Resources & Forms

 

Frequently Asked Questions

We understand that planning a funeral can be difficult and we know you have many questions. But your loved ones are unique, and they deserve attention that is detailed and personal. While we have answered a few common questions below, we encourage you to talk to us personally. We will answer our phones any time, day or night, so you may speak with someone quickly and directly.

Please feel free to call us any time at 925 837-2500.

  • What do funeral directors do?
    Funeral directors are caregivers and administrators. They coordinate the arrangements for transportation of the deceased, complete all necessary legal documents, and implement the choices made by the family regarding the service and final disposition of the body. They are listeners, advisors and supporters. Funeral directors are trained to answer questions about grief, recognize when a person is having difficulty coping, and recommend sources of professional help.
  • Why have a public viewing?
    Viewing is part of many cultural and ethnic traditions. Many grief specialists believe that viewing aids the grief process by helping the bereaved recognize the reality of death.
  • What is the purpose of embalming?
    Embalming sanitizes and preserves the body, delays the decomposition process, and enhances the appearance of the deceased for viewing. Embalming makes it possible to lengthen the time between death and the final disposition, thus allowing family members time to arrange and participate in the type of service most comforting to them.
  • Does a dead body have to be embalmed, according to law?
    No. Most states, however, require embalming when death was caused by a reportable contagious disease or when remains are to be transported from one state to another by common carrier. Embalming may be necessary if you select certain funeral arrangements such as a service with public viewing.
  • Is cremation a substitute for a funeral?
    No, cremation is an alternative to earth burial or entombment for the body’s final disposition and often follows a traditional funeral service.
  • How much does a funeral cost?
    In 2009 the average charge for an adult, full-service funeral was around $6,000. This includes a professional service charge, transfer of remains, embalming and other preparation, viewing facilities and site for ceremony, hearse, limousine and casket. The casket included in this price was an 18-gauge steel casket with velvet interior. Vault, cemetery and monument charges are additional. (Source: 2009 NFDA Survey of Funeral Home Operations)
  • What should I do if the death occurs in the middle of the night or on the weekend?
    Graham-Hitch Cremation and Memorial funeral directors are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We can be contacted at (925) 837-2500.
  • Will someone come right away?
    If you request immediate assistance, yes. If the family wishes to spend a short time with the deceased to say goodbye, that is perfectly acceptable.
  • If a loved one dies out of town, can Graham-Hitch still help?
    If a family member dies while traveling, you may contact Graham-Hitch to advise and coordinate the transportation details. For those who travel often, having your arrangements completed in advance is a wise decision.
  • I've decided on cremation. Can I still have a funeral or a viewing?
    Yes, quite often some sort of viewing precedes the actual cremation. This can be either public or private. We can assist you with the necessary information for a funeral with a cremation following or a memorial service.
  • What about Social Security benefits?
    A legally married surviving spouse is entitled to a one time lump sum death benefit of $255.00. If the deceased is widowed or not married at the time of death, there are no death benefits available from Social Security. The staff at Graham-Hitch will contact Social Security on your behalf to notify them of the death and will advise you of any additional benefits.
  • What do the veterans benefits include?
    Burial benefits in a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs national cemetery include the gravesite, a headstone or marker, opening and closing of the grave, and perpetual care. Many national cemeteries have columbarium or gravesites for cremated remains. Some national cemeteries may provide a vault or grave liner. Benefits also include headstones and markers, Presidential memorial certificates, burial flags, military honors and reimbursement of burial expenses, depending on the circumstances. To determine eligibility, the Honorable Discharge, or DD214, is required. Graham-Hitch can assist with the application for these benefits.