WHAT TO DO WHEN A DEATH OCCURS
What should I do when a death occurs in my family?
Contact us as soon as a death has occurred at 248-362-2500 or 800-210-7135 (Troy) or 248-549-0500 or 800-294-5668 (Royal Oak). Please visit WHERE TO BEGIN for more information.
What should I do if the death occurs at night or on the weekend?
Call us any time. We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Simply call us at 248-362-2500 or 800-210-7135 (Troy) or 248-549-0500 or 800-294-5668 (Royal Oak).
Will someone come right away?
If immediate assistance is requested, yes. If the family wishes to spend a short time with the deceased to say good bye, that’s fine with us as well. Our staff will come when the time is right for you.
If a loved one dies out of state, can the local funeral home still help?
Yes, but please call us first at 248-362-2500 or 800-210-7135 (Troy) or 248-549-0500 or 800-294-5668 (Royal Oak) so that we may assist you completely. For more information, see DEATH AWAY FROM HOME.
What should I do if a death occurs while traveling?
Contact us immediately at 248-362-2500 or 800-210-7135 (Troy) or 248-549-0500 or 800-294-5668 (Royal Oak) and we will coordinate with a funeral home in the area where the death has occurred. After a call from you, we get everything started. For more information, see DEATH AWAY FROM HOME.
What if a death occurs while traveling outside the U.S.?
If a family member dies while traveling outside the United States, contact the U.S. Embassy and they will assist you locally. Then call us immediately. We are well versed in the procedures for returning the deceased to the United States. For more information, see DEATH AWAY FROM HOME.
What is a Remembrance Service and what purpose does it serve?
A Remembrance Service is any gathering or and ceremony that recognizes death and its finality with rituals for the living. These rituals show respect for the dead and help survivors begin the grief process. A Remembrance Service may be a visitation, a funeral or memorial service, and/or a burial or inurnment service. Visit CEREMONIES OVERVIEW for more information.
Why have a public visitation?
Visitation, also called viewing, is an important opportunity for the immediate family to visit with other family members and friends to share memories and feel support that will aid in the grief process. Many grief specialists believe this aids the grief process by helping the bereaved recognize the reality of death, remembering their loved one and experiencing the support of others. Visit CEREMONIES OVERVIEW for more information.
A relative or friend has died, what should I do?
Offer sympathies and be supportive. Attend the planned services. Send a card, flowers, or a memorial donation. Make and deliver a meal. After the funeral, spending time with a survivor is also helpful. Visit FUNERAL ETIQUETTE and GRIEFWORDS for more information and ideas.
How do I prepare a child for a visit to a funeral home?
It is often helpful for children to attend a visitation at the funeral home. The more they understand about the service before arriving, the more comfortable they are likely to be.
Explain to a child that a funeral home is a place where people gather when someone dies. People share memories and offer support to the family and one another. At the funeral home, they may see the deceased in a casket, the casket may be closed, or an urn may be present. Flowers from family and friends and photos may be set up throughout the room. At a church service, the casket may also be present. For more information, please review FUNERAL ETIQUETTE and GRIEFWORDS "Helping Children with Funerals." Call us if you have any questions.
What do funeral directors do?
Funeral directors are licensed professionals who take care of the deceased and family at the time of death. Funeral directors meet with the deceased’s family to arrange for and implement their wishes regarding the remembrance service(s) to be held and final disposition of the body. They organize the transfer of the deceased to the funeral home, complete all necessary paperwork, and obtain all pertinent legal permits and documents. They also care for the deceased’s body according to the wishes of the next of kin, including embalming. Throughout, a funeral director listens, advises, and supports.
Do you have to have a funeral director to bury the dead? What about a cremation?
In Michigan, a burial permit or cremation permit is required. The burial permit and cremation permit require a death certificate that must be signed by a funeral director.
What is the purpose of embalming?
Embalming sanitizes and preserves the body, slows the decomposition process, and enhances the appearance of a body after a traumatic death or illness. Embalming makes it possible to lengthen the time between death and the final disposition, thus allowing family members time to arrange and participate in services most comforting to them.
Does a dead body have to be embalmed, according to law?
No. Most states, however, require embalming when death was caused by a reportable contagious disease, when remains are to be transported from one state to another by common carrier or if final disposition is not to be made within a prescribed number of hours. In Michigan, embalming is required if final disposition is after 48 hours.
What is Green Burial?
In a green, or natural, burial, the body is buried without the use of formaldehyde-based embalming in a natural setting. Any shroud, clothing or casket that is used must be biodegradable, nontoxic, and of sustainable material. Traditional standing headstones are not permitted. Instead, flat rocks, plants or trees may serve as grave markers.
A.J. Desmond & Sons is a certified green burial service provider by the Green Burial Council. We offer green funeral and burial services and are knowledgeable about the ever-increasing options. For more information, visit GREEN BURIAL.
If there is an organ donation, can there still be a funeral?
Yes, there can still be a funeral and there can still be viewing of the deceased. A donation does not change the body's outward appearance, so a family may conduct the desired remembrance services. For more information on organ donation, please call or visit us.
Is cremation a substitute for a funeral?
No, cremation is more a substitute for burial. At A.J. Desmond & Sons, we offer numerous service options to families who choose cremation. Please visit CREMATION OPTIONS and CREATING MEANINGFUL CEREMONIES for more information.
With cremation, can I still have a funeral or a viewing?
Yes, quite often some sort of viewing precedes the actual cremation. This may be a public visitation with a funeral service following or a private family viewing followed by a memorial service. Please visit CREATING MEANINGFUL CEREMONIES and CREMATION OPTIONS or give us a call.
How much does a funeral cost?
Funeral costs vary greatly, depending on the services and merchandise chosen. According to the NFDA, in 2010 the national average charge for a typical adult, full-service funeral was $6,560. This includes the professional service charge, transfer of deceased, embalming, other preparation, use of facilities and staff for viewing and ceremony, vehicles, basic memorial printing package, and a metal casket. Vault, cemetery and monument charges are additional (2010 NFDA General Price List Survey).
Know that we work closely with each family to create dignified and affordable services.
What contributes to the cost of a funeral?
A funeral home is a 24-hour, labor-intensive business, with extensive facilities (visitation rooms, chapels, vehicles, etc.). Staff is always available to respond as needed in a timely manner. The deceased is transferred to our facility and cared for as the family desires. A remembrance service is most often planned within a day or two. Space needs to be prepared and staffed for a service. Moreover, preparing selected merchandise, professional services of a funeral director in making arrangements; filing appropriate forms; coordinating ministers, florists and others and seeing to all other necessary details all happens in a few days. All of this contributes to the cost of a funeral.
At A.J. Desmond & Sons, we offer a wide range of services and merchandise. Rest assured we will arrange a service that meets your needs and fits your budget.
Does a consumer have recourse for poor service or overcharging?
Fortunately, complaints against our professional practices have been very minimal. However, there have been occasions when inadvertent misunderstandings have arisen between the persons making the funeral arrangements and ourselves. There is a simple recourse to mediate these differences:
- Contact the funeral home who provided the services. At A.J. Desmond & Sons we welcome anyone who has a grievance to openly and frankly discuss it with us. Most times, this is all that is needed to resolve any difference.
- You may write to the Grievance and Ethics Committee of the Michigan Funeral Directors Association, Box 27158, Lansing, Michigan 48909.
- You may write the Board of Examiners in Mortuary Science, Michigan Dept. Of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, Box 30018, Lansing, Michigan 48904. This is the licensing agency for funeral directors and funeral homes.
- You may contact The Funeral Service Consumer Assistance Program, P.O. Box 486, Elk Grove, Wisconsin 53122, 800-662-7666 or .
Do funeral directors take advantage of the bereaved?
No they do not. Funeral directors are caring individuals who help people deal with a very stressful time. They serve the same families through generations. If they took advantage of bereaved families, they could not stay in business. The fact that the average funeral home has been in business over 59 years shows that most funeral directors respect and follow the wishes of the bereaved families. For almost 95 years, we have served families with dignity, compassion and integrity, and will always continue to do so.
Who pays for funerals for the indigent?
Other than the family, there may be veteran, union, and other organizational benefits to pay for funerals. Sometimes there is a lump sum death payment from Social Security. However, we may absorb costs above and beyond what is provided by agencies to insure the deceased a respectable burial. We are knowledgeable about the various benefits and how to obtain them. Please call us at 248-362-2500 or 800-210-7135 (Troy) or 248-549-0500 or 800-294-5668 (Royal Oak) for more information and further assistance. In the case of family financial hardship, we will provide appropriate services within the means of the family.
SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS
Who is eligible for monthly Social Security Benefits?
A widow or widower age 60 or older (50 if disabled), or at any age if caring for an entitled child who is under 16 or disabled; a divorced widow or widower age 60 or older (50 if disabled) if the marriage lasted 10 years, or if caring for an entitled child who is under 16 or disabled; unmarried children up to age 18 (19 if they are attending a primary or secondary school full lime); children who were disabled before reaching 22, as long as they remained disabled; dependent parent or parents 62 or older.
See also SOCIAL SECURITY for more information.
How may I find out more information and apply for benefits?
See SOCIAL SECURITY for more information.
VETERANS HONORS AND BENEFITS
Who is eligible for veterans honors and 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 person convicted of federal or state capital crimes may not be buried or memorialized in a VA 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. See VETERANS SERVICES for more information.
What do the veterans benefits include?
Burial benefits in a Veterans Affairs 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 military honors at the funeral or burial service, headstones and markers, Presidential memorial certificates, burial flags and reimbursement of burial expenses, depending on the circumstances. We will assist you with all of these matters. See VETERANS SERVICES for more information.