What does a funeral director do?

Calumet Park Funeral Chapel is a proud member of the IFDA

People often wonder what exactly a funeral director does.  Few people think about it until they need the services of a funeral director, and then are either too emotional or too shy to ask.  So, let us answer the question here, away from sitting down at a time of need, and see if we can help you understand and appreciate just what a funeral director does.

A funeral director takes what is called “the first call” from a hospital or home when a person has passed away, and gets permission for the release of the body to be taken to the funeral home.  If circumstances are such that a need for embalming is established, the funeral director will get the proper legal permission to embalm.

Simply stated, the quicker such permission is granted and the embalming is completed, the better the person will look for a viewing.  Embalming is not required except in certain circumstances – call one of our funeral directors for more details.

Personal effects will be recorded and kept safe.  If needed, a car will be sent for the family to come to the funeral home to make arrangements.  At times, a funeral director will go to a home, should it be cumbersome for the next-of-kin to go to the funeral home, to define the desired arrangements and handle all the legal documentation to allow a funeral to take place.

Vital statistics will be captured, service details will be designed and products to fulfill the desired arrangements will be chosen by a family.  Pallbearers, musicians, singers, clergy and arrangements with a church will be handled by the funeral director as well as coordinating with lodges or societies to which the deceased belonged.

Cemetery needs will have to be arranged separately if a funeral home does not own a cemetery, including the opening and closing of burial space and vaults, when needed.  Calumet Park is a full service cemetery, funeral home and crematory.  Minimally though, dates and times for the funeral service and the committal service will have to be coordinated between the funeral home and the cemetery.

Floral pieces must also be ordered – Calumet Park Funeral Chapel has beautiful rental floral pieces made of silk which can substantially cut the cost of flowers.

The funeral director will help write the obituary, or at least a death notice, and place it in whatever papers the family desires.  They will also secure the signing of a death certificate, secure the certificate and duplicates as needed by a family and get burial permits and transit or shipping permits when needed.

The funeral director works with a family on clothing, handles cleaning of the body, shaving, hair style, embalming and restoration, manicuring, applying cosmetics and dressing of the body. While all this is taking place, the funeral director handles floral tributes in the funeral chapel, home and church. He or she resumes the gentle caring of your loved one by placing the deceased in the casket and arranging the body for proper lighting effects for the viewing and visitation.

At the visitation, the funeral director escorts visitors to view the body.  This all takes place before, and during, the visitation. There is this much and more that needs tending to as the transition from funeral home to church to cemetery takes place.

To make sure things go smoothly, the funeral director coordinates all of the participants and family’s activities from the funeral home to the cemetery, from clergy and pallbearers, to lining up cars and getting everyone to the cemetery safely and on time.

Flowers need to be taken to the church and the cemetery.  A military honor guard must be arranged when applicable. Honorable discharge papers, such as a DD214, should be presented to your funeral director at the arrangement conference to allow for any military benefits.  At Calumet Park, a complete benefit program has been developed to greatly reduce the final expenses of honorably discharged veterans.  Call for details or email to dmoran@calumetparkcemetery.com

On top of all these things, the funeral home and cars, hearse and flower vans must be kept well maintained and clean inside and out at all times. Handling veteran benefits, social security, insurance, donations of money and organ donations is all part of a days work for a funeral director.

Prayer cards, register books, flags, caskets and so on must be selected and ordered, and must be at the funeral home within 24 hours of the passing of your loved one. In addition to all of the above detailed elements of a funeral, a funeral director must be caring.  At times they must play the role of a big brother, a parent, a priest, a friend, a mentor and unofficial psychologist.

At the same time, they must also be an accurate clerical person, and a level-headed, patient leader to help guide a family through one of the worst days of all of their lives. Wrapped around the entire career choice is a need to be totally up on all applicable local, state and federal laws which are numerous, detailed and almost constantly changing.

And guess what? Each day, he or she gets to wake up and do it all again; sometimes multiple times per day.   On one recent occasion, Calumet Park professionally  helped eight different families in one 36 hour period with their final arrangements.  Most funeral directors love every minute of what they do, not so much for the individual actions that make a funeral complete, but rather for the true help that they render their “families” during such a difficult time.

I can say in all sincerity that the funeral homes in this region are populated with caring owners and devoted staffs, and you will be well served regardless of who you may select as the caregiver for your cemetery and funeral needs.  If you are planning on using Calumet Park Cemetery, it may be worth the time to visit our funeral chapel.  We offer a huge loyalty savings for people who use Calumet Park Cemetery.  We serve all cemeteries and all faiths, so check us out before you decide on a funeral home.  For more information call Calumet Park Cemetery and Funeral Chapel at 219-769-8803 (cemetery office) or 219-736-5840 (funeral home) or email Daniel Moran at:     dmoran@calumetparkcemetery.com

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