Bradshaw-Carter Memorial & Funeral Services in Houston, TX

Helpful Articles

Dealing with the passing of a loved one is a uniquely stressful period. While needing to grieve, you are also faced with many difficult decisions. For that reason, we have created a special resource to answer your questions on funeral etiquette, planning a service and everything else you may need guidance on during this difficult time. 

You can find our latest posts on this page. Click on the calendar to review postings from prior periods and remember to check back here often!

What Does a Funeral Director Do?

Published: April 6, 2017

When a loved one passes away, families are often overwhelmed with emotion.  They turn to a trusted funeral director to lead the way when it comes to planning a funeral and laying their family member to rest.  Everything happens so quickly - a matter of hours or days - that you may not even realize everything a funeral director does.

A funeral director is, in a sense, an event planner.  They consult with you about everything from selecting a casket and holding a funeral or memorial service to planning graveside services.  They ensure that everything is coordinated the way you want it so that you have a meaningful service that truly honors your loved one.

Much of the planning is facilitated by the funeral director so that the family can focus on remembering their loved one and being together in this time of need. The funeral director can provide recommendations and connections to local vendors for floral arrangements, music, catering, or anything else you may want as part of the service. They keep everything running smoothly and are able to quickly and efficiently resolve problems.

Rest assured that when a loved one passes away, a funeral director has your best interests in mind and will be there to guide you along each step of the way.

What to Do With Family Plots When Families Change

Published: April 6, 2017

Sometimes individuals will find that their relatives have purchased comprehensive family burial plots for children and other loved ones to use. However, many find that it is uncommon for families to “stay together” geographically in a way to practically use these burial plots. In addition, children—and grandchildren—of the original deed holder will often wish to be buried with their spouse or pursue another form of burial.

Is it Disrespectful to Not Use a Family Burial Plot?
Many will question whether it is disrespectful to plan to be buried in another cemetery than what one’s predecessors purchased. However, it is important to remember that every individual has a right to carry out his or her funeral and burial as chosen. Having these discussions before the plot owner or deed holder has passed can be a great way to mitigate any future confusion—and possibly sell any unneeded plots.

Memorializing a Family Plot with a Marker
Although an individual may wish to place his or her remains somewhere other than a family plot, there are some ways to memorialize the concept of the family without having to pursue burial. For example, if the deceased wishes to be buried next to a spouse in a different location, the surviving relatives can opt to place an additional marker on the original family plot. Although an individual is not buried there, this is a great way to respect the wishes of parents, grandparents and other ancestors without having to compromise the personal desires of the deceased.

Estate Planning Basics in Texas

Published: April 6, 2017

Estate planning is not a happy topic to think about—however, it is a necessary one. Not a single person will live forever, and it’s likely that you have acquired assets in your lifetime that will have to be distributed upon your death. While estate planning is an extensive process, there are some basic facts to be aware of in Texas.

What Defines an Estate?
An estate is comprised of real and personal property. Real property is land and any structures located on that land as well as oil, gas, and mineral interests. Personal property is cash, bank accounts, clothing, personal effects, cars, boats, stocks, bonds, life insurance policies, and retirement accounts.

What Happens to Property Upon Death?
When a person dies, their property passes to the beneficiaries named in a will or to heirs determined by the state if there is not a will. However, regardless if an individual dies with or without a will, the probate court will determine ownership, verify the will (when there is one present), and administer the estate, thereby transferring the property. Probate can typically be avoided by executing a trust—this estate planning vehicle will be discussed in a later article.

What is the Role of Probate Court?
Probate court and its involvement in settling an estate is to protect the rights of the family, the individuals who are entitled to receive property, as well as creditors of the decedent’s estate. Having a will provides clear terms to the court and to the executor of an estate regarding how to direct assets after debts and claims are settled. However, if a person dies without a will, the court will distribute assets per Texas law—this might not follow a decedent’s life wishes.
Information in this article is not intended as legal advice. For more information visit

5 Things Everyone Should Know About Planning a Funeral

Published: April 6, 2017

Planning a funeral for yourself or for a loved one requires organization in the midst of grief and sadness.

Consult these guidelines on the most important elements of funeral planning that you and your loved ones should know.

1.) Prearranging provides you or your loved one with the opportunity to become informed about the plethora of options regarding the funeral or cremation service. No two services are alike, and individuals can choose to showcase videos, photographs, music, special readings or any other involved elements with family and friends.

2.) Prearranging ensures that you document your wishes. A living will may cover medical treatment, but there are still funeral costs. You can remove some of the burden for someone making decisions who may not be aware of your wishes.

3.) Prepaying ahead of time eases future financial burden. It may benefit your surviving loved ones to prepay for your funeral or cremation services, as the costs of the products and services you choose may never be lower. Prearranging makes financial sense. We have many choices for payment plans.

4.) Begin the process by writing down your personal information or your loved one’s information.
Write down important information to keep on hand as you plan the service, like social security number,ethnicity, religion, residence, birth information and so on. Having this information is helpful throughout the funeral planning process.

5.) Selecting individuals to be a part of the funeral service in advance takes away some of the emotional burden. You are able to select readers, performers and other individuals to be a part of the service in advance. Call us at 713.521.0066 for further insight, and we will be glad to assist you with your prearrangement process.

New Trends in Cremation

Published: April 6, 2017

As a way to memorialize the remains of the deceased, cremation is nothing new. However, there are many cremation trends that are new, and increasing in popularity every day. This field continues to open up new ways for families to preserve and cherish the physical remnants of lost loved ones, in ways that are specific to their values and preferences. This article will outline just a few of them.

Among the biggest trends in cremation is the development of original keepsakes. Families commission original pieces of jewelry to be made—necklaces, pendants, and on down the list. Within these pieces of jewelry, small samples of the cremated remains are enshrined, allowing individuals to literally carry a piece of the deceased with them, in a tasteful and ornamental way.

Another trend is the “thumbee.” This involves the deceased’s thumbprint being taken, its imprint used in an original piece of décor or of jewelry. For example, some surviving family members choose to have a necklace made with the deceased’s thumbprint embedded in it.

There are several other ways in which cremated remains are enshrined and memorialized—in original glass art, in bullets and shotgun shells, and more. Though these options vary in popularity, all are increasingly accepted and easily available to interested parties.

A related trend is that of biodegradable urns. The cremated remains of a person can now be placed within an urn that is biodegradable, placed inside a bag that is itself biodegradable, and tied with non-plastic material. The entire piece can then be cast into the sea without any environmental worry: Each part of it is made to dissolve into the ocean, rather than pollute or contaminate it.

These trends serve to highlight the creative options available with cremation. For families with very specific ideas of how they wish to commemorate their loved ones, this is an increasingly rich area to explore.

Is an Outer Burial Container Required by Law?

Published: April 6, 2017

When planning a funeral, and opting for burial in a cemetery, many individuals have obvious concerns about costs adding up and what ultimately is or is not required. A very common question that many people ask in the funeral planning process is that of whether an outer burial container is required by law.

Outer burial containers, also known as burial vaults or grave liners, are most commonly used in that of a traditional funeral. Ultimately, this structure is put in the ground prior to the burial and the casket is placed within it. An outer burial container is designed to support the earth around the casket and help prevent a possible cave in as time passes. There are differences between a vault and a liner—and we will discuss those differences in a future article. For the time being, the most pressing question that needs answering is that of whether or not you actually have to buy one of these structures.

The short answer is no, an outer burial container is not typically required by federal or state law. However, many funeral providers may not tell you this. At the same time, while this might not be an actual law that you must follow in a traditional burial, the fact of the matter is that a cemetery may require you to have an outer burial container if you wish to utilize their facilities. This is simply for the sake of preserving their grounds and their business. A cemetery is unlikely to continue to operate if they have sinkholes all over their property.

Of course, these requirements are determined by individual cemetery owners, but realize that location may play into the equation. Cemeteries in urban areas that use earth moving equipment in the burial process are more likely to require an outer burial container over that of a rural cemetery that has less complicated burial procedures.

New Trends in Funeral Catering

Published: April 6, 2017

Increasingly, funerals are not mere memorial services. Rather than being strictly somber and reflective, today’s funerals are often turned into celebrations of life. Family members take advantage of the opportunity they have to come together and enjoy family fellowship. They mourn together, but also look back on the deceased’s life with fondness, and use that fondness as a springboard for joyful and life-affirming parties.

For many such celebrations, the event is restricted to the grounds of the funeral home. Grieving family members would rather not deal with the inconvenience of preparing for large parties in their homes. As such, everyone stays at the funeral home to enjoy time together prompting the need to bring in outside catering and related accommodations.

Catering at funerals is growing more and more popular, and as such the available options are increasingly numerous. Some families prefer to keep things simple, putting out just a few finger foods or light sandwiches. In other instances, complete meal menus and more lavish catering options are used. This is strictly a matter of the family’s preference. Caterers, of course, are happy to comply with the family’s vision for their celebration of life, and can typically coordinate menus on short notice.

Naturally, there is more to any celebration than just food, and so culinary wares are not the only things imported to funeral homes. These celebrations often include entertainment—harpist, jazz ensembles, subtle piano accompaniment, or anything else the family deems appropriate.

The difficulty with any of this is simply making the needed arrangements on short notice, and during a particularly trying period. Funeral homes, increasingly aware of these trends, can often help coordinate the necessary vendors, and alleviate the family’s party-planning burden. To learn more about these trends, families can contact Bradshaw Carter Funeral Home by calling 731-521-0066.

Understanding the Difference Between Funeral and Memorial Services

Published: April 6, 2017

As cultural norms continue to change, the way we handle the passing of loved ones also evolves. Today, there are many ways that people choose to celebrate the lives of those they care about, leading some to question the true difference between funeral services and memorial services. With the introduction of new traditions and burial practices, many professionals may use the terms “funeral” and “memorial” interchangeably. However, there are some key differences that are worth noting if you are attending or
planning a funeral or memorial service.

Funerals are generally held with the presence of the deceased at the funeral home or religious center where the service is held. After the service, these remains are often buried at a determined grave site. Funerals also have grown to incorporate cremated remains that are generally presented in an urn, which are then buried, scattered or placed in an above ground columbarium located at a cemetery. Memorial services may sometimes have cremated remains of the deceased present, but typically are reserved for instances where the individual has passed and their remains were not available. For example, the lives of individuals who died overseas while missing or in combat may often be remembered without the presence of the deceased at the service.

Funerals traditionally occur soon after the passing of an individual, sometimes days after one has passed away. As cremation becomes a more popular option, many have found that there is more available time to create a flexible ceremony. As such, many professionals within the industry have witnessed memorial services that occur weeks or months after the deceased has actually passed away.

Funerals are generally held at funeral homes or religious facilities that can accommodate such services. Once these services conclude, they are often followed by graveside burials that are either located at on-site burial grounds or off-site cemeteries. While modern burials may involve either cremated remains or caskets containing the deceased, funeral services still typically refer to burials that occur at cemeteries. Memorial services, however, present greater flexibility as to where services are held. For instance, some may prefer to celebrate the life of a loved one through a memorial service held at a specific place of interest or home of a relative. In addition, memorial services may involve a ceremonial act— such as scattering of ashes—presenting more versatility as to where the event takes place.

Estate Planning & Pets: Something to Think About

Published: April 6, 2017

The concept of legally transferring pet ownership – should the pet’s primary caretaker pass away or become physically incapable of caring for their animals— is relatively new. The wildly publicized story of Leona Helmsley’s “richest dog in the world” raised global awareness of the possibility of estate planning for pets. The truth is that estate planning for pets is not something people frequently consider. Although pets are legally classified as property, to their owners, they are valued and loved members of the family.

Attorneys that specialize in estate law can assist pet owners in creating a pet trust. This is a legally sanctioned agreement that ensures that the pet is cared for in the event of your disability or death. The trust not only delegates legal ownership of a pet to a specific person, it also generally includes a monetary amount to be used for food, veterinary costs and boarding. The trust also lists any other pertinent information for your animal’s well being, such as any known allergies, phobias, socialization, grooming, and how you want the pet’s remains to be handled when they pass.

Unfortunately, simple, verbal agreements between friends and family members are sometimes not honored. As a result, domestic pets are either abandoned or condemned to a life without love.

The Importance of a Pet Trust
Essentially, when planning the estate of a pet owner, there are three legal documents to consider. The first is the will, which is valid after the pet owner’s death. A will’s primary purpose is to distribute property, including pets. A pet trust specifies a trustee by the trust’s settlor. A pet protection agreement has fewer formalities than a stand-alone pet trust. It is a less expensive option that also allows the pet owner to establish continuing care for their companion.

The trustee is solely responsible for making suitable arrangements for the care of the pet. Trustees can either be a friend or relative of the settlor, or they can be a professional trustee or corporation. The trustee also delivers the pet to the settlor’s beneficiary, who becomes the pet’s designated caregiver. There are two types of pet trusts: traditional and statutory. Traditional pet trusts are legally recognized in all states, while statutory pet trusts are only effective in 40 states. Traditional trusts are more expensive to draft, and are more complex. They leave more detailed care instructions for the beneficiary. If you are interested in setting up a pet trust you should consult an estate attorney for professional advice.

Do Your Homework
Sadly, while funds can be allocated for the care of the pet, the beneficiary is under no legal obligation to use the money for that purpose. For this reason, thoroughly considering whom you are entrusting your loved one to is crucial. Contemplate a person’s willingness to assume the responsibilities involved in caring for an animal.

People who are also loving pet owners are likely better candidates than those who are not. Also, question how stable a person’s home environment is, and how amicable the relationship is between the pet and the potential caregiver’s family. I would strongly recommend naming at least two other alternates if your first choice is either unwilling or unable to serve as the pet’s caregiver.

Pet sanctuaries and no-kill shelters are options as well. Also, to determine how much money to leave your pet’s beneficiary, average the amount spent on your pet over the last few years. Projecting illness as the animal ages is also smart, as well as considerate of the beneficiary.

Understanding the Idea Behind a Non-Denominational Funeral Service

Published: April 6, 2017

When a person who has passed away didn’t follow one particular religion or faith, a non-denominational funeral can prove to be the most appropriate way to honor that person’s life. Instead of focusing on religious texts during the ceremony, the family can choose to take a more humanistic approach. This makes for a poignant funeral, even without a religious element.

Even if the person who passed did loosely follow a religion, it is becoming increasingly common for families to use a non-denominational service in order to honor their loved one and commemorate their life. If you’re hoping to have a non-denominational service for someone you care about, keep these tips in mind:

Choose your location carefully
It is certainly possible to have a non-denominational service in a house of worship, however many people feel more comfortable hosting the ceremony in a funeral home. If you don’t feel comfortable having a member of the clergy presiding over the service, you may ask the funeral director to perform the service. Many people also find it special to have close friends or family members deliver eulogies during the ceremony.

In a non-denominational service, the focus is less on traditional prayers and shifts more to the words and sentiments of people who loved the deceased. This human, emotional touch is something that many people find appealing. It is also possible to incorporate a few traditional prayers and hymns, while still keeping the focus on the concrete ways in which that person touched lives.

If you don’t feel comfortable asking those in attendance to participate in a prayer during the service, a moment of silence will be sufficient. This allows everyone to reflect on what the deceased meant to them, without forcing a religious element into a non-denominational service.

If you find words from religious texts comforting but still would prefer to have a non-denominational service, you can incorporate religious texts from a variety of different faiths. There is no rule that says that if you include verses from the Bible, then the service must have a decidedly Christian feel to it. You can read a verse from the Bible, then incorporate a part of a Buddhist text, and finish with a traditional Jewish prayer. Pick and choose the elements that you find most relevant, and create a service that feels comforting and warm to you.

When it comes to religious references during a non-denominational service, there is no need to feel as if you have to reference God, Jesus, or any other element of traditional religion in order to honor the person who has passed. You can simply make reference to finding peace in the afterlife and being commemorated in the hearts of loved ones.

If your loved one was not particularly religious, it is still possible to have a beautiful and meaningful ceremony, without a heavy religious presence. Using eulogies from loved ones, inspirational readings, and music it is easy to honor your loved one’s life during a non-denominational ceremony.

Honoring the Life of a Missing Pet

Published: April 6, 2017

Though the passing of a pet can be difficult, it is no less painful to cope with a pet that has gone missing. Having a lost pet can be an agonizing process, oftentimes involving months of waiting, searching and posting dozens of fliers.  However, when it is finally realized that your beloved animal is nowhere to be found, a new set of issues comes into play. Euthanizing a pet or allowing him or her to pass away peacefully at home provides the comfort of being able to lay the animal to rest—what’s more is that you were able to say goodbye. However, with a missing pet, the question remains:  How does one approach a memorial?

Prior to any memorial planning, I strongly urge contacting local animal shelters to determine if they brought in any animals that match the description of your pet. Do not immediately turn into a fatalist, as there is a very real potential for your pet to be alive and well. If you do come to the conclusion that your missing pet is not returning, there are some beautiful ways to memorialize him or her.

I want to impress upon pet owners that a memorial, while sad, should be about celebrating the life of the pet. Do not feel embarrassed to conduct a service for a missing pet, because a loss is painful regardless of the circumstances. Think about the way you believe to be the most appropriate method of memorializing your pet. It is all a matter of personal preference.

Throughout my years as a funeral director and as a pet owner, I have seen people remember their pet through a variety of services, memorials and remembrance ceremonies. There are some wonderful options to consider that will truly allow you to capture the essence of your beloved pet.

I think one of the most beautiful ways to memorialize a pet is to plant a flower or tree. This is something that will grow and bloom as a constant reminder of your pet. Planting something contributes to the environment and honors your pet’s place in nature. You could even place a small stone or plaque with your pet’s name on it in front of the plant.

Look through your scrapbooks and picture albums to find photos of your pet. Select the one that you believe best represents him or her. It may be a photograph of your pet splashing through a lake or rolling over for a belly rub. Then, contact a local artist to paint a portrait of that photo and display it somewhere in your home where every visitor can see.

Special Area
Maybe your pet’s bed was placed in the corner of the living room. Maybe you still have tags, toys or collars that belonged to your pet. No matter what remains of your missing pet, you can designate an area that will still be his or hers. Place personal items or pictures in that special area to commemorate your pet’s life and personality.

The Impact Loss Has on Other Pets
If you have other pets, they may show signs of distress if they maintained a close bond with the pet that is missing. The surviving pet may forego eating and drinking, show lack of energy and become completely sedentary. It is important to carefully watch for signs of depression in your other pets. You need to act positive around these animals and give them added attention to help them cope with the loss.  If the behavior persists, see a veterinarian for other means or methods to help your remaining pets deal with the loss of their friend.

Q&A: Remembering a Lost Pet

Published: April 6, 2017

I recently held a memorial service for my 16 year old Shih Tzu, Henry, who died last month.

As an individual who has spent many years working in the funeral industry as a funeral director, I have found that losing any loved one can prove quite a challenge. For some, saying goodbye to a beloved animal can be more difficult than letting go of a person we have known. However, while funerals and memorial services have become a standard part of the grieving process when we lose the people we know, some find it hard to fully embrace the mourning and farewell of a lost pet.

In my experience as a funeral director and devout pet lover, I have found that many pet owners search for ways to say goodbye to their friends in a way that is meaningful, honest and celebratory. What may surprise many is that approaching a pet funeral or memorial service is not quite unlike that of planning a service for a person who has passed.

Believing that it is important to remember and let go of the pets we have built strong bonds with, here are a few common questions—and answers—I experience within the funeral industry.

What formal ways are there to say goodbye to a pet?
Having a memorial service for pets that have passed is a great way to honor their life. However, there are many ways to celebrate this life. Some may choose to keep the service intimate in a spot that was special to the pet, while others may host a gathering of friends and family who were close to the pet. I have found that while some may choose to embalm their pets to formally say goodbye, others will opt for a cremation, using the urn as a vessel to honor the animal’s life.

I don’t want to bury my pet, how common is cremation?
Cremation is actually the most traditional way of letting go of a pet and honoring his or her life. If you opt for cremation, it is important to use a certified pet crematory, as the law states you cannot mix human and animal remains. Fortunately, pet crematoriums are not hard to find and a local funeral home can often help with these arrangements.

How can I tell what my pet would want at his funeral?
An incorporation of the things that reminds us of a pet is always a great way to honor their unique personality that will live on in our memories. While some people may make requests for how they want to plan their funeral, it is not always easy to know what an animal would want at theirs. I’ve found that it is always a great idea to have the pet’s favorite toys, as well as a collection of memorable photographs, present at a service.

In addition to inviting people who shared joyous experiences with your pet, it is also worth thinking about the other animal friends he or she had. Animals are very intuitive, especially in relation to death, so it is important to make sure that they can be part of the experience. Having other household pets or animal friends at a ceremony is an exceptional way to not only honor the pet’s life, but also help other companions grieve and process the death.

What is an acceptable way of announcing a pet’s death and memorial service?
Some people have come to me feeling that it was inappropriate to announce the death of a pet or celebrate the life of an animal in a memorial service. However, it is important to recognize that there is no shame in wanting to say farewell to an animal. In fact, the human-pet bond is one that many of us share and can relate to. As such, many may choose to send out formal announcements through the mail.

In addition, social media has made it much easier for individuals to not only announce a pet’s passing, but also plan a service. Through social media, loved ones can express their feelings, share the memories they had with the pet, as well as post photos to make the memorial a true community experience.

How can I help my child process the death of our family pet?
Saying goodbye to a pet can be difficult for any person, but when it comes to children who may not be that familiar with the concept of death—it is a challenging subject to approach. I believe it is up to the discretion of each parent to decide how they will let their child know of a pet’s passing. However, I have found that it is extremely helpful to have children involved in the process of remembering and saying goodbye to the animal. Having your child write a letter, draw pictures or speak at a service can really help them comprehend the loss in a healthy manner.

What can I do for a loved one that has just lost a pet?
Addressing death that a loved one is experiencing is an incredibly sensitive subject, as each individual may grieve in their own way. It is important to recognize that the loss of a pet can be just as devastating as any other death, so friends and family should offer as much support as they can.

While you may not know what to do for the individual, simply letting him or her know that you are there and willing to help can be of great comfort. Other acts of simple kindness, such as preparing a meal, can help the individual allow themselves the time and space they need to process the death. Additionally, it is kind to make a donation to an animal-related charity in honor of the lost pet.

Reaching Out For Help
If you have lost a pet and are unsure of how to handle the memorial, it is not only important to reach out to loved ones, but to recognize that there are many professionals who can help with the process. Reaching out to a local funeral home, veterinary hospital or animal shelter can help guide you in the right direction to make arrangements for your pet’s memorial.

How to Face Complex Relationships at a Funeral

Published: April 6, 2017

Funerals are a time for families and friends to gather to remember the deceased. However, not all of those associated with the departed may have perfect relationships with one another. For this reason, services can be awkward for those who carry negative feelings or have complex relationships with other guests.

Planning a Service in a Complex Family
Whether a family is rife with rivalries or opposing personalities, it is important to make sure that all voices are heard when planning the service. While spouses and parents may be the most directly related to the deceased, siblings and children may also want to lend their help and express their thoughts when planning a service.

To ensure that the funeral service remains about the deceased—and not the event itself—all involved parties are encouraged to schedule a meeting or conference call when discussing planning details. While opinions may differ, it is important that those close to the deceased are able to express these ideas. Remember, this is a time when family members need support from one another the most.

Guests should be given an equal opportunity to express their thoughts at a service; those who wish to share a reading, speak about the deceased or share kind words should be allowed a moment of time to do so.

Focus on the Deceased
If the deceased did not leave details on how a funeral was to be planned, there can be many conflicting ideas from close family members. When choosing clergy, catering, guests, music, readings and other elements of a service, try to focus on what the deceased would have wanted—not what you or others prefer.

When attending a service, it is also essential to focus on the memory of the deceased. This means that even though tensions may exist between you and other guests, it is best to set resentments aside. While complex matters may go unresolved, concentrating on the life of the deceased and your relationship with them is what matters most. When in doubt, keep the peace and act polite until a more appropriate time.

The Roll of Pallbearers at a Funeral

Published: April 6, 2017

Having pallbearers at a funeral is a common tradition among many religions; however,manymay not be familiarwith this practice—especially if one has never attended a funeral service before. Pallbearers are individuals who are respected by the deceased and may have had a close relationship to him or her. These individuals are chosen—either in preplanning by the departed or their loved ones—to escort the casket or coffin in church and to carry the casket to the burial site. For many, this ritual carries great significance and offers closure to the surviving family members.

Tips for Planning Your Own Funeral

Published: April 6, 2017

Planning your own funeral is an important way for you to ensure that the service happens exactly as you’d like it to. It can also significantly reduce the levels of stress endured by your friends and family after your passing, as they already know exactly how to proceed. Regardless of whether you are completely physically fit or not, it is always a wise idea to attend to this sort of planning well in advance.

Some of the components you’ll want to address as you begin funeral planning for yourself include:

The viewing
This is when friends and family have some time to sit peacefully with the body. It typically happens in a funeral home, but can also happen at a house of worship or your home.

The wake
The wake is a time to gather together to celebrate the life of a person who has passed. This gathering is typically an important part of the mourning process, and allows friends and family members to provide comfort to one another. The wake can happen at a family home or a funeral home.

The funeral
The funeral itself is a memorial ceremony that typically occurs in a house of worship or a funeral home. The body is usually present, either in an open or closed casket. There are no rules for a funeral, so you are free to shape the service as you see fit. If you are religious, you may want to have a service that’s full of prayer. If you served in the armed forces, you may opt for a military funeral. Other people prefer to keep the service non-denominational, and simply use it as a time for family and friends to grieve together.

A memorial ceremony
A memorial ceremony is another alternative if you are not totally comfortable with the idea of a formal funeral service. Memorials typically happen a few months after the person has passed, and the body is not present. Instead of prayers and religious rites, the memorial service is a place for family members and friends to commemorate the life and accomplishments of the person who passed. Various people can eulogize the deceased, and explain what this person meant to them.

If you wish to plan an after-death service, you’ll want to make your wishes are explicitly clear to the people who will be tasked with executing these arrangements once you have passed. Some of the details you will need to hammer out include:

  • The location of the gathering/service
  • The type of service
  • Who should be invited
  • Who should facilitate the ceremonies
  • Who will speak
  • Whether the body will be present, and whether the casket will be open or closed
  • Any specific jewelry or clothing you would like placed on your body
  • Who will serve as pallbearers (when necessary)
  • Whether you would like a special picture or other items displayed with you
  • Any special readings or music that you would like featured
  • Whether you will ask survivors to send donations to a charity of your choice
  • Information about special music, readings, food or drink, and other details

Your surviving family members and friends will take comfort in knowing that they are executing the after-death services exactly as you had wished, and you can relax knowing that the arrangements will be handled in a way that you find suitable.

Contact us for further assistance.  Our funeral planning professionals will work with you to plan out every detail.

Understanding Funeral Rites

Published: April 6, 2017

Funeral rites are an important part of honoring someone who has passed away. The ways in which a group of people executes these rites vary depending on the person’s religion, as well as that faith’s belief about life after death.

Why do funeral rites matter?
Funeral rites are important because they show respect for the dead. They also give that person’s loved ones a chance to mourn and express their grief. Many people feel that expressing their grief in a formal way is an important part of the healing process. In some religions, these rites are also believed to be necessary in order to ensure that the person makes it to the afterlife successfully.

Christian funeral rites
The rites performed during a Christian burial will vary slightly depending on the sect of the religion to which a person belongs. In some forms of Christianity, a priest or minister will come to the person’s bedside as they are dying in order to help them prepare for death. In the Roman Catholic faith, a priest will also anoint that person with holy oil in order to get them ready to pass on. This is known as Last Rites.

In Christianity, a person who has died is placed in a coffin. In some instances, this coffin will be left open, giving friends and relatives a chance to say their goodbyes. This coffin is then taken to the church where the funeral will take place. During this time, the clergy will offer comforting words, as well as thoughts about what that person meant to those who loved them. In Roman Catholicism, there will be a special Eucharist called a Requiem Mass, where people say prayers for the deceased’s soul.

Buddhist rites
It is traditional for a Buddhist to be cremated after they die. Prior to the cremation process, a white cloth is often offered to the relatives of the dead. The deceased person will be outfitted in simple clothing, and the service itself should be peaceful and simple too. In many instances a monk will perform the Buddhist rites, though family members may also preside over the services themselves.

Muslim rites
In Islam, people believe that a person’s life does not end after death. Therefore, those who honor the dead spend a significant amount of time praying for a happy eternal life for that individual. Muslims bury the deceased as soon as possible, thereby avoiding having to use methods of preservation. Cremation is forbidden. When someone dies in the Islamic faith, family members and community members wash the body and cover it in a clean, white cloth. The deceased is then taken to the funeral location, which is typically outdoors.

Jewish rites
During a traditional Jewish burial, the body is washed and purified, and then placed in burial clothes. Burial must occur as soon as possible after death, and cremation is typically not an option. The person who has passed is wrapped in a sheet and a prayer shawl. Once prayers are said, the mourners in attendance step forward and add a shovel full of soil into the grave.

Though many faiths from around the world rely on the same principles in order to send their dead into a peaceful afterlife, the rites and traditions vary from religion to religion.

The Difference Between Jewish and Christian Funerals

Published: April 6, 2017

Traditions surrounding funerals vary from religion to religion, so before you attend a service you should have some idea about what to expect. What is viewed as respectful in one religion may be considered offensive in another. This is why some careful research is necessary so that you can honor the deceased without inadvertently causing an issue.

Christian services
Christian funerals are typically centered on the ideas of eternal life and resurrection for the soul through the acceptance of Jesus Christ. A Christian funeral may incorporate some or all of the following elements:

  • Readings, hymns, and prayers
  • Incorporation of Eucharist, Mass, or Holy Communion (in Catholicism)
  • Focusing on the idea of life beyond the grave through the power of God
  • Special prayers as the body is buried

Other common elements during a Christian funeral service include:

  • A call to worship (typically with a scripture reading)
  • An opening hymn
  • A prayer to comfort the bereaved
  • A confession of sin
  • An affirmation of faith

In most cases, families choose to have a funeral (where the body is present) as opposed to a memorial service where it is not. Historically, Christian services were known for their somber tones, however that has begun to shift in recent years. Some people now choose to position a funeral as a joyous celebration of life that incorporates much more brightness than in years past. However, some families still prefer to stick to somber tones and wearing dark clothing. There are no set rules in the faith about what the tone of the service should be.

Jewish funerals
Jewish funerals are typically held within 24 hours of the person’s death, except in an unusual situation where family members must travel especially long distances to attend. The synagogue will typically play a major role in preparing for the service, including getting the funeral arrangements together and preparing the body.

Jewish funerals are heavily focused on traditions and rituals, and usually center on the immediate family members of the deceased. It is common for Jewish people to be buried instead of cremated, as traditional Jewish law defines cremation as desecration of the body. In many instances, a Jewish person will be buried in a simple pine coffin. After the burial is complete, many traditional Jewish families head home to sit Shiva and receive visitors. The period of mourning lasts for a year after the person’s death.

Regardless of the kind of service you are attending, it is important to have some perspective and understanding about what will go on at the funeral. When you know what to expect and what is and is not appropriate, it makes it easier for you to support the family and honor the person who has died without accidentally causing offense.

Popular Funeral and Memorial Service Songs

Published: April 6, 2017

No two funerals or memorial services are alike, and therefore, individuals planning their own funerals or the service for a loved one should keep personalization in mind. There are several ways to personalize a funeral or memorial service to fully and adequately celebrate and honor the life of a deceased friend or family member. Music is an important part of the funeral or memorial, and many people find comfort during their darkest hour as songs celebrating the lives of the deceased can often serve as a beacon of hope.

Appropriate music is an excellent tribute to the deceased individual, and there are many suggestions and resources available for those planning a funeral.

Religious themed songs
Popular funeral or memorial service songs categorized as religious or spiritual include multiple versions of the following:

  • Amazing Grace
  • Ave Marie
  • Be Not Afraid
  • Come As You Are
  • Psalm 23
  • The Lord is My Shepherd
  • Hallelujah “Vocal”

Classic songs
For more “old time” secular and classic songs, individuals frequently choose the following:

  • As Time Goes By – Louis Armstrong
  • My Way – Frank Sinatra
  • Unforgettable – Nat King Cole and Natalie Cole
  • We’ll Meet Again – Vera Lynn

Modern favorites
For funeral or memorial service planners, more modern song selections may be more suitable, such as the following:

  • A Mother’s Prayer – Celine Dion
  • Angels – Robbie Williams
  • Because You Loved Me – Celine Dion
  • Fields of Gold – Eva Cassidy
  • On Eagles Wings – Josh Groban
  • Stairway to Heaven – Led Zepplin

Classical songs
More classical or popular instrumental selections include:

  • Canon – Pachelbel
  • Claire de Lune – Claude Debussy
  • Funeral March – Beethoven
  • Fur Elise – Beethoven
  • Prelude in C minor – Chopin
  •  Sheep May Safely Graze – J.S. Bach
  • The Lark Ascending – Vaughan Williams
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