Yes, women can be. Grandchildren can be. Anyone you designate can be a casket bearer. What’s cool is it involves the family. Even though it’s very difficult emotionally for people to carry their grandpa or their father, or whomever, to the grave it’s also something they can do that nobody else can do for them. I like to relate it to your father carried you, your mother carried you, and you have the opportunity to carry them this last time.
Once you explain that to families, they fight over who can do it. Who is going to get to do it, and you don’t have to have to limit it to just six people. When my grandparents died, all 12 of the grandchildren carried our grandparents to the grave. We were tripping over each other! We were cursing each other because our feet were too big and we were walking on each other, but none of us would have traded it for the world. My dad and my two uncles were in tears watching us carry our grandpa and grandma to the grave.
My son Adam was only four when grandma died. Since I was the funeral director he was tagging along, holding on to me, as I was carrying grandma’s casket. It reminds you of the John F. Kennedy picture where Jacqueline was holding the kids hands and they are holding each other. It’s one of those moments. It was cool.
When I see a funeral possession coming down the road, while I’m driving, should I pull over to the side of the road?
Yes, out of respect for the person who has died and also for their family, pull over. It means a lot to them to know that the community cares enough to stop their busy worlds just for a moment as the procession passes.
Why am I receiving postcards in the mail and solicitations to make funeral arrangements from funeral homes that I am not familiar with?
Some funeral homes have prearranged funeral counselors on staff. It is their job to go out and contact people through mail, telephone or in person and solicit future business. Some funeral homes feel that it’s a service to those families. I think it’s a service to those families by helping them make funeral pre-arrangements, but I don’t think it’s our place to be out there soliciting because it is just that – soliciting!
I think we’re blessed with the families that come to us. I appreciate the fact that we don’t go out and solicit for their business. They come to us when there is a need or when they want to make funeral pre-arrangements. A lot of families will contact us before the death to make their own arrangements, but we are not out there seeking that.
In our funeral home only licensed funeral directors make those arrangements with you, not a sales person.
Has it ever happened that you’ve had to reschedule a funeral due to weather? In light of today’s snow storm everyone thinks of school getting cancelled and I wondered if it ever affected planned funerals.
I have. Five times in my 32 years as a licensed funeral director.
It has to be really, really bad, major weather issues involved.
My mother was married to my father for 61 years and never took off her wedding band. Can we bury her with it or do we have to take it off before burial?
You can remove any jewelry you want from the deceased before the burial. You may choose to have it on during the visitation, during the funeral service and then take it off before the actual burial. My wedding band is my wife’s grandfathers’, so obviously they didn’t bury it.
However, my grandmother never took her ring off, so we buried it with her. We just couldn’t bring ourselves to taking it off.
So there are two examples of either side of that argument.
We recently attended an evening funeral service at your funeral home and appreciated the atmosphere surrounding the service.
Is this something new?
Yes. More families are finding that they like the option of having services in the evening. It allows more people to be in attendance for the services. They don’t have to alter their work schedule or juggle the kid’s school schedule. Also, it seems to be a little bit more intimate, informal time. People are not rushing to get back to work or back to school. People usually stick around after the services and visit and support each other.
The drawback regarding the evening funeral is that you usually can’t go to the cemetery at night. If there is to be a burial, whether it’s a casket burial or cremated remains burial, that’s usually done the next day and usually limited to the immediate family.
A family service at the grave site is also a bonus because it’s a very intimate time. You know that it’s the last time that family is going to have physical time with that person.
Families appreciate the privacy of just being a family. It has really turned out to be pretty cool.