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Keeping Families Safe and Informed

Over the last few months, many of our friends and neighbors in and around Chelmsford have reached out asking how Dolan Funeral Home is ensuring the health and well-being of everyone who walks through our doors. They wonder how our services have changed. They’re curious about our cleaning protocols. They want to know what to expect when meeting with our staff to plan or attend a funeral or burial.

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How to Scatter Ashes

Many people today are choosing to be cremated. Cremation is less expensive than a traditional funeral and is more environmentally friendly. Furthermore, when you are cremated, you have more options available to you in terms of location to be buried at. You don’t have to spend eternity in a box in the ground. You can be buried at sea or scattered in places, such as on your favorite mountaintop. However, what many people don’t realize is that there are rules and regulations as to where you can be scattered. In this blog post by Dolan Funeral Home, a full-service, family-owned funeral home in Chelmsford, we’ll offer up tips and advice with regards to having your ashes scattered. When a loved one dies, we’d be privileged to help with your funeral arrangements. Contact us today!

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Can You Be Buried With Your Pet?

Your pet is an integral part of your life. They are often your constant companion, accompanying you on errands around town, going for long morning or evening walks, helping you feel better when you’re sick, and being a warm fur ball to cry on. However, the unfortunate part of pet ownership is that they often precede us in death. This is heartbreaking to say the least, but it’s a fact of life that is better than not having a pet.

Dolan Funeral Home in Chelmsford is a full-service, family-owned funeral home that is humbled when you choose us to take care of the remains of your loved one. We do our best to offer our support to you when a loved one dies, from helping plan the entire funeral service to aftercare help. Often, when a pet passes, we have them cremated, and we keep their ashes with us. And many of us want to be buried with our pets. Dolan Funeral Home will explore the option of having your pet buried with you in this blog post. Give us a call today to get started!

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Providing for Your Pet After Death

Pets are an integral part of most of our lives. In fact, the American Pet Products Association estimates that 68 percent of American households have a pet. That’s a lot of us. However, that being said, many of those pets are left without owners to care for them when they die. They can end up in shelters and hopefully adopted by good families. However, to ensure your pet is cared for when you die, it’s important to have a plan in place just like you would if you had young children.

Dolan Funeral Home in Chelmsford is a family-run, full-service funeral home that offers cremation services as well as burial services. Our mission is to help you through all aspects of your loved one’s passing, from embalming to burial, as well as aftercare services to help you sort through everything. In this blog post, we’ll offer up tips on how to provide for your pet after your death. Contact us today!

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Creative Funeral Service Ideas

Life is a celebration.

When a loved one dies, it can be very hard to cope, especially if it was sudden. Dolan Funeral Home in Chelmsford has been helping those coping with the death of a loved one since 1974. In our experience, we’ve found that it helps to remember the wonderful life your loved one lived and the memories you still have of him or her. We offer a wide variety of funeral products to help you do just that. We offer memorial jewelry that you can have engraved with your loved one’s initials or a special date. Doves are a popular remembrance item, as are prayer cards. To help you remember the wonderful like of your loved one, we’ve compiled some creative funeral service ideas. Contact us today for all your funeral planning needs, including pre-arrangement services!

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A Guide to Funeral Home Flowers

Flowers are one of nature’s greatest and most beautiful creations. They brighten our day even when we’re in a somber mood. Hence, flowers are given on all different sorts of occasions, one of them being when someone has died in a family. Funeral home flowers express our sympathy and condolences in a time of grief. Dolan Funeral Home in Chelmsford is a full-service, family-owned funeral home that offers cremation and burial services. In this blog post, we’ll review a bit about giving flowers when a loved one or friend dies. Contact us today!

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How To Prepare Your Loved One for Funeral Visitation

When a loved one dies, you often feel overwhelmed, especially if it’s unexpected. Yet in the midst of your emotions and grief, you still have to plan a funeral or a memorial service. There is so much to do, from choosing a casket to picking out a cemetery plot. Yet, one of the most important things you need to do is take care of your loved one’s body. You have many options, from cremation to embalming. Dolan Funeral Home, the best funeral home in Chelmsford, Massachusetts, and serving the greater Lowell and Southern New Hampshire area, reviews your options for preparing your loved one’s body for visitation and burial. Contact us today!

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A Look at the Embalming Process for Funeral Homes

Embalming is essential to the burial process after someone passes. It not only preserves the body, but also helps to prevent the spread of bacteria that can harm us. It makes the body presentable for public display during funeral visitations, which helps loved ones in the grieving process. Dolan Funeral Home in Chelmsford is a family-run funeral home that serves the greater Lowell and Southern New Hampshire areas, including Chelmsford, North Chelmsford, Tyngsboro, Westford, Dunstable, Dracut, Lowell, MA, and Hudson, NH, with funeral, burial, and cremation needs. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at embalming and why it’s essential in the funeral arrangement process. Contact us today!

WHY DO BODIES NEED TO BE EMBALMED

  1. First and foremost, embalming preserves dead bodies longer. Immediately upon death, all living organisms (including plants and animals) begin to decompose. This is a good thing so our planet is not littered with dead things everywhere we turn. Plus, this is how the earth renews itself, as decomposing organisms provide fodder for the earth and helps living organisms to go on living. A human body’s cells break down and the bacteria in a human body begins to expand, releasing gases that cause the distinctive smell of death. This pressure from the gases in the body eventually builds to the point it needs to be released. This occurs through orifices in the body. Eventually all the soft tissues in the body waste away, leaving only bones, hair, and cartilage behind.
  2. Embalming preserves against health hazards. There is a general misconception that you can catch a disease from a dead body. In general, this is not the case. Only if the person has died from an infectious disease, such as Ebola, cholera, or the plague, is this true. This is why when there is a cholera outbreak or a plague outbreak, the bodies must be buried right away. However, dead bodies can infect our water supply, due to the bacteria that forms during decomposition, but most of the time does not cause any major illness.
  3. Embalmed is done for presentation of the body, mainly for funeral visitations, or for long-term display such as with Lenin and Stalin’s bodies in Russia.

HOW DOES EMBALMING WORK?

In ancient times, embalming was rudimentary at best. The internal organs were removed and the blood drained. The system wasn’t perfect, but it worked, as demonstrated by the great condition of Egyptian mummies. Many early cultures had embalming or preservation techniques in place for preserving the bodies of important figures, such as leaders. Chinese rulers have been found with embalming done and in remarkable condition, but the methods were lost. Ancient cultures preserved loved ones by taking them to the mountains where the cold air preserved the bodies.

Eventually, embalming became less popular, and bodies were buried as soon as possible. In the 1800s, Europeans began embalming practices again to preserve bodies for medical study. The United States began embalming in force during the Civil War, so the bodies of dead soldiers could be transported home for burial services.

Modern embalming methods commence with a washing of the body, where the body is usually massaged to remove rigor mortis. Rigor mortis occurs within hours of the time of death and is where every muscle in the body contracts and remains contracted for a period of time. This condition is temporary and occurs in all humans. Embalming then involves four steps:

  1. The replacement of body fluids (the blood) with a preservative solution that can be based on formaldehyde or not. The most common embalming method is arterial embalming where these special fluids are injected via the carotid artery in the heart. A special machine is used to remove the blood.
  2. Cavity embalming involves the removal of internal fluids inside the body cavity. A small incision is made just above the navel. The fluids are removed and replaced with another preservative that is usually formaldehyde based.
  3. Hypodermic embalming may be performed on individuals where arterial fluid had not reached during the first stage of embalming. This is directly injecting embalming fluid into the skin and tissue.
  4. Surface embalming is mainly employed during death from accidents or when severe decomposition has already taken place. Again, preservatives are injected directly into these superficial areas to help with appearance of the body.

The entire time it takes to embalm a body varies, but in general is between two and four hours. In the case of autopsy or trauma to the body, this time can be stretched significantly.

Setting the features is unique to mortuary work, where the eyes and mouth are posed, hopefully to resemble the person with the help of a recent photograph. Embalmers are licensed by their states to ensure proper training has been attained in the care and preservation of human remains.

It’s important to understand that embalming does not stop the decomposition process; it merely delays it, so family has time to mourn. Death is a natural process that human intervention cannot stop.

IS EMBALMING REQUIRED?

The simple answer is no. In fact, due to the blatant misrepresentation of this by funeral directors, a federal law was passed, stating that funeral homes cannot say it’s the law to embalm loved ones. In fact, funeral directors must say the exact opposite: that embalming is not required. Some states have different laws; however, in general, embalming is not required in the case of immediate burial, direct cremation, and a closed casket funeral if the body had been refrigerated.

RELIGIOUS CONSIDERATIONS FOR EMBALMING

Christianity allows embalming. Jews, however, do not embalm or cremate their loved ones as burial is supposed to be done within 24 hours of death. Muslims do not practice embalming either and encourage burial as soon as possible.

Most funeral homes, including Dolan Funeral Home in Chelmsford, honor the family’s wishes. We offer both cremation and embalming services, as well as visitation for those who choose not to embalm or cremate. We offer caskets and urns in many styles for you to choose from. In our aftercare services, we offer help with the legal aspects of death as well as the actual burial itself. We have antique hearses and modern hearses since we are required by Massachusetts law to use a hearse to transport the body of your loved one both to the funeral home and from the funeral home. We have limousines available as well.

Dolan Funeral Home takes the best care of your loved one after death and of you during the grieving process. We understand the emotions of death of those left behind; that’s why our mission is to make your funeral planning process as easy as possible, so you can focus on your family. We’re there for you. Contact us today!

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Paperwork in the Funeral Process

Dealing with the death of a loved one is emotionally trying, usually devastating, and an extremely sorrowful time in your life. In the immediate afterwards, you’re busy with funeral arrangements, such as arranging funeral visitation, burial service, picking out caskets, planning a caterer for the celebration of life ceremony, and the actual day of burial. You’re also still in the first stages of grief and dealing with denial and anger. However, soon the details of your loved one’s death takes root: obtaining a death certificate, contacting all of your banks and financial institutions, including debt obligations your loved one had, and trying to negotiate the legalities of death. It can be overwhelming.

Dolan Funeral Home in Chelmsford can help. We offer aftercare support services to help you with the legalities and paperwork when your loved one dies. Below, we’ll examine some of the immediate affairs of death you’ll have to process once your loved one has been buried. Contact us today for the best funeral home services in the greater Lowell area!

LEGALITIES AND PAPERWORK AFTER THE DEATH OF A LOVED ONE

  • A legal pronouncement of death. Unfortunately, in today’s society known for scams, you’ll need to prove that your loved one is dead. This usually entails obtaining a death certificate signed by a medical professional that will state the date, time, location, and manner of death. This legal death certificate issued by the government is necessary for accessing pension benefits, claiming life insurance, settling estates, and getting remarried. This is usually issued straight away after the death of the loved one because a death certificate is needed in order for the remains to be either buried or cremated. Most crematories and cemeteries require a legal death certificate in order to render services.
  • Begin the probate process. Probate is the legal process all estates must pass through (with a last will and testament or without) when a loved one passes, unless your loved one had a revocable living trust. Hopefully, your loved one left behind a will, stating his or her desires on what to be done with property left behind. Depending on the size of the estate and how likely the will may be contested, you may need to contact a probate lawyer in order to help manage the process.
  • Notify Social Security. Most funeral homes do contact the Social Security Administration on your behalf; however, if not, you’ll have to contact them to apply for survivor benefits. The Social Security Administration requires a variety of documents, depending on how your loved was related to you, including birth certificate, death certificate, and marriage certificate. Visit their website for the specifics in your case.
    Visit and/or send paperwork to all banks, mortgage companies, insurance companies, mortgage broker accounts, credit card companies, and any other form of debt or asset allocation your loved one may have had. You will be required to provide a copy of your loved one’s death certificate, but this will allow you to change the ownership on all of the accounts to yourself.
  • Contact your accountant. You will have to file a tax return (both federal and state) for both your loved one and the estate. This can be complicated so it’s best to have a professional do this on your behalf. Dolan Funeral Home in Chelmsford maintains a list of professional accountants and estate lawyers we recommend.
  • Notify/cancel insurance policies. You’ll have to notify the life insurance company of your loved one’s passing so you can receive the benefits. In addition, you’ll have to cancel car insurance, homeowner’s insurance, and health insurance, so you’re not paying premiums when your loved one is dead. Do note that if your loved one was on Medicare, the Social Security office will inform them of the death, but if your loved one had Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage (Part D), a Medicare Advantage plan and/or a Medigap policy, you will need to call each one individually to cancel coverage.
  • Contact your loved one’s employer. If your loved one was working, chances are he or she had a small life insurance policy that the company sponsored that will need to be paid out. Again, you’ll need a copy of the death certificate to get this process rolling.
  • Check all the bills. Any bills that was in your loved one’s name, such as utility bills, trash bills, internet, cable, or even a prescription music service, will need to be either cancelled or put into your name if you are continuing the service.
  • Close credit card accounts. This is a very important step to prevent fraud. Since your loved one is no longer around to monitor his or her credit card activity, closing all accounts and settling all monies owed is the best way to prevent any identity theft and unauthorized use of your loved one’s credit cards. A death certificate will usually be required to close each account, which you’ll have to contact individually and find out about their process for deceased persons.
  • Notify the three major credit reporting agencies. Transunion, Equifax, and Experian will all need to be notified of your loved one’s passing. This will not only prevent identity theft of your loved one’s credit but will also help clean up your credit since his or her name will be removed from any joint accounts you may have held.
  • Cancel your loved one’s driver’s license. Those looking to steal other’s identities troll obituaries as those who have passed are great candidates for identity theft since the deceased is not monitoring his or her credit (these criminals look at obituaries in their areas for victims). You’ll need a copy of your loved one’s birth certificate to take to the DMV. Cancelling your loved one’s voter registration is also a good idea to prevent voter fraud (someone voting on behalf of your deceased loved one).
  • Notify your loved one’s social media. If your loved one was active on social media or had a blog, notify them of your loss. Oftentimes, social media becomes a great way to memorialize your loved one as condolences pour in from followers and those who cared about your loved one from afar.
  • Close online accounts. Email is another target of online predators who can use a loved one’s email account to perpetrate fraud activities, such as soliciting for funds from acquaintances. Any other accounts your loved one might have used, such as online music streaming accounts, ongoing services such as massage therapy, or monthly donations to nonprofits or churches, should be stopped as well.
  • Tie up loose ends. For months, things will crop up that you’ll have to deal with, such as unexpected accounts you didn’t know your loved one had. When these occur, just deal with them as they arise without undue stress on your part.

Death, as much as a part of life it is, is never easy to deal with nor anticipate. The antithesis of birth, death is characterized by sorrow and grief, which, while normal, is still not pleasant to go through.

HOW DOLAN FUNERAL HOME CAN HELP

As you can see, there is a lot to be done once your loved one passes — many things that you would just not think of to do. Dolan Funeral Home in Chelmsford understands the hardships of death. We serve hundreds of families in the greater Boston area, including communities such as Lowell, southern New Hampshire, Chelmsford, N. Chelmsford, Tyngsboro, Westford, Dunstable, Tewksbury, and Dracut with funeral, burial, and cremation needs every year. We understand the grieving process and that everyone walks through grief a bit differently.

A family-owned business since 1974, we saw the need for an aftercare program, which we’ve developed, to help families navigate the seemingly endless amount of paperwork and activities associated with the death of a loved one. For the first year after the death of your loved one, we’re available to offer guidance and point you in the right direction when it comes to all your paperwork needs. We work with very reputable lawyers, counselors, and other services to ensure you get the help you need during this very difficult transition time in your life.

Dolan Funeral Home in Chelmsford is a full-service funeral home that offers care for your deceased loved one from the moment he or she is released by the medical examiner until the burial service. We offer pre-arrangement funeral planning services as well, which is utilized while your loved one is still alive. This eases the grieving process as the major decisions about burial service is already made. We are proud to partner with local businesses to offer catering for your funeral reception, which provides funeral food and a chance to remember your loved one comfortably.

Furthermore, having been in business for over forty-five years, the staff at Dolan Funeral Home is a resource for you, whether you just need advice on which casket or urn to choose or just need an ear to listen to your remembrances. Dolan Funeral Home not only meticulously cares for your loved one, but we also care for those left behind. We are grateful and humbled that you have chosen us for this very important task. Visit us today!

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How to Start Planning a Funeral

Planning a funeral might be something you’ve anticipated for months, or it might be something that happened unexpectedly. Regardless of the circumstances, making funeral arrangements can be a very trying time. To help you understand the process, we’ve put together a guide to inform you of some of the choices available to you.

Dolan Funeral has been serving the greater Boston area since 1974, and is located in Chelmsford. We serve people of all religions, beliefs, and philosophies, and look forward to working with you to create a memorable cremation or burial service for your loved one. Contact us now to learn more.

Contact a Funeral Home

While time may be of the essence, choosing the best funeral home for you is a very important decision to make. If the deceased didn’t specify a preference, you can contact a few in your area to discuss the options available, as well as your budget and the types of funeral arrangements available. Once you have determined the funeral home you would like to use, you can move forward with planning the burial service or cremation.

Determine the Type of Disposition

Your loved one’s remains can be cared for with cremation or burial, and the decision you make is a deeply personal one. Last wishes could have been discussed beforehand, which helps make the decision somewhat easier. However, if that is not the case, then you can discuss the options with family or with the funeral director, who will be happy to answer your questions and help you make the best decision.

Make Cremation or Burial Service Arrangements

You will want to plan a service for your loved one that is just as unique as he or she was. Your funeral director will discuss his/her personality, requests from friends and family, and stories about him/her to create an experience that will be memorable. You will also discuss where the service will be held, whether there will be a burial service, and other logistics such as visitations, viewings, and so on. And sometimes people decide not to have a service at all. These are all considerations that will be made during the service planning discussion.

Purchase Funeral Products

If you’re opting for a burial service, you will want to purchase a casket—depending on the rules of the place of burial, you might also have to purchase a grave liner. Your funeral director will work with you to find the best option available for your preferences and budget. For those who opt for a cremation, you will have a number of choices for urns. Your funeral director will present several options to you based on your preferences and budget.

Discuss Memorial Donations

Many funerals have a table where people can leave memorials that can be donated to help pay for the funeral, to help the family of the deceased, or to donate to a cause that meant a lot to him or her. This is an alternative to flowers, and can provide a way for people to help others in honor of your loved one. If you would like to receive flowers, these can also be donated after the service to hospices, hospitals, or nursing homes.

At Dolan Funeral Home, we can work with you to make funeral arrangements. Whether you’re pre-planning a funeral and burial service for yourself, or planning a cremation for a loved one, we are ready to help you. Contact us now to learn more.

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What a Funeral Director Does

Funeral directors used to be known as morticians or undertakers (these are terms that aren’t used often anymore), and they have a position that is central to many communities. Many see this position as merely funeral planning, but the truth is that directors do so much behind the scenes that isn’t seen by most. In this article, we’ll explore a little more about what they do for local funeral homes and the community.

Dolan Funeral Home serves the greater Boston area, and was established in 1974. If you’re looking for a Chelmsford funeral home, we can assist with everything from funeral planning to burial services and everything in between. Contact us now to learn more about planning a funeral.

Here are some of the duties that funeral directors carry out.

Understanding Local and State Laws

There are some complex laws surrounding the funeral industry and the duties that must be carried out when somebody is deceased. Funeral directors not only ensure that all responsible parties abide by those laws, but they also take responsibility of filing important legal paperwork in a timely manner. They may have to report to a coroner, report suspicious circumstances, and work with law enforcement. Additionally, they may also help with filing insurance claims and burial benefits.

Transportation of the Deceased

After somebody passes away, they will eventually need to be transported to one of their local funeral homes. The funeral director handles this transportation to the funeral home, as well as to the crematorium or burial spot, if necessary.

Funeral Planning

He or she will work with the deceased’s family to plan a funeral. They will assist with making essential and stressful decisions, and guiding families toward choices that are best suited to their needs. They will carry out embalming, cremation, and preparing the body for the service and disposition.

Funeral Services

Depending on the wishes of the family, a funeral director may also officiate the funeral service if no other clergy are set to do so. If the funeral is not held at a church or other location, they may provide their local funeral home as a place to do so. They will work with the family to arrange for catering, tributes, accepting donations, and planning the service.

Providing Support

Losing a loved one is undoubtedly a trying time. Funeral directors provide support to the loved ones of the deceased and guide them through this difficult time. They know the process inside and out, and their experience will ensure that the process is carried out the best way possible from start to finish. They will think of all the things that many won’t, and make sure that no detail is overlooked.

If you’re in need of a funeral director to assist with funeral planning, contact Dolan Funeral Home now. Our compassionate and knowledgeable staff will walk you through the process every step of the way. We can assist with funeral pre-planning, too. Contact us now to learn more.

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Funeral Ceremony Etiquette

Unfortunately, the time will come in your life to attend the funeral ceremony or celebration of life for a family member or friend. This is a very trying time, and while your mind is still reeling over your loss, you might be wondering about the right things to do (or not do) at a funeral home.

At Dolan Funeral Home, we’ve helped countless families in the greater Lowell and southern New Hampshire areas with funeral planning. Whether you’re interested in pre-arranging a funeral or need to plan a funeral ceremony that’s more immediate, contact us. We are a family-run funeral home in Chelmsford, MA and will help you create a celebration of life or funeral ceremony that suits your unique needs.

Here are some things to keep in mind when it comes to etiquette.

What to Wear

Traditionally, the color to wear to a funeral has been black. However, more recently, the dress code has become more business casual or similar to what you’d wear to church. Dark colors and black are absolutely just fine to wear, but are not required. Dressing conservatively is ideal, as opposed to festive, bright clothing, as well as jeans. All that said, the family of the deceased might want to honor their loved one with a theme, such as Hawaiian-style shirts.

How to Talk to Family

By going to a celebration of life ceremony, you’re not only honoring your loved one, but you’re providing support to his or her family. Knowing what to say or how to act when you greet them can be difficult—you might worry about saying the wrong thing or not saying enough. Expressing your thoughts and how much you cared for the deceased is a sincere sentiment, and can bring comfort. Depending on the context, you might have a moment to share a fond memory. Try to avoid saying things like, “They are in a better place,” or “At least you had a chance to say good-bye,” for example. While you might see the bright side, or feel that you can offer these thoughts for comfort, they are likely not to bring any.

Put Away Your Phone

A funeral ceremony is a time in which you should completely silence your phone and turn off the vibration feature as well. Glancing at your phone for texts or missed calls is disrespectful to those around you, and can be very distracting. The best course of action is to turn your phone to airplane mode, then check it after you have left the funeral home.

Respect the Family’s Wishes

During this very difficult time, the family may communicate wishes that could prove to be disappointing to some. They may wish to have a family-only funeral ceremony, a private burial, or opt not to have a service at all. While this can be trying for some, respecting the wishes of the family is of the utmost importance.

Arrive Early

If the ceremony begins at 10am, you should plan to arrive at 9:40 or 9:50. This will give you the chance to speak with other guests and to be seated by an usher. While the unexpected can certainly happen and you arrive late, rather than walk through the center aisle of the funeral home or church, find a side aisle so that you can take your seat as discreetly as possible.

Contact Dolan Funeral Home for your funeral planning needs today.

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Cremation Versus Burial: Which is Best?

A Brief History of Cremation

Cremation has been around probably since the birth of mankind. Scientists know for sure it dates back at least 20,000 from the discovery of a partially-cremated cadaver in Australia. Ancient Viking Lords were cremated at sea along with the ships they commanded. Joan of Arc? She was burned at the stake, a form of cremation and torture.

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How to Write a Eulogy

The death of someone you know, especially a loved one, can be devastating, depending on the relationship you had with that person. You run the gamut on emotions: shock, anger, and grief. On top of all that, you have a funeral to plan. You have to choose a funeral home, a day for the burial service, what kind of burial service, visitation, a casket, what outfit to bury your loved one in, and the list goes on and on.

Probably the most important part is the burial service. Again, a myriad of decisions must be made — and on a time frame. When will the burial service be? Who will speak at the burial service? Will there be a priest? Do we accept flowers or should we ask for donations in lieu? And the list goes on once again.

You’ve been asked to speak at the ceremony. But what to say? How can you capture a life in a few minutes? Dolan Funeral Home in Chelmsford, MA, recognizes the challenges involved in such a task. We’re here to help, so we’ve compiled some tips to help you recognize and remember your loved one.

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The History of Tombstones

After the passing of your loved one and the initial grief and emotions have subsided, now the “business” aspect of the death takes center stage. Death certificate, bank accounts, bills, debt, assets, will, trust, and the list goes on and on. And probably there’s something you forgot as well that will crop up down the road.

THE HISTORY OF TOMBSTONES

One of the first things you must do after the burial service of your loved one is decide on a tombstone. But how did this tradition begin?

Since the beginning of time, humans have an innate need to remember the deceased after the burial service. A tombstone, otherwise known as a gravestone, headstone, or markers, first appeared as rough stones, rocks, or wood laid on the deceased as a way to keep the dead from rising. Tombstones as we think of them were first thought to have been used in 3000 BC by the Romans and Celts. When few people could read or write, tombstones were simply marked: with the deceased person’s name, age, and birth date and/or year of death.

When important figures in a culture died, royalty or leaders for example, tombstones became larger and square-shaped and able to hold more writings. Simple plots on family farms evolved into churchyard burials and the haphazard rocks chosen for tombstones became made out of slate or sandstone, soft stones which are easy to carve.

As the population of the planet grew, bigger areas to hold the dead were needed, thus the advent of public cemeteries in the 1800s. People wanted to remember their loved ones well beyond death after the burial service, so the idea to turn tombstones into memorials was born. More and more information was added to the stone and the stones became bigger and more elaborate in nature. Symbols, designs, and artwork were added to personalize the tombstone with popular choices being religious symbols (crosses, saints, stars, and angels), occupational designs (sword, saw, ax, and horse), and nature symbols (trees, flowers, and mountains).

In the 1860s stronger materials were desired for tombstones as the soft stones broke easily, suffered erosion, and thus, the lettering gradually faded away, obscuring the person below. Igneous rock began to be used, and today granite, marble, and slate are popular choices.

TOMBSTONES TODAY

Tombstones today continue to evolve. Bible sayings are popular as are quotes and sayings of hope and inspiration. Actual photographs adorn tombstones, memorializing the image of the deceased forever. Placing flowers, another tradition we can thank the Greeks for, is still popular today, and many tombstones have built-in flower pots.

Blooming flowers on the grave of a warrior was a sign he had found happiness in the afterlife in ancient times. The ancient Romans, borrowing from their Greek brethren, were the first to unilaterally lay flowers on graves after the burial services. Grief-stricken Americans chose flowers to represent their grief upon the shock of Abraham Lincoln’s death. And Memorial Day used to be called Decoration Day, which was a day Americans laid flowers on graves of soldiers.

Dolan Funeral Home in Chelmsford, MA, aims to make the funeral planning process efficient, simple, and worry-free. We are proud to offer up food options for the visitation and funeral and an amazing aftercare program to help you with the overwhelming tasks ahead. In part two of this series, Dolan Funeral Home will offer up tips for choosing tombstones. Contact us today!

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The History of Funeral Homes

Thousands of years ago when someone died, he or she was buried almost immediately. This was mainly due to the smell of decomposition, something people did not understand completely. Over thousands of years, embalming gained speed as humans learned if you removed the internal organs and dried out the body, the body would be preserved. This was mainly for religious reasons as the belief the body rose again in the afterlife was ubiquitous in many cultures.

People often wrapped their dead in shrouds for burial. In ancient Egypt, a sarcophagus was used. Cremation was popular as well. Burial in bogs took place in England and Ireland. Caskets of wood and stone were used by 700 AD by the Celts.

For the last few hundred years, memorials were held in a family home. Women took on the role of caring for the dead. They would prepare the body, and lay it out in the home for visitation, usually in the front parlor, surrounded by their finest possessions. Afterwards, a procession would take place where the body would be transported to the church, and then be buried most likely in a family graveyard or in a local cemetery behind the church. Care for the dead by the family was the norm.

WHEN DID THE CARE OF THE DEAD CHANGE?

The change in caring for the dead came about because of the American Civil War in the 1860s. With so many loved ones dying far from home, embalming became popular so the body could be transported back home without decaying too rapidly.

At this time, the family graveyard was moving towards the more park-like settings of the local cemetery. To help root this practice, the United States established a number of national military cemeteries for members of the armed forces to be buried.

The profession of undertaker was established around this era as well. The term “undertaker” refers to the person who “under took” responsibility for funeral arrangements. Many of the early undertakers were furniture makers because building caskets was a logical extension of their business. For them, undertaking was a side business rather than their primary profession. It did not take long for families to prefer to hand the job of caring for the dead off to others, especially in the midst of their own grief.

MODERN FUNERAL HOMES

From undertakers to funeral directors of today, the process remains much the same; the change has come in the amenities offered for the loved ones left behind. The oldest funeral home was started by Anthony Hay, a cabinet manufacturer and maker of coffins, in 1759 in Williamsburg, Virginia. As demand for coffins grew, the business evolved into a full service funeral home, which is still in operation today.

Most funeral homes are small, family-owned businesses that have been passed down from generation to generation. In the late 1960s, a consolidation of the industry began with large companies acquiring these family funeral homes. Still, family run funeral homes such as Dolan Funeral Home in Chelmsford, MA, remain the best funeral homes for burial services and care.

Dolan Funeral Home in Chelmsford, MA, cares about the loved one left behind. One of our greatest services is our aftercare program where we help you navigate the sometimes complicated process (made more-so when compounded by grief) of the death of a loved one. From wills to funeral bills to just being a shoulder to cry on, Dolan Funeral Home proudly serves the greater Lowell, MA, area. Contact us today!

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Funeral and Kids: How to Explain Death to Your Child

It’s a fact that kids’ brains have stages of learning. When you’re a baby on up through age ten or so, your brain is programmed for absorbing as much information as possible. In upper elementary school and throughout middle school, kids’ brains begin to be able to question ideas and form opinions for themselves. In high school, kids’ brains are finally able to argue and process information on par with adults.

Thus, when something complicated in life happens like the death of a loved one (especially if it’s a parent), kids can have a hard time processing death due to the fact they just don’t understand it like we do. And the fact of the matter is they won’t truly understand death until they are old enough.

Dealing with death is especially hard when kids are involved. Dolan Funeral Home in Chelmsford, MA, is a full service, family-run funeral home that has served the needs of the greater Boston communities since 1974. We offer cremation services, traditional burial services, celebration of life services, and pre-arrangement and aftercare services. We understand the impact the death of a loved one can have. Contact us today for the best funeral services in the greater Lowell area.

FUNERALS AND KIDS: HOW TO EXPLAIN DEATH TO YOUR CHILD

  • Be forthright. In this traumatic time, the last thing you want is your child to question what you are saying if you lie to him or her. The best way to explain death is openly and honestly. Tell your child what happened (in age-appropriate language especially if it was an accidental death with a lot of blood involved). Answer all of your child’s questions honestly. Try to convey the fact death is permanent — at least in a bodily form. If you practice a religion, explain your religious beliefs about death to your child, again, in age-appropriate language.
  • Don’t overwhelm your child. Too much information can only confuse your child. Answer your child’s questions simply. Don’t add too much detail unless prompted.
  • Don’t pressure your child. Children will process emotions differently. Some will internalize death and not want to talk about it. Others won’t stop asking questions. Allow your child to deal with the emotions of death in his or her own way. Don’t pepper him or her with questions. Respect where your child is right now.
  • Allow your child to attend the funeral. Your child will need to see your loved one at the funeral. For some, this is when it becomes real to them. Being able to see your loved one and touch him or her and say good-bye is crucial to healing.
  • Reassure your child at every turn. Tell your child he or she will be alright. That you are still there for him or her. That life will continue — just differently. Be specific about what will change. For instance, if grandma used to pick your child up from school, tell him or her who will be filling that role instead. It’s crucial your child is reassured that he or she will be okay.
  • Remember the person. One of the best ways to process death is to remember the good times you had with that person. When you feel your child is ready, review old photos and discuss the good times you had. Make a scrapbook dedicated to your loved one. Visit the gravesite if a traditional burial was chosen. Bring flowers. Celebrate the person and the impact her or she had.
  • Be prepared for a gamut of emotions to come and go (like they do with you). Let your child know it’s okay to cry, to be angry, and to not understand. These feelings are natural and are part of the grieving process. Be there for your child through these ups and downs.

These same tips apply to the death of pets as well. In fact, the death of a pet is the most likely occasion your child will first experience death. Expect the same emotional rollercoaster, even if it’s just a goldfish. In fact, the death of a pet can often be more meaningful and more impactful since the pet lived in your home 24/7 with your child as opposed to grandma who only visited.

Death is a part of life — albeit unpleasant — that we all have to deal with. Children, however, have a much different perspective than we adults do. Their worlds are so much smaller than ours and only entail sometimes a few people when they are little and then expanding to school. Still, the world for them is small. Death for them is unimaginable. And for older kids, hubris and the idea nothing can happen to them interfere with the concept.

Dolan Funeral Home in Chelmsford, MA, understands the hole that is left when a loved one dies. Our mission is to make the funeral planning process as smooth as possible, so you can grieve. We offer pre-planning or pre-arrangement services, which is planning your funeral in advance, in order to settle a lot of the details ahead of time. We have an amazing aftercare program, which offers guidance on the logistics of dealing with a loved one’s death. And of course we offer both traditional burial services as well as cremation services for the immediate needs death brings.

As the best funeral home in Chelmsford, MA, servicing greater Lowell and Southern New Hampshire, including Chelmsford, N. Chelmsford, Tyngsboro, Westford, Dunstable, Dracut, Lowell, MA, and Hudson, NH, Dolan Funeral Home cares for your loved one in death like you cared for your loved one in life. Contact us today!

Dolan Funeral Home in Chelmsford, MA, is a state-of-the-art funeral home. One of the largest funeral homes near Lowell, MA, Dolan Funeral home offers traditional funeral services, cremation services, embalming services, catered food and drink services, and aftercare support. We are dedicated to celebrating and honoring your loved one’s life from the moment they pass till the transportation to the cemetery for burial and after. Dolan Funeral Home caters to all funeral service needs.

That’s a lot Dolan Funeral Home offers. But funeral homes didn’t always exist, and it was a slow process to build up such a repertoire of services. In fact, it wasn’t until the 20th century that funeral homes as we know them today came into existence.

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Choosing a Type of Tombstone

One caveat: some cemeteries have restrictions on tombstones. Some restrict the size or the type or the material. If you’re looking to bury your loved one in a cemetery for those of a certain faith such as Christianity or Judaism, then there are probably stipulations on what you can engrave on the tombstone as well.

Dolan Funeral Homes in Chelmsford, MA, offers pre-arrangement planning of funerals, including helping plan which cemetery to choose and which tombstone to choose. Contact us today for more information!

After you’ve chosen which cemetery you’d like your loved one buried in and checked all of their rules and regulations, then you need to choose which type of tombstone (otherwise known as a headstone) you’d like.

  • Upright tombstones. The most traditional choice in tombstones, the upright tombstone is usually made from granite, marble, or limestone. Most of these are affixed to a base for supportive purposes.
  • Flat tombstones. Usually chiseled out of bronze or granite, these tombstones lie on the ground. Some are angled.
  • Kerbed tombstones. These are tombstones in combination with a ledger marker that usually outlines the coffin. These are great for personalizing your loved one’s gravesite.
  • Cremation memorials. These can be simple or elaborate and are usually the size of your typical urn for the person’s remains. Options include benches, memorials, or pedestals.

CHOOSING A MATERIAL FOR YOUR TOMBSTONE

Presumably, you want your tombstone to last for a long time. Material choice is important as well as the weather your loved one’s stone will endure.

  • Granite. The most popular choice of tombstone material, granite is both durable and easily customizable in terms of engraving, color choices, and other aesthetic properties.
  • White Marble. Stunning in its beauty, white marble definitely stands out in a graveyard. However, marble is easily eroded by the rain and is prohibited by some cemeteries, especially churchyards.
  • Limestone. The most affordable choice in tombstones, limestone is not as durable as marble or granite.

Bronze. Increasing in popularity due to its minimal maintenance requirement, bronze naturally darkens over time but is very durable.

CHOOSING A FINISH AND DESIGN FOR YOUR TOMBSTONE

  • Do you want a glossy look or a soft look? Do you want it to look smooth or do you like the rough look?
    Many tombstone makers are utilizing technology to speed up the production of your personalized tombstone. Lasers are used to engrave and make life-like images.
  • Do you want a photograph on the tombstone? Or perhaps an engraving of a favorite place? Decide if you want a major image on the tombstone, which will narrow down the placement of the text.
    Color, contours, and dimensions. What color tombstone would you like? Do you want the tombstone to be rounded or pointed or have flat edges or be jagged? How big do you want the tombstone to be? What shape do you want it in?

INSCRIPTION ON YOUR TOMBSTONE

The biggest challenge is how to capture a lifetime in a dozen or so words. You can utilize common phrases such as “in loving memory,” “forever in our hearts,” or “rest in peace.” Popular sayings and scripture are words to consider as well. Beautiful poems, memorializations of loved ones, and Bible passages are popular. Want to be original? Write your loved one’s epitaph. This is a great way to forever keep him or her in your heart.

COST OF A TOMBSTONE

The cost of a tombstone is difficult to put a finger on. With so many customizations available, the cost of your tombstone will depend on how elaborate or how simple it is. No doubt the cost of tombstones can be expensive. Most tombstone makers offer payment plans for your convenience.

MAINTENANCE OF YOUR TOMBSTONE

Weather will definitely take a toll on the tombstone, and it will naturally fade over time. However, some simple things you can do to prolong the life of your loved one’s tombstone include applying sealant to it and repairing cracks immediately when they occur. There are special cleaning products made specifically for tombstone care that are available on the internet as well as green cleaners made with tombstones in mind. With a little care, your loved one’s tombstone will last for a long time (well beyond when you’re gone).

THE DOLAN FUNERAL HOME DIFFERENCE

With Dolan Funeral Home, the little details matter. A tombstone can be overlooked or picked out in a rush and then regretted in the midst of your grief. If possible, tombstone planning should take place ahead of time. Dolan Funeral Home, serving the greater Lowell and Southern New Hampshire, including Chelmsford, N. Chelmsford, Tyngsboro, Westford, Dunstable, Dracut, Lowell, MA, and Hudson, NH, is here to help you pre-arrange your loved one’s funeral and your loved one’s affairs.

Choosing a tombstone may not be on your radar when a loved one dies. However, a tombstone will last for life, and you want to remember your loved one after death with a tombstone that is reflective of the person. Dolan Funeral Home is here for all of your funeral service needs, including memorial services, cremation services, burial services and transportation of the body services, and visitation services. At Dolan Funeral Home, a family-owned full-service funeral service company, we value you. Let us take care of the details, so you can care for yourself and your family during this trying time. Contact us today for all your funeral service needs!

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How to Choose a Casket

Death, despite being a part of life, is not easy to deal with. Depending on your relationship with the deceased, dealing with death can be devastating. On top of mourning, you now have to deal with all the logistics that go along with the death of a loved one — namely funeral arrangements. From picking out a funeral home to choosing a date for visitation to picking out a cemetery, the decisions are endless.

Dolan Funeral Home is here to help. We are an all-inclusive funeral home service, offering pre-arrangement services, help with the financial aspects of a death, and all the services for the actual burial, including either embalming or cremation, casket selection, visitation and burial services. We also offer after-care services, helping you tie up all the loose ends after the death of a loved one, as well as advice on the will. Dolan Funeral Home serves the greater Lowell and Southern New Hampshire areas, including Chelmsford, North Chelmsford, Tyngsboro, Westford, Dunstable, Dracut, Lowell, and Hudson with funeral, burial, and cremation needs. Contact us today.

HOW TO PICK OUT A CASKET

Caskets have come along way since the sarcophagus of ancient Egypt. No longer are we in the days where four boards nailed together is in style (or what the majority of the population wants their loved one’s last remains to rest forever in). Modern caskets are built to withstand the harsh elements of the earth and allow your loved one to truly rest in peace. Below are tips for picking out a casket.

CASKET OR COFFIN?

While the word casket is often used interchangeably with coffin, there is an important difference between the two terms: a coffin is hexagonal or octagonal, while the casket is rectangular. In addition, a casket is different in that it usually has a split lid in order to view the body, while a coffin does not. Different parts of the world prefer one or the other. In the United States, we prefer caskets since saying good-bye to our loved ones visually is important.

MATERIALS A CASKET IS MADE FROM

  • Wood caskets. Still a popular material to make a casket from, wood is a good choice for a solid casket. A variety of woods is used such as hard woods (oak, mahogany, and cherry) as well as the lighter woods (birch, maple, and pine).
  • Metal caskets. Three types of metal are the most popular choice for caskets: standard steel, stainless steel, and copper or bronze. Standard steel is the least expensive type of steel caskets available, while stainless steel is more expensive because it’s more durable. Both come in different gauges to suit your needs. As you might have guessed, copper and bronze are the most expensive since they are high-quality metals. Copper and bronze caskets are extremely resistant to rust unlike steel. That being said, both copper and bronze caskets will still oxidize and break down in a manner similar to rusting, but it will take a long longer before this happens. These two types of caskets are measured by weight, which also ups the price.
  • Eco-friendly. Materials that are environmentally friendly are increasing in popularity as consumers are more conscious of preserving our resources for the next generation. Wicker caskets made from bamboo, willow, or seagrass are now available. Despite how flimsy they sound, cardboard caskets are surprisingly well-made and are easily customizable with a digitally-printed design.
  • While not technically a casket, Dolan Funeral Home thinks burial shrouds are worth mentioning as an alternative to expensive traditional casket materials. Made from wool, cotton, linen, and silk, burial shrouds harken back to ancient times and are wonderful for their simplicity. They are also surprisingly peaceful and elegant.
  • If your heart is set on a traditional wood coffin, a coffin or casket made from sustainably sourced wood is still environmentally friendly. The wood is typically 80 percent waste wood (wood combined from other pieces of wood that are too small to make much of) and 20 percent FSC-certified wood (wood that is certified for being harvested in a sustainable manner by the Forest Stewardship Council). Add a biodegradable cotton lining for complete recycled materials.

CASKETS FOR CREMATIONS

Yes, this sounds paradoxical, but if you opt for cremation, you may still want a casket or coffin to hold your loved one in. Known as a cremation casket, these caskets are made specifically to be cremated along with your loved one after the service. Cremation caskets come in a variety of materials as well such as wood, cardboard, or fiberboard.

Another option is a rental casket. This choice is not as far-reaching as you think. Rental caskets are rented usually from the funeral home for the sole purpose of having a nice casket for your loved one during the funeral service. Rental caskets are crafted to include an insert for the cremation casket, so the cremation casket can be placed inside the ceremonial casket for the service. After the service, the cremation container would be removed for cremation. One last alternative is to use a rental casket for the funeral service just to hold your loved one, and then you would have your loved one removed, cremated, and placed in a different holding container such as an urn.

GASKET OR NON-GASKET?

Metal caskets come with the option of having a gasket or not. A gasket is a special seal designed to keep out the elements and preserve your loved one longer. As most of us know, the natural process of decomposition can only be delayed, not stopped permanently as we’ve all seen from the Egyptian mummies. A gasketed casket is also called a protective casket, which adds to the overall cost of your casket.

SELECTING A COFFIN

Now that you have the different types and varieties of caskets and coffins in mind, you’re ready to select your coffin. Federal law dictates that the funeral director must show you a list of caskets available before you see the actual caskets. This stems from the past where funeral directors would sell the most expensive coffins to customers without offering them options.

At Dolan Funeral Home, we have a showroom with a wide variety of wood and metal caskets for you to view in person. We also have several casket catalogs for you to peruse and order from. It is permissible for the family to make a casket, provided it is delivered to the funeral home and a waiver of liability is signed.

FINAL TIPS FOR PURCHASING A CASKET

Caskets can be one of the most expensive parts of a funeral home service and funeral home expenses overall. You’ll want to take your time and look over your options. Don’t choose the first one you come across. Inquire of the price and all your options, and ask the funeral director if you have questions. Your loved one deserves the best, and Dolan Funeral Home in Chelmsford is dedicated to helping you through the funeral home service process from start to finish. We’re open every day of the year to serve your needs. As a full service, family-owned funeral home, we understand the grief process, and we’re here to help with all the logistics during this trying time. Contact us today for all your planning a funeral needs!

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Dealing with Conflicts over Funeral Arrangements

The grief of death is real. It takes months to “get over” a death although odds are you’ll never get over the death of a cherished member of the family. Luckily, he or she will forever live on in your hearts and in your memories.

That being said, the immediate aftermath of a death is challenging, especially if there are disagreements in the family over funeral arrangements. Dolan Funeral Home, the best funeral home in the greater Lowell, MA, area, understands how hard it is to agree on funeral arrangements. After all, the decisions you make now are final, and thus, important. Below, we’ll offer up tips on how to deal with family conflicts that might arise during the funeral planning process.

TIPS FOR DEALING WITH CONFLICTS OVER FUNERAL DECISIONS

  • Put personal feelings aside. Families are inherently messy because people are messy. We all fall, but it’s how we pick ourselves up that matters. When dealing with conflicts, try to put your personal feelings about the other person aside and remember to put the memory of your loved one first.
  • Try to abide by the loved one’s wishes. This is fairly easy to do when there is a will present that states your loved one’s last desires for his or her funeral. In fact this is preferred, and Dolan Funeral Home offers pre-arrangement services — which goes a long way in avoiding conflicts of this type. We strongly recommend putting your final wishes in writing as well so there are no questions once the time comes. However, in lieu of a formal written agreement, disagreements will probably arise, especially in blended families or divorce situations. And going off “Aunt Mary said this to me on her death bed” usually doesn’t solve the problem. Again, try to think what your deceased loved one would want.
  • Employ a mediator. If all else fails, a third-party can intervene and be a mediator. This should be someone trustworthy but without a conflict of interest towards one party or the other. A clergyman or family friend is a good choice. A voice of calm and reason is sometimes all that is needed amidst all the swirling emotions a death brings.
  • Compromise. The greatest decisions ever made were the results of compromise as our Founding Fathers understood when they made five key compromises for the Constitution to become a reality. Listen to everyone’s concerns and desires and allow everyone to be heard. Then decide what is most important for you, and let the others go. Another way to put this is pick your battles.
  • Remember everyone is stressed. People handle stress differently and when combined with shock, grief, and loss, anything can happen. Come close up. Others lash out. At the end of the day, you love your family. Forgive one another for what happens during this difficult time.
    Religious differences. This is the most difficult conflict to mediate and compromise on as each person holds his or her religion quite dear. In this situation, try to think what the deceased loved one would want and ask yourself how much it actually means to you versus your other relative.
  • Let it go. At the end of the day, the memories you hold close of your loved one is what matters most. While funeral arrangements are important, they are not worth ruining relationships over. Your deceased loved one would want love to be the guiding light during this difficult time not animosity and strife.

So many people avoid talking about their impending death because we as humans are in denial that it will ever happen. This is the heart of the matter and of the conflicts. We all will die and being open and honest about it before your loved one passes is the best way to avoid conflicts during the midst of grief and create a loving memorial service — not one tainted with acrimony and hurt feelings.

Dolan Funeral Home understands the hardships faced by surviving family members in the wake of a loved one’s death. We are here to offer advice, guidance, and support for all of your funeral home needs. Serving the Chelmsford, MA, area as well as southern New Hampshire (Chelmsford, North Chelmsford, Tyngsboro, Westford, Dunstable, Dracut, Lowell, and Hudson), Dolan Funeral Home is here for you. Contact us today for all your funeral arrangement needs!

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Dolan Funeral Home is an independent, family-owned, and operated business providing personal, loving attention to the needs of the families that we serve. Our main purpose is to serve the community that is comprised of diverse religions, beliefs, and philosophies, which must be respected. We help you celebrate and honor the life of your loved one with integrity and care by providing a professional funeral service as distinctive as the families we serve. We offer funeral home and cremation services in Lowell, Westford, and Tyngsborough, MA. Contact us today!

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