Posts Tagged ‘funeral arrangements’

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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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!


  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.


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.


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.


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!


  • 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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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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