Why is it important to have a will?
The purpose of a will is to outline your wishes for your estate. Although a will is usually read after the passing and funeral, this may not be the best place to state your wishes regarding a funeral service or method of disposition. These are best written down and left with the funeral home and close family members or executor. Many people avoid making a will because it makes them feel uncomfortable to think about the prospect of death or they recoil from making decisions about beneficiaries. However, if you die without a valid will, your estate will be administered and your property distributed under the appropriate provincial legislation. You will have no say in how you would like your assets dealt with.

Why should we have a funeral?
As difficult as grief may be, a funeral offers family and friends the opportunity to honour a life lived and a funeral gives the family and survivors permission to grieve. A funeral is personalized to meet the needs of individual families.

The funeral ceremony:

  • Helps us acknowledge that someone we love has died and encourages us to share those memories with others.
  • Allows us to say goodbye.
  • Helps us remember the person who died and encourages us to share those memories with others.
  • Offers a time and a place for us to talk about the life and death of the person who died.
  • Provides a social support system for you and other family members and friends.
  • Allows us to search for the meaning of life and death.
  • Offers continuity and hope for the living.

What is the cost for a Celebrant?
The Celebrant fee is usually comparable to the fees charged by clergy for performing a funeral. This ranges widely across the country, from $195.00 to $500.00. Funeral directors who also serve as Celebrants are doing so outside of their role as a funeral director and should be compensated for their expertise.

What is an autopsy and is it always required?
An autopsy is the medical examination of the body following death. The Coroner can order an autopsy to investigate the death to determine the cause. He/she has the authority to order an autopsy without consent of the next of kin. Attending physicians or family members may also request an autopsy, however an autopsy is not necessarily required. An autopsy, at the request of the family, may be subject to additional charges from the hospital.

What is embalming and is it mandatory?
Embalming is a surgical technique used to disinfect, preserve and restore the human body. The primary purpose of embalming is for protection of public health. Human remains begin to decompose almost immediately, which results in an ideal environment for microbial growth. Embalming is not mandatory in the province of BC, but may be recommended in some instances (i.e. public viewing, transportation by air, etc.).

Should we view the body?
Viewing the deceased can be a very healthy and positive experience for those who choose to do so. Viewing the deceased can be an important aspect of the grief process and it can be helpful in accepting the fact that death has occurred, especially for the immediate family. The decision to view is an individual, personal choice. Each person needs to make their own decision on whether they would like to view, or not.

Is it okay for my child to attend the funeral? Is it okay for my child to view the body?
Parents often wonder, at what age is it appropriate for a child to attend a funeral or memorial service of a loved one?

Let your child be the guide and decide what he or she wants to do. Expressions of grief are unique to each child. Some children prefer to attend, some may prefer not to. Preschoolers may have a difficult time sitting through a service, but may find it meaningful when they are older to know that they were included and had a chance to say goodbye. Perhaps a friend can assist with the care of an active toddler attending the service.

If a child is old enough, invite him or her to participate in the service. Some children like to write and/or read a poem or story about the loved one. Others choose to sing a song or pray. Still others choose to stay in the background. Trust your child to know what is best for him or her in this situation.

Prepare your child for what will be experienced. Will there be a body? A viewing? Will there be highly expressive people at the service? If there is a body to view, explain that their loved one is not hurting, hungry or cold. If your family chose cremation, assure the child that the loved one experienced no pain during cremation. If your child chooses, allow him or her to see and touch the ashes.

Generally, children appreciate being included and being given the opportunity to make their own decisions about participation in services.

Is scattering legal?
There are no provincial regulations that prohibit scattering of cremated remains by land, sea or air, though some municipal by-laws may prohibit this. Scattering is a decision that needs to be carefully considered. Cremated remains should never be scattered on private property without permission. Although the act of scattering may have idyllic appeal to some, it is an irreversible decision. Some families choose to have a permanent marker on a bench or memorial garden following scattering.

What is cremation?
Cremation is a method of final disposition of a human body. Over a 2-3 hour period, the body is transformed by intense heat (1600 – 2000 degrees Fahrenheit) to a state of small skeletal fragments and not fine ash, as some believe. Following the cremation process, these skeletal remains are removed from the chamber and placed in a cooling tray. They are processed to their final reduced consistency and placed in a small cardboard box or urn. Cremated remains weigh between four and eight pounds.

Is it necessary to have a casket for cremation?
The deceased need not be presented in a casket for cremation but, in the absence of a casket, a suitable container must be purchased that is sufficient to prevent a health hazard to crematorium personnel. This is the provincial law. The container or casket is then placed into the cremation chamber. In the case of rental caskets, only the inner container is cremated.

What is the cost of cremation?
The crematorium will charge the funeral home a set fee. As crematorium fees vary throughout the province, it is best to contact a funeral home and ask them what the crematorium charges are in your area. Remember that, in addition to the crematorium fee, you will need to also know the costs for the required container or casket. The funeral home  will also charge professional service fees. The cremated remains are usually returned from the crematorium in a small cardboard box or temporary urn. Additional costs may include the cost of an urn designed to hold cremated remains permanently and final disposition/memorialization costs.

What is the cost of a single burial plot?
In British Columbia, the costs vary depending on location. A plot in a small, rural cemetery may be a couple of hundred dollars, up to several thousand dollars at a larger, prestigious city cemetery.

Remember, you are not actually purchasing the land. You are purchasing the “interment right.” Single burial plots, including the opening and closing of the grave and the grave liner range in cost.  But like crematorium charges and professional service fees charged by the funeral home, all price lists must be itemized and available for the consumer.

I just want the deceased picked up from the place of death and cremated. Can this be done?
By law, the deceased cannot be cremated until 48 hours after the death has occurred. Vital statistics information must be obtained in order to secure the necessary permits for the cremation to take place. If the deceased had a pacemaker, this must be removed by the funeral home staff. A person can be buried or cremated with simplicity, however, there are a certain amount of administrative duties and physical preparation of the deceased that may need to be performed prior to cremation taking place.

How do I know these are the cremated remains of the deceased?
Crematoriums and funeral home personnel must adhere to strict regulations and a code of professional ethics. Only one person is cremated at a time and all of the cremated remains are placed in the urn. A metal identification tag accompanies the deceased throughout the cremation process. The identification tag is stamped with a number that matches the corresponding paperwork of the individual.

Can I be buried at sea?
Federal government laws must be adhered to with respect to a burial at sea; strict regulation and guidelines now make a burial at sea virtually prohibitive. A permit application must be made well in advance of need, at least eight weeks. A notice of intent must be published in a local newspaper. Proof of the notice must be sent to Environment Canada and include an application fee. Other stringent regulations include nautical miles from land for the burial site and casket specifications. It is recommended that alternative arrangements be made since burial at sea regulations and costs have become very restrictive, if not impossible.

How do I support someone who is grieving? Where do I go for help?
Your first stop should be the funeral home. We have a lending library on grief materials which may be of help. We also have staff who will assist you.

What is a green burial?
As the name implies, a green burial is promoted to be environmentally friendly. The premise is that green burials attempt to protect and preserve the environment and the natural cycles occurring in it. Green burials differ from other burials only in the importance they place on environmental preservation and continuation.

To be considered green, burials may include a biodegradable casket, no embalming and no grave liner. Of course, this is not a new idea. Before the practice of embalming and use of sealed caskets, virtually all burials were green.

The most obvious obstacle may be existing cemetery practices. Cemetaries in British Columbia accept unembalmed remains and biodegradable coffins, but most insist on grave liners to facilitate regular lawn maintenance. Although cemetery bylaws, rules and regulations are slow to change, more cemeteries are beginning to offer “green” sections with minimal upkeep and tree planting instead of stone monuments.

If you require further information or assistance, please contact us.

Serving and caring for families in our community
with understanding and dignity since 1947