Frequently Asked Questions
The following is a brief summary of Frequently Asked Questions we are asked here at Foster & McGarvey. If you cannot find answers to your questions or need additional information or clarity, please click here and provide us with your question. One of our Funeral Directors will be pleased to reply back to you in a timely manner, at no obligation for you.
Frequently Asked Questions Relating to Funeral Service Options
- What purpose does a funeral serve?
- Is a funeral or memorial service always held in a funeral home or place of worship?
- Can a less formal service than a funeral or memorial service be arranged?
- How can I personalize a funeral service?
- What is a memory table and/or a memory board?
- Do clergy always officiate at a funeral service?
- What should we provide as an honorarium for the Minister / Celebrant?
- How many pallbearers will be needed?
- After my death, how can Foster & McGarvey escort me to my cemetery, which is out of town and/or province?
- What happens if someone close to me dies away from home?
- What are the options concerning the time of a service?
- How soon after or long after a death must an individual be buried?
- Must an obituary be published in a newspaper?
- Should a child attend a funeral?
- If I donate my remains to medical science, can there still be a service?
- Must a casket be transported to the cemetery in a hearse?
Frequently Asked Questions Relating to Merchandise Options and Funeral Costs
- What do funeral directors do?
- Does the price I am quoted by Foster & McGarvey include everything?
- Why are funerals so expensive?
- May I make the necessary arrangements in advance?
- What are the different types of burial caskets?
- What are burial vaults and grave liners?
- Will Foster & McGarvey help with applying for death benefits from Canada Pension, Social Services and Last Post Fund?
- What is the difference between a Funeral Director's Statement of Death and a Death Certificate?
What purpose does a funeral serve?
The funeral and the ceremony that accompanies it are very important indeed. It provides a place for those who are left behind to gather for support and to reminisce, an opportunity to celebrate the life and accomplishments of a loved one, a chance to say goodbye, and the focal point from which the healing process can begin. The funeral identifies that a person's life has been lived, not that a death has occurred. It also notifies the community that this person has died so that people beyond the immediate family have the opportunity to grieve as well. Consider, for instance, how important and meaningful was the public memorial service held in Edmonton for the four R.C.M.P. officers killed in March 2005.
Is a funeral or memorial service always held in a funeral home or place of worship?
A service may take place at any location that the family feels would be comfortable and appropriate. Services can be held at any of our three chapel locations or at your place of worship. In the past we have arranged services in local community centres, Legion halls, local golf and country clubs, and private facilities.
Can a less formal service than a funeral or memorial service be arranged?
A Gathering of Friends is a less formal event. It allows family and friends to share their loss and share treasured memories of the deceased. A Gathering of Friends, which may include a brief memorial service and light refreshments, can be held at any appropriate location, including one of our three chapel locations, which have several options, from a chapel, to a smaller stateroom for more intimate gatherings, to a reception centre for memorial luncheons.
How can I personalize a funeral service?
An individual's personal items can provide a glimpse and offer insight into their values, hobbies and interests and what was important to them. For example: an avid fisherman may have his favourite fishing rod, hat or trophies placed near the casket or memory table; a golfer could similarly have their favourite putter displayed; a grandmother who made quilts, afghans or clothing for her family may have some of her work displayed, either draped over the casket or on the memory table; a keen gardener could have gardening tools laid out on the memory table, or the family may wish to hand out seeds in small envelopes to those in attendance, along with a note explaining the significance of the seeds and providing planting instructions.
Pictures also speak volumes, inspire reminiscing, and frequently spark the telling of “remember when” stories. Consider allowing Foster & McGarvey to produce a DVD tribute of your loved one to be viewed during prayer services, visitations, chapel/church services and memorial receptions. The tribute can be produced at short notice using family photographs and accompanied by a favourite piece of music. Speak with one of our Funeral Directors to learn more about the many options available, or click here for more ideas.
What is a memory table and/or a memory board?
A memory table may be used to display personal items of the deceased, such as a hat, fishing rod or crafts, as well as the urn in the case of cremation. A memory board typically features a collection of family photographs and can be displayed on an easel at the funeral home and/or place of worship so visitors may reminisce about their life experiences with the deceased.
Do clergy always officiate at a funeral service?
A minister or a non-denominational celebrant can co-officiate with the family. As part of the service, family and friends may share personal thoughts, memories and feelings about the deceased. If a family does not have a minister to officiate, we would be pleased to assist in arranging a minister/celebrant of the family’s faith background or one appropriate for the type and style of service being sought.
Note: Officiation by a celebrants is a relatively new concept in funeral services, similar to officiation by a Justice of the Peace at a wedding. A celebrant will officiate at a funeral service with little or no religious involvement, depending on the family’s wishes.
At Foster & McGarvey, we strongly encourage the families that place their trust in us - regardless of their level of involvement in the past or present - to contact their last place of worship and speak to their pastor, minister, rabbi or other religious leader regarding the funeral service. We believe that the spiritual and emotional support offered by our faith leaders and communities is an important part of the healing process. At the same time, we respect and appreciate each family's unique needs and desires.
What should we provide as an honorarium for the minister / celebrant?
Some places of worship have stated fees indicating the honorarium required for their minister / leader to officiate at a funeral service. We encourage families to consider the time and effort that a minister may invest in consulting with them via phone or in person, preparing the order of service, giving the sermon and travelling to the visitation / prayer and funeral services. Generally, honorariums range from $200 - $300 and are presented to the minister the day of the funeral prior to the beginning of the service; this is because most families are busy receiving and thanking friends after the service, they are liable to unintentionally forget to see the minister. Many families find it most convenient to give one of our Funeral Directors an envelope for the minister containing the honorarium and a thank-you note, ensuring that the minister will receive the envelope and its contents prior to the start of the service.
Note: Due to the individual requirements of each minister and out of respect for the personal desires of each family, – we do not include the clergy honorarium in the funeral account. Both cheques made payable to the minister and cash are acceptable forms of payment.
How many pallbearers will be needed?
Six pallbearers are usually required, with three bearers on each side; this, of course, is dependent on the length and number of handles on the casket. Some families are faced with the dilemma of choosing who will act as a bearer. If such a scenario should arise for your family, consult with one of our Funeral Directors about having two extra bearers at either end of the casket, or having other family and friends act as honorary-bearers. Both males and females may act as pallbearers: the only requirements are that each individual be in good health and wear flat footwear.
After my death, how can Foster & McGarvey escort me to my cemetery, which is out of town and/or province?
Since our very beginning in 1929, Foster & McGarvey has been serving families regardless of where the death has occurred or where the final burial takes place, setting us apart from other funeral providers. Our size and fleet of funeral cars enables us to travel extensive distances to receive a loved one from a place of death and/or escort the deceased and the family to the final resting place.
Whenever possible, we strive to handle all of the arrangements ourselves to avoid incurring additional charges from a third-party funeral home. Such options may include, but are not limited to, using one of our own coach buses (click here to see a picture). Specifically designed to accommodate approximately 40 - 46 passengers, these buses offer climate control, a restroom and kitchenette facilities, as well as on-board audio-visual services for the complete comfort of those travelling. In addition, they have a dedicated space for the casket separate from the passenger cabin and similar to a regular funeral hearse where the casket can repose in dignity en route to the final resting place.
We also have extensive experience with transportation to international locations. Our people are in regular contact with funeral directors throughout North and South America, Europe, Africa and Asia, as well as the respective embassies and airlines that serve those areas. You can trust Foster & McGarvey to handle all the necessary arrangements with the highest level of care and professionalism.
What happens if someone close to me dies away from home?
Once the death has occurred or is expected, call Foster & McGarvey (contact us). One of our Funeral Directors will make the necessary arrangements to receive your loved one, relieving your family of the burden of dealing with unfamiliar people, places and related issues.
More and more families are faced with death away from home, whether it occurs when they are travelling or vacationing, staying at another residence (snowbirds), receiving medical treatment or visiting family. An unexpected death that takes place in another city, province or country forces unique and additional burdens on surviving family members.
For this reason, Foster & McGarvey Funeral Homes is now offering individuals/couples a Lifetime Travel Protection Plan that will guarantee the complete cost of transportation and third-party funeral home charges anywhere in the world. Do not assume that your present travel insurance will cover these expenses, since many such plans simply cover transportation and not the third-party funeral home charges. Please click here to learn more and to receive a free brochure.
What are the options concerning the time of a service?
First and foremost, before any final funeral arrangements are confirmed (and communicated in an obituary or to family and friends) the family should speak to: the officiating minister/celebrant; a funeral director at one of our three Chapel Locations and, finally, the facility where the funeral services are to take place. This is to avoid informing family and friends of the scheduled service only to discover that the minister/celebrant and/or facility is not available the day and/or time you have told them.
Most funeral services are held in the morning and afternoon hours during the weekday; however, some families do prefer a Saturday funeral for the convenience of those family and friends travelling from out of town. At Foster & McGarvey, we strive to accommodate each and every request of the families we serve. Please contact one of our Funeral Directors if you have any additional questions concerning the options available.
How soon after or long after a death must an individual be buried/cremated?
Considerations include: Foster & McGarvey obtaining burial/cremation permits and authorizations; notification of family and friends; preparation of the cemetery site; and religious customs and practices. For example, the tenets Orthodox Judaism calls for the body to be interred within 24 hours of death in most cases. At times, however, we are asked by families to delay the burial/cremation for an extended period, particularly if they anticipate family members coming from abroad to attend the scheduled services.
Must an obituary be published in a newspaper?
Placing an obituary notice in local and/or out-of-town newspapers is up to the family. Such a notice serves to inform extended family, friends and perhaps old acquaintances of both your loved one and their surviving family of the death. The obituary can be brief, simply announcing your loved one's passing and any scheduled services, or provide a list of surviving family members and biographical information on the deceased. You may also wish to include a picture of your loved one to appear with the obituary and/or logos for organizations and service clubs of which the deceased was a member. One of our funeral directors can assist you in the final composition of the obituary and ensure its publication in the newspapers of your choice.
Note: Obituary rates vary from newspaper to newspaper and are usually charged per day that the notice appears. Please ensure that you are aware of the line rate charges for each paper in which you have requested the obituary be published to avoid any surprises.
To learn more and to read sample obituaries, click here.
Should a child attend a funeral?
Children grieve just as adults do. Any child old enough to form a relationship will experience some form of grief when a relationship is severed. Adults may not view a child's behaviour as grief, as it is often demonstrated in ways that are misconstrued as "moodiness," "crankiness," "withdrawal" or similar other behavioral patterns.
When a death occurs, children need to be surrounded by feelings of warmth, acceptance and understanding. This may be a tall order for adults who are experiencing their own grief and upset. However, if caring adults can guide children through this time when they may be having feelings for which they have no words and thus cannot identify it can be an important growth experience that teaches about love and relationships.
The first task is to create an atmosphere in which the child's thoughts, fears and wishes are recognized. This means that they should be allowed to participate in any of the arrangements, ceremonies and gatherings with which they feel comfortable. Explain what will be happening and why it is happening at a level the child can understand. A child may not be able to speak at a grandparent's funeral but would benefit greatly from the opportunity to draw a picture to be placed in the casket or displayed at the service. Be aware that children will probably have short attention spans and may need to leave a service or gathering before the adults are ready. Many families provide a non-family attendant to care for the children in this event. The key is to allow participation, but not to force it. Forced participation can be harmful. Children instinctively have a good sense of how involved they ought to be and their expressed wishes should be listened to carefully.
If I donate my remains to medical science, can there still be a service?
Pre-arranging that one's body will be donated to medical science is not always possible. This is due to the fact that one can never predict the time, location and circumstances of death. For example, the death may occur at a time when medical researchers are not in need of “medical donations”. Consult with one of our Funeral Directors and ensure you have an alternative plan and instructions in place if you are considering making a donation to medical science.
That being said, Foster & McGarvey can arrange for either a memorial service or a Gathering of Friends at a time and place convenient for the family in addition to coordinating the donation to medical science.
Must a casket be transported to the cemetery in a hearse?
While a hearse or casket coach is the most common means of transportaion to the place of interment, families can also consider more personalized and meaningful modes of conveyance. For example, the remains of a firefighter may be transported on a fire truck or a truck driver’s casket on the back of a flatbed truck.
What do funeral directors do?
Funeral directors ensure that your loved one is received from the place of death (e.g. hospital, care home, or at the residence of the deceased). He or she will meet with the family to arrange and schedule the funeral service and assist with any burial/cremation arrangements. Their functions include, but are not limited to: obtaining the Medical Death Certificate from the attending physician, registering the death with the government; obtaining burial/cremation permits; coordinating and arranging with the officiating minister/celebrant; booking the facility (place of worship/funeral chapel) where any scheduled services will take place; overseeing the designing and printing of memorial cards; composing and arranging of any obituary; arranging for an organist/soloist/floral tributes as desired by the family and any catering if required.
Our Funeral Directors will be present for any visitation, prayer service, scheduled services, and the final burial or cremation. They ensure that the facility/chapel is prepared properly in advance in terms of climate control, seating arrangements, display of memory tables/boards, floral tributes and pictures boards (in most circumstances Foster & McGarvey is able to supply the equipment necessary for such displays). Upon request, Foster & McGarvey can also provide limousine transportation to and from any scheduled services for the immediate family.
Our Funeral Directors will ensure that family and friends attending the service are warmly greeted upon arrival and provided with clear instructions as to the: signing of the guest book, whether or not viewing of the deceased has been arranged, memorial donations and seating arrangements. They will also work alongside the minister to attend to all details and make certain all necessary arrangements are ready so that the service can begin at the scheduled time.
At Foster & McGarvey our service to the family does not end with the funeral. We also offer Family Care. For no additional fee, one of our Family Care Directors can meet with the next-of-kin after the funeral at a time and place convenient for the family (usually in the comfort of their home) to provide assistance with completing the paperwork for Canada Pension Death benefits, notifying the necessary government agencies of the death, and various other tasks.
Does the price I am quoted by Foster & McGarvey include everything?
The answer to that question is no, but please allow us to explain. At Foster & McGarvey, our Funeral Directors provide detailed information regarding professional fees and costs related to selected merchandise, as well as any cash disbursements. We don't believe or allow last-minute, surprise hidden charges. When meeting with a family for either advance-arrangements and/or actual funeral arrangements the Funeral Director will itemize each selected service, merchandise and cash disbursements and give the next-of-kin time to review and agree to the charges prior to them being rendered. The following is a limited list of services or merchandise that may or may not be required: urn; casket; minister/celebrant; organist/soloist; catering; facility rental; flowers; obituaries; cemetery; vault/grave-liner; picture enlargements; and DVD picture tributes. If the death or burial takes place away from home, other expenses may include-third party funeral home charges (if required), transportation (i.e., airline), mileage, and shipping caskets. Due to the specific and unique circumstances of each family we serve, it is impossible to list all the possible services, merchandise and cash disbursements that may or may not need or desire. Please contact one of our Funeral Directors if you have any additional questions concerning funeral home and related charges.
Why are funerals so expensive?
Since our beginning in 1929, Foster & McGarvey has come to serve a wide variety of families with various religious, cultural and funeral customs. This is one reason why there is a great range in prices for the services and merchandise we provide.
Although our prices are not the lowest in the Greater Edmonton area, they are definitely not the highest. We pride ourselves on retaining professional, compassionate, competent funeral personnel to serve the families that place their trust in us. We offer three modern, conveniently located Funeral Chapels and maintain a large fleet of funeral cars and coach buses for the convenience and comfort of our families. We also offer you a promise that has been honoured and upheld from our very inception: Never will you experience any pressure, feel any sense of obligation or be misled into agreeing to purchase a service or merchandise you neither want nor require.
Some families prefer to compare prices between funeral homes, which can be a responsible move on their part. When doing so, we encourage you to make sure that you compare apples with apples. One funeral home’s charges may appear to be less, but do their charges include all the same services?
It is clearly difficult to do comparison shopping when a death has occurred. We therefore suggest that you consider advance planning and speak to one of our Advance Planning Counsellors to learn more. By preplanning, you can decide what services and merchandise that you want and that fits within your budget. Advance planning also locks in the prices for services and merchandise at today’s cost – protecting you and your loved ones from inflation. Remember when dealing with Foster & McGarvey, you will never feel obligated, nor be subjected to a sales approach. We simply answer your questions and then give you the time you need to make any decision.
May I make the necessary funeral arrangements in advance?
Yes, you can have peace of mind by making your own or a loved one's funeral arrangements now, rather than leaving them to fall upon your family at the time of death. By planning ahead, you can choose from a variety of payment options, including simple monthly payments or fully funded plans. You will also benefit by protecting yourself and your loved ones from future inflation by locking in the cost at today's prices.
One of our Advance Planning Counsellors can help you record everything your executor or your next-of-kin will need to know to carry out your wishes. To learn more about the many options and benefits related to advance funeral planning click here.
What are the different types of burial caskets?
Most caskets are constructed out of either metal or wood. Metal caskets are made of precious metals such as bronze, copper, steel or stainless steel. Wood caskets are available in a variety of types, including pine, oak, ash, cherry, birch and mahogany. In both cases, the material for the interior usually consists of silk, velvet or crepe.
What are burial vaults and grave liners?
To facilitate beautification and maintenance of cemetery grounds, most cemeteries require that the casket be placed in an outer burial receptacle capable of withstanding the geophysical forces that it will experience once interred.
The basic option is a “grave liner,” – a simple cement box with a lid that is placed on top with the casket resting inside. However, since a grave liner is not a sealed unit, it offers no guarantee against outside elements, such as water.
A burial vault is designed not only to withstand the weight of the surrounding earth, but to also offer additional protection from all graveside elements (i.e., water). A sealed unit, it is generally made from a combination of materials including concrete, stainless steel, galvanized steel, copper, bronze, plastic and/or fiberglass.
The decision to select either a grave liner or burial vault is entirely up to the family. To help you in making a choice, one of our Funeral Directors will be happy to provide you with more information and show you examples of grave liners and burial vaults.
Will Foster & McGarvey help with applying for death benefits from Canada Pension, Social Services and Last Post Fund?
If you or a loved one are entitled to funeral benefits from the Last Post Fund (veterans), Social services and/or the provincial Office of the Public Trustee, it is imperative that you tell one of our Funeral Directors before making any funeral arrangements. This is because special applications procedures for these benefits must be completed prior to the actual funeral service. All of our Funeral Directors at Foster & McGarvey have extensive experience in applying for funeral benefits and arranging services in conjunction with the relevant agencies.
In addition, Foster & McGarvey provides all the families we serve with a package containing application forms and detailed instructions on who may qualify for Canada Pension death benefits. We also provide a checklist and summary of duties following the funeral service for the executor and/or next-of-kin. Note: The summary of duties and checklist provided by Foster & McGarvey is not intended to replace the expertise of legal counsel in handling the Estate.
What is the difference between a Funeral Director's Statement of Death and a Death Certificate?
A Funeral Director's Statement of Death is issued by Foster & McGarvey and is generally available to the family on the day of the funeral service. We typically provide six original copies signed by one of our Funeral Directors and sealed with Foster & McGarvey’s corporate seal. These contain important information relating to the deceased (i.e., legal name, date of birth, date and place of death, final resting place, Social Insurance Number), as well information relating to the next-of-kin. The statements can, in most cases, be used in applying for Canada Pension benefits and when dealing with most banking and insurance institutions in Canada.
A Death Certificate (similar to a Birth or Marriage Certificate) is issued by the Province of Alberta and may be required when handling the affairs of an estate.
To apply for a Death Certificate one simply needs to visit one of the many Alberta Registries Private Agents located throughout the province (the same agents through which you apply for or renew your provincial driver's license and/or vehicle registration). Note: There is a fee for each original copy of the Death Certificate that must be paid upon application.
To learn more about applying for a Death Certificate, speak to one of Funeral Directors, call the Government of Alberta at (780) 422-7330 or look in the Blue Pages under “License & Registry Services."