COMMON QUESTIONS

Common Questions

WHY SHOULD WE HAVE A FUNERAL?

Funerals are one of the oldest customs in existence. Every culture in recorded history has practiced some celebration or ritual associated with a person’s death. This practice is but one of the basic needs of humanity that have existed for literally thousands of years, and remain unchanged by time and technology. We mark and commemorate every occasion in life including birthdays, baptisms, barmitzvas, graduations, weddings, and retirements. One of the greatest challenges each of us will face is the transition from life with someone, to life after they have died. Consequently, it is important that we come together as family and a community when someone has died not just to garner the support of others, but to express who this person was, and what they meant to us. To mark and commemorate an occasion that will change our lives, and help us to realize that we will never be the same again. Gatherings, visitations and funerals are healthy beginnings to that transition of stepping into life without that person physically present with us. It is not about caskets, vaults, earth burial or even cremation. It is a time that we commemorate and celebrate a life not because they have died, but because they have lived.

HOW MUCH SHOULD A FUNERAL COST?

The total cost of a funeral consists of services provided by the funeral home, and various other possibilities such as a casket, outer burial container, cemetery or crematory charges, etc. These expenses will vary depending upon the family’s choices of services and final disposition (i.e. burial, entombment, or cremation). By far the most important thing provided by Broussard’s are our services. Long after the funeral has occurred, a family’s strongest memories associated with their experience will most likely be of the services, and rarely the casket/vault, etc. When choosing services that necessitate their use, the choice of which casket and/or outer burial container to use is truly a personal choice, and never affects the quality of the services provided. Therefore, the total expenses associated with a funeral are completely up to the family and the choices they make, and begin at $3536.

SHOULD YOUNGER CHILDREN ATTEND THE FUNERAL?

Absolutely! Children must deal with the death of someone just as adults do. Although they have a much different perspective depending on their age, explanations can be given children that fit their comprehension. "Grandpa’s body just stopped working". "He was very, very, very sick". These phrases can be expanded to include cultural or religious beliefs. Children learn from their parents what to embrace, what to fear, and how to cope with life in general. Consider that 100 years ago, families were better prepared to deal with life’s transitions, because babies were born at home, we cared for the sick at home, and people died at home. Fortunately, with the introduction of birthing suites, home health and hospice, families have been reintroduced to the value and comfort of having a family unit together during times of joy and grief. If we "protect" our children from the experience of healthy grieving and mourning, then we are teaching them to fear these experiences, and setting them up for lifelong difficulties associated with a natural part of life ... death.

WHAT ARE THE OPTIONS MY FAMILY HAVE IN PERSONALIZING THE FUNERAL?

Every funeral should be unique. It doesn’t matter what characteristics funerals have taken previously, or what the next person’s funeral will be like. A funeral should reflect the individuality of the person who has died. Their loves, hobbies, favorite things, and any other personality traits that made that person extraordinary should be included in some fashion. For instance, any music played during gatherings and visitations should be appropriate for that person. Very few people listen to organ music in their leisure time, so consequently the background music played should reflect their favorite style (i.e. classical, jazz, big band, country, cajun, etc.). Typically, music played during an actual funeral are the choices of an individual or their family’s that are most closely associated with their religious or cultural beliefs. Another unique and personal approach to a funeral can be found in the printed material usually available at a funeral. Remember that every person is different, so Broussard's creates printed items that again, celebrate a life. They often include color photographs, collages, favorite poems or prayers, orders of worship, family remembrances or tributes, and are included in the most basic funerals provided by Broussard's. The Broussard family and staff takes great pride in helping families create a meaningful and personal funeral that celebrates the life of someone loved and cherished.

IS THERE ANY VALUE IN PUBLIC GATHERING WHEN DEATH OCCURS?

Yes. Visitations and gatherings are historically rooted in virtually every culture on earth. They provide an opportunity for families to receive support from extended family and friends. It’s a time of sharing, when people are often found in small groups talking about the person who has died. Since many families as well as mourners feel intrusive about visitations in their home, gatherings and visitations at a church or funeral home also provide "neutral ground" where the supportive messages of sharing, flowers and food can be more comfortably expressed.

WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF EMBALMING?

Embalming is a very ethical and dignified procedure that provides the opportunity for gatherings, visitations and funerals with the deceased person’s body present. There are no laws that require embalming. Although there is some cosmetic value to it, embalming is first and foremost performed for sanitary reasons. Because of the natural changes that begin to occur to a person’s body after they have died, embalming provides the means for families and friends to safely come into close proximity with that person’s body. Since our physical appearance is the primary way people identify each other, then the viewing of someone who has died forces us to confront the reality that their death has occurred. It is neither a morbid or unhealthy practice. On the contrary, viewing is a healthy way by which we begin to face the reality that our life will never be the same, and the beginning of our grieving and our healing. The only occasions when embalming is not done would typically be when a person’s body is not present for visitations, gatherings or funerals.

MY PARENTS WERE VERY SIMPLE PEOPLE, SO WHY SHOULD I CONSIDER MAKING THEIR FUNERALS MORE PERSONAL?

The funeral experience is generally considered to benefit those who survive. All the effort and detail we place in a funeral ultimately will return to us in the piece of mind of knowing that we experienced the personality and uniqueness of that person. A person may be simple, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have character traits, favorite things, or joys in their lives that make them special and one of a kind. Dr. Alan Wolfelt, a noted author and practicing clinical thanatologist has stated "there is a difference between a good funeral and a bad funeral. A bad funeral is when you go to the funeral, and when it’s over you don’t know who died." By making funerals more personal we not only pay tribute to their individuality, but we are celebrating "who died". Making funerals more personal doesn’t necessarily mean making them more expensive. Most opportunities for personalization are present in the most inexpensive services. By providing an avenue for family and friends to express the distinctiveness of someone, we are creating a healthy beginning for a family transitioning from life with that person, to life without them physically in it.

WHY DOES THE NEWSPAPER LIMIT THE INFORMATION REGARDING A PERSON'S LIFE IN THEIR OBITUARY?

It is the philosophy of many newspapers that they only print enough information, so that the public may be informed as to who died and when their services are scheduled to occur. Although several large newspapers have begun to charge for even the most basic obituary notice, many continue the public service by providing an obituary at no charge. For those families who desire more personal and detailed articles typically referred to as memorials, many periodicals offer the possibility of purchasing space for such notices that may even include a photograph of the person who died. The availability of these articles online is another benefit provided by Broussard's. Photographs of the person who died, detailed obituary information, maps to our funeral homes, churches and cemeteries are all available through our website, as well as many additional services. If you have additional questions regarding news notices, please contact us.

WHAT IS THE ADVANTAGE OF BROUSSARD'S TAKING CARE OF THE DETAILS ASSOCIATED WITH A MEMORIAL SERVICE AT OUR CHURCH INSTEAD OF THE FAMILY?

In times of stress, most families find value and comfort by depending on Broussard's to take care of the details. To facilitate with clergy, musicians, etc. everything necessary to create an appropriate and meaningful experience for the family. Someone to greet attendees at the door, and direct them toward register books and the location of the family. To provide personalized printed material for the memorial service which may include color photographs, family tributes, orders of worship, and anything else that would depict the uniqueness of the person who died. To bring an overall consistency and sense that "everything is taken care of" to an occasion which can be overwhelmingly difficult.

IS PRE-PLANNING A FUNERAL AND PRE-PAYING A FUNERAL THE SAME THING?

No. Pre-planning a funeral means just what the name implies. Simply put, it is choosing all the preferences and options incorporated in a funeral, while providing the necessary vital statistic information that would be required at the time of death.

Pre-paying a funeral is securing and "freezing" those funeral costs against inflation by funding those expenses prior to death. This can be in the form of a one time lump sum payment, or time payments made over the course of years.Some of Broussard's pre-payment plans can even be free from any interest or carrying charges. Please remember, it doesn’t cost anything to pre-plan a funeral. There is never a requirement of purchasing a pre-paid funeral contract in order to pre-plan it. Should someone choose to simply pre-plan their funeral and not pre-pay it, all of their detailed pre-planned information is still kept in our fire proof files for safe keeping. That information will prove invaluable to their family at the time of their death by providing a guide to their choices and wishes.

For more consumer information regarding pre-paid funeral plans, go to prepaidfunerals.texas.gov

IF I HAVE LIFE INSURANCE WHAT IS THE ADVANTAGE OF STETTING UP A PRE-PAID FUNERAL PLAN?

Life insurance policies continue to be the mainstream method to protect your family from financial hardships associated with your death. Insurance benefits are typically purchased to assist with mortgage payments, educational needs and the loss of income, but rarely funeral expenses.

Many people who carry life insurance also purchase pre-paid funeral plans for two simple reasons: 1.) their survivors are provided a safe and secure method that frees their family of the burdens associated with the majority of the funeral expenses, as well as relieving the pressures of making those arrangements; 2.) pre-paying your funeral also provides the ability to "freeze" those costs from inflation. Pre-paid funeral plans are a sensible approach to a reality of life that can even augment most any insurance and estate policies.

For more consumer information regarding pre-paid funeral plans, go to www.prepaidfunerals.texas.gov.

IF I SET UP MY PRE-PAID FUNERAL CONTRACT CAN ANYBODY IN MY FAMILY CHANGE IT EITHER BEFORE OR AT THE TIME OF MY DEATH?

Prior to your death, no one can alter your contract unless you give them permission as your power of attorney. The reality is that after your death, they can. The rights afforded us as individuals in life, for the most part, end at death.

Most of the rights and privileges to our final disposition fall upon our legal next of kin. Consequently, that same next of kin can alter their relative’s pre-paid funeral plans with a few exceptions. One of those being they cannot reduce the services and merchandise in order to receive money back from the pre-paid funeral contract. In actuality however, these same relatives are seldom interested in changing arrangements at the time of death.

The vast majority of pre-paid funeral contracts are carried out to the letter, unless there is extenuating family circumstances. For more consumer information regarding pre-paid funeral plans, go to www.prepaidfunerals.texas.gov.

I WOULD LIKE A FUNERAL BUT I PREFER TO BE CREMATED, CAN I DO THAT?

Yes, you can. For clarification, the term "funeral" is used to describe a service with a person’s physical body present. The term "memorial service" refers to a service without the person’s physical body present. It is a common misconception that cremations are done with no services of any kind. The fact that a person or their family chooses cremation as a final form of disposition (other forms being burial and entombment) makes absolutely no reference to the type of services prior to that cremation. In fact, many families choose to have traditional gatherings, visitations and funerals with their deceased family member’s physical body present prior to their cremation. For the Broussard family, the underlying theme is that all families should and do have choices. It is our responsibility to insure they understand those choices, and their decisions should be made with the best possible information available.

WHAT CAN I DO WITH MY FAMILY MEMBERS CREATED BODY (ASHES)?

Since the point of cremation is legally considered final disposition of a person’s body, the cremated remains of someone, refered to as their cremated body, hold very few restrictions to what final arrangements a family can make for them. The decision to cremate someone is often much easier than the one determining the outcome of their cremated body. This is due to the idea that the cremated body is that person, so what we do with them is final and may be the end of the funeral experience for us. A good rule of thumb is you can do almost anything with a person's cremated body, as long as you don’t infringe on someone else’s rights or property. They can be kept at home, buried or entombed, all of which give surviving family a place to go and memorialize. They can be carried on board an airplane to some distant destination, mixed with a spouse’s cremated body or buried along with another, even scattered in some appropriate place. They typically cannot be placed at public or historic places or landmarks. As with every detail involved in a funeral experience, the final disposition of a person's cremated body should be appropriate to the memory we honor, and the family they leave to mourn.

HOW DO I FIND OUT ABOUT SOCIAL SECURITY OR VETERAN'S BENEFITS?

Both the Social Security and the Veterans Administrations offer death benefits to those that qualify. Generally speaking, Social Security may pay a modest death benefit of $255 to a surviving spouse if the required qualifications are met, or to dependent children of the deceased. If the deceased person was receiving Social Security at the time of their death, their spouse may be eligible to receive a portion of their monthly benefit. Dependent children may also be eligible for such a benefit. These possible benefits may be discussed further with your local Social Security Administration office. At the time that someone dies, and upon receipt of their social security number, Broussard's immediately notifies the Social Security Administration. Although some benefits require application be made directly with Social Security, this prompt response will insure no delays outside the administration’s processes will encumber any entitled benefits. For the added protection of the family, Broussard's also notifies Identity Guardian and the credit industry to immediately guard against identity theft and any other misuse of the deceased’s social security number.

The Veterans Administration offers benefits for any honorably discharged veteran. All these benefits require formal application either through Broussard's or the VA, and the individual service record of a veteran generally dictates the amount of benefit available. Some of the basic benefits include a United States flag intended for use at a funeral; a permanent grave monument; and burial or placement of cremains in a Veterans National Cemetery. Military involvement at committal services are also available, and are subject to the availability of the military personnel involved. If death occurs in a Veterans Hospital, the VA can reimburse the cost of the transportation of that veteran to their place of final disposition. The family and staff of Broussard's is prepared to answer any of your questions concerning VA benefits. If additional information or processing is required, most counties have a Veterans Assistance Officer who can further explain and assist in the handling of any claim.

SUBMIT A QUESTION

For additional information regarding prepaid funeral contracts, go to Texas Department of Banking website located at www.prepaidfunerals.texas.gov