Manitoba Funeral Service Association ~"We Serve Because We Care"


"Ask The Expert"

Glossary of Terms

Ashes or Cremated Remains – the product of reducing the human body through cremation

Casket/Coffin - A container or chest for burying human remains.

Cemetery Services - Opening and closing graves, crypts, or niches; setting vaults; setting markers; and long-term maintenance of cemetery grounds and facilities.

Columbarium - A structure with compartments or niches (small spaces) for placement of ashes or cremated remains in urns or other approved containers. It may be outdoors or part of a mausoleum.

Cremation - Exposing human remains and the container holding them to extreme heat and flame and processing the resulting bone fragments to a uniform size and consistency.

Crypt - A space or compartment in a mausoleum or other building to hold cremated or whole human remains.

Entombment - Burial in a mausoleum.

Funeral Ceremony - A service commemorating the deceased with the body present.

Funeral Services - Services provided by a funeral director and staff, which may include consulting with the family on funeral planning; transportation, shelter, refrigeration, and embalming of remains; preparing and filing notices; obtaining authorizations and permits; and coordinating with the cemetery, crematory, or other third parties.

Grave - A space in the ground in a cemetery for the burial of human or cremated remains.

Graveside Service - A service to commemorate the deceased held at the cemetery prior to burial.

Interment - Burial in the ground, inurnment, or entombment. Inurnment - The placing of cremated remains in an urn.

Mausoleum - A building in which human remains are buried (entombed) in compartments or crypts.

Memorial Service - A ceremony commemorating the deceased without the body present.

Niche - A space or compartment in a columbarium, mausoleum, or niche wall to hold an urn.

Perpetual Care Fund - Moneys collected from cemetery property purchasers and placed in trust for the maintenance and upkeep of the cemetery. The Province monitors the fund and establishes the minimum amount that must be collected; however, the cemetery is permitted to collect more than the minimum to build the fund. Only the interest earned by such funds may be used for the care, maintenance, and embellishment of the cemetery.

Urn - A container to hold cremated remains. It can be placed in a columbarium or mausoleum, or it can be buried in the ground.

Vault/Outer Burial Container - A cover that completely encloses a casket in a grave. Can be made of wood, concrete, reinforced concrete, steel, or bronze.

What do Funeral Directors do?

Funeral Directors are listeners, advisors, supporters, caregivers, organizers and administrators. They make the arrangements for transportation of the decedent back to the funeral home or care centre, meet with the family of the deceased and complete all the necessary paperwork and implement the choices made by the family regarding the funeral and final disposition of the body by working with clergy, celebrants, musicians, florists, reception staff, service/charity organizations and make arrangements with cemeteries, and air travel when required.

They provide the specialized professional work of embalming, dressing, cosmetizing, and care and handling of the deceased. Funeral Directors are trained to be aware of many different beliefs and traditions and work to respect the choices of many different backgrounds and cultures. Funeral Directors are trained to answer questions about grief, and can recognize when a person is having difficulty coping and recommend sources of professional help. Funeral Directors can also link survivors with support groups at the funeral home or in the community.

What purpose does a funeral serve?

The funeral and the ceremony that accompanies it are indeed very important. For those who are left behind, a funeral provides a place for family and friends to gather for support and to reminisce; an opportunity to celebrate the life and accomplishments of a loved one; a chance to say goodbye; and the focal point from which the healing process can begin. The funeral identifies that a person's life has been lived, not that a death has occurred. It is also important to notify the community that this person has died. There are people beyond the immediate family who have the right to grieve a death.

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. Your Funeral Home can assist you with the necessary information for a funeral with a cremation following or a memorial service.

Is viewing necessary or a requirement?

Although viewing is not a requirement in Manitoba it can serve a very important part in the grieving process.  Viewing provides the opportunity for family and friends to say a final goodbye to the individual who has passed away in the form that they are familiar with.  

Many Funeral Homes request that viewing takes place prior to cremation to provide positive identification of the decedent and provide peace of mind to families so that they can feel confident the cremated remains are actually those of their loved one.  It also provides an opportunity to see the cremation container purchased has been provided.

I have been told that bathing the body prior to cremation is an Environmental Law in Manitoba. Is that true?

That is not true. Bathing the body is part of the process that is referred to as minimal or basic preparation. Other aspects of this process would include setting features, shaving, hairstyling, dressing, applying cosmetics in some cases and placing the body in the casket or cremation container. The actual embalming is not performed at this stage unless requested by the authorized representative.

This care of the deceased prepares the body for a more meaningful and pleasant final goodbye and is taken care of by the funeral home and not the health care facility.

Are there benefits to having 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. Having a public viewing often allows close friends and co-workers an opportunity to say their goodbye if they have not been invited to a private service.

Viewing is encouraged for all members of the family including children, as long as the process is explained and the activity voluntary. Many funeral homes have special grief material to help adults explain what is happening. Be sure to ask your Funeral Director for more information.

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.

What should I do if the death occurs in the middle of the night or on the weekend?

Funeral Directors are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. When you need their service, regardless of the time of day or season of the year, they will make all the necessary arrangements to bring your loved one into their care.

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 good bye, that is acceptable. They will come when the time is right.

If a loved one dies out of province, can the local Funeral Home still help?

Yes, they can assist you with making all the arrangements for an out-of-province death and assist in bringing your loved one home. Your Funeral Director can also assist in arranging to transfer the decedent to another province or to/from another country. Cost of shipping the remains will be in addition to the regular funeral expenses.

Has this cost increased significantly?

Funeral costs have increased no faster than the consumer price index for other consumer items. When compared to other major life cycle events, like births and weddings, funerals are not expensive. A wedding costs at least three times as much; but because it is a happy event, wedding costs are rarely criticized. A funeral home is a 24-hour, labor-intensive business, with extensive facilities (viewing rooms, chapels, limousines, hearses, etc.), these expenses must be factored into the cost of a funeral. Moreover, the cost of a funeral includes not only merchandise, like caskets, but the services of a funeral director in making arrangements; filing appropriate forms; dealing with doctors, ministers, florists, newspapers and others; and seeing to all the necessary details.

How To Write An Obituary

More than merely a ‘‘good-bye’’ to the deceased, this is a farewell which can, in chronological order, detail the life of the deceased. An obituary also serves as notification that an individual has passed away and details of the services that are to take place.   Click Here for more information.

Medical and Financial Powers of Attorney

What if an accident or illness -- or simply the effects of aging -- left you unable to tell your doctors what kind of medical treatment you want, or made it impossible to manage your financial affairs? No one likes to consider such grim possibilities, but the truth is that almost every family will eventually face this kind of difficulty. While medical and financial powers of attorney can't prevent accidents or keep you young, they can certainly make life easier for you and your family if times get tough.

What Is a Power of Attorney?
A power of attorney is a legal document that gives someone you choose the power to act in your place. In case you ever become mentally incapacitated, you'll need what are known as "durable" powers of attorney for medical care and finances. A durable power of attorney simply means that the document stays in effect if you become incapacitated and unable to handle matters on your own. (Ordinary, or "nondurable," powers of attorney automatically end if the person who makes them loses mental capacity.)

With a valid power of attorney, the trusted person you name will be legally permitted to take care of important matters for you -- for example, paying your bills, managing your investments, or directing your medical care -- if you are unable to do so yourself.

Taking the time to make these documents is well worth the small effort it will take. If you haven't made durable powers of attorney and something happens to you, your loved ones may have to go to court to get the authority to handle your affairs.

To cover all of the issues that matter to you, you'll probably need two separate documents: one that addresses health care issues and another to take care of your finances. Fortunately, powers of attorney usually aren't difficult to prepare.

Medical Power of Attorney
A medical power of attorney is one type of health care directive -- that is, a document that set out your wishes for health care if you are ever too ill or injured to speak for yourself.

When you make a medical power of attorney -- more commonly called a "durable power of attorney for health care" -- you name a trusted person to oversee your medical care and make health care decisions for you if you are unable to do so. Depending on where you live, the person you appoint may be called your "agent," "attorney-in-fact," "health care proxy," "health care surrogate," or something similar.

Your health care agent will work with doctors and other healthcare providers to make sure you get the kind of medical care you wish to receive. When arranging your care, your agent is legally bound to follow your treatment preferences to the extent that he or she knows about them.

To make your wishes clear, you can use a second type of health care directive -- often called a "health care declaration" or "living will" -- to provide written health care instructions to your agent and health care providers. To make this easier, some states combine a durable power of attorney for health care and health care declaration into a single form, commonly called an "advance health care directive."

Financial Power of Attorney
A financial power of attorney is a power of attorney you prepare that gives someone the authority to handle financial transactions on your behalf. Some financial powers of attorney are very simple and used for single transactions, such as closing a real estate deal. But the power of attorney we're discussing here is comprehensive; it's designed to let someone else manage all of your financial affairs for you if you become incapacitated. It's called a "durable power of attorney for finances."

With a durable power of attorney for finances, you can give a trusted person as much authority over your finances as you like. The person you name is usually called your "agent" or "attorney-in-fact," though he or she most definitely doesn't have to be an attorney.

Your agent can handle mundane tasks such as sorting through your mail and depositing your Social Security checks, as well as more complex jobs like watching over your retirement accounts and other investments, or filing your tax returns. Your agent doesn't have to be a financial expert; just someone you trust completely who has a good dose of common sense. If necessary, your agent can hire professionals (paying them out of your assets) to help out.

Why You Need Separate Documents for Medical Care and Finances
You may wonder why you can't cover health care matters and finances in just one power of attorney document. Technically, you could -- but it isn't a good idea. Making separate documents will keep life simpler for your agent and others.

For example, your healthcare documents are likely to be full of personal details, and perhaps feelings, that your financial broker doesn't need to know. Likewise, your health care professionals don't need to be burdened with the details of your finances.

That said, even though you should make separate power of attorney documents for health care and finances, it makes a good deal of sense to name the same agent under both documents. If not, you must be sure to name people who will work well together.

NOLO Legal Press © 2018

COMPLICATED GRIEF: How To Cope And Find Hope After A Loss

Written by Jenny Goldade Frazer Consultants Oct. 3, 2017

We all know that grief is unique to everyone and that there are different types of grief. However, if those grieving don’t find healthy ways to grieve, they may develop complicated grief. It can negatively impact your everyday life, so it’s important to find healthy ways to cope. In this blog post, we’ll define complicated grief, how it works, and healthy ways you can cope with a loss.

Defining Complicated Grief
Naturally, complicated grief is complicated to define. To put it simply, it’s when someone isn’t going through a healthy grieving process. But rather, their grief symptoms last a long time and affect their ability to function in everyday life. If they’re unable to accept the reality of their loss, they can’t learn to adjust to life without them. By pushing away their feelings, they’re deprived of a healthy grieving process.

Common Symptoms
According to Mayo Clinic, some common complicated grief symptoms are:  

  • Extreme sadness and pain when thinking about your deceased loved one
  • Feeling bitter when thinking about your loss
  • Feelings of numbness or detachment
  • Being extremely irritable or easily agitated
  • Their death is the focus of your thoughts
  • Not being able to face the reality of the death
  • Intense longing for your loved one
  • Not being able to find meaning in life anymore
  • Withdrawal from social events
  • Not communicating with loved ones

Approximately 10 to 20 percent of those grieving have symptoms that develop into complicated grief, per Psychology Today. If your grief symptoms prevent you from completing your daily activities, you should consider seeking professional guidance.

Potential Causes
The biological causes of complicated grief are unknown, but these four factors may contribute to it:

  • Body chemical makeup
  • Environment
  • Genetics
  • Personality and how you grieve

And according to Mayo Clinic, these experiences may put you an increased risk of developing complicated grief:

  • Sudden and unexpected death
  • Violent death
  • Death of a spouse
  • Death of a child
  • Close relationship with the deceased
  • No strong support system
  • Other stressful life events occurring simultaneously
  • History of depression or other mental health conditions

Also, although depression and complicated grief share similar symptoms, they’re two different things. Depression is a result of grief when feelings of extreme sadness and helplessness are long-lasting.

The Brain and Complicated Grief
When someone grieves, ScienceDaily explains how the brain works like a pinball machine. While grieving, the brain bounces back and forth between different grief stages. However, these back and forth bounces eventually lead to acceptance and finding ways to healthily cope. But this isn’t the case for complicated grievers. According to Healthline, studies found that complicated grief affects the part of the brain associated with reward. This part of the brain also causes the extreme longing for a loved one. It also can affect the part of your brain associated with avoidance behaviors. This explains why grief may last a long time if complicated grievers avoid their feelings and don’t accept the loss.

How to Help a Loved One Cope
It’s important for everyone to realize that they don’t need to stop grieving their loved one. Grief isn’t something to get over, but they can learn to find a new normal for themselves. It’s difficult adjusting to a new reality without the deceased, but they can find ways to memorialize them. You can help a loved one cope by listening and helping them understand their thoughts. If they accept the death, then they can find healthy ways to grieve and find meaning in life again. And by having a trusting support system by their side, they don’t have to feel alone.

Originally posted by Frazer Consultants.