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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!


  • 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.


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.


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 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.


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.


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.


  • 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.


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.


  • 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?


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.


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.


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).


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.


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.


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.


  • 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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


  • 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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How to Choose a Final Resting Place

When a loved one passes, we do our best to honor his or her final wishes. We want the funeral service to be perfect, the flowers to scent the air like it’s spring, and the weather to be pleasant and comforting. In addition, we want the place where our loved one’s remains will rest for eternity to be as perfect as possible. Choosing a final resting place — be it a cemetery, a burial container, or a mountaintop — can be challenging.

Dolan Funeral Home, a full-service funeral home near Lowell, MA, offers tips for those struggling to choose a final resting place for their deceased loved one.


Did your loved one express a desire to be buried somewhere? If so, then you’ll want to honor those wishes, even if cumbersome or out of the way. For instance, in the case of someone being married twice, he or she may wish to be cremated and the ashes spread between both locations next to the beloved spouses.

However, if your loved one did not talk about where he or she wished to spend eternity and/or expressly left it up to you, then here are some points to consider:

  • Did your loved one have a favorite spot? Did he or she love the beach or climb mountains or love a secluded woods right down the road?
  • We all know when a loved one dies, he or she lives on in your heart. However, if you’re getting your loved one cremated, you don’t have to bury the ashes all in one spot. you can keep a portion of the ashes for a special locket, so your loved one will always be close to your heart.
    If considering a traditional burial, consider which cemetery would best fit with your loved one. Was he or she religious? Then perhaps a cemetery particular to that religion would be suitable. Did he or she like a particular cemetery over another in your town? Is one cemetery more shaded than another? When choosing a cemetery for a final resting place, you’ll want to find out the burial rules as well. Some restrict what kind of monument you can erect and what type of flowers you can leave or decorations you may have. If this is important to you, make sure you ask before you choose the final resting place.
  • Consider an urn if you are considering cremation for your loved one. Your loved one can occupy a cherished spot in your home, and with so many options in urn designs, many will not even know the urn on your mantle holds your loved one’s remains. Another reason you may want to consider an urn is if you believe you may be moving from your present location, and you want your loved one to go with you until you’re settled.
  • Is there a family history to consider? Are all of your relatives from years past buried in the same location? If not, would you want to start a family burial plot, so you can be buried next to your loved one as well?
  • Consider a living memorial. Was your loved one environmentally-conscious? Would your loved one want to be buried under a tree?
  • Experts believe having a place of remembrance to physically go to can help bring closure and move through their grief. Choose a place you will want to visit — a place of beauty and quiet solitude, and a place where you’ll feel connected to that person. Final resting places for your loved one are endless. From traditional burial plots in a cemetery and urns to garden stones and one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces or scattering of the ashes, the choice can be overwhelming, especially in the grief process.

Dolan Funeral Home is here to help with all your funeral home needs. We offer a traditional service or a celebration of life. We will cater these memorial events for you as well, and we have a list of recommended caterers for your convenience. We have a wide selection of caskets, urns, and burial vaults. We offer cremation services as well as embalming. We can transport your loved one’s casket to your chosen final resting place. Finally, we offer aftercare support to help you navigate the sometimes complicated legalities a death brings.

Dolan Funeral Home is a family-run funeral home that has been serving the greater Boston communities since 1974. Our experience and compassion makes us the best funeral home. Contact us today for all of your burial service needs!

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Why Cater a Memorial Service?

There is a scientific reason why food is called comforting. There is a psychological component to eating that makes us feel good. Food cravings occur because our body is lacking some food component in our diet and telling us to go and find it. It’s our body trying to restore homeostasis, or balance, to all its systems. For example, chocolate contains the chemical phenylethylamine (PEA), which is the exact same chemical our brain creates when we are feeling the emotion of romantic love.

A funeral reception is the opportunity for those who knew the deceased to gather together, pay their respects and support one another as they share happy memories of the deceased. Having a funeral reception catered has many benefits:

  • Relieves stress. Hiring a caterer for the funeral memorial service takes one more thing off the grieving family’s plate (pun intended). They prepare the funeral food, serve the food, and clean up after the food, which allows the family to focus on the guests in attendance, many of whom they probably haven’t seen in a while.
  • Advice on funeral food choices and budget planning. A funeral service caterer likely has served food at many funerals and can advise you as to what’s best. In the end, the funeral food you choose to serve at the memorial service is a personal choice. Don’t feel pressure to go all out and keep it simple; finger foods is fine.
  • Provides funeral food for all those who may be in attendance. Caterers are able to prepare healthy, great-tasting foods for all those in attendance, including children and those with special diets, such as vegetarians. Also, caterers can prepare funeral food for religious needs as well. And don’t forget the drinks. Water, coffee, tea, and lemonade are universally beloved by all.

Dolan Funeral Home, which serves the Chelmsford, MA, area, including communities such as Lowell, Westford, and Hudson, NH, works with preferred caterers to suit your funeral buffet catering needs. Their catering menu for memorial service is linked on our website. However, you may work with any caterer of your choice, or do-it-yourself. Dolan’s Funeral Home is committed to making the celebration of life for loved ones as easy as possible by helping with your catering needs. We’ll be more than happy to help you arrange a caterer or choose funeral food options. Contact us today about all of our funeral services!

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The History of Funeral Food


Food during funerals has a long and rich history. Funeral feasts were part of both ancient Egyptian and Roman funeral traditions. Archaeologists recently discovered evidence of what they believe to be the world’s oldest funeral feast, which dates back 12,000 years ago.

The living still have to eat even when a loved one’s death can make their world stop. Having food and giving the gift of food is a fundamental connection humans share. It’s a way to express sympathy for the person making the meal, especially in today’s busy world where a lot of us don’t even make our own home-cooked meals anymore. For the receiver, it’s one less thing to worry about.

Food as a way of saying “I’m sorry for your loss” is common across cultures and religions and has been for thousands of years.

  • In colonial America, especially amongst the German and British colonists, as people walked from the church to the grave they ate a molasses cookie or funeral biscuit and drank an alcoholic beverage of some type. This was a form of communion. These cookies were much like modern-day cookies in size and shape and featured a stamp of a cross, heart, death’s head, or cherub on their tops.
  • In the Victorian Age in Britain, funeral biscuits became big business. Local bakeries would run advertisements, promising cookies in a hurry when a sudden death occurred. These cookies were often ornately wrapped with printed Bible verses. Like church holy cards, these cookie wrappings served as keepsakes to remember the dead. Death notices evolved out of these early cookie wrappings and began to be sent around to friends and families as notices and as comfort food.
  • In the Hindu faith, baskets of fruit or vegetables are commonly given to families.
  • Jambalaya is the food of choice at funerals in New Orleans.
  • The Amish bring a raisin-filled funeral pie.
  • In the American South, classic feel-good comfort foods like fried chicken and macaroni and cheese are common.
  • In Sweden, Funeral Glogg is used to toast the departed.
  • The Midwest is famous for classic funeral hot dishes and casseroles.
  • Utah and Idaho have their signature dish: Funeral potatoes. Funeral potatoes are a popular dish for all kinds of events, but they got their start as a common side dish at Mormon after-funeral dinners.


  • Classics. Meat and potatoes, spaghetti and meatballs, macaroni and cheese, and pizza are all foods most people like. You’ll want to be aware of any dietary restrictions of the grieving family and keep the food mildly-flavored to satisfy all paletes.
  • Make it disposable. Grieving families don’t have the time or energy to do dishes. Include paper plates and cups and plastic silverware to make clean up easy.
  • Drop off commonly-used groceries. If you don’t want to cook, can’t cook, or don’t have the time to cook, dropping off necessary groceries is another great way to help the grieving. Milk, eggs, bread, and chocolate are great food choices to consider.
    Make it microwaveable. Easy to reheat food will be most appreciated by the grieving family, so the family can eat when they are hungry.

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How to Purchase a Cemetery Plot

There are many reasons to purchase a burial plot in a cemetery ahead of time.

  • Less expensive. When you purchase a burial plot in advance, you’ll most likely save money. Your family won’t be rushed into a decision after your death, and you can take your time shopping around for options. Furthermore, a grieving family is the perfect candidate for others to take advantage of — and owners of cemeteries know this. Rushing a decision can result in your family spending thousands of dollars more than they should.
  • You choose. When you choose where you want to be buried for eternity, you’re in control. If you want to be under a big shady tree or near a stream, you get to pick.
  • Ensuring you’re next to loved ones. Buying multiple cemetery plots is usually cheaper as you usually get a deal. Plus, you ensure you’re buried next to loved ones when you buy their plot as well or the plot next to someone who has already passed.
  • As an investment. The value of land only continues to go up. Purchasing your cemetery plot for use in the future not only saves you money, but the value of the plot itself goes up, enabling you to sell it at a potential profit if need be.
  • Spread the cost out. A burial plot can be a significant cost of the burial itself, leaving the potential cost to family members upon your death. Buying a cemetery plot ahead of time allows you to pay for it ahead of time, taking one less worry off everyone’s plates.


Decide which cemetery. Are you seeking a religious cemetery or a secular one? Each cemetery and township has different rules and regulations for burial. Make sure you find out the details (such as what kind of monument you can have) before purchasing your plot. Furthermore, some cemeteries are cheaper than others (inside the city versus on the outskirts for example), so take your time and shop around to find which cemetery is right for you.
Buying the burial plot. When you purchase the burial plot or a crypt if you are choosing a mausoleum as your final resting place from the cemetery, you are not buying the actual piece of land. You are only purchasing the right to be buried on that land. This is called interment rights. Once you own the interment rights, you can choose to use them for yourself or gift them to someone else. Most cemeteries sell burial plots with the right of first refusal. This means that if you want to sell your burial plot because, for instance, you want to be buried somewhere else, you must offer it back to the cemetery first before a third-party. However, the cemetery can sell burial plots surrounding yours without first informing you. A lot of cemeteries will, however, inform you of a pending sale in case you were interested as a courtesy, recognizing the fact that burial plots can be expensive.
Buying other services. Along with buying your burial plot, some services may or may not be included in the agreement. These include: endowment care or perpetual care, which is a government-required fund that the cemetery fund for cemetery care and maintenance costs, the process of burial itself (the digging and filling of the grave), installing your headstone, and annual maintenance fees, which may be required.
Payment. Some cemeteries offer payment options, even up to five years. Be sure to inquire if there are any financing fees for this option. Or you can pay in full.
Find out exit options. Plans can change at a moment’s notice. If you decide in the future you don’t need this plot, make sure to find out any refund policies or possibilities to transfer the plot to another owner or even another cemetery all together.

Dolan Funeral Home in Chelmsford, MA, cares about our customers. We want to make sure you and your loved ones are well taken care of in a time of grief. Having as much done up-front before your death can only only save thousands of dollars, but will more importantly save your loved ones the stress and hassle of dealing with details while grieving your death. We can’t emphasize enough how important pre-planning your funeral can be.

Dolan Funeral Home offers many services for all of your funeral home needs. We offer caskets, urns, coffins, and prayer books. We offer catering service during your memorial service or celebration of life. We also offer cremation services as well as transportation services to and from the funeral home. Contact us today for all of your funeral needs!


Bringing food to those who’ve lost a loved one has been a long standing tradition. In times of grief, one is often too upset to cook, so others have brought food to express their sympathies and to help the grieving through their hard times. Continuing with tradition, Dolan Funeral Home of Chelmsford, MA, allows a caterer of your choice to serve food and beverages during a memorial service or reception. In this blog post, we’ll explore the history of food at funerals and why providing food during a loved ones celebration of life goes a long way in healing. Contact us today.

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Different Types of Cemetery Plots

Whether you’re planning a traditional burial or are planning on being cremated, there are a variety of options for you in cemetery plots.

  1. Single plots. This is a burial plot in a cemetery for one person.
  2. Companion plots. These burial plots are ideal for couples. Typically sold together, companion plots are two burial plots sold side-by-side, or as one plot with the caskets buried on top of each other (known as double depth plots). In terms of cost, double plots often offer more economical benefits because these types only require one outer burial container as opposed to two.
  3. Family plots. Family plots are multiple plots purchased together for use by an extended family. These can be in a row or in any configuration that makes sense. Often marked by a single headstone engraved with the family name with small headstones or footstones marking the individuals in the family, family plots are the most affordable type of cemetery plots.
  4. Cremation plots. These plots are designed for cremated remains. Taking up considerably less space, cremation plots allow for multiple urns in one plot. Some cemeteries have an urn garden, which is a designated space for urns. Some of these urn gardens are elaborate affairs, with the option of having your urn incorporated into rocks, benches, or fountains.

Generally speaking, the more plots you buy, the more economical the cost. Companion plots and family plots are the most popular as most people want to have their remains resting eternally next to loved ones. Cremation plots are less expensive as well due to the less space an urn takes up.

Dolan Funeral Home in Chelmsford, MA, is passionate about helping grieving loved ones through the funeral planning process. Buying a funeral plot ahead of time has many advantages, and Dolan Funeral Home can help. Contact us today for all of your funeral home needs!


Death is an unpleasant talking point for many. We don’t want to think about what happens to us after death. Yet one of the best things you can do for those whom you leave behind is preplan. From penning your will, expressing your final wishes, and picking out a tombstone, the tasks to do before you die can seem overwhelming.

Dolan Funeral Home in Chelmsford, MA, and serving all of the surrounding townships, including Lowell and Southern New Hampshire, Tyngsboro, Westford, Dunstable, Dracut, Lowell, MA, and Hudson, NH, offers pre-arrangement services to help you with all the tasks as you approach the end of life process. We are here to help answer questions you may have, offer guidance on service arrangements and casket selection as well as cemetery selection. In this blog post, Dolan Funeral Home will offer guidance on how to purchase a cemetery plot.

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Chelmsford Funeral Home

Dolan Funeral Home in Chelmsford, MA, serves the great Lowell areas, including the communities of Tewksbury and Dracut. In the state of Massachusetts, we are required to transport your loved one from his or her place of passing to our funeral home in a hearse that is registered. Law dictates that we also use a hearse to transport your loved one to his or her final resting place.

Dolan Funeral Home is fortunate to have use of a 1927 Velie Henney hearse as part of our fleet. The National Museum of Funeral History has many antique hearses in their collection, making it possible to see the history up close and personal. America continues to honor and remember our dead, and hearses have become integral to the funeral process.

A Chelmsford funeral home, Dolan Funeral Home is a full-service funeral home for all of your funeral arrangement needs. We offer embalming, cremating, traditional burial, and celebration of life ceremonies. We work with amazing caterers in the Lowell area to complete your visitation, funeral service, and celebration of life ceremony. We have a complete showroom of caskets and urns for you to choose from as well as pre-arrangement services and aftercare to serve you throughout the entire burial process. From helping you choose the best cemetery to aiding you in the legal aspects of death, Dolan Funeral Home will answer all of the questions you may have. We’ll work with you if your loved one has died far from home or if your loved one has requested his or her body be donated to medical science.

Dolan Funeral Home understands the difficulty funerals can be when you lose a loved one. Our mission is to make the funeral planning process as seamless as possible so you can concentrate on more important things, such as being with family. We’re here to help. If you’re in the greater Lowell and Southern New Hampshire regions, including Tewksbury and Dracut areas, contact Dolan Funeral Home today for all your funeral service needs!

Dolan Funeral Home in Chelmsford, MA, is a leader in providing funeral home services in the Chelmsford area. We proudly serve the communities of Lowell and Southern New Hampshire, including Chelmsford, N. Chelmsford, Tyngsboro, Westford, Dunstable, Dracut, Lowell, MA, and Hudson, NH with funeral, burial, and cremation needs. Our mission is to not only help you with all of your funeral needs, but also to help you with your needs before and after the funeral of a loved one. We offer pre-planning services as well as aftercare services to help you navigate the ins and outs a death in the family can entail. In this blog post, we’ll discuss the different types of cemetery plots.

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History of the Hearse

The hearse is synonymous with funerals. Usually black in color, a hearse is a long car specifically designed to carry a coffin and is used almost exclusively for such a purpose. But did you know a hearse did not always refer to a car that transported the dead? So how did the hearse come about? A Chelmsford funeral home, Dolan Funeral Home, offers the best funeral home services in the greater Lowell area in Massachusetts. In this blog post, we’ll review the incredible history of the hearse. Contact us today!


Interestingly, when the word hearse is mentioned, an image of a long, black car carrying a coffin pops up. However, hearse didn’t always refer to a car. In fact, hearse referred to a castrum doloris, which is a frame that held candles and decorations over the coffin during a funeral. Like half the words in the English language, the word (originally spelled herse) comes to us from the Latin word “hirpicem,” which means a large rake. The castrum doloris were triangular in shape and had spikes for the candles, thus resembling a rake — hence the name. Then hearse meant the structure around a coffin until finally settling on a vehicle used during a funeral procession around the mid 17th century.


In ancient times, when people died, someone had to carry the body to its final resting place. Warriors would place dead kin on shields and haul them off the battlefield. For thousands of years, biers were used which were simple wooden structures resembling stretchers that both served as the place loved one rested before burial and the transport method when it was time to transport to the cemetery. Native Americans constructed travois, or wooden frame structures to first carry and then use a horse to pull the dead to the burial ground. What began as a purely utilitarian need (transport a heavy body) became an elaborate ritual and part of the grieving and mourning process when a loved one dies.


A hearse (or funeral coaches in some countries and a more common usage amongst those in the funeral industry) began as a hand-drawn cart with a built-in frame to prevent the coffin from slipping. As the hearses became more decorated and elaborate, horses were recruited to draw the coach in the early 1600s. Hearse trolleys came about in the late 1800s, which allowed bodies to be transported by rail. This continued until the invention of the automobile, with the first electric motorized hearses used in the United States in the early 1900s. In 1909, the first hearse was built using a gas-powered engine. These motorized hearses were slow to catch on due to the cost. However, as the price of cars went down, the popularity of hearses increased due to the easier upkeep than a horse and the fact that a car is faster than a horse.

From the 1920s to the middle part of the 1900s, funeral coaches served as both ambulance and hearse in small towns, which must have sent an interesting and possibly frightening message if you called an ambulance and a hearse showed up. These vehicles were known as combination coaches.

In 1938, Sayers and Scovill introduced the landau style of hearse. Harkening back to the Victorian era, a Landau was a horse-drawn, four-wheeled enclosed carriage with a removable front cover and a back cover that could be raised and lowered. Adapted to the motorized vehicle, the look created a semi-convertible where the rear quarter of the car could be opened up by folding the cover at the landau joints. The funeral industry embraced the look and the leather-backed hearse with its faux landau bar became popular. However, in the 1970, new regulations for ambulances were passed and now it’s very rare for an ambulance to be a hearse as well.


The form of a hearse has largely remained unchanged with a longer back to slide the coffin in. It’s interesting to note that no hearses are mass-produced; instead, hearses are custom made using luxury car chassis, such as a Cadillac, Lincoln, or Buick. The luxury car is essentially cut in half and then put back together on a longer chassis, using fiberglass to merge the two parts together.

In the back of this newly-created hearse, a long platform on rollers is placed so the coffin can be rolled in and out. Pin plates hold the casket in place so it doesn’t slide around during transport. Drapes are placed in the windows along the length of the coach. The S-shaped landau bars are still popular on many hearses today, having become almost a signature look. A brand new hearse today costs around $100,000.

In Europe, especially the United Kingdom, the limousine hearse style is the most popular hearse form. These are longer and characterized by narrow pillars and more glass windows, which are usually left unobscured.

Like other cars, hearses are collected as well and customized. You may see a motorcycle hearse or even a party wagon at your favorite sporting event, turned into an amazing tailgate vehicle. You may see a hearse customized and decked out with custom wheels, rims, and shiny paint jobs. The possibilities for a hearse are limited only by imagination.

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The 5 Stages of Grief

When a loved one dies, you may be disconsolate, in shock, and devastated — all rolled into one. At Dolan Funeral Home in Chelmsford, MA, we understand the impact a death in the family can have. We are here to help with all your funeral home needs, from start to finish, so you can focus on being with your family and the grieving process. Contact us today!




These five stages of grief were first proposed by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in her 1969 book On Death and Dying. These stages are universal and affect everyone no matter what culture you’re from: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally acceptance. These will be different for everyone, but overall you may experience a period in all these stages. Know that this is a normal part of the healing and grieving process.


  1. Denial. Immediately upon hearing of a death, especially an unexpected death, denial happens. We block out the knowledge and pretend it didn’t happen. When the death finally sinks in, we lose ourselves in the world and our place in the world. Life loses some of its meaning as we struggle to find our place without that person in it. We may enter a period of shock where numbness takes over and anything that happens to us — good or bad — has no meaning. You question everything while in this denial period. Furthermore, you are at your most vulnerable in this stage to being taken advantage of, especially from scammers.
  2. Anger. There is no shame at being mad at what has occurred, especially if the death of your loved one was an accident. Anger is a natural human emotion that can ground you in this time in your life. You may be angry at others, the one who caused the death, doctors, or at God or any other deity you may worship. You may even blame the loved one who died because you resent him or her for leaving you alone in this world. Then you’ll feel guilty over feeling such a thing. Anger is a symptom of the pain you feel, which will lead to grief. The angrier you are at the death of a loved one, the more intense your love for them. Don’t try to suppress it, but do try to find a healthy outlet for it rather than blowing up at Aunt Martha who showed up in a pink dress at the funeral. Exercise, particularly one that involves a punching bag, is cathartic.
  3. Bargaining. “If only…” or “what if…” marks this third stage of grief. A desire to go back in time and change things — change events that may have led to a tragic death, change our last words to our loved one, and change the death itself — becomes prominent. You start to believe you may have contributed to the death, and start blaming yourself. You live in the past in this phase, oblivious to what is happening around you and virtually incapable of planning for the future. It’s one day at a time. You may even progress to negotiating with the pain that you feel, wishing for it to end.
  4. Depression. Completely normal and a phase of grief almost everyone experiences, feeling sad, questioning the meaning of life, and wondering how you will move forward are normal responses. Life can hold no meaning and feel empty, especially if the space your loved one used to occupy. Activities you used to do together and the places you used to go together can seem barren and even odious to you now. Note, there is nothing wrong with you, and most of the time you do not have clinical depression. This is a necessary part of healing even though it may feel like your life has ended. Taking it one day at a time is all you can do in this stage and knowing somewhere in the back of your mind that this stage will pass with time.
  5. Acceptance. Realizing that life without your loved one is your new reality is the hallmark of this last stage of grief. This in no way makes the death of your loved one okay. In fact, you may never feel okay about the loss. You realize that you have to go on living, and it’s learning how to live without your loved one. This will take time as well, and we shouldn’t feel guilty about this. You won’t “bounce back”, and you’ll still have rough days, like for instance when you have to have someone else do household tasks that your loved one normally did. It’s okay. Don’t fight the process and allow yourself to feel whatever it is that you feel. Gradually, with time, you’ll begin to live again. Try to do this without feeling guilty that you are still alive and your loved one is not. Instead, know in your heart that your loved one would want you to move on, to enjoy a cup of coffee with friends, a vacation at the beach, and a ride in a hot air balloon.


It’s important to remember that these are general guidelines to the stages of the grieving process. Everyone grieves differently and you may jump in and out of stages repeatedly or even skip a phase altogether, and that is okay. Everyone copes with grief differently as well. You may find yourself sobbing uncontrollably or you may internalize your grief. Below are tips to cope with your grief:


  • Seek out others. Even though all you may want to do is be by yourself, you’ll need others around you to offer words of wisdom, to comfort you, or to just be present while you cope. Let them make you a home cooked meal, buy you groceries, and pick up your kids from school. That’s why we have each other to lean on in times of need.
  • Focus on self-care. Even though you may not feel like eating, you need to eat. Even though you may not feel like going to the gym, you need to exercise. Many turn to alcohol or drugs to numb the pain and to not feel the emotions of loss. This is not only detrimental to your health but also will only delay the natural healing process you need to go through.
  • Remember the good times. Reminiscence often about your loved one. He or she will always live in your heart and your mind, and remind yourself often that you are a better person because of his or her presence in your life.
  • Rely on your faith. When doubt creeps in, turn to faith. Know you will see your loved one again.
  • Allow yourself to grieve. Grief is necessary to healing. Feel the emotions, and don’t deny them.
  • Seek professional help if need be. Therapists are specially trained to help those going through the stages of grief and are trained to equip you with the tools to heal.


Dolan Funeral Home in Chelmsford, MA, serves the greater Lowell area, including Tewksbury and Dracut. As part of our aftercare program, we can assist you in finding help with your grief through appropriate support services. Our mission is to help you through the grieving process. Anytime you need support, please call us. Dolan Funeral Home cares. Contact us today!

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