Your questions answered
Here are some questions Oakcrest’s funeral directors commonly answer to give you insight on our services. Feel free to email or call us with any questions you may have.
When should I visit/help?
Upon learning of a death, intimate friends of the family should visit the home to offer sympathy and ask if they can help. You may prefer to visit the family at the funeral home. This setting may be more comfortable for you and the family, as they are prepared for visitors.
After the difficult and busy days surrounding the death, the family is faced with the challenge of trying to resume their day to day lives. Remembering the family during this time often is critical in their recovery. Try to write or call on a regular basis. Continue to include them in your social plans, they will let you know when they are ready to participate. It is also nice to remember the family on special occasions during the first year following the death. Don’t worry about bringing up the pain and emotion of the loss, they are well aware of that. By remembering such occasions as wedding anniversaries and birthdays, you are not remembering the death, but reaffirming that a life was lived.
What should I say?
Using your own words, express your sympathy. Kind words about the person who has died is always appropriate. If the family wants to talk, they usually simply need to express their feelings; they aren’t necessarily looking for a response from you. What you say depends entirely on your relationship with the deceased and their family. If the deceased is an acquaintance or casual friend, saying “I’m sorry,” “He was a wonderful person and a friend of mine. He will be missed,” “My sympathy to your family,” or something comparable is appropriate. However, if you are closer to the family you may want to ask if there is anything you can do to help or express your feelings about the deceased. You should not ask for details from the family about the illness or death.
What should I wear?
It is no longer necessary to wear black to a funeral. Wearing colorful clothing is no longer inappropriate for relatives and friends. However, persons attending a funeral should be dressed in good taste so as to show dignity and respect for the family and the occasion.
What should I do if a death occurs in the middle of the night or weekend?
We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. All you need to do is place a call to us at (515) 295-3731.
What should I do if a death occurs while away from home?
We can assist you if a death occurs anywhere on the globe. Contact us immediately and we will coordinate the arrangements for the return of the deceased to your community. We may engage the services of a funeral director in the place of death who will act as our agent.
What is the purpose of embalming?
Embalming sanitizes and preserves the body, retards the decomposition process, and enhances the appearance of a body disfigured by traumatic death or illness. It 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. Embalming the body enables mourners to view the deceased if they wish. The emotional benefits of viewing the deceased are enormous, particularly to those having difficulty dealing with the death.
Why is having a permanent resting place so important?
A cemetery or memorial location provides a focal point for memorializing the deceased. To remember, and be remembered, are natural human needs. Throughout human history, memorialization of the dead has been a key component of almost every culture. The Washington Monument, Tomb of the Unknowns and Vietnam “Wall” in Washington, D.C are examples of memorialization which demonstrate that, throughout our history, we have always honored our dead. Psychologists say that remembrance practices, from the funeral or memorial service to permanent memorialization, serve an important emotional function for survivors by helping to bring closure and allowing the healing process to begin. Providing a permanent resting place for the deceased is a dignified treatment for a loved one’s mortal remains, which fulfills the natural human desire for memorialization.
Is Oakcrest Funeral Services an independent, family-owned funeral home?
Oakcrest Funeral Services has over 90 years of service to Algona and our surrounding communities. While many funeral homes are corporate controlled, Oakcrest Funeral Services is owned and operated by second and third generation funeral directors, Brian Schaaf and Victor Garry. We own and operate 8 locations in Northcentral Iowa. We have a rich history and are very proud of our tradition. We invite you to learn more about us by visiting our History page.
What purpose does a funeral serve?
The funeral allows family and friends to remember and honor their loved one in a special way. It serves as a central gathering place for family and friends to give emotional support to one another and encourages mourners to face the pain of their loss and express their thoughts and feelings. The funeral also celebrates the deceased’s life, and not their passing. The funeral service allows a time of remembrance and celebration, and allows the healing process to begin.
How can I personalize a funeral service?
Your Funeral Director can review a myriad of ways to personalize your loved ones funeral. One way is to bring personal items into the funeral home to be displayed in or near the casket. For example: an avid quilter might have a favorite quilt placed in the casket. An athlete may have some of their personal effects or trophies displayed on a memory table. There are numerous ways to incorporate your loved ones passions and hobbies into the service.
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. Viewing is encouraged for children, as long as the process is explained and the activity voluntary.
A formal visitation provides a time and place for friends to offer their expressions of sorrow and sympathy. The obituary should tell you the visitation hours and when the family will be present. It is only necessary to stay at a Visitation for a short time; fifteen minutes or so gives you enough time to express your sympathy. Your simple presence will mean a lot to the family. You do not need to stay for the entire visitation, but try not to leave during any prayers or services.
When you speak to the family, don’t feel as though you must avoid talking about the person who has died. Talking can help the grieving process begin. Do not feel uncomfortable if you or the family member becomes emotional or begins to cry. Allowing the family to grieve is a natural healing process. However, if you find yourself becoming extremely upset, it would be kinder to excuse yourself so as not to increase the strain on the family.
Many times the family will be in a receiving line near the casket. Viewing the deceased is not mandatory. However, if offered by the family, it is customary to show your respects by viewing the deceased, and, if you desire, spending a few moments in silent prayer. If a kneeling bench is placed in front of the casket, you may kneel and say a prayer. If you do not wish to kneel, you may stand in front of the casket for a moment.
Funeral and Graveside Services
You can find the funeral service time and location in the obituary. If the location and time of the services are included in the obituary notice, it is considered an invitation to attend.
At the cemetery, the casket is normally placed beside the grave. People then gather around the casket to listen to the rites of burial given by the clergy. Following the clergy’s remarks, family members may place a flower on the casket. The clergy or funeral director will then dismiss the family and friends at the end of the service.
Immediately after the funeral, families often invite the attendees to join them for food or a reception at their home or designated place. This gives everyone a chance to talk and provides some time to relax and refresh. Sometimes friends or church members will take it upon themselves to prepare food ahead of time for this gathering, and relieve the family of this task.
What is cremation?
Cremation is simply a form of disposition. The cremation casket is placed in a cremation chamber where, through a process of heat and evaporation, the body is reduced to its original elements – bone fragments, not ashes.
How long is cremation process?
The cremation process depends on the size of the individual and the container used; approximately 3 to 5 hours.
Are special cremation containers and caskets available?
We offer a wide variety of cremation containers and caskets to suit each family’s needs.
Is a casket required for cremation?
No. An alternative enclosed, rigid container constructed of wood or cardboard is required, which is cremated with the body. It needs to meet standards of safety, respect and dignity.
Are the services held before or after cremation?
Services are held at the discretion of each family. Many choose to have a traditional service first, followed by the cremation while others choose to hold a traditional service with the remains present in the urn.
What do I do with the cremated remains?
You may choose to keep the cremated remains in your possession, scatter them where allowed, or bury them in a cemetery or place in a mausoleum. You can keep a portion of the remains as a remembrance in a small urn or in a keepsake. If you select scattering, always be sure to check your local, state and federal laws concerning scattering of remains.
What size of urn is necessary for cremated remains?
The size of an adult urn we recommend is 200 cubic inches or approximately the size of a one gallon paint can.
Can I plan my cremation in advance?
Yes. Planning ahead the details and payment of your cremation can be done with our help, at your convenience. You can also sign the Cremation Authorization; alleviating the burden from your family of choosing your funeral plans. Contact our Pre-Arrangement Consultant, Shannon Goche with any questions or to begin the process.
Do all religions permit cremation?
Some religions prefer cremation; some do not recommend the practice; most permit you to choose. Should you have any questions or concerns, we suggest you speak with a member of your clergy, or contact your local prearrangement provider.
Can funeral arrangements be planned and, if desired, prepaid in advance?
Yes they can. Referred to as preplanning or prearranging, many people find that preplanning gives them peace of mind knowing that their wishes will be respected and the burden lessened on their family at the time of their death. Others find that they need to protect their assets from the state and assure that their funeral expenses will be taken care of. Preplanning your funeral consists of meeting with the funeral home of your choice to allow them to gather biographical information for a death certificate as well as any information you would like included in obituary notices. At this time you can also choose the type of service desired, the type of casket, concrete outer burial container or cremation urn. Once your prearrangements are made, you may prepay your funeral to secure the price at today’s cost. The interest that accumulates on your funds is then used to offset inflation. For more information contact our Pre-Arrangement Consultant, Shannon Goche and visit our Preplanning page for more details.
I made my pre-arrangements at another funeral home. Can I transfer them whether I’ve paid for them or not?
We get this question often and the answer is yes. It’s as simple as contacting us. We will get the paperwork for you to sign to make the transfer. You don’t have to contact the other funeral home. We will do everything for you.
Can pre-funding can help save money for our family?
We place your money in an insurance policy or funeral trust. This allows us to secure the costs of the funeral in today’s prices, and you and your family will never see an increase in the cost of the funeral or be concerned about constantly rising costs.