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When And Where?
Whenever there is an event to attend, the first questions asked are when will it be and where will it be held? This is no different for a funeral service, as family, friends and co-workers need to plan, prepare, travel, take time off work, etc… in order to attend the service.
Most funeral services take place within 4-7 days after one passes away. But there are occasional circumstances where services can not take place for several days, or even weeks after the death.
Consider the following:
The family may choose to delay the services due to another special family event such as a wedding, family reunion, etc...
There is sometimes a challenge getting the death certificate signed by the doctor. The doctor can be out of town, or we may encounter difficulty finding a doctor who is willing to sign. (A death certificate has to be signed before interment can take place).
If the coroner is involved, an examination and investigation in required. This can delay services several days and even weeks, during peek times.
The minister or church is not available due to vacation or previously scheduled events.
Holiday closures can lead to delays.
Travel time it takes loved ones to get here from out of state or out of the country, can be lengthy.
Difficulty locating the legal next-of-kin can lead to a 7-10 day delay, at a minimum.
All of these situations and more can necessitate having services postponed for longer than desired.
Mortuaries make every effort to accommodate a family’s wishes. However, scheduling conflicts, staff, equipment, merchandise and cemetery availability, etc.. can also prohibit services from being held on a desired date. Before setting the date, consult with your Funeral Director re: the feasibility of the date you want.
Once a loved one dies, close relatives or friends want to get there as soon as possible. This is natural and understandable, but doing so before confirming the date of the service can create a problem. Those who are on a time limit for any reason, such as having to return to work, or those who purchase a non-refundable round trip airplane ticket, can be at a disadvantage. The immediate family should inform significant others from out of town, to wait until the service date is set before making definite travel plans.
In addition to the date, the time of the service needs to be coordinated with the mortuary. A.M. funerals are often held to allow time for committal service at the graveside and repast. But afternoon services are also possible, if the length of the service permits time to get to the cemetery by their deadline (usually 3:00 or 3:30 p.m.). Factors to consider in setting the date and time are the availability of the church/minister/musicians, anticipated length of the service, the traffic, travel time to location of service/cemetery, etc…
Memorial services, services where the deceased is not present, can be set for a.m. or p.m. With memorial services, there is more flexibility re: setting the time. Wakes or special services (Sorority/Fraternity ceremonies) are traditionally held in the evening, the night before the funeral service.
Now for the where of the service. The majority of services are held at a church, mortuary chapel or at the graveside/cryptside. Memorial services can be held at a church or chapel, or in a variety of venues: in one’s living room, in the backyard of a home, at a park, event facility, at sea, etc... Burial at sea can be accompanied by a host of family and friends. It takes place aboard a boat and includes a beautiful ceremony. In selecting the location of a service, family should consider the previously expressed wishes of the deceased, church affiliation, distance to facility/cemetery, etc..
The when and where of a funeral service is an important decision that the immediate family has to make. The sooner these decisions are made, the sooner family and friends can make plans to attend. Remember to consult with the mortuary re: the desired date, time and place, before giving that information out. Many factors have to be taken into account.