits of pre-arrangement.

My religion requires specific funeral arrangements. Can you accommodate them?

We are proud to offer any religious ceremony either at your place of worship or at our own facility. Your personal clergy and Cutler-O'Neill will work together to accommodate all necessary requirements.

I need clergy for a funeral but I don't belong to a church. Can you help me?

Cutler-O'Neill will provide any denomination you wish to meet your religious needs at the time of the funeral. We have many local clergy who will provide their services to help in your time of need.

Do you perform cremations?

Yes we do. And the service you request for a cremation will be as special and unique as the person it is for.

How much should I expect to pay for a funeral?

Funeral or cremation services are strictly based on the type of service you request and your selections in that process. Presently, the national average for a traditional funeral is just over $5000.

At which cemeteries can Cutler-O'Neill perform burials?

We can perform burials in any cemetery you choose. Our staff is licensed in Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, Minnesota, and Illinois and, if necessary, can arrange for another licensed home to accommodate burials nationwide.

I pre-planned a funeral at another funeral home. Can I transfer those arrangements?

Pre-arranged and pre-paid funerals can be transferred to any funeral home you choose. A simple phone call will take care of this. Monies pre-paid can only be used when a funeral home provides its services.

Are funerals covered by insurance?

Funeral expenses can be covered by burial insurance, life insurance, etc. Insurance is usually left up to the deceased's family to secure. Cutler-O'Neill provides pre-burial insurance for individuals who wish to pre-pay their funerals.