Funeral Question and Answers

There are many questions which families have regarding funeral homes and services.  We have grouped some of the most common questions in the sections below.  Many times there are no specific answers or the answers depends on what the family wishes to do.  Funerals are really for the family to assist them with the healing process.

Question Categories

Select the category of interest from the list below to jump to the appropriate section.

1. Cremation questions
2. Embalming questions
3. Veteran questions
4. Service Option questions
5. Funeral Home questions

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Funerals Your Way has great collection of articles on a variety of topics that you may find helpful.  Feel free to browse our list to see if your questions can be answered there.

Email Us a Question

We would be more than happy to answer any questions you may have.

Either call us at 619-550-7807 or email us.

Cremation Questions

Can we still have a service/viewing if we select cremation?

Of Course – many families do.  Cremation is not an alternative to a funeral – It is an alternative to burial with a casket. Cremains themselves can still be buried.

Can a cremation be witnessed by the family?

Generally, it is possible if the family wishes. Most families do not wish to be present, but some religions groups do prefer to be in attendance when the body is placed into the cremation chamber.

Is a casket required for cremation to take place?

A casket is not required for a cremation to take place. An alternative container, generally constructed of fiberboard/cardboard is used to hold the body – it is cremated along with the deceased. If there is a casket (which families may prefer) is cremated along with the deceased as well.

Is embalming required for cremation?

Embalming has nothing to do with cremation. Embalming is only suggested when there are extended viewing of the deceased. The body is kept under refrigeration until it is cremated or buried.

How long will this all take?

It really depends on the several factors such as availability of physician to sign the death certificate, crematory schedule etc.  Generally, you should expect about 2 weeks till you receive the remains.  Sometime the process moves faster and the cremains can be returned to the family in just a few days.

Can I travel or fly with cremains?
Transporting cremains on a commercial airliner

Transporting cremains on a commercial airliner

Yes, however you should check with your airline. Some airlines will allow you to bring the cremains as carry on, with other airlines you have to ship the cremains as cargo. You will need to have a cremation certificate and disposition/transport permit which should have been given to you when you received the cremains. If possible the urn should be able to be x-rayed (ie. not metal, stone or ceramic). Be advisted that the TSA workers will NOT (even if asked) open the container to inspect contents. If cremains are already in a non x-rayable container ask your funeral director to transfer to a container which can be x-rayed.

Embalming Questions

Is embalming required?


In California, embalming is not required, except in some unique circumstances. It may actually not be allowed by some religious orders or cultures.  If you plan to have a service with viewing for the family, then embalming is recommended.  For an identify viewing or a short saying goodbye viewing than embalming is not necessary however it may still be something you wish to do.  Your funeral director will be able to give you more guidelines on this.

Where did this ritual of embalming come from?

The Civil War was the first time that technology was sufficient for embalming. It arose out of a need to transport the deceased soldiers back to their families and home cemeteries.

What is embalming?

It is a process which enables a temporary preservation of a deceased person by dramatically retarding tissue decomposition creating a time frame for a viewing and/or funeral service. This process is accomplished by injecting chemical solutions into the deceased’s vascular system.

Are the internal organs removed during Embalming?

The internal organs are not generally removed unless the body is autopsied by a medical examiner. It’s more difficult to embalm a body with the organs removed because the circulatory system cannot be used as normal. The embalmer would needs to inject each extremity and the head separately and then treat and pack the empty torso and abdomen.

Are special chemicals and cosmetics used?

Yes, special chemicals are used. There are the traditional chemicals as well as more environmental sensitive chemicals. The cosmetics used can be more effective as there is not the concern over how they will affect the future health of the person.

Veteran and Military Questions

How Much Does VA Pay?


For a service-related death – the VA will pay up to $2,000 toward burial expenses, additionally if buried in a VA national cemetery, some or all of the cost of moving the deceased may be reimbursed.

For a non-service-related death – the VA will pay up to $300 toward burial and funeral expenses, and a $300 plot interment allowance if the veteran was receiving a monthly disability payment from the VA at the time of death. If the death happened in a VA hospital or under contracted nursing home care, the cost of moving the deceased may be reimbursed and a $700 burial allowance is payable.

Funeral and Memorial Questions

Can we have a less formal service?

A service can be anything you like it to be – there is no right or wrong.  We do however recommend that you do have some type of service/gathering.  It respects the memory of the deceased and helps all present to begin the healing process.  It may be as informal as a family gathering to pay respects.  Location is not important but often it is nice if the location somehow reflected the preference of the deceased.  We would be happy to assist you in what ever service you would like.

How quickly must a deceased be buried or cremated?

There is no specific time-frame, however if not cremated or buried with 24 hrs then the remains must be refrigerated (if not embalmed).  Generally, the funeral service is 2 or 3 days after the passing.  This allows travel time for people out of town.[/toggle]

Should young children attend the service?

This is a great question.  How children experience and deal with the funeral is in great part up to their parents.  A funeral however does have the potential to set the stage for lifelong coping skills and a positive healthy prospective on the life experience of which death is a part.  You should be very sensitive to their needs during this period.

What are flowers sent for?

Flowers are sent to funerals for several reasons but perhaps the most significant is they are a means of expressing feelings such as love and sympathy – feelings which are often difficult to put into words. They show support and a sharing the burden of grief. They create a feeling of warmth and an uplifting of the service. Some common flowers for a service and their meaning are;
Lilies – life and hope
Carnations -beauty
Chrysanthemums – devotion and loyalty
Statice for remembrance
Roses for love

Funeral Home Questions

What contributes to funeral costs?


Funeral costs include both the help of professional staff to assist with dealing with the deceased remains, legal paperwork, flowers, clergy etc and other items you purchases such as a casket or urn.  Many funeral homes also have large overhead (facilities, staff etc) which contribute to cost.  At “Funerals Your Way” we keep our overhead very low and use technology to give you the best price possible.

Are funeral homes regulated?

O yes!!  Activities are regulated by the Federal Trade Commission. There are very strict rules on most aspects of the funeral industry.  As well, all California Funeral homes are licensed and regulated by the State of California through The Cemetery & Funeral Bureau.

How quickly can you pick up my loved one?

Generally, it is very quickly.  It depends on the area of town you are in and how busy we are, but generally within an hour or so.  We arrive in an unmarked van and are presentably dressed.  Please let us know if the decedent is very heavy or there are special obstacals such as stairs or tight corners which will make the removal more difficult.