1. What is the purpose of a funeral?
2. How much does the average funeral cost?
3. What do I do when a death occurs?
4. Should children come to funerals?
5. Can I make arrangements in advance?
6. What are the benefits of planning ahead?
7. Can I make cemetery arrangements through the funeral home?
8. How can I find out my funeral options?
9. What about donating my body to science?
10. What about organ donation?
11. What do I need to help settle the estate?
12. Is a burial vault required?
13. What is embalming and is it required?
14. How soon after death do we have to start any visitation or services?
15. How are funeral practices changing?
16. What is the difference between a funeral service and a memorial service?
17. How does a funeral differ when cremation is chosen?
18. What happens in the cremation process?
19. Is a casket required when cremation is chosen?
20. Is scattering of cremated remains allowed?
21. How can I get help in coping with grief for myself, a family member or a friend?
22. Do you have other questions?

Question #1What is the purpose of a funeral?
Answer:A funeral is a gathering of family and friends during which people offer comfort to the family and pay tribute to the deceased person and their memory. Increasingly funerals are referred to as a "celebration of a life." The funeral often is the time that allows the grieving process to begin by providing a structured ceremony or ritual within which to remember the special things about the person. People often comment that a funeral is an opportunity to reflect on their own mortality, their priorities and spiritual issues.

Increasingly, people are becoming creative in planning funerals to make them personalized and meaningful. Some communities of faith have very set rituals, while others encourage considerable variation and personalization. For people who are not part of a community of faith, a service does not have to be religious. Many clergy or moderators will tailor the service to the family's wishes.

Question #2How much does the average funeral cost?
Answer:Recent Board of Funeral Services statistics put the average cost of a funeral in Ontario at around $5,500. However, this amount only covers the cost of the casket and the funeral home service charge. It does not cover additional things such as burial vaults, receptions and catering, flowers, cremation urns, or disbursements such as clergy and musician honoraria, newspaper notices, cremation or interment fees or taxes. Other research and our experience are that average funeral costs in Ontario for a traditional funeral are approximately $7,500, plus the cost of a cemetery plot and monument if these are required. The range of funeral costs can be anywhere from about $2,500 if no service or visitation are held and a simple casket or cremation container are used, to over $15,000 if a very expensive bronze or rare wood casket are chosen.

We encourage you to compare prices between funeral homes. We know that you will find that prices at Chapel Ridge are lower than many others in this area, even though we believe our facility and service to be the finest available.

Question #3What do I do when a death occurs?
Answer:If a death is unexpected the most common response is to call 911. Emergency services personnel such as ambulance, firefighters or police may come to your home, and often every effort is made to revive the person or to transport them to the hospital. Sometimes the police may call a Coroner, who is a medical doctor. You should feel free to ask the Coroner questions about causes of death, autopsies, etc.

If a death is expected, you may wish not to call 911, since emergency services people may have to perform invasive resuscitative measures. If the death is expected, make arrangements for the attending physician to come. Although the funeral home may not move the deceased person until the attending physician pronounces death, feel free to call the funeral home to ask for advice if needed.

The first thing you should do after the attending physician has left is to call the funeral home to arrange a time to finalize arrangements.

Since you will need to contact many people when a death occurs (relatives, friends, employers, clergy, etc.) it is often helpful to plan ahead. To consider the benefits of planning ahead, click on our pre-planning section of this website, or call us at (905) 305-8508 to receive our information package, with no obligation.

Question #4Should children come to funerals?
Answer:Every family is different, and many cultures differ from one another. However, in general, people are bringing children to visitations and funeral services more than in previous generations. Grief experts such as Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and Earl Grollman encourage families to include children whenever possible. Children are people too, they reason, and have a need to say goodbye to and grieve over someone they loved. Of course, all children are different, and parents can decide based on the child's maturity level and how comfortable they feel the child will be.

There are many good resources to help children understand death and the funeral process. Your funeral director can help you access these, and discuss creative ways of having children participate, such as writing a goodbye note to the deceased person, drawing a picture which represents their memories of time spent with them, etc.

At Chapel Ridge, we have a children's play room, specially built and equipped for children who may be too young to spend a long time in the service or visitation room. Cable TV, children's videos, toys and books are available. The room has its own washroom with change table, and has tempered glass panels so that parents can keep an eye on the children easily.

Question #5Can I make arrangements in advance?
Answer:Yes. Increasingly people are making funeral arrangements in advance as an integral part of estate planning. Whether it is for yourself, your spouse, or parents, there are many benefits to pre-planning. And you can make arrangements in your home, at the funeral home, or anywhere else you are comfortable doing so.

Question #6What are the benefits of planning ahead?
1.   Reducing the emotional and logistical burden of the family, who otherwise, would have to make so many decisions in a short period of time, while sad, upset and under great emotional stress.
2.    Research shows that people spend less on funerals when they pre-plan.
3.    Pre-paying can eliminate the financial burden to your family, who may not be prepared for this expense.
4.   Revenue Canada has passed special regulations which allow prepaid funeral deposits to accumulate tax free interest.
5.   Insurance funded options, available through the funeral home, can result in a discount or offer other benefits such as immediate full coverage once monthly payments have begun.
6.    Prepaid funeral contracts can be cancelled at any time, and the principal and interest are refunded less a small administrative fee.
7.   Prepaid funeral funds are protected four different ways so there is no risk.
8.   Funeral decisions made in advance, at a time when everyone is calm and in good health, are more likely to be rational and carefully thought out, than those made in a hurry, at a time of upset and vulnerability.
9.   Planning ahead makes for better informed decisions. There is time to gather information, compare funeral home facilities, staff attitudes and prices, and come to a sensible consensus as a family.

Question #7Can I make cemetery arrangements through the funeral home?
Answer:To purchase a cemetery plot, you must go to the cemetery. However you can pay for interment fee or the cremation fee through the funeral home.

Question #8How can I find out my funeral options?
Answer:Most funeral homes have a package of information about their facility, their services and their prices. Ontario law insists that funeral homes itemize their prices so that you can easily compare and see what it is you're paying for. In addition to itemized lists, most funeral homes have package options, representing the most commonly selected funerals, which usually have package discounts associated with them.

Call us at (905) 305-8508 and ask for our complete information package, or to ask any questions you may have. At Chapel Ridge, none of our staff are on commission, so there is no incentive to pressure you to purchase anything that you don't want or don't need.

Question #9What about donating my body to science?
Answer:Many people express a wish to have their body donated to science when they die, to further medical or anatomical research. The most common way to explore or arrange this is to contact the medical school at your local university.

Question #10What about organ donation?
Answer:Many people also express a wish to donate organs upon their death, most commonly through filling out the relevant section on their driver's licenses. As well as this method of making your wishes known, contacting organizations such as M.O.R.E. or the Eye Bank can be helpful.

Question #11What do I need to help settle the estate?
Answer:The role of executor of an estate can be a daunting task. Most people consult a lawyer to help them if they have been selected by someone to be an executor. In Ontario, the executor of a person's will is the person who is legally able to make funeral arrangements. If someone other than the executor makes the funeral arrangements, usually another family member, they may be asked to have a delegation signed by the executor, which allows them to make the arrangements. Either the executor or the person to whom this responsibility has been delegated will be asked to sign the contract with the funeral home, and will be responsible for paying for the funeral. When full payment has been received, the funeral home will provide you with as many copies of the Funeral Director's Proof of Death certificate as you need. These are required by financial institutions, insurance companies and others in order to help settle the estate. The only time a provincially issued Medical Certificate of Death is required is for out of country authorities or if the body is being shipped to another country for burial. Only next-of-kin of the deceased, or their executor or estate trustee can apply for a Medical Certificate of Death.

A Medical Certificate of Death is often confused with a Funeral Director's Proof of Death certificate. The Medical Certificate of Death is issued by the attending physician and is used by the funeral home to apply for a burial permit. It is kept by the Registrar under the Vital Statistics Act and not given to the family.

Question #12Is a burial vault required?
Answer:Most cemeteries do not have a by-law insisting that a burial vault or grave liner be used. Some people choose a burial vault to protect the casket or to minimize the settling of the ground after burial. A vault can be purchased at the funeral home.

Question #13What is embalming and is it required?
Answer:Embalming is a process whereby the body is disinfected, preserved and restored to allow it to be suitably presented in an open casket. Preparation of the body normally includes washing, dressing, hairdressing and cosmetic work as well as embalming.

Embalming as a practice goes back as far as ancient Egypt. It became more common in North America after the American Civil War. While embalming is not required by law, most funeral homes, including Chapel Ridge have a policy of requiring embalming if a casket is to be open for viewing.

Question #14How soon after death do we have to start any visitation or services?
Answer:There is no set time period. Sufficient time must be allowed to ensure that the body has been medically released, for the autopsy to be performed if required, to prepare the body and to notify family and friends. Sometimes people ask if they can wait a week or more if family or friends have to travel from other countries for the funeral, and the answer is normally yes. Embalming allows the body to be preserved, and Chapel Ridge has special refrigeration facilities which most funeral homes do not have.

Question #15How are funeral practices changing?
Answer:There are a number of trends affecting the way we conduct funerals today. They include:

1.    Increase in memorial donations in lieu of flowers
2.    Increase in memorial services
3.    Increase in the number of closed caskets
4.    Fewer funeral processions to the cemetery
5.    Increase in diversity of funeral practices due to increase in   multiculturalism in our communities
6.    Increase in cremation
7.    Increase in pre-arrangement

The two most significant changes in the last 30 years are the increases in cremation and pre-arrangement. Cremation in 1970 was the final disposition chosen by 5% of families in the greater Toronto area, and last year it was over 50%. Although the exact number of people who have pre-arranged is not known, it is estimated that about 3% of adults in Ontario have prepaid their funerals.

Question #16What is the difference between a funeral service and a memorial service?
Answer:The most common distinction is that a funeral service normally has the casket present, whereas a memorial service does not have the body present.

Question #17How does a funeral differ when cremation is chosen?
Answer:Cremation is a part of the funeral process which normally takes place after the funeral, so it does not have to affect the type of funeral at all. Some families have an entirely traditional funeral, followed by cremation. Cremation allows a wider range of final disposition options, such as burial of the cremated remains (often called "ashes"), scattering in a place that is meaningful to the family, placing the cremation urn in a niche in a cemetery columbarium, or keeping them at home either on display or in storage.

Many people who choose cremation consider a rental casket, with a pine insert which is removed prior to the cremation. This keeps the cost of the funeral lower, and means that the outer shell of the casket is not cremated with the body.

Some families choose to have the cremation performed before the memorial service. Some choose to have the urn with the cremated remains present at the service while some do not.

Question #18What happens in the cremation process?
Answer:The casket or container is placed in a cremation retort which heats up to over 1600 degrees F., and the combined combustion and evaporation leave only small bone fragments. These are processed into a fine powder, which are called cremated remains. The cremated remains are placed in a container and the family decides upon final disposition. Sometimes a decorative urn is purchased in which to place them.

Question #19Is a casket required when cremation is chosen?
Answer:Yes. Ontario law requires that a body be presented to the crematorium in a rigid container or casket.

Question #20Is scattering of cremated remains allowed?
Answer:Yes. In Ontario, you may scatter cremated remains on crown land without permission, or on private property with the permission of the landowner. Burial of cremated remains must be done in a licensed cemetery.

Question #21How can I get help in coping with grief for myself, a family member or a friend?
Answer:It is normal and natural to grieve. Earl Grollman, a noted grief expert has said that grief is the flip side of the coin to love. The deeper we have loved, the more deeply we grieve.

Many people are surrounded by friends, a church community, family members or others who help us through the hard work of dealing with, or "reconciling" our grief. For some, however, grief is difficult to cope with, and some of us may need help. Seeing your family doctor or a member of clergy may help. There are also many professionals and support groups in the community who can help. While the list is not exhaustive, we at Chapel Ridge have compiled a list of some of the resources available in south York Region that you might consider turning to. To access our Bereavement Resources Guide, click on that section of this website, or call us at (905) 305-8508 to get a copy.

Question #22Do you have other questions?
Answer:If you have other questions about funerals or would like to talk about pre-planning, call us at (905) 305-8508. Our professional and caring staff would be pleased to speak with you or send you information. And at Chapel Ridge, none of our staff are on commission, so that there is no incentive to pressure you into buying something that you don't want or don't need.

8911 Woodbine Avenue | Markham, ON L3R 5G1 | Phone: (905) 305-8508 | Fax: (905) 305-8128 | Email: info@chapelridgefh.com