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 and one of our Funeral Directors will be pleased to reply back to you in a timely manner, with no obligation.
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 Service less formal 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 or the 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 Cost
- What do funeral directors do?
- Does a price I receive from 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 the death benefits related to Canada Pension, Social Services and Last Post Fund?
- What is difference between a Funeral Directors Statement of Death and a Death Certificate?
What purpose does a funeral serve?
The funeral and the ceremony that accompanies it are indeed very important. For those who are left behind, a funeral provides a place for family and friends 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 is also important to notify the community that this person has died. There are people beyond the immediate family who have the right to grieve a death. For instance, what would have happened if there were no Public Memorial Service, in Edmonton, for the four R.C.M.P. officers that were killed in March of 2005?
Is a funeral or memorial service always held in a funeral home or place of worship?
A service can be held 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 centers and Legion halls, local golf, country clubs and Private facilities.
Can a Service less formal 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 may include a brief Memorial Service, light refreshments and 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?
Personal Items of a person can provide a glimpse, and insight to what was important in ones life, their values, hobbies and interest. For example: An avid Fisherman could have his/her favorite fishing rod, hat or trophies near the casket or memorial table. A golfer could have their favorite putter, 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 memorial table. An avid Gardner may have gardening tools displayed on the memorial table, or the family may wish to hand out seeds in small envelopes to those guest attending, along with a small attached note explaining the significance of the seeds and planting instructions.
Pictures also speak volumes, they allow reminiscing, and usually spark the beginning of "Remember When" stories; allow 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 your favorite piece of music. Speak with one of our funeral directors to learn more about the many options available or click here to read more ideas.
What is a memory table and/or a memory board?
At Foster & McGarvey , a memory table may be used to display personal items of the deceased, such as a hat, fishing rod, crafts, and may also include the Urn. A memory board would have a collection of family photographs attached and can be displayed on an easel at the funeral home/or place of worship for visitors to reminisce about their life experiences with the deceased.
Do Clergy always officiate at a funeral service?
A Minister or a Non-Denominational Celebrant may co-officiate with the family. Family and friends may share personal thoughts, memories and feelings about the deceased as part of the service. 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 arranged.
Note: Celebrants is a relatively new concept for Funeral Services, similar to the concept of a Justice of Peace for weddings, 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 families last place of worship and speak to their Pastor, Minister, Religious leader, Rabbi, regarding their involvement with 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 do respect and appreciate each families unique needs and desires.
What should we provide as an honorarium for the Minister / Celebrant?
Some place of worships have stated fees in place 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 meeting with the family via the telephone or in person, preparing the order of service, the sermon, travel time and expenses involved in traveling to the Visitation / Prayer and Funeral Services. At present we are finding that honorariums are ranging from $175.00 - $250.00. Honorariums should be presented to the Minister the day of the funeral service and prior to the service beginning; this is to due to the fact that for most families after the funeral service they become quite involved in receiving and thanking friends for attending the service and unintentionally forget to see the Minister. Families find it most convenient to provide one of our funeral directors with an envelope for the Minister containing the honorarium and a thank you note, allowing the Funeral Director to ensure that the Minister receives the envelope and its contents prior to the start of the funeral service.
Note: Due to the individual requirements of each Minister and respecting the personal desire of each family - we do not include the Clergy Honorarium on the funeral account - as we believe the decision is both personal and private. Both cheques payable to the Minister and cash are acceptable forms of payment.
How many pallbearers will be needed?
Six pallbearers are usually required, three bearers on each side; this of course is depending on the length and number of handles on the casket. At times some families are faced with the dilemma of choosing who will act as a bearer; example: 8 grandsons - in this case consult with one of our Funeral Directors in having the two extra bearers at either end of the casket. Or perhaps have six bearers and arrange to have other family and friends act as Honorary-bearers. It is appropriate to have both males and females act as Pallbearers, the only requirement is 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 or the province?
This is one of the many services we offer that sets us apart from other funeral providers; since our very beginning in 1908, Foster & McGarvey has been serving families regardless of where the death has occurred or where the final burial takes place. Due to size and options available with our fleet of funeral cars, we are able 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, preventing the family from incurring additional charges from a third party funeral home. Such options may include but not limited to using our Coach Bus (click here to see a picture). This bus is specifically designed to accommodate approximate 40 - 46 passengers, with climate control, restroom and kitchenette facilities, as well as on-board audio/visual services for the complete comfort of the passengers. In addition and separate to the passenger cabin, our bus has a dedicated space for the casket, similar to that of a regular funeral hearse. Here the casket can rest while enroute to the final resting place. For international and other distant locations we have extensive experience and our people are in regular contact with; funeral directors throughout North and South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, 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?
After the death has occurred or a pending death is expected, the most prudent decision would be to call Foster & McGarvey (contact us). One of our funeral directors will be able to make the necessary arrangements to receive your loved one, relieving your family of the burden of dealing with unfamiliar people, places and related issues. Here at Foster & McGarvey we have in recent years, been experiencing a disturbing new trend for which you need to be aware. More and more families are faced with death away from home, whether that is traveling or vacationing, extended stay at another residence (Snow-Birds), receiving medical treatment or simply just visiting the family members. Should this happen, additional burdens are suddenly forced on surviving family members.
For this reason, Foster & McGarvey Funeral Homes is now offering individuals/couples a Lifetime Travel Protection Plan that will guarantee complete cost of transportation and third party funeral home charges, from anywhere in the world. Please do not assume your present travel insurance will cover these expenses, many such plans simply cover the actual transportation charges and may not cover 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 it is imperative that before any final funeral arrangements are confirmed (example: obituary is published, family and friends are notified) the family should speak to: the officiating Minister/Celebrant, as well a Funeral Director at one of our three Chapel Locations and finally the facility where the scheduled funeral services are to take place. This is of course to prevent announcing Scheduled Services to family and friends only to discover that the Minister/Celebrant and facility is not available the day and/or time you have selected.
Most Funeral Services are held in the morning and afternoon hours during the weekday. Some families do prefer a Saturday funeral for the convenience of those family and friends traveling from out-of-town. At Foster & McGarvey we strive to accommodate each and every request of the families we serve, if you have additional questions concerning the options available please contact one of our Funeral Directors.
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 cemetery site and religious considerations. For example, Orthodox Judaism, practices usually require that the body be interred within 24 hours of death. At times we are asked by families to delay the burial/cremation for an extended period of time - this may be due to family traveling internationally 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 a personal choice. The Newspaper Notice serves to notify extended family, friends, and perhaps old acquaintances of both your loved one and their surviving family. The obituary may be brief, simply announcing your loved ones passing and any scheduled services, or may be more in length, listing surviving family members, and biographical information of the deceased. You may consider including a picture of your loved one to appear with the obituary, and/or logos for Union, Legion, and Service Clubs that the deceased may have had membership in. One of our Funeral Directors will assist you in the final composition of the obituary and ensure that the notice is published in the Newspapers of your choice. Note: Obituaries rates vary from Newspaper to Newspaper, charges are usually charged per day that the notice appears. Please ensure that you are aware of the line rate charges for each paper you have requested for the obituary to be published, many families are surprised by the charges.
To learn more and to read sample obituaries please 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. As adults we may not view a childs behavior as grief as it often is demonstrated in ways which we misunderstand as "moody", "cranky", "withdrawn" or other behavioral patterns which do not appear to us to be grief. When a death occurs children need to be surrounded by feelings of warmth, acceptance and understanding. This may be a tall order to expect of the adults who are experiencing their own grief and upset. Caring adults can guide children through this time when the child is experiencing feelings for which they have no words and thus can not identify. In a very real way, this time can be a growth experience for the child, teaching 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 which are comfortable for them. First, 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 the participation, not to force it. Forced participation can be harmful. Children instinctively have a good sense of how involved they wish to be. They should be listened to carefully.
If I donate my remains to medical science, can there still be a service?
One should be aware that pre-arranging that ones body will be donated to Medical Science after the death has occurred is not always possible. This is due to the fact that one cannot always predict the time, location and circumstances of ones death. Example: The death may occur at a time when the Medical Researchers are not in need of "Medical Donations". When one is considering donating their body to science after their death, they should consult with one of our Funeral Directors and have an alternative plan and instructions in place.
Nonetheless, in addition to coordinating the donation, Foster & McGarvey can arrange for either a Memorial Service or a Gathering of Friends to be held at a time and place convenient for the family.
Must a casket be transported to the cemetery in a hearse?
While a hearse or casket coach is most commonly used for this purpose, other options may be appropriate. Families might consider more personalized and meaningful options; for example, a fire fighter may be transported on a fire truck. A Truck driver's casket may be transported on the back of a flat-bed truck.
What do funeral directors do?
Funeral Directors ensure that your loved one is received from the place of death (example: 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. Some of these details are, but not limited to: obtaining the Medical Death Certificate from the Attending Physician, registering the death with the Alberta 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, designing and printing of Memorial Cards, composing and arranging the publishing of the obituary, arranging an organist / soloist / floral tributes ordered by the family and any catering if required. Our Funeral Directors are present for any visitation, prayer service, scheduled services, and for the final burial or cremation. They ensure that the facility/chapel is prepared properly in advance, climate control, seating arrangements, display of memory tables/boards, floral tributes, pictures boards and usually in most circumstances Foster & McGarvey is able to supply the equipment necessary for such displays. At the family's request Foster & McGarvey will provide limousine transportation to and from any scheduled services for the immediate family. Our Directors will ensure that upon arrival your family and friends attending the service are warmly greeted 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, seating arrangements and ushering for the family and friends. The Director will also work along side the Minister to ensure that all details and necessary arrangements are ready in a timely fashion allowing the Service to begin at the scheduled time.
At Foster & McGarvey our service to the family's we serve does not stop after a funeral service, we are pleased to offer Family Care. This service provided at no additional fee, allows for one of our Family Care Directors to meet with the next-of-kin after the funeral, at a time convenient for the family, usually in the comfort of their home. Assistance is provided (in part) with completing the Canada Pension Death benefits, notifying the necessary government agencies of the death, and various other task.
Does a price I receive from Foster & McGarvey include everything?
The answer to that question is No, but let us explain; At Foster & McGarvey our Director's provide detailed information regarding professional fees, costs related to selected merchandise as well as any cash disbursements. When meeting with a family for either Advance-Arrangements and/or actual Funeral Arrangements the Director in charge will itemize each selected service, merchandise and cash disbursements and allow the next-of-kin time to review and agree to the charges prior to them being rendered. Here at Foster & McGarvey we don't believe or allow last minute - surprise hidden charges. 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, DVD Picture tributes. If the death or burial takes place away from home: third party funeral home charges (if required), transportation (i.e. airline), mileage, and shipping caskets. Due to the specific and unique needs and desires of each and every family we serve, it is impossible to list all the possible services, merchandise, and cash disbursements that may or may not be selected. If you have additional questions concerning funeral home and related charges please contact one of our Funeral Directors.
Why are funerals so expensive?
There is a great range in prices for services and merchandise available at Foster & McGarvey , since our beginning in 1908 we have come to serve a wide range of families with various religious, cultural and funeral customs.
Our prices are not the lowest in the Greater Edmonton area, and 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 a coach bus for the convenience and comfort of our families. At Foster & McGarvey we offer you a promise that has been honored and upheld since our very beginning: Never will you experience pressure sense obligation or be mislead into agreeing to purchase a service or merchandise that you neither want nor require.
Some families prefer to compare prices between funeral homes, a perhaps responsible move on their part. When doing so we encourage you to ensure that you compare apples with apples, (example: one funeral home charges may appear to be less, but does those charges include all the same services?).
Obviously, it is difficult to do comparison shopping when a death has occurred. Therefore, we suggest you speak to one of our Advance Planning Counselors to learn more and consider Advance Planning. By preplanning, you can decide what services and merchandise you want and 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 are never obligated, nor do we use the sales approach, we simply answer your questions and allow you the time needed before you 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 ones funeral arrangements now, rather than leaving your loved ones to arrange things alone. Here at Foster & McGarvey , one of our Advance Planning Directors will help you record everything your Executor or your next-of-kin will need to know to carry out your wishes. By planning now, you can choose from a variety of payment options, including simple monthly payments or fully funded plans. In addition you will also benefit by protecting yourself and your loved ones by locking in the cost at today's prices.
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 made of either wood or metal. Metal caskets are made of precious metals such as: bronze, copper, steel or stainless steel. Wood caskets are available in a variety of types from: pine, oak,ash, cherry, birch, and mahogany. Interiors of caskets are usually made from silk, velvet or crepe.
What are burial vaults and grave liners?
To facilitate beautification and maintenance of cemetery grounds, most cemeteries in the Greater Edmonton area require that the casket be placed in an outer burial receptacle capable of withstanding the weight and pressures of the earth above and surrounding the casket.
The basic option is a "grave liner" - a simple cement box with a lid that is placed on top after the casket is resting inside. Note: a grave liner is not a sealed unit - and offers no guarantee that outside grave elements may or may not enter the liner.
A Burial vault is designed not only to withstand the weight of the surrounding earth, but also they offer additional protection to the casket from all graveside elements (i.e. water). A burial vault may be made from a combination of materials including concrete, stainless steel, galvanized steel, copper, bronze, plastic or fiberglass. Note: Burial vaults are sealed units.
The decision of selecting either a grave liner or burial vault is a personal one, one of our Funeral Directors here at Foster & McGarvey will be happy to provide you with more information and even show you display examples of grave liners and burial vaults.
Will Foster & McGarvey help with applying for the death benefits related to Canada Pension, Social Services and Last Post Fund?
If you or a loved one are entitled to the funeral benefits from the Last Post Fund (Veterans) and/or Ssocial services or the office of the Public Trustee from the Alberta Government; it is imperative that you communicate this to one of our Funeral Directors at the very beginning of the Funeral arrangements. This is to due to the fact that special applications procedures for each of these Government agencies must be completed prior to the actual funeral service taking place. All of our Funeral directors at Foster & McGarvey have extensive experience and knowledge in applying and arranging services in conjunction with any of the above mentioned agencies.
In addition, all of the families who we serve at Foster & McGarvey , receive a package containing applications and detailed instructions for those who may qualify for Canada Pension benefits. We also provide a list of duties and check-list that an executor and/or next of kin should pay special attention to follow the funeral service. Note: the list of duties and check list provided does not replace the expertise or important role a lawyer may or should play in assisting in handling the Estate.
What is the difference between a Funeral Directors Statement of Death and a Death Certificate?
A Funeral Directors Statement of Death is issued by Foster & McGarvey funeral homes and is usually available to the family the day of the funeral service. In most cases we provide 6 original copies signed by one of our Funeral Directors and sealed with Foster & McGarvey 's corporate seal. These Statements contain important information relating to the deceased (Legal name, birth-date, date and place of death, final resting place, and Social Insurance Number - as well information relating to the Next of Kin.). The Statements in most cases can be used for applying for Canada Pension benefits, and related procedures when dealing with most banking and Insurance institutions in Canada. A Death Certificate is issued by the Province of Alberta - and is similar to that of a Birth and Marriage Certificate also issued by the Province. Some lawyers when handling the affairs of an Estate may request a Death Certificate.
To apply for a Death Certificate one simply needs to visit one of the many Alberta Registries Private Agents located throughout the Province. For most of us we are familiar with these Private Agents when applying or renewing our Provincial Drivers License and/or vehicle registrations. Note: There is a fee for each original copy of the Death Certificate and must be paid when making application.
To learn more about applying for a Death Certificate speak to one of Funeral Directors or call the Alberta Government directly at: (780) 422 - 7330 or simply look in your local Yellow Pages under "License & Registry Services".