FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q: Why do we have funerals?
Funerals are part of our culture's need to make a ceremony out of important times of transition. We seem to have an innate need to mark these points with ceremonies. During a funeral we reflect back on the time that we spent with a loved one and we also begin to condition ourselves to the idea that they will no longer be with us. Funerals can be personalized by the individual who has passed on (through Pre-Planning) or they can be personalized by the family.
At the time of death
Q: What should we do when a friend or family member has died?
A: The first thing you should do is take a deep breath and collect your thoughts. If the individual passed away in a nursing home or a hospital, simply let the nurse know that you will be working with DeVargas Funeral Home & Crematory. They will contact us to come to the hospital when the family is ready. Keep in mind, DeVargas Funeral Home & and Crematory is available 24 Hours a day, 7 Days a week and 365 Days out of the year to assist you at anytime of the day or night.
If the individual passed away at home and was under the care of hospice, simply notify the hospice nurse that DeVargas Funeral Home & Crematory will be serving your family and they will take the proper steps to notify us as to when the family will be ready for us to proceed to the home.
If your loved one has passed away at home and wasn't under the supervision of a hospice nurse (this is referred to as an unattended death), call 911 and inform them that there has been a death at the home and proper procedures will be followed. They will then notify us as to when the transfer can be made to the funeral home.
Q: What will happen next?
A: Once we have arrived at the location where your loved one has passed away we may ask the family (depending on the circumstances):
Would you like to have a traditional service (visitation and funeral) with an open casket? (This question we ask for embalming purposes)
If there are any concerns or special requests or preferences.
We may also want to set up a time for the family to meet with a funeral director or to have the funeral director contact the family to complete funeral arrangements. Under special circumstances, our directors can also arrange to meet with the family at the familyís home to make or finalize funeral arrangements.
Another important item that we will request you bring is a photo. A recent photo is preferred, but it can be any photo, black and white or color. The deceased does not have to be the only one in the photo, and professional photos are best. We will be scanning the image from the photo, and no harm will be done.
Additional information that will be needed are: The decedents legal name, parents names (motherís maiden), date of birth, city and state of birth, physical address and the Social Security card/number. We will need this information to complete and file the death certificate with the State of New Mexico Health Department and to notify Social Security of the death.
Q: What if I die away from home?
A: If you are traveling or visiting another city when the death of your loved one occurs, contact DeVargas Funeral Home & Crematory immediately. We will make the necessary arrangements with a funeral home in that area to assist with the transfer.
Q: What types of funeral services exist?
A: Every family is different, and not everyone wants the same type of funeral. Funeral practices are influenced by religious and cultural traditions, costs and personal preferences. These factors help determine whether the funeral will be elaborate or simple, public or private, religious or secular, and where it will be held. They also influence whether the body will be present at the funeral, if there will be a viewing or visitation, and if so, whether the casket will be open or closed, and whether the remains will be buried or cremated.
Q: What type of funeral do most people choose?
A: Most people prefer a traditional funeral with a visitation in either the funeral home or church followed by a service. However, we offer a number of different choices to make the service meaningful to you. Memorial services, cremation, military or fraternal tributes are just a few of the options we make available. DeVargas Funeral Home & Crematory welcomes and will honor any special preferences or requests.
Q: What type of service should I have?
A: The type of service conducted for the deceased is specified by the Pre-Arranged services or by the family. Funeral directors are trained to help families arrange the type of service they desire. The service is usually held at a place of worship or at the funeral home. The service may vary in ritual according to religious denomination or the wishes of the family. The presence of friends and family is an acknowledgment of friendship, support and love. A private service is by invitation only where selected relatives and a few close friends attend the funeral service. A memorial service is a service without the body present and can vary in ceremony according to the family's community and religious affiliations.
Q: Why have a public viewing?
A: Viewing is part of many cultural and ethnic traditions. Many grief specialists believe that viewing aids the grief process by helping the bereaved recognize the reality of death, and in addition, offers friends and loved ones the opportunity to say goodbye.
Q: Can I personalize my funeral service?
A: Absolutely. After all, the funeral is a celebration of life. Funeral directors are happy to discuss all options and ensure your funeral is tailored to your wishes. It may be personalized in many unique ways through your Pre-Arrangements.
Q: What is the purpose of embalming?
A: Embalming is the funeral custom of cleansing and disinfecting bodies after the death. As far back as the ancient Egyptians, people have used oils, herbs and special body preparations to help preserve the bodies of their dead. Yet no process or products have been devised to preserve a body in the grave indefinitely, and the Federal Trade Commission Funeral Rule prohibits funeral providers from telling consumers that it can be done. For example, funeral providers may not claim that either embalming or a particular type of casket will preserve the body of the deceased for an unlimited time.
Embalming today is done for the purpose of preservation to give the body a life-like appearance allowing adequate time for family and friends to be able to view and attend the funeral services.
Q: Is embalming required by law?
A: The Federal Trade Commission has included statements about embalming in the Funeral Rule, which guides funeral service providers in offering services and products to consumers. The Funeral Rule statement on embalming requires funeral service providers to inform consumers that the law does not require embalming (unless in a specific special case when it does). The language the FTC requires says: "Except in certain special cases, embalming is not required by law. Embalming may be necessary, however, if you select certain funeral arrangements, such as a funeral with viewing. If you do not want embalming, you usually have the right to choose an arrangement that does not require you to pay for it, such as direct cremation or immediate burial."
Q: What do funeral directors do?
A: Funeral directors are both caregivers and administrators. In their administrative duties, 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.
As caregivers, 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.
Q: Is cremation a substitute for a funeral?
A: As more people are choosing cremation, funeral service professionals are striving to give consumers a true sense of what their many options are for a funeral service. Often funeral directors find that people have a preconception that they have fewer choices for a ceremony when selecting cremation for themselves or a loved one. Therefore, they request direct cremation and deny the surviving friends and family an opportunity to honor them with a memorial service. In actuality, cremation is only part of the commemorative experience. In fact, cremation can actually increase your options when planning a funeral. Cremation gives people the flexibility to search for types of tributes that reflect the life being honored. But this doesn't mean that aspects of traditional funeral services have to be discarded. Even with cremation, a meaningful memorial that is personalized to reflect the life of the deceased could include:
- A visitation prior to the service
- An open or closed casket
- Special music
- A ceremony at the funeral chapel, your place of worship or another special location
- Participation by friends and family
Commonly, cremated remains are placed in an urn and committed to an indoor or outdoor mausoleum, columbarium or interred in a family/community burial plot.
Cremation also gives families the option to scatter the remains. This can be done in a designated cemetery garden or at a place that was special to the person. Today, cremated remains can even become part of an ocean reef or made into diamonds.
Q: Can I have a visitation period and a funeral service if cremation is chosen?
A: Yes. Cremation does not preclude having a visitation period and a funeral service. Cremation is simply one option for final disposition of the body.
Q: Where can I get more information on cremation?
A: We can assist you with the necessary information for a funeral or memorial service with a cremation. For more information about the cremation process, please contact DeVargas Funeral Home & Crematory.
Q: What happens if I move after making pre-arrangements at your funeral home?
A: Your funeral Pre-Arrangements can be transferred to another funeral home anytime, especially if you move. We may even be able to recommend a funeral home in your new community. Through pre-arrangements, you can be sure that your wishes will be honored wherever you may live.
Q: How can I get more information about Pre-Arrangements?
A: Very easily, you can simply call our office and we will gladly set you up with an appointment with one of our Pre-Need councilors, or, we can also mail to you some literature regarding Pre-Need funeral arrangements.
Q: Is it necessary to prepare a last will and testament?
A: It is very important to always think ahead. A last will and testament is something to strongly consider putting together when arranging pre-planned funeral services, this very important legal document may be critical in helping you to avoid leaving behind some potentially complicated issues for your family to have to deal with following your passing.
It is always best to seek the advice of an attorney in reference to legal matters surrounding a death. If you do not have an attorney, most local bar associations have a referral service that can help you find a reputable one.
Q: My husband/wife already made pre-arrangements, why do we have to come in? What encompasses funeral arrangements?
A: Many people come into the funeral home at some point in their lives to file biographical information and purchase Pre-Planned funeral arrangements. While all of these things are encouraged to relieve stress from the family at the time of the death, there are still details that need to be taken care of before we can finalize the pre-arranged funeral plan.
Some of the many things that are completed during the funeral arrangement include: obtaining information for the Death Certificate, completing all other necessary paperwork (including VA forms if applicable), obituary information, selection of services and merchandise (if not already selected), and set up dates and times for the visitation and funeral ceremony.
Q: How many death certificates will I need?
A: A death certificate is a legal document signed by either the physician or medical examiner/coroner indicated the cause of death and other vital statistics pertaining to the decedent. The funeral director can help you prepare and file the death certificate and assist you with purchasing the certified copies. Certified copies are needed to apply for benefits due to the family, to sell or transfer ownership of property, to gain access to safety deposit boxes and bank accounts, and to receive Veteran's benefits and Social Security Benefits. Additional copies may be ordered at any time for up to 6 months following the death through DeVargas Funeral Home & Crematory.
When ordering certified death certificates, the following criteria should be considered when determining how many to order:
- Each Life Insurance Company
- Motor Vehicles
- Pension, IRA or other retirement benefits
- Probate of Will
- Each bank where an account is maintained
- Final Tax Return
- Stocks and Bonds
- Your own files
- Real Property
Q: Does a veteran's family automatically receive benefits from the Veterans Administration upon death?
A: The answer is NO. A young man or woman can give a portion of their life to defend and protect our country and receive no benefits or flag when they die. Why? When your tour of duty was over, you were instructed to file (record) your discharge (officially called the DD-214) with the local veteran service office in the county in which you live. Many are so happy to be home, they never end up recording their discharge locally. If you did not, and your family cannot find your discharge when you die, you may not even be entitled to a flag at your funeral. There is no immediate cross-reference between an individual name and social security number that will confirm you as a veteran at the time of your death unless you spend time in a VA hospital, however, verification may be obtained by contacting the National Person Records Center in St. Louis, but that process usually takes a few days.