Frequently Asked Questions

We have heard thousands of questions, and chosen to provide you with the answers to some of the more common questions relating to a funeral, a funeral service and funeral homes. If you have further questions related to funerals, please contact us and we will do our best to give you the most reliable information possible.

- What purpose does a funeral service?
For thousands of years, funerals have been a means of expressing our beliefs, thoughts, and feelings about the death of someone we love.

The funeral ceremony:

• Helps us acknowledge that someone we love has passed away.
• Allows us to say goodbye.
• Provides a social support system for us and other friends and family members.
• Allows us to search for the meaning of life and death.
• Offers continuity and hope for the living.

Meaningful funeral ceremonies are rites of passage. They help us move from life before death to life after death.

The funeral provides a safe place to express our feelings of loss.

- 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 public viewing?
Viewing is part of many cultural and ethnic traditions. Many grief specialists believe that a 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 their willingness to participate is voluntary.

- What is the purpose of embalming?
Embalming sanitizes and preserves the body, slows down the decompositions process, and enhances the appearance of the body. 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.

- Does you funeral home provide cremation services?
Yes, we certainly do offer cremation services. As a matter of fact, we own our crematory, managed and operated by our staff. At Van Orsdel Family Funeral Chapels, we make all the necessary arrangements involved in the cremation process. Because we own our crematory, we have the ability to return the cremated remains to the family in an expeditious manner.

- If cremation is chosen, what service options would be available?
Choosing cremation does not limit the services available. At Van Orsdel Family Funeral chapels, we offer everything from the most simple cremation to a traditional cremation which includes a viewing and a service at the funeral home or church. Of course, should you decide on having a Memorial Service, we would be happy to assist with all the details to make the service a meaningful memory.

- What is generally done with the cremated remains?
Some families elect to keep the cremated remains in an urn in their home. Others choose to place the cremated remains in an urn in a cemetery. In Florida, scattering cremated remains at sea is also an option available. Whatever your decide at Van Orsdel Family Funeral Chapels, our knowledgeable staff will be there to guide you in exploring your options.

- Are funerals expensive?
No. In comparison with 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 also 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. According to statistics derived from NFDA, the average cost of a funeral in 2009 was $6,560.

- What recourse does a consumer have for poor service or overcharging?
Funeral service is regulated by the FTC and state licensing boards. In most cases, the consumer should discuss problems with the funeral director first. If the dispute cannot be solved by talking with the funeral director, the consumer may wish to contact the State of State of Florida Department of Financial Services.

What To Do When A Death Occurs 

- What should I do when a death occurs in my family?
Most funeral homes are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. At Van Orsdel Family Funeral Chapels, we are no exception. When a sudden death occurs, contact the funeral home. We will assist in making all necessary arrangements for receiving your loved one into our care. One of our funeral directors will contact the immediate family at a convenient time, to set up an appointment to finalize the arrangements.

- Will some one come right away?
If you request immediate assistance, yes. If the family wishes to spend a short time with the deceased to say goodbye, it is acceptable. We will come when your time is right.

- If a loved one dies out of state, can the local funeral home still help?
Yes, we can assist you with out-of-state arrangements, either to transfer your loved one to another state or from another state and into our care.

- What should I do if a death occurs while I am away traveling?
Contact the funeral home immediately. We will make all the necessary arrangements of transporting your loved one back into our care. One of our funeral directors will assist you with the final arrangements.

- What if a death occurs while traveling outside the U.S.?
If a family member dies while traveling outside the United States, the U.S. Embassy will come to your assistance. You should call the funeral home immediately when a death occurs abroad. We are well versed in the procedures for returning the deceased to the United States.

Social Security Benefits 

- Who is eligible for monthly Social Security Benefits?
The Social Security Act provides for the payment of survivors’ benefits to certain relatives if they fall into one of the following categories:

• Widow(er) age 60 or older.
• Widow(er) at any age caring for the deceased’s children under age 16 or disabled.
• Widow(er) or divorced spouse age 50 or older if disabled.
• Children up to age 18 or under age 19 if in high school full time.
• Any Child over age 18, if they became disabled prior to age 22.
• A Divorced spouse of the deceased age 60 or older married 10 years or more.

In addition to the monthly benefits, special one-time payment of $255 can be paid to a spouse who was living with the deceased at the time of death, or if there is none, to a spouse or a child/children eligible for benefits.

Within 30 days from the date of death, you should receive a letter from Social Security. This letter will provide further instruction concerning applying for entitled benefits. You can apply for benefits by phone or at any Social Security office.

If the deceased was receiving Social Security benefits, any checks that arrive after the death must be returned. If benefit checks were being directly deposited, then the bank would also need to be notified.

For questions concerning eligibility, claims and entitled benefits, visit the Social Security Administration Florida Regional Page or Social Security’s main website: www.ssa.gov

- How may I find out more information and apply for benefits?
You must apply in order to receive benefits. You may apply at any Social Security office or, if you wish, you may apply by telephone. Just dial the toll-free number 1-800-772-1213 and the operator will schedule an appointment for you or arrange for the local Social Security office to take your claim by telephone. You may also visit www.ssa.gov for more information.

Veterans Benefits 

- Who is eligible for veterans benefits?
An eligible veteran must have been discharged or separated from active duty under conditions other than dishonorable and have completed the required period of service. Persons entitled to retired pay as a result of 20 years creditable service with a reserve component are eligible. A U.S. citizen who served in the armed forces of a government allied with the United States in a war also may be eligible. A 1997 law bars persons convicted of federal or state capital crimes from being buried or memorialized in one of the VA national cemeteries or in Arlington National Cemetery.

Spouses and minor children of eligible veterans and of service members also may be buried in a national cemetery. Adult children incapable of self-support due to physical or mental disability are eligible for burial. If a surviving spouse of an eligible veteran marries a nonveteran, and remarriage was terminated by divorce or death of the nonveteran, the spouse is eligible for burial in a national cemetery.

- What do the veterans benefits include?
Burial benefits in a VA national cemetery include the gravesite, a headstone or marker, opening and closing of the grave, and perpetual care. Many national cemeteries have columbaria or gravesites for cremated remains. Benefits also include headstones and markers, Presidential memorial certificates, burial flags and Reimbursement of Burial Expenses, depending on the circumstances. Contact should be made to the Veterans Affairs Office to determine what benefits can be claimed and then gather the information required. The National Toll-free Number for the Veterans Affairs Office is (800) 827-1000.

Family Night/Visitation

Funeral Service

- How do I approach the family line?
In many cases, you may not know the entire family of the deceased. A good idea is to go through the line expressing your sympathies and casually introducing yourself and your tie to those you may not know. Keep the line moving; move to the side if you are going to carry on a lengthy conversation with a family member. This will direct the people following to go around you and proceed with their visit.

The funeral is a more formal affair than the visitation. It is more structured and ceremonial than family night. Below are a few common questions many people ask.

- Should I plan on visiting with the family at the funeral?
The timeframe of the event often restricts the family’s ability to interact with attendees. If you cannot attend the visitation period, perhaps a visit to the home at a later time would be more appropriate.

- What should I wear?
Family night is not as formal as the funeral. A more laid back style is often appropriate. For men anything from a suit to khaki’s and a golf shirt is common. For women dresses or dress pants are often worn.

- What is appropriate to say to someone at this time?
Sometimes the less said the better. Telling the family how much you respected or cared about their loved one, sharing fond memories, or just expressing your deepest sympathy is often enough. Avoid phrases that may be well intended but that can be misinterpreted, such as, “They are better off now.”, “I’ve been through this too. In time you will be fine.”, or “Time will heal all.” It is oftentimes more appropriate to avoid discussing the cause or manner of death. And remember, just being present shows that you care and is often more substantial than words.

- When should I arrive?
It is a good idea to arrive 20 minutes prior to service time. This gives you time to find parking as well as seating.

- What should I wear?
Attire for a funeral is a bit more formal than the family night. Men often wear suits or dress pants and a tie. Women wear suits, dresses, or dress pants.

Funeral Procession

If one chooses to attend a burial and will be following the funeral procession it is very important you follow instructions given by the funeral home staff member.

- Where do I park to go in the procession?
In most cases, a staff member will be parking vehicles and will direct you to the proper spot. It is a good idea to tell the staff member if you are a pall bearer to ensure proper directions.

- How will I be recognized as being part of the procession?
When part of a procession, turn your lights on and hazards if equipped. Pay attention and be careful, not everyone on the highway may recognize a procession.