Beyond the planning process there are a number of items that need to be considered for those either planning or attending a funeral or memorial service. The pages below help detail what you should expect from the meetings with the funeral home, what sort of documentation you should prepare for these meetings, and also a task list of items to be sure you take care of after the funeral. We hope you find these resources helpful and if you have any questions don’t hesitate to contact us.
Whether you are visiting to make funeral arrangements, would like to know more about what to expect during the funeral service, or wonder how life will be after the funeral, this section of our website will help.
If you still have any questions, call us at (412) 793-3000.
It's a common enough experience; a loved one dies and now you've got to face something you've never ever done before. You've got to go to a funeral home to make their funeral arrangements. Now, not only are you emotionally affected by their death, you're anxious and really need to know what to expect when you arrive. So, let's talk about that for a bit.
You should know that we've taken great pains to make your experience with us as easy as possible. Here's how:
While we can't speak to every situation, we can tell you the bare basics of what to expect on your first visit to our funeral home.
The funeral director will then ask you a number of questions. Think about it this way: your conversation is intended to do two things: 1.) Share accurate biographical details of the deceased to assist the funeral director in completing relevant paperwork, and 2.) come to an agreement about the plans for the funeral, memorial service, or celebration-of-life.
When it comes to properly completing death paperwork, and writing a detailed obituary, accuracy is everything. So, when it comes to the first task, that of sharing your loved one's biographical details, you'll want to bring as much documentation of the following as possible:
Naturally, if you're unable to bring any of this information, you can always call us later to share whatever is missing.
The second step in the funeral arrangement conference, that of planning a meaningful ceremony to pay tribute and celebrate the life of your loved one is really at the heart of what you'll be doing that day. In order to facilitate things, we ask that you bring:
There are really two more things to bring: your memories, and your heart-driven creative thinking. After all, we will be guided in planning your loved one's funeral, memorial service, or celebration-of-life by your stories, personal perceptions, and insights into their character and lifestyle.
Our time together will take only as long as you need it to take. Not only that, while the time you spend with us on your first visit can be very intense and emotionally-draining; you'll be among people who really care about your welfare. We'll support you throughout the funeral arrangement process, in any way you need us to; and we believe you'll find that when you leave, you've really had very little to be anxious about. But if you still have any questions or concerns, call us today at (412) 793-3000 to learn more about what to expect when you come to our funeral home.
Much like any other social event, a funeral service can present us with unique challenges–especially if we don't know what to expect. Here's a short list of things you can expect during a funeral:
Even at weddings and baptisms, people cry. Just like at a funeral, these pivotal life moments are very emotionally-charged. That means you can certainly expect to find people crying at a funeral. It's always helpful to remember to bring a travel pack of tissues with you; however, the funeral home staff will also have access to tissues if you—or the person seated next to you—has a need to wipe their eyes.
But, here's something you should also know: people laugh at funerals too. A funeral is a rich bittersweet mixture of sorrow and joy. In fact, when we're at a funeral (which is fairly often) the behaviors of guests remind us of the well-known remark from Theodore Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss: “Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.”
You'll see tears, and you may hear some laughter. Without doubt, emotions run high at funerals; sometimes there's even a demonstration of anger by one or more of the survivors. Expect people to be on their best behavior, but also know that anything can happen.
The funeral officiant will make it very clear that the funeral service is over. They will invite the the immediate family and close friends to leave the building first. Unlike at the end of a theater performance, people don't simply stand up and walk out. Instead, they wait for the rows in front of them to empty before stepping out into the aisle.
Guests and family may collect outside the location for some quiet conversation. If you are now ready to leave, do your best to say a sincere good-bye to the bereaved family.
If you choose to follow the hearse and casket to the cemetery or crematory, you'll be given clear directions by members of the funeral home staff.
If you choose to leave at this point in the funeral, make a quiet, discreet exit. Make a note to yourself to contact the bereaved family by phone in the next week or so. Offer them some time to for them to talk about their loss; and if you're willing, make a few suggestions about chores and other things you could do for them. Know that even if they decline your offer, they'll be delighted to know you're thinking of them enough to call.
Whether this is your first funeral service or your 100th; it can be an unnerving experience. If you've got specific questions about what to expect during a funeral service, give us a call at (412) 793-3000. We'll be privileged to assist you.
After a funeral, grieving family members often ask us, "What happens next? Here's what happens after a funeral.
The funeral or memorial service is over. Things have begun to grow quiet; maybe the phone isn't ringing as much as it was, or fewer people are stopping by to check in on you. Your loved one's death continues to become more of a reality. And the very thought of facing your life over the next few weeks and months fills you both with loneliness and a sense of dread. It all feels like way too much to deal with, and we'd like you to know that right now it's okay to take care of yourself first.
You've got two important things to do in the coming weeks and months. As much as possible, you need to practice exquisite self-care. You also need to spend some time focused on completing the paperwork which will officially change the status of your loved one with banks and creditors; employers, insurance companies, and mortgage holders. This can be a slow process; so be prepared for the 'long haul'.
Let's be honest here; the degree to which your grief disempowers you, as well as the amount of flotsam and jetsam (let's just call it "paperwork") you will have to deal with both, depending on the relationship you shared with the deceased. If you are the surviving spouse, a daughter, or son, or have been declared as the designated executor, the responsibilities you have over the death paperwork will be much more extensive than if you were merely a loving niece, nephew, or friend.
Here is a checklist of the tasks you may be facing in the coming weeks:
Get organized. Locate and safeguard as many of the documents listed below (be sure to put each into in a designated set of file folders, and keep them within easy reach):
We've had the privilege of serving many families over the years, and during that time we've found that the time after the funeral is different for everyone involved. If we can be of assistance to you during this challenging time of change and adjustment, simply pick up the phone and call us at (412) 793-3000. We'll do our very best to support you.
Also known as social graces, the rules of etiquette ease us through challenging social situations. Most of us know how to behave in common circumstances but unless you've been to a lot of funerals, you may not know the rules of proper behavior in this often uncomfortable social situation.
Emily Post once said, "Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others." Much of what we know today about etiquette comes from this woman, who published her first book of etiquette in 1922. When you use those words as your guide, the rules of funeral etiquette become easier to understand.
Tradition has always required a certain level of formality in dressing for a funeral. However, today's end-of-life services are so varied — ranging from the traditional funeral to the often more relaxed celebration of life — that it's challenging to know exactly what's expected of you.
The advisors on the Emily Post website tell readers that "attire isn't limited to just black or dark gray. Remember, though, that it is a serious occasion and your attire should reflect that, especially if you are participating in the service. At the very least it should be clean, neat, and pressed as for any other important occasion."
No one expects you to say more than a few words and bereaved family members are often unable to give you their full attention anyway. So, keep it short and make it sincere.
"I'm so very sorry for your loss" may work very well. If you have time to add to those seven words, you might want to share a personal story about a time you shared with the deceased. But, watch closely for signs that your audience needs to move on to receive condolences from other funeral guests.
When speaking to other funeral guests, speak quietly. This is not a time to discuss business or share stories about your recent vacation. Instead, focus on sharing and listening to stories of times spent with the deceased.
If you're unsure about what actions to take when being led by a pastor or celebrant, simply follow along. If you're not comfortable, don't draw attention to your unwillingness to participate. Be discrete and respectful of others.
Always leave your cell phone in the car or at the very least, turn it to vibrate mode or turn it off.
A visitation, or viewing, is a time prior to the funeral where guests are invited to view the casketed body of the deceased. While it is customary to show your respects to the deceased by stepping up to the casket, you may not feel comfortable doing so. That's perfectly alright; no one wants you to be unnerved by the experience, so focus your attention instead on providing comfort to the bereaved family.
If the deceased is to be buried following the service, the funeral officiant will announce the location of the interment. If the cemetery is not located on the grounds of the funeral home, there will be a processional of cars formed to escort the hearse to the cemetery. Unless they have chosen to have a private burial, those in attendance are welcome to join in the procession however, don't feel obligated to do so. You may simply leave the funeral at that time.
Many families today hold a post-funeral gathering where food and refreshments are served. While this is a time to share memories, laughter, and even tears, your behavior at a funeral reception needs to remain respectful.
If you've not already done so, this is a good time to send the family a sympathy note or card. About a week after the funeral, pick up the phone to check in with them to see if there's anything they need.
"Good manners," wrote Emily Post, "reflect something from inside — an innate sense of consideration for others and respect for self." We think that just about sums it up; no matter the situation — wedding, baptism, dinner party or cocktails with friends — her observations about good manners (when followed) will serve us all well.
The death of a loved one can mean that you will need to find an attorney to help with the process of estate settlement. While it isn't necessary to have an attorney prepare an advance directive, it can be advantageous to have one prepare your will or any other estate-related documents.
We have some suggestions to help you find the best attorney to provide the kind of legal services you need:
At this point, you should have a list of four or five recommended local attorneys. Now it's time to make that first call. You should first ask to set up a face-to-face meeting but be aware that many attorneys charge for this introductory session. That's why your first question should be: "Do you charge for the initial visit?"
If you do agree to a face-to-face meeting, it's important to ask the following questions but be observant too. Look around: is the office organized? Is he or she listening closely to what you have to say? What is your gut feeling to what you're seeing and hearing? Trust your intuition; if you don't feel you are a good match, then move on to the next attorney on your list.
The questions to ask in your initial interview are:
When you're satisfied you've found the right attorney at the right price, always ask for a written agreement and read it thoroughly. If you have questions about what you've read, ask them before you sign.
Sometimes estate settlement is one of the hardest aspects of dealing with the death of a family member. This doesn't have to be the case if proper preparation of all estate documents took place prior to the death. If you have the services of an experienced estate lawyer at your disposal, there can be even less worry and strife.
Probate: the official proving of a will. The probate process is intended to establish the legal validity of a will but it involves so much more than merely confirming that the signed, witnessed, and registered copy of a will is authentic.
In addition to proving in a court of law that the deceased individual's will is valid, probate also declares the probate process also involves:
When someone dies without leaving a dated, signed and properly witnessed will, the court decides who should receive the deceased's assets. It won't matter what your familial relationships were really like; the state will award property and cash to the survivors based solely on their legal relationship to the deceased. This is called dying "intestate". Generally only spouses, common-law spouses, and blood relatives inherit under intestate succession laws.
All this can be avoided, if you take care of things ahead of time. When you leave documents that clearly state who you wish to get your property and cash after you die, you better support your survivors in coming to terms with your death without leaving them with a lot of unnecessary distress.
Losing a loved one can be an overwhelming experience and when you add in estate settlement issues, the months following the death can be much more than we bargained for. That's when it might be advantageous to hire an attorney.
When faced with this situation, it's best to turn to the experts in estate settlement.
To best honor those who have served us, Soxman Funeral Homes, Ltd. is proud to provide a full variety of Military Honors to veterans and their families to enrich the funeral service. With the proper documentation (Honorable Discharge DD-214), we can arrange to have the following honors rendered at the final service place:
We can explain the details of each of these benefits based on what would best suit your loved one.
"The writing and reading of a eulogy is, above all, the simple and elegant search for small truths. This can be surprisingly hard, to take notice of the smallest, most unpolished details of a life and set them up for us to stare at in the wonder of recognition."
—Tom Chiarella, "How to Give a Eulogy"
How do you begin writing a eulogy? Editor Carol DeChant explains, "Obituaries are usually mini-biographies, focused on what a person did, but the eulogy is much deeper, more about who the person was...It's meant for the select group of people who knew and cared for that person, or who care for the survivors."
Christina Ianzito, in "How to Write a Eulogy," offers these suggestions; many of them come from Garry Schaeffer's book, A Labor of Love: How to Write a Eulogy:
Unless you're a seasoned public speaker, delivering a eulogy can be a scary, emotionally-trying time. It is recommended that you:
If you have any doubts about your ability to perform in front of an audience, consider appointing a back-up person to fill in for you. Or, you may ask someone else to take over the duty of reading the eulogy aloud on your behalf.
"Giving a eulogy is good for you," says author, Tom Chiarella. "It may hurt to write it. And reading it? For some, that's the worst part. The world might spin a little, and everything familiar to you might fade for a few minutes. But remember, remind yourself as you stand there, you are the lucky one. And that's not because you aren't dead. You were selected. You get to stand, face the group, the family, the world, and add it up. You're being asked to do something at the very moment when nothing can be done. You get the last word in the attempt to define the outlines of a life."
All you need to do is search online for "best eulogies" or simply "eulogies"—you'll be directed to literally dozens of videos and articles.
Should you still find yourself in need of support, please give us a call. We will be delighted to discuss other available resources.
What's involved in writing a good obituary? That's really the first thing you have to think about when sitting down to write one for a spouse, other family members, or a close friend. Exactly what factual information should it include and how can you find a balance between dry facts and engaging storytelling? We have the answers to those questions and hope you will find this information about how to write an obituary helpful.
The obituary is a longer, more detailed look at the life of the deceased and the death notice is merely a compilation of relevant facts. The obituary also includes those essential details but it expands on them to provide a more complete look at the deceased's life experiences.
The first of the details would, of course, be their name. If she was a married woman, you'll want to include her maiden name and if he or she was commonly known by a nickname, you may want to add that as well.
Other essential details to include when writing either a death notice or an obituary are:
We think it benefits the families we serve when we remind them of the simple truth: in writing an obituary for your loved one, you have the opportunity to serve future generations — not only of your immediate family but of the society as a whole. You are, in effect, recording history on an individual scale. It's a humbling yet inspiring thought.
It's very easy to find examples of obituaries that are worthy of attention. There are interesting obituaries for everyday folks that inspire us; maybe even make us cry or laugh. Obituaries which, when we're done reading them, we say to ourselves, "I wish I'd had a chance to get to know that person." Obituaries are scattered in cyberspace, acting as digital records of a life, a time, and a place; and recently, some very funny obituaries have been written.
Will writing our own obituaries become a trend? Maybe. We know many more people are writing their own obituaries today as it's often given as an assignment in certain college and university courses.
How you document your loved one's life story is up to you. With that said, we recommend that in addition to the facts of a death notice listed above, the enhanced death notice, known as an obituary, could also include these details:
It's now time to push the facts aside. Sit back and think about the anecdotes and memories you could share to shed some light on your loved one's character and personal interests. Bring factual details into play whenever you can to help the reader clearly see who your loved one was, how they lived, what they did, who, and what they loved. The more rich in detail, the more memorable the obituary becomes.
Before you give a copy of the final draft of your loved one's obituary, be sure to read it through twice or even three times. You're looking for errors in spelling and grammar but you also want to make sure your facts are straight.
We would be happy to offer some suggestions if you're stuck. Call us to discover how we can help you to shine a brighter spotlight on their life.