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Why should we embalm?

To preserve the corpse to allow family members time to prepare or plan the funeral, and to also make the corpse presentable during the funeral. Preservation helps to prevent the risk of infection.

Why do we need you to arrange the funeral?

You need a funeral home to plan the funeral because not only are we professionals in the field and can advise appropriately on all aspects of the funeral; but also because we will take the burden and pressure involved in the planning off of the family.

How will the deceased look after embalment?

There may be some changes depending on the cause of death and also the way in which the body may react to the chemicals used for embalment. However we know the right chemicals to use in order to keep the body presentable and as natural looking as possible.

How long can we keep the corpse in storage while planning the funeral?

The body can remain for as long as the family wants and for as long as they can afford to pay the bills incurred on storage; however it is important to note that the length of stay may affect the look of the deceased.

How long does it take to plan a funeral?

Planning a funeral depends on the preference of a family however on average can take about 2 hours; but the funeral director is ready to spend as much time as the family needs.

What type of casket should we buy?

The choice of casket is solely the deceased or family’s decision, but often at times depends on the budget.

Should we have an expensive burial?

Again, this decision solely depends on the family and their budget.

Do you have to open the casket?

Opening or viewing of corpse is also the families’ decision, but it is advisable that the corpse be viewed particularly when it is well presented, as it is known to help the grieving process.

Must we have the funeral over the weekend?

Funerals can be conducted at anytime of the week. Weekend funerals are conducted merely due to convenience.

Who decides on what the deceased wears?

The decision on what to wear is taken usually by the next-of-kin but our funeral director can also advise, i.e. a lawyer to wear wig and gown; a professor to wear an academic gown, etc. If the corpse was involved in an accident or was an autopsy case, we advise on wearing shrouds of cloths that will cover any element of that, because seeing marks may upset family members. In some cases, clothes are already chosen by the deceased before death.

Why is a reception or light entertainment necessary?

It is traditional; it is a way of appreciating all that cared enough to attend the funeral. In the case where the deceased is of age, the family is expected to celebrate the life of the deceased.

Are wreaths necessary, and if so what type do I choose?

Wreaths are traditional but are a personal choice; they are taken to the cemetery and they are left at the grave side. They can either be made with natural or artificial flowers. Wreaths can also reflect the best colours of the deceased and often expresses ones love to the deceased.

Can souvenirs be put in the casket?

Souvenirs can be included in the casket e.g. keepsake, love notes. Some caskets come with compartments for such items.

What is the process of embalment?

Bodies are embalmed through the arteries of the body. The embalming chemicals will be infiltrated through the veins, the remaining blood drained, and then the cavity walls aspirated. The body is then kept in the cooling unit at 4oc.

What are the other dressing apparels needed?

A corpse can be dressed just as he/she would like to look when alive, with everything from underwear to shoes and accessories.

How are bodies treated at the funeral homes?

Corpses are treated with utmost dignity and respect and handled with care.

Can the deceased be buried at home?

It is the families’ decision; however consider that burying at home may devalue a property. Additionally for security reasons, we would advise to bury in a private cemetery.

How does it feel to work with the dead?

Working with the dead is very interesting, they are peaceful people, they don’t talk or move, and you are able to work uninterrupted.

How regularly can we visit the mortuary?

Once the corpse is in the mortuary, you may rest assured that the body is safe, but if visiting is therapeutic then we can facilitate a certain number of visits during their stay.

Can the families be present when the corpse is being dressed for funeral?

Unfortunately we do not allow family members to be present during the dressing of their loved one. We advise that the families wait until the body is presented to them for funeral if they wish to make any final adjustments.

Do you advise on cremation?

We can advise and help to arrange, however consider that cremation is usually based on the decision of the deceased while he/she was alive, and other factors like tradition, religion or culture.



Everyone who loves is vulnerable to the pain of grief, for love means attachment, and all human attachments are subject to loss. But grief need not, should not, be a destructive emotion ~ Dr. Joyce Brothers, psychologist

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How long does grief last?

This is probably the most common question asked by the bereaved. Because every griever is a unique personality, there is no single answer to this question. In most cases, the pain associated with grieving begins to subside considerably in the second and third years following loss. This means that there are more good days than bad ones; that the heavy, depressive feelings in earlier months begin to break up with more hopeful, optimistic feelings replacing them. Many bereavement authorities believe that most grief adjustments take between two and four years to be completed. Of course, some adjustments are shorter and some are longer, depending upon personality factors and the nature of the relationship with the deceased.

What are the signs of grief?

On the emotional level, the bereaved experience some of the following: disbelief, shock, numbness, denial, sadness, anxiety, guilt, depression, anger, loneliness or frustration. The physical symptoms of grief can include tightness of the chest or throat, pain in the heart area, panic attacks, dizziness or trembling. Grievers also report sleep disturbance, as in either too much or not enough sleeping. All of these emotional and physical symptoms fall within the normal range of response to the loss of a loved one.

I feel like I am going crazy. Is this normal?

This is perfectly normal. Indeed, grief can be accurately described as a “crazy” time in one’s life. In her book, Nobody’s Child Anymore, Barbara Bartocci writes: “The important thing to realise about mourning is that it’s normal to feel slightly crazy. You will forget things. You will drive your car as if on autopilot. You will stare at the papers on your desk and feel paralysed to get any work done.” Bartocci offers this simple and practical advice: “This might be a good time to carry a small notebook with you. Write down things you need to remember. Don’t rely on your memory. Let your boss know why you’re not functioning at your usual one-hundred percent. Be patient with yourself. Be as understanding of you during this time as you would like others to be.”

Will I ever stop crying?

Even though it may be difficult to believe, the tears will come to an end. This will not happen abruptly but gradually, and even after the intense crying ceases, there may be times when hearing a favorite song or seeing a favoured place will bring a moment of sadness along with a tear. Keep in mind that crying is healthy because it is an emotional and physical release. Writing centuries earlier, Shakespeare had it right: “To weep is to make less the depth of grief.”

Do all people grieve in the same way?

While many aspects of grieving are universal —feelings of sadness, numbness, confusion, depression — there is no single prescribed way to grieve. Grieving is an individual endeavour. Some want to have many people around with whom they can share and explore their feelings. Others prefer to deal with loss more privately. Most people report that grieving is much like being on an emotional roller coaster. It is worth noting that the “ride” down is usually the prelude to the “ride” up.

Do men and women grieve differently?

The cultural stereotypes of women and men in grief are inaccurate. Generally, they portray women as being expressive with their grief while men are the “strong and silent” type. The reality is that some men need and want to express and share their feelings, while some women prefer to do their grief work in a more low-key way. Bereavement styles have less to do with gender and more to do with basic personality traits. Grieve in ways that are most helpful and healing for you.

The holidays are coming. How can I cope with them?

It is not only holidays that are difficult because there is an “empty chair,” but also anniversaries, birthdays, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and so on. Here are some effective ways to manage these special days:

– Plan ahead: How will you spend the day? With whom?

– Talk about your deceased loved one: This will let others know that you want to hear his/her name and to talk about that person.

– Establish personal priorities: Decide what you want to do, how you wish to celebrate, and with whom you wish to spend time. Follow your instincts.

– Express your feelings: If the holidays make you more weepy, then cry. If you feel the need to talk about the loss, then find a good friend who will listen.

– Value your memories: You loved, and the price of losing a loved one is pain. Cherish the time you had together and value your precious memories, which can never be taken away from you.

– Reach out to others: Take the focus off yourself and your pain by volunteering to help others.

– Avoid isolating yourself in grief: Just because you are in pain, do not cut yourself off from others. Stay in touch. Keep communication open with family, friends and colleagues. Accept invitations for social events, even if you do not feel like it.

– Be patient with yourself: A loss to death inflicts a deep wound but the wound will heal.

I feel very angry. Why is this and what can I do with the anger?

It is not unusual to feel angry. Sometimes the anger is directed at the deceased love one, sometimes toward other family members, sometimes at medical staff, or sometimes toward God. The anger will subside, but you can take the edge off it through exercise, hard physical activity, such as housework or gardening, and by talking about the angry feelings.

What helps the grieving process?

Even though grievers often feel helpless, there are important steps and actions they can take to make the grieving process flow more smoothly and toward a more rapid resolution. Here are some ways to cope with the pain of loss:

– Seek out supportive people: Find a relative, friend, neighbor or spiritual leader who will listen non- judgmentally and provide you with support as you sort your way through grief.

– Join a support group: Being with others who have had a similar loss is therapeutic.

– Express your feelings: Do this by confiding in a trusted friend or by writing in a journal. Feelings expressed are often feelings diminished.

– Take care of your health: Eat balanced, nutritious meals. Rest properly. Find an exercise you enjoy and do it regularly. If you have physical problems, consult with your physician promptly.

– Find outside help when necessary: If your bereavement feels too heavy for you to bear, find a counselor or therapist trained in grief issues to offer you some guidance.

I have an opportunity to relocate. Would this be good for me?

After a death, the temptation to make changes can be acute. Such changes can include selling off your home, taking a new position, or making a career change. Unless there is some pressing reason for the change, a good rule is to postpone any major change for at least one year following the loss. Grief authority Rabbi Earl Grollman advises: “You may be tempted to make a radical change in your life—to sell your house, to move someplace different, to make a fresh start, away from your familiar home and all the painful memories. Wait awhile. The time is not right for major decisions. Your judgment is still uncertain. You are still in horrible pain. Getting used to a new life takes time, thought and patience.”

When is mourning finished?

Mourning is successfully completed when the “tasks” of grief are completed. In his book, Grief Counseling and Grief Therapy, J. William Worden, Ph.D., identifies the four “tasks” of grieving: To accept the reality of the loss; To experience the pain of the grief; To adjust to an environment in which the deceased is missing; To withdraw emotional energy and reinvest it in another relationship. For those who seek a clear sign that their grieving is coming to completion, Dr. Worden offers this insight: “One benchmark of a completed grief reaction is when the person is able to think of the deceased without pain. There is always a sense of sadness when you think of someone that you have loved and lost, but it is a different kind of sadness — it lacks the wrenching quality it previously had. One can think of the deceased without physical manifestations such as intense crying or feeling a tightness in the chest. Also, mourning is finished when a person can reinvest his or her emotions back into life and in the living.”


Culled from ‘Grief Relief by Victor Parachin