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Funeral Arrangements and Emotional Care for You and Your Family

The passing of a spouse, parent, family member or close friend is a difficult time of transition. At this time, it becomes necessary to either make funeral arrangements, or carry out the plans that have already been made, for the decedent's burial, and settlement of the decedent's estate.

Griefshare has ideas on how to fin help and comfort at this time of need. If you have been meeting the needs for care and comfort for the deceased loved one for days, weeks or months, remember that you have physical, emotional and spiritual needs that must be met at this time. You have suffered a deep loss, and you have a need to be comforted.

Recognizing that people are especially vulnerable during a time of personal loss, the Federal Trade Commission has set up regulations for the sale of funeral services and merchandise. The Funeral Rule requires that you be given itemized prices and information. The Funeral Consumers Alliance offers answers to frequently asked questions about funerals. The Funeral Consumers Alliance of Western Massachusetts is the local chapter that provides information and help to people here in Western Massachusetts.

Massachusetts has enacted Regulations governing funeral homes that are enforced by the Board of Registration of Funeral Services. How are the decedent's wishes for funeral services and issues such as cremation handled? The regulations for disposition instruct funeral homes to follow the directions that a person has made in a funeral services contract. If there is no funeral contract, then the disposition is made according to:

  • any wishes of the deceased person regarding the nature of the funeral goods and services to be provided, the manner in which funeral services are to be conducted, and/or the final disposition of the deceased person's remains, which have been expressed in any written document which was signed by the deceased person in the presence of a witness. In the absence of an order from a court of competent jurisdiction to the contrary, said written document shall be sufficient legal authorization for implementation of the arrangements specified therein.
  • if there is no pre-need funeral services, and no other valid written document indicating the wishes of the deceased person, the funeral establishment shall follow the directions of the deceased person's surviving kin, in the following order of priority, which is specified in M.G.L. c. 113, § 8:
    • (a) the surviving spouse of the deceased;
    • (b) the surviving adult children of the deceased;
    • (c) the surviving parent(s) of the deceased;
    • (d) the surviving brother(s) or sister(s) of the deceased;
    • (e) the guardian of the person of the deceased at the time of his or her death;
    • (f) any other person authorized or obligated by law to dispose of the remains of the deceased.

In addition to funeral arrangements, many other tasks may need to be taken care of. I have prepared a check list for you and your family to use in the Estate Settlement process.

The focus should be on the needs of the people who have suffered the loss at this time. The needs of each person are different for each individual. For example, as the realization of death becomes apparent, children and teenagers may need reassurance from their fears about who would take care of them if they lost their parents . . . children and adults may have disrupted sleep . . . family relationships may become strained.

Extended family members may also become very upset at this time of personal loss. Old misunderstandings may be brought up. Strained interpersonal relationships may expressed over money, a house, or the decedent's personal property. Questions from your family members may require a generous measure of patience and understanding during this time.

I can help you and your family answer all of those questions with care, and the confidence of knowing that the estate will be properly administered and settled. I can provide you with the experience and services that will help you settle the estate efficiently.