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Personal Service, Peace of Mind, Pleasant Memories

General Information

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What purpose does a funeral serve?

What do funeral directors do?

Why have a public viewing?

What is the purpose of embalming?

Does a dead body have to be embalmed, according to law?

Is cremation a substitute for a funeral?

Is it possible to have a traditional funeral if someone dies of AIDS?

How does one pay for the funeral expense?

What should I do if a death occurs in the middle of the night or on a weekend?

Will someone come right away?

If a loved one dies out of state, can the local Funeral Home still help?

I've decided on cremation; can I still have a funeral or a viewing?

What do I need to bring to the funeral home when making an arrangement?

What purpose does a funeral serve?

The funeral service serves a number of important purposes. The service:

  • Helps confirm the reality and finality of death
  • Provides a climate for mourning and the expression of grief
  • Allows the sorrows of one to become the sorrows of many
  • Is one of the few times love is given and not expected in return
  • Is a vehicle for the community to pay its respects while encouraging the affirmation of religious faith
  • Celebrates a life that has been lived
  • Serves as a sociological statement that a death has occurred

In other words, a funeral helps to meet basic needs by providing a means for bereaves to be with people and greet friends and relatives. It is the time when the community, family and friends gather to express sympathy and support. For all people, it is a moment of honest expression of feelings.

It is the customary way to recognize death and its finality. Funerals are recognized rituals for the living to show respect for the dead and to help survivors begin the grief process.

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What do funeral directors do?

Funeral directors help to meet needs of families by providing service to the living. The funeral director gives direction to disorganization and demonstrates compassion and the ability to be receptive to grief. In short, the funeral director is the facilitator and organizer.

Also, funeral directors are caregivers and administrators. As a caregiver, the funeral directors are listeners, advisors and supporters. They have experience assisting the bereaved in coping with death. Funeral directors are trained to answer questions about grief, recognize when a person is having difficulty coping, and recommend sources of professional help. As administrators, the funeral directors make the arrangements for transportation of the body, complete all necessary paperwork, and implement the choices made by the family regarding the funeral and final disposition of their loved one. Funeral directors also link survivors with support groups at the funeral home or in their community.

Funeral directors also understand the needs of the person(s) they serve. For example, the year in which we are born have an enormous effect on the way we think, the way we view the world, and the way we live. Each generation of people has its own characteristics. The funeral director is aware of that fact and strives to serve the needs of each person. It is useful to acknowledge the characteristics of the different age groups, from the pre-World War II to Baby Boomers generations, and beyond.

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Why have a public viewing?

Public viewing of the deceased is a part of many cultural and ethnic traditions. Many grief specialists believe that viewing aids the grief process by helping the bereaved recognize the reality of death. A public viewing allows people of the community to show their concerns to the family and respect to the deceased. It also gives an opportunity for tributes to be made on the life of the deceased.

It is often heard in conversation that it is better to remember the dead as they were when they were alive. This type of thinking represents the ultimate in death denial. The deceased is NOT ALIVE, he or she is dead! Hence the comment, “I would rather remember them alive,” is a form of death denial and a simple contradiction in terms. For honest confrontation of the reality of death, it is necessary for the mourners to see the deceased person, or a symbol of the deceased person, (in cases where it is impossible to view the body) which represents the reality of death. By seeing and/or touching the deceased, the mourners have the necessary visual and physical opportunity needed to verify the reality and truth of death. In cases where the deceased is lost forever and there is no chance to establish the reality of death, the risk of complicated bereavement exists.

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What is the purpose of embalming?

Embalming is necessary to sanitize and preserve human remains to render them safe for handling while retaining naturalness of tissue for funeral viewing purposes.

It retards the decomposition process, and enhances the appearance of a body disfigured by traumatic death or illness. Embalming makes it possible to lengthen the time between death and the final disposition, thus allowing family members time to arrange and participate in the type of service most comforting to them.  In today’s society, embalming continues to serve a practical use and maintain its esthetic value in that it renders the body inoffensive and makes it presentable. Its purpose in making the body presentable is not to create an illusion, but to create the remembered perceptual body image. It also serves as an emotional buffer when the bereaved encounter a traumatic mode of death. The reality of traumatic death may be too burdensome a sight for the bereaved. The process of embalming aids in the restoration of the person. This is done not to mask reality, but to give the bereaved a body image that their perceptual pattern of recognition remembers and that is manageable.

The embalmed body affords every valid opportunity for survivors to be able to establish the reality of death. There exists no documentation of an inherent need for a bereaved person to be faced with the graphic, visual details of a traumatic death. The reality of death is established by utilizing the restored remembered body image through funeral rites. The bereaved must know the truth of death, and by using the values of embalming and restorative art, this truth is established in a more genteel and professional manner.
The average American family moves once every four years. Thus, humans and their significant relationships are scattered about the nation and about the globe. Human remains are transported daily for consignment “back home.” For sanitation and health measures, it takes time to arrange the necessary burial and transportation. Embalming offers our culture the time and assurance that the remembered body image will temporarily remain intact while arrangements are made and/or transportation for the body is complete.

Embalming practices continue to reflect the technology of the age. In ancient times, people used herbs and spices to maintain a type of odor control and primitive preservation. Today our basic intent is the same, but instead of herbs and spices we use sophisticated chemicals that have been developed by educated chemists. Early embalmers contended with lengthy and hazardous embalming procedures. Today the embalming process is more efficient and sophisticated simply because of technology.
To summarize, embalming provides an efficient and secure manner of restoring the dead body while affording family and friends the time to adjust to the loss, conduct ceremonies of remembrance, and decently care for their dead. Embalming has been accepted as the most practical manner of treatment of the dead.

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Does a dead body have to be embalmed, according to law?

No. There is no law that requires embalming. However, most states require embalming when death was caused by a reportable contagious disease or when remains are to be transported from one state to another by common carrier or if final disposition is not to be made within a prescribed number of hours.

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Is cremation a substitute for a funeral?

No. There are several ways of disposing of a deceased person and cremation is one of those ways. Cremation is an alternative to earth burial or entombment for the body's final disposition and often follows a traditional funeral service. Cremation may be direct cremation or cremation with a viewing and ceremony.

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Is it possible to have a traditional funeral if someone dies of AIDS?

Yes. A person who dies of an AIDS-related illness is entitled to the same service options afforded to anyone else. If public viewing is consistent with local or personal customs, that option is encouraged. Touching the deceased's face or hands is perfectly safe. Because the grief experienced by survivors may include a variety of feelings, survivors may need even more support than survivors of non-AIDS-related deaths.

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How does one pay for the funeral expense?

You may pay with cash, check, credit cards, such as VISA or MasterCard or life insurance.

Metropolitan Funeral Service also accepts funding vehicles, such as  “Forethought” or “Horizon Trust” where you make pre-arrangements for a funeral service, take out funeral expense insurance, and at the time of death use the insurance to pay the funeral expense.

For more information about pre-arrangement, please see the pre-arrangement section of our web site.   

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What should I do if a death occurs in the middle of the night or on a weekend?

Just call our funeral home. At our funeral home a funeral director is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We may be reached by telephone at 757.480.1800 or 757.494.1800.

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Will someone come right away?

If you request immediate assistance, yes. If the family wishes to spend a short time with the deceased to say good-bye, it's acceptable. Someone from the funeral home will come when the time is right.

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If a loved one dies out of state, can the local Funeral Home still help?

Yes, we can assist you with out-of-state arrangements, either to transfer the remains to or from another state. We can also provide forwarding services to or receiving services from other funeral homes.

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I've decided on cremation; can I still have a funeral or a viewing?

Yes. You have several options when you decide on cremation. Your options are: you may have a direct cremation, i.e., removal from place of death to the crematory; you may cremate and then have a memorial service; or you may have the traditional funeral service and then cremate.  At Metropolitan Funeral Service, we can assist you with the further information regarding these options.

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What do I need to bring to the funeral home when making an arrangement?

No one knows exactly how to plan for death or exactly what do when a death occurs. So it is natural for families to have many questions. At Metropolitan Funeral Service, we take great pride in being the people to ask…when you don’t know who to ask. Below is a list of important items to consider in preparing for the funeral service:

Funeral Arrangement – Be prepared to discuss the following items for the funeral service:

  • Information for the death notice/obituary (Virginian Pilot) may require credit card
  • Funeral Program (and photos)
  • Flowers (casket spray, etc.)
  • Church or Chapel location for service
  • Minister
  • Limousines
  • Organist
  • Pallbearers
  • Vital Information for the death certificate

Some of the information required on the death certificate is often rather difficult to obtain. Each family should have a record of such facts as full name and residence of the deceased; nationality; occupation; Social Security number; military service record; if married, widowed or divorced; name of husband or wife; date and place of birth; name of father; maiden name of mother; place and date of interment; informant and relationship.

Cemetery Arrangement – Cemetery arrangements are separate transactions.

  • The funeral home can provide you with a sheet of phone numbers to most local cemeteries
  • In the case of military cemetery, the funeral home will make the schedule arrangements

Military Arrangement – the requirements for veterans wishing to use National Cemeteries are as follows:

  • Honorable Discharge
  • Copy of the DD214 (Department of Veterans Affairs) or equivalent certificate of military service
    Note: Arlington National Cemetery has strict eligibility requirements. The funeral directors will discuss them with you if Arlington is the choice.

Insurance Policies – Life insurance policies may be used to settle the charges associated with the funeral. We will call the insurance company for verification that the policy submitted is active. Most life insurance companies require the following to process the claim:

  • Assignment signed by the beneficiary for proceeds
  • Copy of the certified death certificate (family to provide)
  • Original policy or lost policy statement
  • Copy of the funeral statement of goods

Payment Terms – payment for funeral home services is required at the time of the arrangement or not later than 48 hours before scheduled funeral services.

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