Frequently Asked Questions

What purpose does a funeral serve?

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. See our article on "How to Write a Eulogy" for helpful advice.

What do funeral directors do?

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.

Why have a viewing?

Viewing is 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 voluntary.

What is the purpose of embalming?

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.

Do human remains have to be embalmed, according to law?

No. Most states, however, require embalming when death was caused by a reportable contagious disease or when remains are to be transported from one state to another by common carrier or if final disposition is not to be made within a prescribed number of hours.

Isn't burial space becoming scarce?

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 the next 50 years 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.

Is cremation a substitute for a funeral?

No. Cremation is an alternative to earth burial or entombment for the body's final disposition and often follows a traditional funeral service. In fact, according to FTC figures for 1987, direct cremation occurred in only 3% of deaths.

Why are funerals so expensive?

When compared to other major life cycle events, like births and weddings, funerals are not expensive. A wedding costs at least three times as much; but because it is a happy event, wedding costs are rarely criticized.

A funeral home is a 24-hour, labor-intensive business, with extensive facilities (viewing rooms, chapels, limousines, hearses, etc.), these expenses must be factored into the cost of a funeral. Moreover, the cost of a funeral includes not only merchandise, like caskets, but the services of a funeral director in making arrangements; filing appropriate forms; dealing with doctors, ministers, florists, newspapers and others; and seeing to all the necessary details. Contrary to popular belief, funeral homes are largely family-owned with a modest profit margin.

Do funeral directors take advantage of the bereaved?

Funeral directors are caring individuals who help people deal with a very stressful time. They serve the same families 80% of the time, and many have spent most of their lives in the same community. If they took advantage of bereaved families, they could not stay in business. The fact that the average funeral home has been in business over 59 years shows that most funeral directors respect the wishes of the bereaved families.

Who pays for funerals for the indigent?

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 either the state, county, or city or a combination. Owens Funeral Home is aware of the various benefits and know how to obtain them for the indigent. However, we often absorb costs above and beyond what is provided by agencies to insure the deceased a respectable burial.

What should I do if a death occurs in the middle of the night or on the weekend?

Our Funeral Directors are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Will someone come right away?

If you request immediate assistance, yes. If the family wishes to spend a short time with the deceased to say good bye, it's acceptable. We will come when your time is right.

If a loved one dies out of state, can Owens Funeral Services still help?

Yes. We can assist you with out-of-state arrangements, either to transfer the remains to another state or from another state.

If I've decided on cremation, can I still have a funeral or a viewing?

Yes. Quite often some sort of viewing precedes the actual cremation. Owens Funeral Home can assist you with the necessary information for a funeral with a cremation following or a memorial service.

What government agencies help defray final expenses?

Usually, Funeral Directors will help gather the necessary information to apply for financial assistance from Social Security, Veteran's, retirements and any others.

Why should I consider prearranging a funeral and what are the costs?

Prearranging your final wishes is a kind and loving gift to your family and friends. While it is hard to face our own mortality, it is equally difficult for family members who must handle one of life's most traumatic events. Your guidance in planning exactly the way you want to be remembered will ease the emotional burden later on.

Doesn't it make sense to include my funeral wishes in my will?

Yes. You can. However, wills are not necessarily read directly following a death. Funeral arrangements will be made before the will is read and your wishes may not be recognized. It's best to have your funeral plans kept in a safe location where your family can access them immediately.

Do I have to pay for my funeral at the time I prearrange?

You may prearrange your funeral wishes and not pay for the service. Keep in mind that the cost of funerals continues to rise with inflation. When you fund your funeral, you are assured that the rising cost of your funeral service is assured. This relieves your family of the financial burden. They are free to honor you and look toward the future.

Can I transfer my Pre-need funeral and will Owens honor my services?

Many people who enter into a prepaid funeral contract do not fully understand their transferability rights. A Prepaid Funeral Contract can be transferred either before or after death occurs. Virginia laws governing prepaid funeral contracts purchased through a funeral home are designed to protect you the consumer. Laws vary tremendously from state to state. Even in Virginia, the regulations will vary depending upon whether you purchased your preneed contract through a funeral home or a cemetery.

For your protection, any funds paid for your prepaid funeral were placed in the hands of a third party where they must remain until you cancel the contract or the contract is fulfilled. You retain ownership, and therefore control of the funds at all times up to the point where a licensed funeral home actually performs the contracted services. And even then the funds can only be released to the funeral home that actually performed the funeral services.

A contract can be easily transferred before or even after a death occurs. Simply contact the new funeral home of your choice and they will be able to assist you. In order to transfer the contract, all that must be done is to notify the third party holding the funds that a different funeral home has been selected. In most cases the money never actually moves, only the funeral home designation changes

How can I find out how Owens Funeral Services can help?

You can call one of our caring funeral professionals for complete and frank advice on what is best for your situation at (804)752-8460 or you can email us directly and we'll call you to set up an appointment that is convenient for you. Pre Arranging Funerals just makes sense, and you will receive a no pressure and no obligation consultation that can help you and your loved ones