General Funeral Questions

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What is a funeral officiant?

The funeral officiant is the person who leads the funeral or memorial service. If the memorial or funeral service is traditional or religious-based, this person may be a pastor or priest. The officiant’s role is similar to that of a master of ceremonies; he directs the service from beginning to end. The officiant’s duties include gathering information from the family in order to portray the life of the deceased; preparing and delivering a sermon or eulogy in honor of the deceased; starting and ending the service at the funeral home, and conducting the graveside service and overseeing the reception afterwards.

Can I bury the deceased on private property?

Yes. Provided you are in compliance with any local and state zoning laws and other regulations, and are the owner, or have permission from the owner, of the property.

What is a direct burial?

A direct burial is the least expensive of funeral options because it involves only the most basic of funeral services. With a direct burial, the body is buried very soon after death, so no embalming is needed. The casket is usually very simple and economical, and there is no formal funeral service or pre-funeral events, such as a viewing, visitation, or wake.

Where can I locate cemeteries that provide natural (green) burial?

The Green Burial Council offers a searchable database for green burial cemeteries at http://www.greenburialcouncil.org/finding-a-provider/.

What type of container or covering is used in a natural burial?

The body may be either buried in a biodegradable casket, a fabric shroud, or wrapped in a blanket or some other covering made of natural fibers.

What types of biodegradable caskets are used in a green burial?

Biodegradable caskets may be made of unfinished wood, fiberboard, pressed wood, woven grass or willow, or cardboard.

What is a natural burial?

Also known as “green burial”, natural burial practices are characterized by their simplicity and natural aspects. Advocates of natural burial believe in letting nature take its course at the burial site, with as little interference or disruption from the burials as possible.

Unlike a traditional cemetery, with its concrete vaults, and casketed, embalmed bodies, a natural burial site is intended to remain as undisturbed and natural as possible in character and appearance. Bodies are not embalmed beforehand, and they are buried in a biodegradable casket, fabric shroud, blanket, etc.

Minimal environmental impact, habitat restoration and preservation of open spaces are key objectives in the movement toward natural burial, and native grasses, wildflowers, trees, and plantings are part of the natural landscaping.

What is a green burial?

Also known as “natural burial”, green burial practices are characterized by their simple and natural aspects. Advocates of green burial believe in letting nature take its course at the burial site, with as little interference or disruption from the burials as possible.

Unlike a traditional cemetery, with its concrete vaults, and casketed, embalmed bodies, a green burial site is intended to remain as undisturbed and natural as possible in character and appearance. Bodies are not embalmed beforehand, and they are buried in a biodegradable casket, fabric shroud, blanket, etc. Minimal environmental impact, habitat restoration, and preservation of open spaces are key objectives in the movement toward green burial, and native grasses, wildflowers, trees, and plantings are part of the natural landscaping.

Why are funerals usually held soon after the person has died?

Funerals are usually held within a few days after the death occurs, due to the problem of inevitable decomposition. Modern embalming is done to delay decomposition so that funeral services may take place. Embalming only temporarily halts the process of decomposition in a dead body, and does not preserve the body indefinitely, even within a sealed casket.

Is embalming required for a traditional funeral?

Embalming is not required by law, except in a few states where the body is going to be transported across state lines. If embalming is not performed, the funeral will need to be held very quickly following death, or other preservation methods (such as refrigeration) put in place until the funeral can be held.

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