Making funeral plans ahead can be beneficial

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN CYNTHIA MARTENS
Many people avoid the subject of funeral arrangements like…death itself.

“It’s just something a lot of people don’t want to confront, but at some point we’re all going to die,” said Jared Jost, owner of Hillsboro Memorial Chapel.

“It’s part of life from the beginning of time-it’s something that nobody can avoid.”

As funeral director in Hillsboro, Jost sees his job as a resource for options available following death-either in preplanning a funeral or dealing with those arrangements immediately after a loved one’s death.

“Their options are pretty much anything,” he said.

Jost encourages people to come in and talk with him, ask questions and get a better idea of what is to be expected when that inevitable time comes. He also stresses the importance of making funeral arrangements in advance.

“I know families who have done the prearrangements, and then when their loved one passed away, they said, ‘It sure relieved a lot of burden from us. We’re coping with this death, and everything happened so fast. Because we did that ahead of time, we’re able to think clearly, to grieve and not have to worry about the finances or selecting a casket.'”

But in the Hillsboro area, Jost said only about 15 to 20 percent of his clients preplan their funerals.

Those who don’t make prearrangements will be making many decisions in a very short time and once he is contacted, Jost offers comfort and advice in a well-established format.

Typically, he is notified about a death by a hospital, nursing home or law enforcement, which contact him and tell him his services are requested by the family.

“I go to the place of death and if the family is there, I talk to them and try and establish a time when they can come to the funeral home to make the funeral arrangements,” Jost said.

“I encourage them to come in soon, and 99 percent of the time, they’re in within the next day.”

Within the funeral home is a visitation room that also serves as a chapel if needed. The interior colors are bright and uplifting, not dim and dark.

“Some people think of a funeral home as a dark dungeon type of place, and you try to show them somebody has died, but it’s more of a celebration than anything,” Jost said.

“They’re done with this life here, and it’s a time for family members to celebrate that person’s life. And we try to create an environment where they’re (comfortable).”

When the family meets with Jost, he asks them questions about family history, and that information is used to complete an obituary form, a death certificate and social security papers.

“When the family is here, one of the goals is to get them to talk about what experiences they remember growing up,” Jost said.

“That way, it gives me an opportunity to get to know the family and what their expectations are.”

Many funeral options are available, and Jost discusses all of them in detail with the family.

Those choices include a traditional funeral service, an evening of visitation, burial services, cremation and immediate burial. Within those broad choices are a variety of options to accommodate each family’s unique situation.

The least expensive option is an immediate burial.

“Sometimes people want a cremation because they think it’s cheaper than a traditional burial,” Jost said.

“I tell them, ‘If you compare a direct cremation and an immediate burial, the immediate burial is actually going to be cheaper than cremation.'”

An immediate burial does not include embalming, and the deceased must be buried within 24 hours.

Traditional burials will include embalming, which Jost does on the premises.

Families may bring in the burial clothing, which is typically a nice dress or suit. Jost will do any makeup needed and fix the hair of the gentlemen but usually calls in a hairdresser for the ladies.

“I ask the family if they have a beautician they want to use,” Jost said. “I call the hair dresser, and they come in and do the hair.”

If the family chooses cremation, Jost transports the body to Downing and Lahey Mortuary in Wichita because they have the equipment for that procedure.

“When I meet with the family, I don’t try to push them into doing a full-fledged traditional funeral service or cremation,” Jost said.

By federal law, he must present each family with a general price list and a casket price list.

“Everybody has to pay a $1,145 non-declinable service charge,” Jost said.

This service charge includes such items as basic funeral counseling and arrangements, recording vital information, sending obituary notices, coordinating the service plans and the final disposition of the deceased.

In addition to the basic service charge, other choices at additional costs are the following:

Embalming, if immediate burial or cremation was not arranged;

Use of facilities, staff and equipment, if the service is conducted at the funeral home;

Use of staff and equipment, if the service was conducted at another facility;

Transfer of remains to the funeral home;

Automotive equipment, such as the hearse and service vehicle;

Miscellaneous merchandise, such as memorial folders or a visitor’s register;

Additional preparation and service charges, such as bone/tissue harvesting.

At the chapel, a casket-viewing room contains about 15 caskets to choose from, and prices range from $340 to $2,690.

“You go some places and caskets can range from $600 to $10,000 but in this area, paying a lot of money for a casket is just something people don’t do here,” Jost said.

Vaults are usually chosen at the same time. At the time of burial, the casket is placed inside a vault, which is an outer-burial container that protects the casket.

They range in price from $595 to $1,290.

“Most cemeteries prefer an outer-burial container, but there’s no state law that you have to have one,” Jost said.

If the family chooses to have a viewing, it’s usually held on the evening before the funeral service, and it’s a time for family and friends to view the loved one and gather together.

The families usually like to have it from about 6 p.m. to 8 or 9 p.m., and they are usually present to talk with friends and other relatives, Jost said.

Funeral services can be held in the chapel the next day or at the church of the family’s choice.

The casket may remain open or closed during the funeral. Some family members choose to bring mementos to put inside the casket.

“I’ve had family members bring in golf clubs, (toy) tractors, pillows, and children have drawn pictures,” Jost said.

“These are things that, maybe for Grandma and Grandpa, they remember doing with them when they were growing up.”

The funeral service can range in length from 30 minutes to an hour.

“Usually, families will write a life tribute that they’ll read at the funeral,” he said.

In Hillsboro, it’s not uncommon for the family to choose to have the burial before the funeral service, Jost said.

The family may decide to view the casket at the funeral home, have the burial at the cemetery and then follow with a memorial service at the church.

The church service is often a time of celebration of the loved one’s life, and many choose this as a more up-lifing closure instead of ending with the actual interment, Jost said.

“There’s an unlimited amount of cemeteries in this area, but there are about 10 cemeteries I use the most,” he said.

“The only cemetery getting close to being filled is the Hillsboro Mennonite Brethren Cemetery by Tabor, but it could be 10 to 20 years (before it’s filled).”

If a family needs help choosing a monument, Jost will go with them to the monument company, Marion Marble and Granite, in Marion.

“(Monuments) can range in price from $300 for a little flat marker or into the thousands,” he said.

In addition to having flowers at the funeral, families often choose to establish a memorial fund, which is usually a charity that receives money in the loved-one’s name.

Jost said he sees himself as a resource for all the many funeral options he offers but also as a source of information on death and dying.

“A lot of families, after they talk to me, they realize it’s not nearly as morbid as they thought it would be,” he said.

“It’s a part of life, and it’s a hard process to go through, but people have come in and said, ‘That wasn’t nearly as bad as we thought.'”

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