Commonly Asked Questions

Commonly Asked Questions

The following is a list of questions commonly asked before, during or after a death has occurred. If you have a question and it is not listed below, please call (813) 783-9900 and speak to one of our directors.

What am I supposed to do when I am faced with the loss of a loved one?

Call the funeral home you have entrusted with your loved one. If you have selected Whitfield Funeral Home. Our number is (813) 783-9900, we will schedule an appointment and assist you with every detail necessary to respectfully memorialize your loved one regardless of service option selected. Some information we will request to complete vital statistic requirements are:

  • Social Security Number
  • Date of Birth
  • Place of Birth
  • Any Pre-Arrangement/Insurance Documents
  • Father’s Name
  • Mother’s Maiden Name
  • Veteran’s Discharge or Claim Number
  • Education
  • Marital Status
  • Contact your clergy. If you don’t have anyone specific, we can provide clergy for you
  • Make a list and notify the immediate family, close friends and employer or business colleagues
  • Select pallbearers and notify the funeral home
  • Decide donation to which gifts may be made if this was a wish of your loved one (church, hospice, library, charity or school)
  • Gather obituary information, including age, place of birth, cause of death, occupation, college degrees, memberships held, military service, outstanding work, list of survivors in immediate family
  • Locate the will and notify lawyer and executor
  • Plan for disposition of flowers after funeral (church, hospital or rest home)
  • Notify insurance companies
  • Check all life and casualty insurance and death benefits including Social Security, credit union, trade union, fraternal, and military
How long can I get a Death Certificate locally?

You can get a Death Certificate at your local Vital Statistics office for 3 years. After that, you must get them from the Vital Statistics office in Jacksonville, Florida.

What are the choices for interment of the deceased?

A choice must be made regarding permanent arrangements for the remains — whether the deceased’s body is to be cremated. The place of interment is also commonly referred to as a “final resting place.” Typical options for interment of either whole body or cremated remains are:

  • Earth burial
  • Entombment
  • Burial at sea
  • Whole body donation or organ donation followed by one of the above methods of interment
What options are available for earth burial?

In the United States, most people are buried in cemeteries. For earth burial, cemeteries offer single grave plots, double-depth plots, and lawn crypts. Single graves require a casket and most cemeteries also require some type of outer burial container. Double-depth burial spaces involve placing one casket on top of another in a grave space. Lawn crypts are underground tombs similar to double-depth graves. However, lawn crypts are pre-constructed structures, usually made of reinforced concrete and steel, that house the caskets.

Grave plots are typically marked with some type of headstone – either an upright monument or flush-to-the-ground marker.

What options are available for entombment?

Entombment involves placing the casketed remains in a concrete enclosure known as a crypt. Mausoleums are buildings that are constructed for purposes of housing crypts. Mausoleums may be enclosed buildings or open-air structures and may serve private families or entire communities.

Mausoleum crypts are sealed and marked with a face panel, usually made of granite or marble. When visiting the crypt, all you see is the face panel with the name of the person and other information typically found on grave markers.

Lawn crypts are a form of underground entombment. When visiting them, they’ll look like regular grave spaces with headstones to memorialize the deceased.

How do interment options differ for cremated remains?

Cremated remains are generally placed in an urn or some other type of container. Cemeteries provide grave spaces for earth burial as well as entombment in a columbarium.

Columbarium’s are structures containing many small compartments (“niches”) for enclosure of urns. Columbarium’s are oftentimes located within mausoleums.

Survivors often keep Cremated remains at home in urns. Many decorative styles of urns are available. Scattering of cremated remains is another common option. Local regulations govern the scattering of cremated remains on public property. Cemeteries offer scattering gardens for this purpose.

What are the considerations in choosing between earth burial and entombment?

Earth burial vs. entombment is essentially a matter of personal preference. Some people prefer the idea of being entombed above ground in a more protected environment. Others are opposed to extensive land use for purposes of burial and view entombment as a more environmentally-friendly option. Perpetual care and maintenance of a grave space may be a concern. Costs are always an issue; however, costs can vary widely for either earth burial or entombment.

How do I arrange a burial at sea?

Service providers specializing in burial at sea are available through funeral directors or by contacting them directly. These service providers are familiar with the various federal and state laws and will handle all governmental reporting requirements.

The most common method of burial at sea is a scattering of cremated remains. Whole body burials are possible, but they are more involved due, in part, to regulations requiring them to be done at a specific depth of the sea and the need for a specially prepared casket that will descend to the ocean floor.

The Department of the Navy offers free burial at sea services for veterans and their families subject to certain restrictions.

How does a whole body or organ donation affect funeral ceremonies?

Donation of organs or donation of the body should not affect funeral ceremonies. Donated organs must be transplanted shortly after death. After the organs have been taken, all aspects of the funeral can proceed as they would otherwise, including an open casket viewing, traditional funeral services, and burial or cremation. Likewise, donation of a body to medical science can be preceded by a viewing and funeral ceremonies.

How do I become an organ donor?

Take these 3 steps to ensure that your donation wishes will be followed:

Make your family aware of your decision to donate. Family consent will be needed regardless of whether you have signed a Donor Card or a Driver’s License. They will be more likely to follow your wishes if you have discussed the issue with them previously.

Sign a Uniform Donor Card and have 2 people (preferably family members) sign as witnesses. The back of your Driver’s License may also have a donor authorization form.

Carry the Donor Card in your wallet at all times

What is cremation and how is it done?

Cremation is the process of reducing the body to its basic elements. The body is generally cremated in an appropriate casket or container and only one body is cremated at a time. The contained body is placed in a cremation chamber (“retort”) where it is exposed to open flames. Intense heat and evaporation reduce it to fragments within 2 to 3 hours. The resulting fragments are then processed further into finer particles. Cremated remains of an adult may weigh 3 to 9 pounds, depending on the size of the body. The cremated remains are placed in a permanent urn or a temporary container for transport.

What preparation is required before cremation?

Potentially hazardous medical devices such as pacemakers must be removed prior to cremation. Also, any jewelry or personal articles should be removed or else they will be destroyed during the cremation process. The body may be embalmed prior to cremation if required for an open casket viewing or transportation.

Are there any legal restrictions regarding cremation?

Since it is an irreversible process, many states require that a coroner or medical examiner authorize all cremations. This ensures that they will have the opportunity to determine cause of death prior to cremation. Some states impose minimum time limits prior to cremation.

Can there be a funeral ceremony when cremation has been chosen?

Yes. A traditional funeral service with the body in an open or closed casket can precede the cremation. Rental caskets with removable interiors or specially designed cremation caskets are available for traditional funerals. Alternatively, a memorial service can be held following the cremation.

If cremation is selected, what should be done with the cremated remains?

Cremated remains are generally placed in an urn or some other type of container. Cemeteries provide grave spaces for earth burial as well as entombment in a columbarium. Columbarium’s are structures containing many small compartments (“niches”) for enclosure of urns. Columbarium’s may be free-standing structures or located within mausoleums.

Family members often keep cremated remains of loved ones at home. Many decorative styles of urns are available. Scattering of cremated remains is another common option. Local regulations govern the scattering

What type of container is used for cremated remains?

Cremated remains of an adult may weigh three to nine pounds, which averages about the size of a shoe box, depending on the size of the body. Choice of container depends somewhat on whether the ashes will be buried, entombed, scattered or kept at home.

A temporary container, such as a cardboard box, is adequate if you plan to do a scattering. A permanent container, such as an urn, may be more desirable for burial or entombment. Urns can be made of marble, stone, copper, brass or other materials. For display at home, there are many styles of decorative urns to choose from. Pendants are sometimes used to carry a portion of the cremated remains on a necklace