Bridge Funeral Home Angus Barrie Ontario   Bridge Funeral Home Angus Barrie Ontario
Frequently Asked...

When a deceased has left a Will or binding document, it is the person or institution named as the Executor/Executrix who has the legal authority and obligation to assume the responsibility for all matters relating to the estate. The duties of an Executor will vary depending on the complexity of the estate. Nevertheless, when a friend or relative appoints you as their Executor, they are placing their trust in you to fulfill their wishes regardless of how demanding or onerous the task. The following are some of the basic duties that may be required.

Funeral Arrangements

The first thing an Executor must do is assist in or make funeral arrangements. In order to do so the Executor should obtain a copy of a Will or consult with the lawyer who prepared it to determine whether there were any specific funeral instructions. Although these instructions are not binding, it would be highly unusual for an Executor to deviate from their intent unless there were unforeseen problems. Even though the Executor has the ultimate authority to make all the decisions, it would be prudent to consult with the immediate family where possible when making these arrangements. This is particularly true when the executor is not a family member.

Proof of Death

The most important document to be completed is the Death Certificate. In order to assist in its completion, the Executor should have an idea of what vital information is required by the hospital and funeral home. This will include the full name, birthplace, place of residence and occupation of the deceased, the deceased's father's name and birthplace, mother's maiden name and birthplace and name of the surviving spouse, if applicable.

The Executor must obtain a registered copy of the Death Certificate from the Department of Vital Statistics or a Funeral Director's Certificate of Death, issued by the funeral home, verifying proof of death. This is the document required by many insurance companies, financial institutions and government agencies in matters pertaining to the settlement of the estate.

Death and Survivor Benefits

If, for example, the deceased worked, was a veteran or member of a fraternal organization, had purchased insurance, or died as the result of an accident, there may be death or survivor benefits available. The executor must determine whether the deceased's estate or survivors are entitled to any of these or other benefits and then make application to access them. In some cases, a copy of the funeral service invoice must accompany the application.

Items to Cancel

To ensure the estate does not incur any unnecessary expenses, the following is a list of items, which the Executor should cancel, and request refunds, if applicable.

  • Driver's license, magazine and newspaper subscriptions, cable television, club memberships and telephone
  • Health Insurance coverage
  • If the deceased lived alone in a rental property, the lease agreement
  • Credit cards

Other items, which should be cancelled, include Old Age Security and Canada Pension

Mail Service

The Executor may also choose to contact Canada Post to request that the deceased's mail be rerouted to a more convenient address.

The Canadian Direct Marketing Association (CDMA) offers a free consumer service called The Do Not Mail/Do Not Call Service which allows people to stop receiving unwanted offers of goods and services by mail or telephone. The Executor can register the name of the deceased with the service by completing and mailing a registration form to the CDMA.

Some funeral homes have copies of the registration form available for the public, while others will actually complete and mail it on behalf of the family.

Assets and Liabilities

One of the more difficult tasks for an Executor will be ascertain the value of the deceased's assets and liabilities. The value of each will depend on a number of factors, including the deceased's age, marital status, number of dependants, occupation and employment status.

The first step will be to contact the companies who looked after the deceased's financial affairs, like a bank or other financial institutions, insurance companies or brokerage firms and ask for a written reconciliation of each account.

Locate and obtain title documents for real estate, mortgages, share certificates, bonds, debentures and guaranteed investment certificates. Then arrange valuations of the real estate, securities, personal property and automobiles. Finally confirm outstanding balances on credit cards and other major accounts. Once the value of each of has been determined, the Executor should open an estate bank account into which sufficient monies should be placed to begin the settlement of all claims and debts and distribution of assets.

Tax Implications

As an Executor your responsibilities under the Income Tax Act include:

  • filing all required tax returns for the deceased,
  • making sure all taxes owing are paid, and
  • letting beneficiaries know which of the amounts they receive from the estate are taxable.

Revenue Canada has provided an Information Sheet that contains basic information that the Executor should know in order to start settling the estate. This sheet has been distributed to many funeral homes throughout Canada, therefore, copies may be obtained from your funeral director. For more information, the tax guide entitled "Preparing Returns For Deceased Persons" is available from your local tax services office.

Probate

In order to administer the estate, the Executor must apply to the Registrar of the Supreme Court for a grant of probate verifying the validity of the Will. Once granted, sufficient true copies of the Will should be obtained to begin transferring assets.

Commentary

The information provided is a general guide and not intended to be all encompassing. The more complex the estate, the more the Executor will be required to do. Law offices, trust companies, and accounting firms all have individuals or staff with expertise in estate administration. The best advice is to seek the advice of an expert to ensure that the administration of the estate is done in accordance with the deceased's wishes.

As a mobile society many people have the need or desire to travel. Whether it be for pleasure to visit friends or relatives, to conduct business or for medical treatment, more and more families are faced with the possibility of death away from home.

When a loved one dies away from home there is a strong emotion to want that person brought back home as soon as possible. Emotions become exasperated depending on the circumstances surrounding the death and the location where the death occurs. For example, the return of someone who died suddenly during vacation on board of a cruise ship in international waters can be much more complicated and take longer as compared to someone who died in a hospital in another province while undergoing medical treatment. Therefore, the cause and location of death will dictate the procedures to be followed and the length of time it will take to return the deceased to his or her native home for final disposition.

From a legal standpoint the manner in which the body is prepared and shipped must also comply with the laws that apply to the handling of human remains. These laws vary from country to country and, in some cases, each city or region may have their own laws in addition to those of the country.

What should a family do?

With these burdens suddenly forced on surviving family members, what should they do? There are a number of alternatives available. They can either contact a funeral home in the community in which the deceased and surviving family members reside or contact a funeral home in the location where death occurs or where the remains is taken should death occur in international waters.

So that funeral arrangements can be made on a personal basis, it is generally recommended the family contact a local funeral home in the area they reside. This funeral home is considered to be the "receiving" funeral home or the one to which the remains is consigned and is responsible for the funeral and burial services. The second funeral home located in the community where death occurs or the remains are taken is referred to as the "shipping" funeral home. This funeral home is responsible for basic services. These include the removal of the deceased from the place of death, embalming, securing necessary legal documents, provision of a shipping container and transportation of the remains back home.

If the family did not wish to view the deceased, another more economical option would be to have the remains cremated and the cremated remains shipped back in a plastic or cardboard transportation urn for burial or scattering at a later date.

Shipping services

Regardless of where death occurs, a local funeral home would be familiar with or could readily access the rules and regulations associated with the transportation of the deceased. However, in most instances they would not be familiar with the reputation and integrity of the funeral establishment and personnel.

Because of this, many funeral homes contacted by families outside their regular service area engage specialty firms providing international shipping assistance services. These firms have established shipping networks and other affiliations throughout the world, and in particular, countries frequently visited by Canadians. They are also familiar with the laws in each country and the government agencies to contact should problems occur. Once contacted by the local funeral home and provided with pertinent information about the deceased in order that the Death Certificate can be completed, they will contact a service representative in the area in which the death occurred. The service representative will look after all repatriation details, including information concerning the release and condition of the remains, flight scheduling and documentation.

Greater challenges

Because it is natural for family members to want all the arrangements looked after as soon as possible when death occurs away from home, "receiving" and "shipping" funeral directors are faced with greater logistical challenges than if death occurs at home. Unfortunately, problems do occur, causing delays and many anxious moments for all.

Some of these problems include, communication difficulties between the "receiving" and "shipping" funeral directors due to language differences, variance in time zones, remote locations, setting unrealistic expectations with the family in terms of the arrival of the remains and a day and time for services, difficulties in having the remains released to the "shipping" funeral home due to delays by the coroner's office or medical examiner, transportation delay where the remains may be inadvertently removed from a flight due to bad weather and finally, delays due to poor quality embalming that requires additional work by the "receiving" funeral home.

After September 11th

After the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attack in the United States, more stringent security measures and procedures for international travelers have been introduced worldwide. As a result of these new measures the International Federation of Thanatologists Associations is currently developing an International Travel Pass for The Dead. In the not too distant future security measures relating to shipping and receiving human remains are likely to be implemented in many countries.

These measures will likely entail:

  1. Picture identification of the funeral director
  2. Written verification that the person is an employee of a legitimate funeral home
  3. A call to the funeral home by the airline, and on occasion a visit to the funeral home by an airline representative before the remains are released for shipment.
  4. The casketed remains will be subject to inspection and search.

Extra costs

Recognizing the risks of traveling and being away from home for extended periods of time, many individuals who are frequent travelers take the time to preplan and prefund their funeral service. Unfortunately, the costs associated with handling and shipping human remains should death occur away from home are not factored into a typical prearrangement. Therefore extra costs would be incurred.

Cancellation or travel insurance may cover some or all of the extra expenses related to repatriation services. Depending on the insurance company, the policy could contain a benefit from $3,000 to $5,000. This type of coverage is usually purchased on a per trip basis.

Now there is a new product available which offers lifetime protection to the traveler if death should occur 100 kilometers or more from their legal residence. Included by many funeral homes as part of their preplanning program, the preplanner can pay a one-time lifetime fee of between $400 - $500. The fee entitles the purchaser to a Life Membership in the International Welcome Home Society™ and guarantees the complete cost of transportation from anywhere in the world.

Society's propensity to travel has created new challenges for families when the death of a loved one occurs away from home. If you travel a great deal, or have family living away, consider speaking to a funeral director about this issue.

Personalizing a Funeral Service

It wasn't long ago, no more than 10 to 15 years, when a family walked into a funeral home that the funeral director knew exactly what they wanted. Consequently for many each funeral seemed to be a carbon copy of the previous one. Today that is not the case. Because of changes in funeral services and consumer attitudes, funeral directors have no idea what to expect when a family walks through the door. Emerging trends such as cremation, preplanning, alternative services and innovative merchandising techniques and products, combined with consumers demand for quality service and value has caused funeral directors to refocus on value-added services rather than simply providing a casket and facility. One way in which funeral directors are accomplishing this is by assisting families in planning a meaningful service. In his booklet entitled "Planning a Meaningful Cremation Funeral," well known author on the subject of grief, Doug Manning, states, "A Funeral should be unique to the person being honored." Personalizing a funeral service can be a very rewarding and fulfilling experience for family members. It focuses those who participate, solely on the person whose life they wish to celebrate and honour and in so doing begin the healing process. There are many ways in which a funeral service can be personalized. The following are but a few examples.

Pictures

One of the most popular ways to personalize a funeral service is through the use of photographs. These may be displayed individually or placed in an album. Many funeral homes provide memory boards, where photos can be mounted and displayed, or easels, which can accommodate larger pictures or portraits. There are no restrictions to the types of photos that one would display. For example, you may wish to show pictures of the family, children or grandchildren, wedding or vacation photos or a single framed portrait of your loved one. Pictures help rekindle happy memories or may stimulate others to share a story or laugh during the visitation period. Some families place photographs in the casket with their loved one, as a symbol of their love. There are caskets available with memory drawers designed to hold pictures and other personal items. Young children and grandchildren are also encouraged to draw or colour pictures. For the older children, writing a letter to grandma or grandpa is another way to share ones personal thoughts and memories.

Memorabilia

In addition to pictures, there are many other items or memorabilia that could be brought along to the funeral home to personalize the service. Two good examples of how this has been done come to mind. In both cases cremation had taken place and an urn was present during the visitation period. To honour the life of a sea captain, the family decorated the urn with items that symbolized his life on the sea. These included his journal, captain's hat, epaulets and buttons from his uniform, beach rocks and even a piece of driftwood, all of which were lovingly placed around the urn. Behind this display hung a beautiful floral arrangement in the shape of an anchor. Anyone who came to visit the family had to be moved by this compelling tribute. A second family used personal items from their mother's home to recreate what she loved to do each day, which was to rock in her rocking chair. They actually brought her rocker and mat to the funeral home and placed it beside the urn. For anyone who knew her, the sight of the rocking chair would surely bring back fond memories. To honour war veterans many families will display the veteran's medals or drape a flag on the foot of the casket. Fraternal organizations will remember a departed sister or brother by displaying their group's sash or apron. Books and poems, painting and sculptures and various awards are also displayed to recognize the accomplishments and contributions of the deceased.


The funeral ceremony in a church or funeral home chapel, followed by the procession and graveside committal service provides a myriad of opportunities for personalization. Music: The playing of a favorite hymn or song of the deceased's will have special meaning for a family. For those who loved music or played a musical instrument, it would be appropriate to have a musical theme in the service. This might include the use of a choir, soloist or instrumentalist or instruments such as an organ, piano or even an accordion or bagpipes. Tribute: Most clergy will allow a short eulogy or reflection about the deceased or pay a tribute to him or her during the homily. A eulogy can be given by a family member, best friend or clergy. This can be a very moving part of the service, forever cherished. Liturgy: Depending on your religious affiliation the clergy or members of a parish bereavement team might wish to suggest a special scripture reading or prayer that may have been a favorite of the deceased.

 There are a number of professions and fraternal groups that will honour a departed colleague by forming an honour guard at the entrance/exit of the church and graveside. Out of respect, representation attending the service or serving in the honour guard will dress in full uniform, where applicable. Such groups will include veterans associations, firefighters, members of the RCMP and Constabulary, military personnel, security personnel, Masons, members of the Knights of Columbus, to name a few.

Graveside: Many groups such as veterans and Masons, in addition to forming an honour guard, will also perform a graveside ritual. Family members may also wish to participate by laying flowers on the casket, selecting a flower from the spray to keep, lowering the casket or by making some other gesture of farewell.

     Friends, relatives, colleagues, fraternity, and club members are just some of the individuals who might express desire to participate in the service of a dear friend or family member. If the deceased was associated with a number of groups or organizations, the family may elect one representative from each to serve as pallbearers. Depending on the size and layout of the church or chapel (i.e aisle width), 2, 4, or 6 pallbearers are used or can be accomodated.

The family is responsible for the following items

Family Responsibilities at the Time of Need Are To . . .

  Contact of the Physician at the time of death
  Notify funeral home and schedule an arrangement conference.
  Notify family members
  Provide vital statistic information including Social Insurance Number, family history
  Provide existing cemetery plot information, access to interment rights, purchase of the cemetery plot & monuments purchase and implementation
 
  Select Services and Merchandise i.e.: Caskets, Urns, that are in keeping with the means and needs of the family and within the parameters of the wishes of the deceased
 
  Provide Funeral Home with the Clothing and Personal Items for the Deceased 
 
  -Recent Photo as a Likeness Photo
  -Musical Selections in Tape or Compact Disc Format
  -Floral Arrangements for the visitation and Funeral Service
  -Pallbearers
  -Gathering of Photos for Memory Boards
  -Gathering of Memorabilia i.e.: Collections, Special Keepsakes and Lifetime Mementos

 

Every family is unique. Each will have their own emotions, values, beliefs and needs. Do not hesitate to share these with your funeral director, in order that he or she may assist you in personalizing your loved one's funeral service.

Our Staff of Funeral Directors Is Available To. . .

  Receive calls from families 24 hours per day
  Contact attending physician / hospital / nursing home
  Arrange for transfer to funeral home locally, nationally, internationally
  Look after the care and preparations of the deceased
  Schedule arrangement conferences with family to discuss their wishes regarding funeral services
  Direct Services at Chapel, Church, Graveside or Crematorium
  Coordinate Visitation / Service / Cemetery / Crematorium / Clergy / Registration of necessary Documents / Newspaper Notices / Fraternal Organization Services / Musical Selections / Honourariums / Reception Facilities / Accepting and Processing Memorial Donations & Mass Requests / Provide Memory Boards
  Provide family with Canada Pension Forms / Proof of Death Certificates / Acknowledgment Cards / Register Books/ In Memorium Cards / Prayer Cards / Grief & Bereavement Library Lists / Grief, Bereavement and Estate Planning Literature

A Sikh is a member of a Hindu religious sect that rejects any exclusive social or occupational class system. Sikh funerals usually take place within 48 hours of death and are usually held at a funeral home, not a temple. While men and women sit apart at a temple, this is not the case at the funeral home. A head covering is required for both sexes. A scarf is adequate for men and women.

At the funeral service, passages from the Sikh Holy Book are read and prayers are offered. Relatives and close friends are expected to recite scriptural hymns. After the service the remains are taken to the crematorium where a similar service is held.

Following the service at the crematorium, everyone gathers at the temple where more religious services are performed.

Because of a Sikh's beliefs that is must be the will of God when someone dies and to cry is to dispute with God, they are forbidden to cry.

Friends and relatives may show support or express their sympathies by sending flowers or a donation.

Islam is the Muslim religion in which the supreme god is Allah, and the founder and chief prophet is Mohammed. Muslims try to bury their loved ones as soon as possible after the death has occurred, usually within 24 to 48 hours. World religions like Islam that believe in the resurrection of the body bury their members. Therefore, cremation is strictly prohibited.

When a Muslim dies, regardless of the location of death, the body has to be washed according to their religious rites. This purification ritual must take place immediately. If death occurs in a Muslim's homeland the cleansing ceremony is often done by family. Elsewhere, if available, the ritual is performed in the preparation room. As it is private, no one from the funeral home will be present. The body of the deceased is washed, wrapped in a shroud and placed in a simple wooden casket.

The funeral service may take place at either a mosque or funeral home. It is a simple ceremony and because of the Islamic belief that one comes into the world with nothing and should go out of the world with nothing, it is completely free of gifts of any kind.

If the service is held at the Mosque, men and women will sit in separate areas. It is appropriate for visitors to also do the same. However, visitors are not expected to participate in prayers. As for the appropriate attire, men and women should cover all parts of their body. Colour restrictions may also apply.

A graveside committal service is also held, but women are not obligated to attend. They do, however, attend the graveside every week until a forty-day mourning period is complete. An Islamic priest, or Imam, conducts the service at the cemetery to ensure that the deceased is properly placed under the complete directives of Allah.

After the burial there is no formal reception, but it is appropriate to offer condolences to the family, though it need not be immediately afterwards. This time varies with the wishes of the family. It is not appropriate to send flowers; however, memorial donations are acceptable.

Hindus, peoples of India, prefer to hold funeral rites before the sun goes down on the day of death. Traditionally, the first son presides at the service with a Hindu priest. The service is held at the funeral home.

Although not part of the Hindu tradition, it is appropriate to send flowers or donations. While mourners wear white, visitors are asked to wear subdued colours.

At the funeral service, the family may put flowers on the deceased, who is placed in a simple wooden casket. Emotions will vary depending on the circumstances of the death. If the person is old he or she is regarded as being blessed, having led a full life, and the soul is ready to return to God. As a result, there is little outward grieving at the funeral. As part of the ritual blessing, a thread may be tied around the neck or wrist of the deceased. It should not be removed by family of friends.

Religions, such as Hinduism, that believe in reincarnation of the soul cremate their members. While all Hindu adults are cremated, deceased children are usually buried. Another short service is also held at the crematorium. In some cases, at the end of this service the eldest son or some accommodated by the cremation operator.

After the service the family is expected to enter a period of formal grieving which lasts a minimum of seven days or longer depending on their social status. During this period the family will sit home and talk. No food is prepared in the house, but people come to the house to talk with the family and feed them. At the end of this period the family sponsors a feast for close friends and relatives.

The cremated remains of the deceased are usually scattered in Ganges River. If death occurs elsewhere the cremated remains are returned to India for scattering. Other methods of final disposition may also be chosen.

Most Buddhist funerals take place in a funeral home rather than a temple. Visitation and viewing of the remains is held the evening before the funeral. The family will sit in the reposing room with the casket as visitors greet them, offer their condolences and go to the casket and bow. The visitors may stay and sit with the family for a while or leave. The family wears white which is the colour of grieving, while friends often wear black. Ritual chanting may begin at the deceased's death and continue throughout the services.

Inside the funeral home a table is set up with candles and incense, which burn until the remains are conveyed to the cemetery or crematorium. Food and incense are left on the table as the offering to the deceased and the gods.

The funeral service is traditionally conducted by a monk or nun. Visitors are not expected to participate in prayers and chants. At the conclusion of the service, visitors come forward in groups and bow before the casket as a way of showing their final respect.

Either at the funeral home or cemetery, guests may be given an envelope containing a coin, for good luck, and a candy to help to take away the bitter taste of death. It is usually preferred that the casket not be lowered in front of family members. After the graveside service, family and close friends usually share a meal.

The Baha'i faith, an independent world religion, is the second most widely spread after Christianity. Bah'i view life on earth as a preparation for life in the next world.

While there are relatively few regulations regarding the funeral service, there are important Baha'i laws concerning the treatment and interment of the remains. First, embalming is prohibited unless required by law. Secondly, interment must take place within one hour's travel time from the city or town where death occurs. Thirdly, the Baha'i must not be cremated. The Baha'i member is free to donate his or her body or organs for medical research as long as it is treated with respect and the burial laws are strictly adhered to.

The remains of Baha'is from Iran and other Middle East countries must be washed carefully and wrapped in a shroud of white silk or cotton. A Baha'i burial ring is to be placed on the finger and the remains placed in a casket made of fine hardwood. The remains must be buried with the feet pointed toward the Holy Land. Baha'is from other parts of the world may choose to follow these requirements but are under no obligation to do so.

Baha'i funeral services are simple and dignified. Their main focus is on commemorating the spiritual contributions the deceased has rendered. They consist primarily of prayers and other appropriate readings from the Baha'i Sacred Scriptures. There may be music, eulogy, whatever the family desires. The only requirement is that a "Prayer for the Dead" be given.

As there are no clergy in the Baha'i faith, the service is conducted by family or members of the local Baha'i community. It may take place either in a Baha'i chapel or at graveside. If held in the chapel the casket may be opened or closed. It is considered appropriate to send flowers and make memorial donations.

Baha'is often choose to have additional memorial services planned by relatives of the deceased or the Baha'i communities. Such gatherings usually consist of prayers and readings from the Sacred Scriptures.

Many local Baha'i communities in various parts of the world own cemeteries or sections of larger cemeteries. In Canada, the Baha'i use cemetery facilities, which are not restricted by race, religion or nationality. The Baha'i place headstones or markers on the grave. Appropriate symbols for the grave marker include the nine-pointed star, the word Baha'i, or a nine-pointed star or rosette with the word Baha'i in the center. Wording on the gravestone is left to the discretion of the deceased's relatives. For example, any appropriate quote from Baha'i writings may be used.

Following is just a short list of some of the groups that provide bereavement counselling. For a more extensive list, please look in your local Yellow Pages under Bereavement or Counselling

 

Bereaved Adult Support Group
Telephone: 416-495-2535

Bereaved Families of Ontario
36 Eglinton Avenue West, Suite 602
Toronto, Ontario M4R 1A1
Support for parents who have experienced the death of a child. Also offers adolescent, young adult, mature parents, grandparents, seniors and multi-cultural groups. Also serve the Portuguese, Hispanic, Italian and Chinese in their own language.
Telephone: 416-440-0290
Fax: 416-440-0304
E-mail: info@bfotoronto.ca
Web: www.bereavedfamilies.net/

Bereaved Jewish Families
Maureen Feder 416-638-7800 ext. 202; or Estelle Grader 416-882-5114

The Canadian Centre for Bereavement Education and Grief Counselling
49 Gloucester Street
Toronto, ON. M4Y 1L8
Educates professionals who are working with the dying and the bereaved as well as providing counselling services and resources for those who grieve.
Telephone: 416-926-0905

Canadian Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths (SIDS)
Suite 308, 586 Eglinton Avenue East,
Toronto, ON. M4P 1P2
A program of support for parents who have experienced a SIDS death.
Telephone: 416-488-3260 / Toll Free: 1-800-END-SIDS
Fax: 416-488-3864
E-Mail: sidsinfo@sidscanada.org
Web: /

The Centre for the Grief Journey
Telephone: 905-624-8080
Offers professional seminars, as well as individual counselling and a grief seminar support series for groups.

Perinatal Bereavement Services of Ontario
6060 Highway 7 East, Suite 205
Markham, Ontario. L3P 3A9
Self help bereavement and subsequent pregnancy support, professional prenatal classes for subsequent parents, educational seminars and RTS counsellor certification for heath care workers.
Telephone: 905-472-1807
Fax: 905-472-4054
E-Mail: pbsocares@on.aibn.com
Web: http://www.pbso.ca/

Seasons Centre for Grieving Children
4 Alliance Boulevard, Unit 7
Barrie, ON. L4M 5J1
To provide support in a non-judgmental and non-discriminatory environment for any children, teens and their families experiencing the emotional effects of the death of a loved one.
Telephone: 1-705-721 - KIDS (5437)
Fax: 1-705-737 - LOVE (5683)
Email: info@seasonscentre.com
Web: http://www.grievingchildren.com/

The Compassionate Friends of Canada, Inc.
An international, non-profit, non-denominational, self-help organization offering friendship, understanding, grief education and HOPE for the future to all families who have experienced the death of a child at any age, from any cause. Their primary purpose is to aid in the positive reconciliation of grief and foster the physical and emotional health of bereaved parents and their surviving children.
Web: http://www.tcfcanada.net/

Parents are very protective of their children particularly at a young age. As such when they believe circumstances warrant it, they will remove them or keep them from getting involved in certain occurrences or events.

When death occurs, funeral directors are often asked by those who have young children and are mourning the loss of a loved one, whether they should bring them to a funeral home or allow them to attend the funeral or burial services. In responding to this question it helps to consider the emotions children feel when facing a loss.

Development studies and observations made in natural and clinical settings indicate that children are aware of death at an early age. A child does not begin with realization that death is inevitable and final but does quickly grasp the implication of separation and loss.

Grief According to Age

Birth to 18 months: Babies cannot ask questions however; they do experience loss, for example, of a parent. They sense a change in their environment or schedule and often become fussy and develop sleep problems. During this time it is important to offer extra comfort and soothing.

Toddlers (19 months to 3 years): A toddler's concept of death is hard to grasp. In their favorite cartoon the character dies in one episode and returns in the next. They often confuse death with sleeping. Toddlers know something has occurred in their lives, but they have no concept of death and expect the loved one to come back.

Young Children (3-10 years): Young children begin to have some concept of death and realize its finality. They ask a lot of questions which are often repeated. They may also feel insecure and unsafe in their usual environment. For example, a child who loses her mother may wonder who will braid her hair each morning, take her to school or prepare her lunch. This is how the child may express her loss. The questions children ask are not selfish. Children need to be reassured that they will be taken care of.

Children's Reactions

Children will react to a loss as well as adults. Some reactions may appear at the time of death while others may come at the time of crisis. Others may be delayed, since so often the child represses his or her emotions and attempts to appear calm in the face of tragedy. There is not a single procedure or formula that will fit all children, either at the time of death or during the period that follows.

There are so many variables. How close was the child to the deceased? What were the circumstances surrounding the death? What is the child's concept of death? How do significant adults react? What is the offspring's physical and emotional health? What has been the child's prior experience with loss? There are differences in grief reactions because of unique conditions, feelings and attitudes. Like adults, children, too, must be understood and valued. The following are some of the ways children may react to the loss of a loved one.

Denial: "I don't believe it. It didn't happen." "It's just a dream. Daddy will come back. I know he will."

Bodily Distress: " I have a tightness in my throat." " I can't breath." " I have no appetite." " I have no strength." " I am exhausted." "I can't do my homework." " I can't sleep." " I had a nightmare." The anxiety has expressed itself in physical and emotional symptoms.

Hostile Reactions to the Deceased: " How could daddy do this to me?" " Didn't he care enough about me to stay alive?" " Why did he leave me?" The child feels deserted, abandoned, and angry.

Hostile Reactions to Others: " It's the doctor's fault. He gave him the wrong medicine." Or " Mother didn't take proper care of him, that's why he died." The resentment is projected outward in order to relieve guilt by making someone else responsible for his death.

Replacement: " Grandma, do you love me, really love me?" The child seeks the affections of others as a substitute for the parent who has died, which is quite normal.

Assumption of Mannerisms of the Deceased: " Do I look like daddy?" The son attempts to take one of the characteristic traits of the father by walking and talking like him.

Anxiety: " I feel like daddy when he died. I have a pain in my chest." The child becomes preoccupied with the physical symptoms that terminated the life of the father. He transfers the symptoms to himself in a process of identification.

Panic: " Who will take care of me now?" " Suppose something happens to Mommy?" " Who will bring money home for food and toys?" This state of confusion needs supportive love. " My health is fine. I will take care of you."

Guilt: Children are likely to feel guilty, since in their experience, bad things happen when they are naughty. They also harbour all kinds of fantasies that they are responsible for the death. It is necessary to help the child express his or her own fantasies and fears.

General Guidelines

There are many ways parents and other adults may help children understand their loss and assist them through their grief.

Activity Book: Use age appropriate materials to help children understand what has happened. Many funeral homes have activity or colouring books that help explain in a childlike manner what to expect when visiting funeral homes and attending the funeral and burial services.

Activities: Young children find expressions through play and drawing. Encourage them to remember someone they have lost through activity. Some funeral homes have included play areas for children within their facilities. The rooms are brightly painted with wall murals of rainbows, animals or other playtime settings and contain toy boxes full of toys for young boys and girls. There are also activity tables and chairs for colouring and reading and a TV/VCR for watching cartoons or videos.

Questions: Children grieve in small doses often asking many questions over and over. Answer them honestly and openly and do not confuse them with soft terminology. For example, telling the child that the dead person is " just sleeping or God came and took him" can create enormous fear and anxiety. The child may be afraid to sleep or fear he may be taken by God. It's okay to use the word dead and to look for ways to illustrate the point.

Attendance at Funeral: Allow the child to attend the funeral. By being included the child will feel acknowledged and supported by the family. It will also give the child the opportunity to grieve. Allowing the child to feel the full power of a sudden loss will help increase their coping ability for the rest of that child's life. On the other hand, a child who has decided against attending a funeral should not be forced to do so against his or her wishes.

Daily Routine: The child's environment and daily routine should not change. It is not the time to change schools or find a new babysitter.

Communications: Encourage children to discuss their innermost fantasies, fears and feelings. They need to talk, not to be talked to. Children should be given every opportunity to reminisce about the person who died, and if desired, express anger as well as affection.

Be Open-minded: Do not close the door to doubt, questioning and difference of opinion. Respect the child's own personality, for in the long run it is the child who must find his or her own answers.

Loving Gesture: Like adults, children too should be encouraged to do something special for their loved one. Placing a favorite toy in grandpa's casket or a handwritten letter to him is a loving gesture, which will be fondly remembered, and a source of comfort for the child.

Memorialization has become an established custom through the centuries. It involves the placement of some sort of permanent market or inscription at the place of burial or in some other special place, such as a church.

A memorial celebrates a life, which has been lived. It can take many forms. In a cemetery, the most common memorials are upright monuments or headstones of granite or marble, or flat markers of bronze set flush with the ground. Each contains the name of the deceased and, in many cases, the dates of birth and death. Some headstones and markers may be manufactured in a particular shape, such as a heart, or include a short verse, phrase, picture or symbol providing the visitor with a small clue about the deceased and how survivors felt about him or her. The sizes of memorials are regulated in most urban cemeteries with some restrictions found in rural locations.

Some families choose companion headstones or markers with sufficient space to record the names and particulars of each spouse. Others use inscriptions on mausoleum walls. For those families who choose cremation, memorialization may consist of an inscription of a loved one's name on the walls or niches of columbaria or structures that hold the urns of cremated remains.

The way in which we pay tribute to the life of a person is not restricted solely to cemeteries. In churches, we find many wonderful examples of memorials dedicated to those who have gone before us. For example, most of the older, historic churches have bronze, wooden or granite plaques containing the names of those persons who made the "supreme sacrifice" in both World Wars and other conflicts.

Churches are filled with stained glass windows that have been placed there by parishioners in memory of their loved ones. Bulletins, prayer books, bibles and flowers are other items that are often given to the church in someone's memory.

In fact, many churches have been built or have completed major projects because of people's desire to memorialize or remember. Donations to a memorial building or organ fund are commonplace in the church community. Memorial endowment funds or funds whose principal must be maintained with only the investment income used have also been established by churches thanks to the generosity of parishioners in whose memory monies have been left or given.

To the funeral director, the funeral service is the supreme act of memorialization. It is a time to remember, celebrate or pay tribute to the life of the deceased. Many of the services provided by the funeral home are designed to help family memorialize their loved one. In the early stages of the funeral arrangement meeting, the funeral director will ask a number of questions to complete essential documentation. However, some are asked simply to get to know more about the deceased. People love to relate favorite stories to talk about those persons they love. That's memorialization, too.

As another form of memorialization, any tangible items that were important to the deceased can be displayed during visitation or other times during the funeral service. Items such as medals, photographs, paintings, plaques, poems and cards are often displayed. Many funeral homes have additional furnishings available, such as pedestals, pillows, easels and tables on which to display these items for the family. Some families choose to place special items in the casket or urn with the deceased. Each item reflects the family's desire to memorialize their loved one.

Another area commonly used by families to memorialize is the funeral notice. In some cases, these notices serve as final words of farewell and are often the way survivors pay tribute. Newspapers will also print obituaries or a brief account of the life of the deceased.

Memorialization can take many forms. The choices are limited only by the imagination.

Despite the fact that a mausoleum has long been considered one of the world's finest and most dignified forms of burial, most people know very little about it. Entombment is the interment of human remains in a tomb or crypt. Today, it is most often referred to as aboveground burial or placement of an individual compartment into a mausoleum, which is then sealed with a granite or marble front.

Historically, the word mausoleum comes from the large temple-like structure that served as a final resting place for King Mausolus, who died in 353 B.C. Erected in the ancient Asia Minor city of Halicarnassus by Queen Artemisia, the mausoleum was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

Today, an indoor community mausoleum is simply a large building designed to provide aboveground interment or entombment for a number of unrelated people. There are also outdoor or garden community mausoleums and family mausoleums, which are relatively small, privately owned structures designed to house the remains of individual families. Sharing the costs of the mausoleum with other individuals has made it more affordable. For example, depending on its location within the building or structure, the cost of a single crypt may range from $3,000 to over $10,000. Double and family crypts are also available.

A funeral service is a ceremony during which relatives, friends and associates pay respect to the deceased and comfort the survivors. Regardless of religious affiliations, it is customary to hold a funeral service as means of giving testimony to a life that was lived. For those who are religious, the service is a spiritual occasion, usually in a church or funeral home chapel with clergy officiating. Others may choose a 'humanistic' or secular service.

Scheduling of a religious service will depend upon the schedule of officiating clergy. The funeral director will look into such schedules shortly after the arrangement meeting. In general, Roman Catholic services are held in the morning, while other denominations will hold services at any time of the day. The service is often designed by the family in consultation with the clergy, funeral director and members of fraternal, military or other organizations previously affiliated with the deceased. The career or profession of the deceased may also be a part of the service. For instance, if the deceased had been a member of the police or fire departments, fellow members usually attend the service in full uniform, while some may serve as pallbearers or honor guard.

The type of hymns, songs and music selected for the service is another way in which a family may pay tribute to a loved one. It is not uncommon to see youth or adult choirs, bands, guest soloists or musicians in attendance. Music can be a very special component in this service of thanksgiving and celebration. Some families may also elect to have a personalized bulletin printed and distributed at the church or chapel outlining the order of service along with hymns, poems or any other script that had special meaning to the deceased.

To prepare for the funeral service, the funeral director will arrive at the church or chapel 30 to 45 minutes before it is scheduled to start. Preparations may include the placement of flowers at the alter, coordination of the pallbearers and others participating in the service, and greeting family members and friends. Most important, the funeral director is there to answer questions and tend to last-minute details, thus supporting the grieving family.

The final segment of the funeral is the committal service conducted at graveside or the crematorium. It may be either public or private.

In the case of a traditional funeral with earth burial, the committal service will take place directly following the service at the church or chapel. The easiest, most orderly way to get from the place of the service to the cemetery is by procession. Therefore, the funeral procession remains an integral part of the funeral.

Immediate family members, other relatives, close friends and, where applicable, representatives from organizations in which the deceased was affiliated proceed to the cemetery, led by the funeral director and the clergy. To maintain its integrity and dignity, the route of the funeral procession is planned by the funeral director. On occasion, it may include the residence, place of business or another special place in the life of the deceased.

Earlier on the day of the service, the gravesite is prepared. Preparation usually consists of the placement of a protective grave liner or burial vault, grass matting, a lowering device and a canopy. Upon arrival at gravesite, the funeral director, clergy, family and friends will gather around the final resting place of the deceased as the pallbearers place the casket on the lowering device. Prior to the service, the family will have chosen between lowering the casket into the grave, partially lowering it so the top of the casket is at ground level or not lowering it until the family leaves the cemetery. There are varying opinions about this practice, and it would certainly be prudent to speak to both the funeral director and clergy before making a choice. However, partial lowering has become the accepted practice.

Once the casket and mourners are in position, the clergy will commence a short committal service. Beginning with prayers, the clergy will then formally commit the deceased to the earth. During the committal service for a Roman Catholic, the priest will sprinkle holy water on the casket and ground, symbolizing the consecration of the grave. In this case, the casket is not lowered until this is done. For other denominations, the funeral director may sprinkle sand over the casket as a symbol of the phrase "ashes to ashes and dust to dust". The casket may be lowered or remain stationary during the sprinkling of the sand. Following the clergy's remarks, representatives of other organizations or groups are given the opportunity to pay tribute to the deceased. Each have their own rites and rituals, which are performed with dignity and out of respect for the deceased.

After the committal service, the funeral director will see to the needs of the family and then drive the clergy back to the church. It is only after all mourners have departed that the graveside equipment is removed and the grave closed.

When cremation is chosen, some denominations prefer to have what is known as a "committal to the flame". In this case, the clergy will be present at the crematory just prior to the placement of the deceased in the crematorium by the funeral director. A short service is conducted, followed by cremation. Family members may or may not choose to attend. Following cremation, if the cremated remains are to be interred, the interment will also be preceded by a committal service similar to that mentioned above.

In his book The Funeral and the Mourners, Paul E. Irion writes: " The committal service provides, as nothing else does so graphically, a symbolic demonstration that the kind of relationship which has existed between mourners and the deceased is now at an end."

Many funeral services include a period of visitation or a wake, with the deceased in an open or closed casket and often resting in one of the reposing rooms at the funeral home. It is during this time that relatives and friends gather with the immediate family, in the presence of the deceased, to extend sympathy and comfort. Most families choose to view the remains of their loved one, if it is all possible. The family should view the deceased for the first time in privacy. Generally, a family will be advised to come to the funeral home approximately a half-hour before public visitation. At this time, the funeral director will meet family members and escort them to the room in which the casket has been placed.

After leading the family to the visitation room, the funeral director will respond to any last-minute changes the family might wish to make. After tending to the family's needs, funeral directors leave the family members alone in the visitation room so they can have a private moment with their loved one. The public is not permitted to enter until the family members have advised the funeral director that they are ready to commence visitation.

During visitation, the funeral director will be available but would generally go unnoticed. The funeral director periodically brings in floral arrangements and ensures that these arrangements are appropriately placed with the least possible interruption. Otherwise, the funeral director's job at this stage is to respond to a family's needs.

The maximum period of visitation at most funeral homes is twelve hours per day, beginning at 10 a.m. and ending at 10 p.m. Visitation may start any time within this period. Mourners may also be encouraged to visit during a specific block of time, such as from 2 to 4 p.m. or 7 to 9 p.m., when members of the family are there to meet relatives and friends.

 

Visitations can be customized to best be suited for the family needs. Same day visitations in the afternoon and again in the evening are common and convenient, but can be somewhat draining for the family.

Same day visitation followed by ceremony is cost effective and easier for some famalies.

Burial Grants

November of each year holds special meaning for Canadian Veterans. It is the month in which formal tribute is paid to those persons who fought and died for their Country in World War I, War II and the Korean War. When veterans of these conflicts die, those who qualify are eligible for funeral and burial allowances adminstered by Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) and the Last Post Fund (LPF).

As this is the November issue of the newspaper, I thought it would be appropriate to revisit an item, which I touched on in a previous article about Veterans and the funeral and burial allowances available to those that qualify.

By way of background, the Last Post Fund is a non-profit Corporation whose purpose is to ensure, where possible, that no eligible Canadian War Veteran of WW I, II and the Korean War is denied a dignified funeral and burial for lack of sufficient funds at the time of their death. It operates in cooperation with and is supported financially by Veterans Affairs Canada.

Financial Eligibility

In accordance with the Veterans Burial Regulations, for eligibility to be considered on the basis of insufficient funds, an assessment of financial resources at the time of the Veteran's death must be undertaken. The scope of the assessment will vary depending on whether the Veteran is single at death or is survived by a spouse and/or dependent children.

If the Veteran dies single the Veteran's estate as a whole is taken into consideration with no exemptions.

If the Veteran is survived by a spouse and/or dependent children the Veteran's estate, the assets of the surviving spouse and Canada Pension Plan death benefits must be taken into consideration. However, in calculating the value of the Veteran's available estate and the assets of the surviving spouse the following assets are excluded:

  • The family's principal residence and car.
  • An amount equal to the Veteran's monthly income that was received in the month of death.

The maximum asset an eligible Veteran may have has is $12,015.00. The exemption for each dependent child 18 and under is $700.00. The cost of the funeral, burial and grave marker is added to the basic estate exception of $12,015.00

Note if, after the funeral and burial services have been paid for through the LPF, it is found the value of the available Veteran's estate and/or assets of the surviving spouse exceeded the financial eligibility criteria, the LPF will seek to be reimbursed in whole or in part.

Funding

For those who qualify the maximum funeral services grant available is $3600 plus GST for the services of one funeral home and $4100 plus GST when two funeral homes are involved.

With a casket burial in addition to professional services and provision of a solid hardwood or veneer casket the LPF will compensate Veteran's families for other expenses, such as, local transportation of the remains for distances over 16 KM and, under certain conditions, non-local transportation, a single perpetual care grave with standard LPF marker, the opening and closing of the grave, a grave liner or vault where such are required by cemetery regulations, rental of lowering devices and grass matting and the provisions of an oversized and hermetically sealed casket, if warranted.

When cremation is chosen, the cost of the disposition of cremated remains will be limited to the cost of a casket burial of $3600 plus GST. This will include the cost of a cremation hardwood urn up to a maximum value of $350.00, the use of a rental casket, if viewing is requested, and provision of a cremation container along with cremation. Allowable additional services will include, where applicable, those noted above, such as, transportation, a single perpetual care grave with standard marker and the opening and closing of the grave.

In both cases the LPF will also pay the applicable taxes in addition to the grant and additional allowable expenses.

Services available

There are two types of services available, the LPF Standard Services and the LPF Assisted Service (after-the-fact).

LPF Standard Services may be applied for only at the time of death. When death occurs the next-of-kin or other responsible person should contact an LPF office as soon as possible in person or by phone. The purpose of this contact is to provide the basic information that will permit an Officer of the Fund to establish eligibility.

If the next-of-kin or other responsible person chooses to apply for LPF Standard Services an application form must be completed and signed by the applicant at the time of contact or, if contact is made by phone, an application form will be mailed to the applicant for completion and signature as soon as possible thereafter.

If the application for LPF Standard Services is approved, the LPF will enter into a contract with a funeral home of the family's choice to provide funeral services to a pre-determined LPF standard.

LFP Assisted Services may be applied for at the time of death or up to one year after the time of death. However, regardless of when the application is made during this one-year period, there will be no final determination of eligibility until itemized invoices or receipts for funeral and burial services contracted or paid for have been presented to the LPF.

Implications associated with applying after-the-fact include:

  • The applicant or applicant's family assumes full responsibility for making the arrangements with the funeral director for the services of their choice.
  • The payment of these services becomes the direct responsibility of whoever signs the contract with the funeral director.
  • The amount payable, either the full amount or a portion thereof assuming the application is approved, will be paid by the LPF whether directly to the applicant, or if bills are outstanding and at the applicant's request to the funeral director.

Veterans Affairs Canada

Veterans currently receiving benefits from Veterans Affairs Canada may also qualify for a partial or full burial allowance. Qualifications in this case will again depend on both the financial and marital status of the Veteran as defined herein. For those who qualify, the maximum funeral services grant is the same as offered under the LPF.

For more information regarding burial grants available for Veterans you may contact the Ontario Branch of the LPF in Toronto (ph 1-800-563-2508), the local office of Veterans Affairs Canada (ph 1-866-522-2122) and/or a funeral director.-

Bridge Funeral Home 

207 Mill Street 

Angus, Ontario  L0M 1B2  

(705) 424 - 1114 

Fax (705) 424 - 3203

Jo-Dees Flowers serving Angus and Simcoe County

Funeral and Memorial Flowers