Category Archives: Funerals

When a death occurs, who do you call?

When a death occurs at home or not in a medical institution: Under hospice care, call your hospice nurse.  They will confirm your loved one’s death and consult with a physician if necessary.  When you are ready to have the decedent removed from your home or other non-institutional place of death, contact your funeral home for further information and assistance.

Did you know that Calumet Park has three funeral homes for your convenience:  Merrillville (219.736.5840), Hobart (219.940.3791) and Rendina Funeral Home (219.980.1141)

When not under hospice care and a death occurs outside of a medical institution, it is necessary to first call the coroner or medical examiner to confirm the death.  This may be done by calling your local police or sheriff department at 911.  Once the coroner or medical examiner has arrived, let them know of your preference to contact us for further information or assistance (or your funeral home of choice).

When a death occurs in an institution: such as a hospital or nursing home, the medical staff will generally take care of all necessary steps.  All you would need to do is to notify the staff that you would like to have us handle the arrangements so that they can have you sign any necessary release paperwork.  It is always your choice as to what funeral home you prefer.  The institution will contact us to make arrangements so that we can assume custody of the deceased.

When a death occurs out of state or out of the area: If death occurs outside of Indiana or away from the region, please call us first so we can coordinate with a local funeral director at the place of death to have your loved one returned to this area. By being a member of several national associations, we can often save you money and added stress by having our firm make the arrangement to have your loved one brought back to Indiana.  Likewise, if your loved one is from out of the area, we can help with arrangements to get them to a funeral home in their hometown.

By contacting us first, we will assist you by answering any questions you may have.  We will listen and review the many available options that best meet your preferences and financial needs.  We want you to know that you are not alone and our caring staff will help make your loss as easy on you as possible.

Please have the following information available when you call our funeral home for help:

1.  legal name and location of the deceased and

2.  your name, phone number and your relationship to the person who will be in charge of making the arrangements with a funeral director.

3.  finally, for your meeting with your funeral director of choice, please bring the following to help in making the transition go as smoothly as possible – decedent’s legal name, sex, social security number, date of birth, date of death, birthplace (city, state, zip), if in military what branch, marital status, surviving spouse’s name, maiden name if wife, decedent’s occupation, complete address at the time of death, decedent’s highest level of education, if Hispanic origin (State of Indiana asks this for death certificate), what race, father’s name, mother’s name, and mother’s maiden last name.

4.  When you meet with your funeral director, bring all of the info listed plus the following:  burial clothing including undergarments and shoes, recent photograph, clergy name and phone number, copy of military discharge (DD214 or equivalent) when applicable to get all benefits from government and all the special discounts that Calumet Park and Rendina Funeral Home give, any applicable life insurance policies along with the phone number of your insurance agent, and the name of your cemetery of choice (Calumet Park – 2018 winner of best cemetery in the country would be an excellent choice) and deeds and contracts with the cemetery.

If you have any questions regarding anything you just read, please call 219-769-8803.  Check out our new website at

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Final Arrangements…and I do mean final!

Regardless of whether one prearranges for their cemetery and funeral needs (advance planning) or leaves such arrangements to those left behind (at-need), this article will offer some basic guidelines.  When friends, relatives or new acquaintances find out that I work at a cemetery, the questions come with the main question being, “How much does it cost?”

To answer this question, I would have to ask a lot of questions in return, throwing the hot potato back at them.  “How much does a house cost, or a car, or an engagement ring or even something as simple as a dozen eggs.”  What is this guy talking about?  Take the eggs, for example.  Are they plain old, average sized eggs?  Are they jumbo sized?  Are they from free range chickens?  And that is just trying to get to the answer of how much do eggs cost.

A better approach to the question of the price of a funeral and cemetery arrangements is to let a person know that they should not spend any more than is necessary to meet their needs, or their budget.  And a budget is a funny thing as it was just proven during the government shut-down that most Americans are but a couple of paychecks away from being unable to meet their financial needs.  Sadly, a great many of the people that come to us unprepared are shocked at the cost of dying.  They lose the luxury of choice.  If one does not have pre-needed their cemetery and funeral arrangements, have guaranteed insurance money to be available when they die, or they outlive their income, or if they have huge medical bills that empty the money stash set aside for a rainy day, they are out of luck.

So, setting the actual cost aside, lets explore all that is necessary to make complete cemetery and funeral arrangements.  By the way, when it comes to funerals, the Federal Trade Commission requires funeral homes give you a copy of their price list when at a funeral home in person, or give you pricing on the phone when asked.

First, what do you want?  Do you want traditional ground burial at a cemetery?  If so, you will need a grave space, an outer container that the casket goes in, and an opening/closing of the grave.  In addition, most people that select ground burial want to place an above ground monument or at least flush memorials that mark the location of a loved one forever.

At the funeral home, most people that choose ground burial want to have a visitation with viewing followed by a funeral committal service at their cemetery.  A committal service is when you commit your loved one to a final resting place.  In Indiana, a funeral director must be present any time a burial takes place with people gathered to say goodbye.  For a funeral service with visitation, a casket would be necessary.  Also, supporting products go hand-in-hand when a funeral is arranged which may include a register book for guests to sign in, prayer cards and envelopes, flowers and quite often, food and drinks.

When you add all of these things together, the average cost of cemetery and funeral goods and services is around $12-$15,000.  Think of planning a wedding, and all of the costs involved.  From a venue, to rings, to wedding dress and attire for the wedding party, to food and music and photography, to guest lists and places for them to stay, to invitations and more.  Most weddings today run $20,000 and more…generally, a lot more.

A wedding is one of life’s biggest events and the final “biggest event” is one’s funeral.  There are many of the same types of things to arrange as a wedding.  The venue (what funeral home and what cemetery), the announcement (obituary), clothing for the decedent and for family that plan on attending, to music and clergy and on-and-on.  Now days, people want a funeral to be an experience and not just a cookie-cutter service that is just like every other funeral they have ever attended.

There will be a lifetime of grieving and learning to live without the deceased loved one.  A funeral is meant as a chance to gather with friends and family and celebrate the life that was lived.  When a person passes, they do not just disappear from the world and from our memories.  We all have a circle of friends and family that will also be grieving and that need a chance to say goodbye.  Believe me, there is nothing that shouts louder that a parent or child or spouse or friend is gone than to see them lying in state.

Arrangements that funeral homes and cemeteries provide are based on the cumulative needs of any given population.  In NW Indiana, seventy percent of the population still want a traditional funeral service followed by interment or entombment in a cemetery.  The other 30% select cremation.  Sometimes cremation is chosen because of money, sometimes for religious reasons and sometimes for ecological reasons.  Regardless, many of those that go with cremation still want and still need a chance to say a proper goodbye.  For those folks, they still want a traditional funeral service with all the trappings, to be followed by cremation.

Once the cremation is complete, the cremains (ashes) will be returned to the family for final disposition.  That can be as simple as keeping them at home, or letting them blow in the wind, or scattered over Lake Michigan.  But so many people have a need to be able to know where their loved one will be for eternity and want a place of peace and reverence that they can visit when the need arises “just to be near” their loved one.

Calumet Park, recent winner of the best cemetery in the country for 2018, has many, many possibilities that meet the needs, the wants and the pocket book of all who come to us.

Rather than try to make a list of meaningless pricing, you are invited to stop in at your convenience and one of our funeral directors or one of our family service people will be happy to take you on a tour of our facilities, and answer all of your questions.  In addition, they can tailor an event, whether grandiose or simple, and give you exact pricing.  It would be then in your hands to decide if you wanted to prearrange and freeze the price or go home and at least know what you would be up against financially to get what will best meet your needs.

Call 219-769-8803 to arrange a personal meeting with one of our professional staff members.  And remember that is better to have your arrangements and not need them than to need them and not be able to afford them.


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Easter is just around the corner…

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April 5, 2017 · 1:59 pm

So, what do you want to know?


During the holidays, we had a party at our home with about 40 people in attendance. A few of the older folks got to talking about funerals and cremation, and since I am in “the business”, they wanted answers to their questions. So, I asked them want the wanted to know about. I thought they would ask about grieving and laws and what do you do when someone dies, and a couple of people did have such questions. However, most wanted to know how much a funeral cost now days, and how much would they have to spend to have a nice funeral.


I told them a nice funeral, or a traditional funeral, is what takes place at the funeral home. When a person passes, they contact their funeral home of choice and give permission for the body to be picked up. In the business, this is called a removal. Then an arrangement conference is set, either the same day or the next day, with a funeral director (Calumet Park Funeral Chapel at 219-636-5840 or Rendina Funeral Home at 219-980-1141) where you will decide on what you would like your final goodbye to look like. You would provide the information necessary to have a death certificate issued, pick out a casket, register book and prayer cards, set up the obit, coordinate with the cemetery of record, clergy, vet groups etc. and set up the times and dates for visitation and for the funeral service followed by the committal to the final resting place.

urn set up

This usually runs, on average, around $8,000 to $10,000 depending on the casket choice. I told them that they could have a simple, direct cremation with no extras for around $2,000. And if that was what they wanted, three or four days later they would have to go back to the funeral home to pick up the ashes, or cremains. Heads were nodding their acknowledgement, with a couple exclaiming they can’t afford to die. “What else?” they asked.


I told them there are the cemetery expenses to consider. I told them that Calumet Park has so many different choices, from simple ground burial in a single grave that is free on a pre-need basis up to estate lots and even private mausoleums. I explained community mausoleums, where groups of like-minded people share in the cost of building a large complex and then their investment gives them the right to be permanently entombed in a crypt there. “Sort of like a condo?” asked one of the party goers. (Fun Christmas party conversation, eh?) I explained that there are charges called opening and closing of the final resting place, and for ground burial, they would need an outer container called a vault in which to place the casket during the burial or interment, or for placing a loved one in the above ground crypt space. One of inquisitors was a veteran, so I mentioned that we have a lot of freebies and discounts for honorably discharged vets. He liked that idea.


Opening and closing has a great deal that is involved it in order to ensure the proper grave is used, paperwork, computer entry, laying out the grave space with a triple check system, digging of the grave, setting up a tent and chairs when the weather permits, completing the burial after the gathering at the grave, and eventually, seeing to it that the grass is planted to bring the individual broken soil up to the standards of the beautiful grass covering that makes up the 160 developed acres at Calumet Park.

“What about gravestones? Are they included?”   I told them that there were different kinds of gravestones. The ones that stand up so you can see them from a distance are called monuments, and they run a pretty penny, depending on the size chosen. Then, there are flush granite and flush bronze on granite markers, so it all depends on what a person wants. My best answer to their money questions was that it runs around $12-$15,000 for everything, and that the best thing they could do for themselves would be to go to their funeral home or cemetery of choice and sit with someone. I told them that our Family Service Counselors are always available to answer questions and to help them design their funeral and that service is free. If they choose to prearrange, Calumet Park will finance with no credit checks, no turn-downs, and no interest payments with 10% down.

Bas Relief Madona

“Would I have to do everything at once?” asked a sweet little lady. I told her and the rest of the group that the only time you have to do it all at once is when you wait til you die. And then, you won’t be doing any of it. You will just leave a mess for those you love to have to deal with, and if you or they don’t have the money, then there will be a lot of settling for less than you would have chosen if you had a say in it.


Well, we went on to more fun things, but I will tell you, the reader, what I told them: “It is better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it. It being your final wishes prearranged.   Call 219-769-8803 now to see how much it might cost for you?

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What happens when you meet with a funeral director to make funeral arrangements?


Meet with your funeral director to plan the funeral.

– Your funeral director will gather information to help you design a final good-bye in keeping with both

your needs and your emotional and financial well-being.

– Your funeral director will gather personal information to help process all the legal requirements for the

funeral to proceed, including a burial permit and death certificates.

– Arrange for the date and times for visitation and final committal service with the cemetery and church.

funeral service photos from aurora 113

– Prepare and place obituary and death notices and help in applying for death benefits from social

security, the veterans, insurance etc. as applicable.

– Arrange for clergy, pallbearers, personnel for a military funeral, and other participants in the funeral

service, along with producing car lists etc.


– Explain merchandise options to help you select merchandise, such as a casket, vault, and paper goods,

such as a register book and prayer cards.

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– Arrange flowers, whether from our elegant silk rental flower inventory or from a florist. Advise you

on personalization of the funeral service, from photo boards, memory tables, music to food/drink ideas.

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vet funeral set up

– Help you decide on the best payment option for your circumstances.

A clear explanation of what to expect during the next few days:

– When to arrive for the first viewing.

– What to expect during the public visitation.

– What will be done after the service with flowers, cards, the photo blanket, the DVD, etc.

that are received.


– Any items of information you will need to bring to the funeral home, including clothing

for the deceased.

– Inventory of personal possessions of the deceased, along with what is to remain with them

and what is to be returned to you.

– You will be given an explanation of the parting ceremony, the closing of the casket, the funeral

procession, church service if desired, and what will take place at the graveside committal

service up to and including the dismissal at the end of the ceremony.


– You will be asked to go to your cemetery of choice to verify the grave to be used when you have property, or to select a final resting place.  The cemetery will have some papers for you to sign that ensures the interment, entombment or inurnment is handled with respect and within the laws of the State of Indiana.  They will establish two important protocols:  who has the right of disposition and who has the right to allow a grave, crypt or niche to be used for final placement of mortal remains.

Calumet Park Main Office at the corner of 73rd Avenue and Taft Street in Merrillville

Calumet Park Main Office at the corner of 73rd Avenue and Taft Street in Merrillville

Let our kind and caring funeral staff at both Calumet Park Funeral Chapel and Rendina Funeral Home help you through your time of need.

Let our kind and caring funeral staff at both Calumet Park Funeral Chapel and Rendina Funeral Home help you through your time of need.

For more information, go to or call 736-5840 for Calumet Park Funeral Chapel and 980-1141 for Rendina Funeral Home.

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Any way you look it her, she is beautiful…

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Weather permitting, a family may choose the traditional funeral coach (hearse) or the new Harley Hearse when you elect to have your funeral service through Calumet Park Funeral Chapel (our funeral home).  Not just for bikers!  Call 769-8803 for more information.

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Veterans Benefits…a simple site for getting answers…

it is the veteran

Click on the above photo to enlarge for easy reading.

Go to your search engine and enter Explore VA to find information on memorial benefits, dependents and survivors, disability compensation, education and training, employment service, health care, home loans and housing, life insurance and pensions.  You will have the world of governments benefits at your fingertips by going to this one, simple site.

veteran branch logoFor information on the programs sponsored by Calumet Park Cemetery and Funeral Chapel that enhance those of the government, page through the many articles in this blog or call 219-769-8803 to arrange for a private,  no-obligation look at how you can save over $5000 on a complete cemetery and funeral package by simply presenting your DD214 to a Family Service Counselor at the cemetery.

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Some things to know about grief…

hands For a lot of interesting thoughts on grief, go to What’s My Grief on facebook.  You may find some helpful information and some comforting thoughts from two young ladies who have made grief their area of focus.  Borrowed from their Blog and titled “64 things I wish someone had told me about grief”, a sampling follows: 1.  No matter how prepared you think you are for a death, you can never be fully prepared for the loss and the grief. 2.  Dying is not like you see on TV or in the movies.  It is not peaceful or prepared.  You may not have a spiritual or meaningful moment…it’s too real. 3.  There will be pressure from others to move on, even minutes or hours after a death, and this can lead to regrets. 4.  Death and grief make people uncomfortable, so be prepared for awkward encounters. 5.  When people offer support, take them up on it. 6.  People will bring you food because they don’t know what else to do.  Don’t feel bad throwing it away.  Their love and concern was shown in the giving. 7.  Death brings out the best and the worst in families, so be prepared.  There is no timeline for grieving.  You cannot rush it.  You will grieve, in some form, forever. 8.  Guilt is a normal part of grief; as is anger. 9.  Grief can make you question your faith. 10.  Grief makes you feel like you are going crazy. girl 11.  We all grieve differently, which can create strain and confusion between family members and friends. 12.  You may find comfort in very unexpected places and with people who you would never have suspected as being caring. 13.  Trying to protect children from death and the emotions of grief is not helpful. 14.  You grieve your past, present and future that will never be with that person. 15.  Holidays, anniversaries, and birthdays will be hard forever. 16.  People will tell you what you should and shouldn’t feel and how you should and shouldn’t grieve.  Ignore them. 17.  Grief triggeres are everywhere.  You will see things that remind you of your loved one all over the place, and it may lead to sudden outbursts of emotion.  And that is OK. 18.  Sometimes it gets worse before it gets better. tear 19.  You cannot compare grief or compare losses, though people will try.  Nobody can know how you feel. 20.  There are many days when you will feel totally and completely alone, whether you are or not. 21.  Grief counseling does not mean you are crazy or weak. 22.  It is okay to cry sometimes and it okay not to cry sometimes. 23.  Grief can re-write your address book.  Sometimes the people you thought would be there for you were not and people you never would have expected will become your biggest supporters. 24.  Watch you drinking or drugs…they can quickly become an unhealthy friend. 25.  Talking isn’t the only way to express and process emotions. 26.  Talking to God is a great way to  grieve and it is okay to be mad at Him.  He understands. man in shadow 27.  You will never go back to being your old self.  Grief changes you and you are never the same person. 28.  Nothing you do in the future will change your love for the person who died. 29.  Eventually you will begin to enjoy life again, date again, have another child, seek new experiences or what have you.  None of these things will diminish your love for the person you lost. 30.  Grieve your way and the heck with everyone else. couple_fog_trees_270

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Are you kidding me? Who’s gonna do that?


Imagine this scenario.  You go into a new car dealership tomorrow.  You sit down with a salesman and you tell him or her that you want to buy a car and you have $25,000 cash in an envelope.  You will agree to give them the cash now but your condition is that you don’t want to take delivery on your new car for ten years. And, you want the current model at the time you choose to take possession.  For instance, you want to give them $25,000 today and when you walk into their door in the year 2023, you will want to be able to pick up a 2023 car, not a 2013 model.

Thus, “Are you kidding me?  Who’s gonna do that?” or something less polite will be your answer to such a proposition.

Well, there’s your first reason why you should consider pre-arranging for your cemetery and funeral needs.  We will do exactly that…we will help you arrange exactly what you want as your final goodbye and you can pay for it in 2013 dollars.  If you don’t need to make use of your arrangements for 10 years, or 20 or 50, you will never pay another dollar and the savings to your family will get bigger and bigger the longer you live.

Reason number two as to why you should pre-arrange is that you can make arrangements with Calumet Park for a small down payment and monthly payments for up to 60 months with zero interest.   Who is going to lend you money for free?  Seriously, who?   When you wait until you need it, cemetery and funeral arrangements must be paid for on a cash basis.  After all, a cemetery or funeral home can’t send mom or dad back to you if you don’t “pay up”.  Don’t pay your house or car payments, they take your house and car back and don’t refund a penny of your money.

A third reason for considering pre-arrangements is the opportunity to make cemetery and funeral arrangements together.  As a married person, think of all the decisions you have made together throughout your lifetime.  I can’t tell you how many times the following phrase has been overheard at a funeral luncheon:  do you think she would have liked the service (or casket etc.)?  The only one that can tell you what they like or would have wanted is the person you are married to.  Give each other the chance to do that by deciding together.

For single people, who will take care of things when you are gone?  If you don’t tend to them yourself, then you are shifting the responsibility to someone else.  Sure, they will handle things, and sure, they will help out of love for you, but is it their responsibility?  And could they afford to pay for a funeral.  Ask the person who would be in charge if they could write a check right now for $10,000 for your funeral.  In fact, could you write a check right now for your funeral?

Reality checks hurt, don’t they?

A fourth reason to consider preplanning is to conserve your insurance and let it be used for the reasons you bought it for in the first place.  Life insurance is actually for those left behind.  It’s not called death insurance.  Insurance is meant to replace lost income and let those you love continue their lives in the style and manner that you helped them be accustomed to while you were alive.

One of the most important reasons for planning ahead is to avoid emotional overspending.  Sometimes out of guilt, but mostly out of love, people tend to overspend on funerals when they must meet with a funeral director immediately following the loss of a loved one.  By having things arranged, your survivors will accept all of your decisions at face value as you are the one that picked out the casket.  You are the one that decided on the kind of funeral service you wanted.  You are the one who decided on cremation, or burial, or entombment.  Pre-arranging amounts to a declaration of your right to have exactly what you want.

Peace of mind has a great deal of merit.  To feel the peace that one experiences knowing that everything is done in the manner desired and at the price you want to pay is worth a great deal.  Leaving your loved ones with the knowledge that you got exactly what you wanted is worth overcoming your fears or superstition.  It is a wonderful gift to leave behind…a gift that won’t be appreciated until the time of need is upon your family.

If you have any questions or wish to learn more about pre-planning, call 769-8803 and remember to find us on facebook at mycalumetpark, and if you are a veteran, Calumet Park Cemetery and Funeral Chapel has a very special program designed just for you that may save you over $5000.

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Calumet Park Funeral Chapel’s Sherry Williams wins coveted runner-up spot as funeral director of the year

Sherry Williams, Managing Funeral Director at Calumet Park Funeral Chapel in Merrillville, Indiana was voted runner-up as the funeral director of the year by American Funeral Director magazine for 2012.  American Funeral Director is a 135 year old national trade magazine specializing in stories and educational pieces for funeral directors around the world.

      The photo of Sherry above is at Calumet Park’s annual hayride, a community event held each fall for kids 10 and under.  The hayride and the annual angel tree lighting ceremony, coming up on December 1, are just a couple of examples of Sherry’s hand in organizing community events that serve as both fun and healing for the families in the region who have suffered a loss, whether they used Calumet Park or not.

The second insert show above is from the magazine as they put into words what Sherry’s families already know…Calumet Park and Sherry Williams are synonomous with perfection when it comes to helping families through one of life’s most difficult challenges…the loss of a loved one.

For more info, go to or call 219-769-8803.

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