Common Questions

Why Have a Funeral?


Funerals fill an important role for those mourning the loss of a loved one. A funeral provides surviving family members and friends a caring, supportive environment in which to share thoughts and feelings about the death. Funerals are the first step in the healing process. The ritual of attending a funeral service provides many benefits including:

  • Providing a social support system for the bereaved.
  • Helping the bereaved understand death is final and that death is part of life.
  • Integrating the bereaved back into the community.
  • Providing a safe haven for embracing and expressing pain.
  • Providing a time to say good-bye.

The importance of the ritual is in providing a social gathering to help the bereaved begin the healing process.

What Kind of Funeral Should I Plan?


A funeral is more than a way to say goodbye; it's an opportunity to remember and celebrate a life lived. Today, a funeral can be as unique as the individual who is being remembered. From simple touches like displaying personal photographs, collections and memorabilia to events created around a favorite pastime, funerals can reflect any aspect of a person's life and personality.

The following questions can help you decide how to personalize a service:

  • What did the person like to do?
  • What was the person like as an individual?
  • What was the person like as a professional? What was the person like as a professional?
  • Was the person spiritual?
  • Was the person proud of their heritage?

What about Cremation?

Cremation is an alternative to earth burial or entombment. It can be used in the traditional funeral, with a memorial service or without any type of service.

As more people choose cremation, funeral service professionals are striving to give consumers a true sense of the variety of options available for a funeral service. Often funeral directors find that people have a preconception that they have fewer choices for a ceremony when selecting cremation for themselves or a loved one. Therefore, they request direct cremation and deny the surviving family and friends an opportunity to honor them with a memorial service. Cremation is only one part of the commemorative experience. In fact, cremation can actually increase your options when planning a funeral.

The following information is meant to help you build an understanding of what cremation is, allowing you to make an informed decision when arranging a funeral for yourself or a loved one. Cremation gives people the flexibility to search for types of tributes that reflect the life being honored. But this doesn't mean that aspects of traditional funeral services have to be discarded. Even with cremation, a meaningful memorial that is personalized to reflect the life of the deceased could include:

  • A visitation prior to the service;
  • An open or closed casket;
  • Special music;
  • A ceremony at the funeral chapel, your place of worship or other special location; and
  • Participation by friends and family

Commonly, cremated remains are placed in an urn and committed to an indoor or outdoor mausoleum or columbarium; interred in a family burial plot; or included in a special urn garden.

Cremation also gives families the option to scatter the remains. This can be done in a designated cemetery garden or at a place that was special to the person.

What should I do when death occurs?

Notify the Funeral Home. From that point on the Funeral Director and staff will help coordinate transferring the deceased to the Funeral Home, preparation of the deceased, collection of data to complete the required legal documents, and help make arrangements for the type of funeral you want. This may include contacting clergy, the cemetery, musicians, florists and others as each individual case may require.

If a death occurs away from home, contact Suminski Family Funeral Home. Our staff has resources to make all out-of-town arrangements for you. This lets you deal with only one funeral home, consolidating communications, scheduling needs and even the billing process. It may save you money

What about Social Security Death Benefits?

The Funeral Home is responsible for and will file form SSA-721 with the local Social Security office. This notifies Social Security of death, and begins the process of stopping the deceased's monthly checks. Depending on the day of death during a given month Social Security may reclaim the check issued for that month.

Lump-Sum Death Benefits:
You are required that to contact Social Security to apply for the lump sum benefits if there is an eligible recipient. Social Security advises that your initial contact be made by telephone, as most matters can be handled in this way.(800) 772-1213. As of September 1, 1981, this benefit was limited. It is now payable to: the surviving spouse, a minor or dependent children of the deceased wage earner.

Additional information can be obtained by going to Social Security Web Page at:

Are there Death Benefits for Veterans?

MILITARY BENEFITS ARE PAYABLE ONLY TO THOSE ENTITLED AS DETERMINED BY THE VETERANS ADMINISTRATION. The funeral home, using the discharge papers you provide, will complete and submit the claims for you. IF ELIGIBLE, A VETERAN MAY RECEIVE: a Flag, Interment in a Veteran Cemetery, a Grave Marker, Military Honors and possibly reimbursement of a portion of the burial expenses. For more information, visit Veteran Administration WEB PAGE: