New York State Funeral Directors Association

Funerals have served as a means of human expression for thousands of years. Here are answers to some basic questions as they relate to funerals in New York State.

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. Funerals in one form or another have been conducted to honor the dead since around 35,000 B.C.

Funeral directors are caregivers and administrators. They 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 the body. 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. Funeral directors also link survivors with support groups at the funeral home or in the community.

Yes. In New York State, a licensed funeral director or undertaker must be present and personally supervise the interment or cremation, or the pick-up from or delivery to a common-carrier of a dead human body. (NYS Sanitary Code Part 77.7(a)(4)) Further, a licensed funeral director must sign and file the certificate of death with the registrar in the district in which the death occurred.

Viewing 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. Viewing is encouraged for children, as long as the process is explained and the activity is voluntary.

Embalming sanitizes and preserves the body, 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. A dead body DOES NOT have to be embalmed, according to law.

While it is true some metropolitan areas have limited available cemetery space, in most areas of the country, there is enough space set aside for decades without creating new cemeteries. In addition, land available for new cemeteries is more than adequate, especially with the increase in entombment and multi-level grave burial.

No. Cremation is an alternative to earth burial or entombment for the body's final disposition and often follows a traditional funeral service. According to the National Funeral Directors Association's 2016 Cremation and Burial Report, Direct Cremation accounted for 37 percent of all cremations in the year 2014. Cremations with memorial services took place 36 percent of the time in 2014. Cremation took place following funeral services with a viewing in 27 percent of cremations that year.

The family of the deceased does. The cost of a funeral will depend on how elaborate or how simple a ceremony is desired. Funeral directors offer a wide variety of services to choose from.

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 the state and vary by county. Most funeral directors are aware of the various benefits and know how to obtain them for the indigent. However, funeral directors often absorb costs above and beyond what is provided by agencies to insure a respectable burial for the deceased.


Woman writing

It's a really good idea to write your own obituary for a variety of reasons -- you can give it your own personal touch and you can usually avoid the mistakes that sometimes occur when obituaries are hurriedly written at the time of death.

Lilies symbolize innocence restored to the soul of the deceased

The death of a loved one can be an overwhelming experience.

In many cases, survivors are trying to cope with their grief as well as arrange a funeral service. It is enormously helpful at this difficult time to rely on the advice of a specially trained, licensed funeral director.

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