Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I plan a funeral for my loved one?


A funeral or memorial is a customary way to recognize death and its finality. Funerals are held for the living to show respect for the dead and to help survivors begin the grief process. They also give mourners a chance to share stories, create memories, fulfill religious beliefs and customs, participate in a support system and gather at a peaceful place during a time of confusion and uncertainty.

What tasks are involved in arranging a funeral?

There can be as many as 200 tasks when planning a funeral. Many of them are listed below. Our Funeral Director will coordinate most of these after meeting with you for a private consultation.

1. Obtain the signature of the attending physician, coroner or medical examiner on the required certificate; file the certificate with the registrar of vital statistics where the death occurred
2. Ensure compliance with government regulations
3. Transfer the deceased from the place of death to the funeral home (local or out of town)
4. Obtain family history
5. Make decisions regarding the remains of the deceased
6. Determine the budget (if funeral has not been pre-arranged)
7. Determine the funeral or memorial service location(s), such as church, chapel or graveside
8. Plan for a viewing/visitation and determine open or closed casket
9. Choose the final resting place (cemetery, mausoleum, private land, etc.)
10. Make necessary arrangements with clergy, church and cemetery officials
11. Obtain certified copies of the death certificate, as necessary
12. Procure the burial permit and file with the cemetery
13. Select and purchase the casket, outer burial container or urn
14. Select a monument/marker
15. Order and schedule the delivery of all products/merchandise
16. Compose and submit newspaper and other media notices
17. Choose clothing and jewelry
18. Select poems, scripture and readings
19. Select music: taped, live musicians, etc.
20. Choose pallbearers
21. Arrange for transportation of the deceased
22. Secure flower/equipment trucks, as necessary
23. Purchase acknowledgement cards, register books, memorial folders, etc.
24. Purchase a door wreath and flowers
25. Arrange for family transportation
26. Complete social security papers and secure social security benefits
27. Secure Veterans benefits (if applicable)
28. Secure life insurance benefits (if applicable)
29. Contact insurance agents
30. Complete accounting, clerical and filing work
31. Answer telephone calls
32. Notify other organizations that your loved one participated in
33. Deliver flowers to local nursing homes, hospitals, etc. following the funeral

What do funeral directors do?

Funeral directors are caregivers, advisors and administrators. They make the arrangements for the transportation of the body, complete all necessary paperwork and carry out the wishes of the family regarding the funeral and final arrangement of the body. They have experience assisting the bereaved in coping with death, are trained to answer questions about grief and can recommend sources of professional help.

Who should be included in the gathering or ceremony?

Family, close friends, co-workers, fellow worshippers, neighbors and acquaintances and in some cases, the greater community can all be included in the funeral service.

What costs are associated with funerals?

The cost of a funeral includes all of the services of a funeral director (see task list above), merchandise (such as caskets and urns) and transportation. Other costs may apply. In general, funeral homes make only a modest profit. Call McWhite’s Funeral Home to learn more about our pricing.

Some people cannot afford basic funeral services. Is financial aid available to the poor?

Other than the family, there are veteran, union and other organizational benefits to pay for funerals, including, in certain instances, a lump sum death payment from Social Security. In most states, some form of public aid allowances are available from either the state, county, city, or a combination. Most funeral directors are aware of the various benefits and know how to obtain them.