Ask a Director

Carnell’s is pleased to answer all your questions regarding any aspect of our products and services. We understand and support your need to be fully informed of your options. And we want you to feel free to discuss, with us, any questions or concerns you may have. For some frequently asked questions, please click on the appropriate selection, below:

How popular is cremation?

The first crematorium in Newfoundland was installed in 1986. Prior to this the cremation rate in the Province was less than 1% for the total deaths or approximately 20 cremations annually. Now almost 18 years later there are 6 crematories and the cremation rate has risen to just over 10% or approximately 450 cremations annually.

In the St. John’s Region, where 3 crematories are located, the cremation rate is now estimated to be over 30% of the deaths in the region or approximately 350 annually.

Across North America more and more families are asking about or considering cremation. Statistics show that in Canada the cremation rate has grown from about 6% in 1970 to approximately 36% of total deaths in 2004 (approximately 85,000). The Cremation Association of North America projects the Canadian cremation rate to reach over 47% by 2010. In the U.S. a rate of just over 36% is predicted by 2010.

Visit our Cremation section, to learn more.

Should we bring young children to the Funeral Home?

Children experience grief just as adults do. However, it is important to remember that children deal with death differently at different ages and their reactions are not always obvious or immediate. Some children mature faster than others. The level of a child’s emotional development should be taken into consideration by an adult before talking to a child about death or bringing them into a funeral home.

From the Funeral Director’s perspective no restrictions are placed on the family. The final decision to bring young children to the funeral home is always their’s to make and will depend on the child and the circumstances. Nevertheless the funeral director can assist those adults willing to talk openly to their child or children about the death of a love one. There are some wonderful resource materials available for both children and adults relating to the death of a parent, grandparent or special relative or friend that the funeral director can provide or recommend. Some of these include coloring books for children depicting the various stages of a funeral and brochures for adults on answering a child’s questions about death. The animated musical video Charlotte’s Web, a story of miracles – the miracle of birth, the miracle of friendship, the miracle of death also provides children with exceptional insight into some of life’s mysteries.

A child needs adults to confirm that it’s all right to be sad and to cry; that the hurt they feel now won’t last forever.

Visit our Helping Children section, to learn more.

Does the deceased have to be embalmed?

No. Embalming is not a requirement in Newfoundland. The choice to do so is left to the family and may depend on such factors as whether or not there will be an open casket with viewing; if the remains is to be transported by air or rail; the length of time prior to interment etc.

Must the casket or urn be interred in an outer wooden shell or vault?

With the exception of the Anglican Cemeteries and the Veteran’s Field of Honor in Mount Pleasant Cemetery there is no specific requirement for the use of an outer wooden shell or vault in any of the other cemeteries in St. John’s.

In regards to the Field of Honor, Veteran’s Affairs Canada requireds the use of a concrete vault. The reason for this is to accommodate two casket interments in a single grave, one at extra depth and the second at standard depth.

Although not a requirement in most, the use of an outer wooden grave liner or vault is a common practice in all local cemeteries. Reasons for their usage include added protection for the casket or urn when the grave is filled, to stabilize the sides of the grave prior to the final committal and in the case of concrete and steel vaults to keep the earth from settling.

What should one do if the death of a loved one occurs while that person is travelling?

In this situation, a family may choose to either contact a Funeral Home in the community in which the person resides or in the location where death occurs.

If a family is familiar with a funeral home in the community in which the person resides, it is generally recommended, regardless of where death has occurred, to contact the funeral home in that community. The funeral director will then make all the necessary arrangements to transport the remains back home. Funeral arrangements can then be made, on a personal basis, upon the family’s return.

If a funeral home in the location where death occurs is contacted, similar transportation arrangements would be made by that funeral home to ensure the remains are transferred to a funeral home in the community in which the deceased resides.

The above noted alternatives assume the family would desire a traditional funeral service with viewing and earth burial. Another option would be the cremation of the deceased at the place of death with the cremated remains transported home by the family for interment or scattering.

Should the remains be transported home, some preparation and embalming will be necessary to meet the carrier’s requirements. The carrier will accept a “shipping container” designed for this purpose or the remains may be shipped in a casket.

Visit our Repatriation Services section, to learn more.

Can we scatter the cremated remains?

There are no provincial Regulations prohibiting the scattering of cremated remains on crown land. Permission should be sought from the landowner if scattering is desired on private land. Ironically scattering is not permitted in local St. John’s cemeteries. Nor is it permitted in National Historic Parks, such as, Signal Hill, without first seeking permission from the Park Administrator. Scattering at sea is also permitted but the procedures used must comply with Federal Government Regulations.

Click here is you would like more information about “Burial At Sea”

Visit our Scattering section, to learn more.

Do funeral directors have a difficult time doing their job or do they become hardened to it?

It is always difficult to experience the grief and sorrow felt by families when someone they love dies. What helps more is knowing that the advice and service provided is reassuring to families and helps them begin the healing process. Then when the funeral is over hearing those you serve say, “Everything was beautiful, thank you for all your help”, is quite gratifying.

You never get used to death. Instead, by confronting it, one acquires a greater appreciation of life and enjoys even more ones family and friends.

Is cremation cheaper than a traditional funeral?

The answer to this question is not a simple yes or no. If cremation is considered as just one method of preparing the deceased for final committal, then a cremation service need not differ from that of a traditional funeral. In that case the cost of a cremation service may be equivalent to that of a traditional service. This assumes the service provided include the purchase of a casket and urn.

However, if direct or immediate cremation with scattering is chosen the cost of cremation services will be significantly lower than that of a traditional funeral. By way of comparison, each year the Canadian Independent Group (CIG), which is an Association of over 500 independently owned funeral homes in Canada, conducts a national survey of its members wherein the average costs of various services provided are calculated on a regional basis.

For example in Eastern Canada the average charges in 2003 for the services described are as follows:

$1168.00 Direct Cremation
(includes removal of the deceased from place of death, documentation and cremation)
$2877.00 Professional services for a Traditional Adult Funeral
(includes preparation, provision of facilities, equipment and transportation)

Note, this does not include the cost of a casket, cemetery charges or out-of-pocket expenses.

The extent of a cremation service may be as elaborate or simple as a family desires. More options are available if cremation is chosen. These may include the use of a rental casket for viewing, a period of visitation with the urn present or a memorial service with scattering. The above noted cost for direct cremation is an average no frills charge. This cost will, of course, increase as the services and merchandise provided become more elaborate.

Can you be an organ donor and still have a traditional funeral with viewing?

Organ donation does not mean a closed casket. Regardless of the extent of the medical procedure to facilitate organ removal the techniques employed by licensed embalmers ensure the integrity of the deceased’s appearance will not be compromised.

The only impact, albeit minor, the decision to be an organ donor might have would be in the timing of the release of the remains to the funeral home. This, of course, would depend on the complexity of the organ retrieval procedures and the length of time it would take for the medical team to respond. Notwithstanding these factors, the delay in the preparation of the deceased for viewing should not exceed 24 hours.

Visit our Anatomical Gifts section, to learn more.

What is the composition of the residue remaining after the cremation process?

Many people believe the residue, which remains after the cremation process, consists solely of ashes. This is not so. Cremation is a technical process, which reduces the remains to its basic elements, primarily bone particles and fragments.

These basic elements, depending on the size of the deceased, may weigh anywhere between 3 to 8 pounds and are further reduced in size for placement in urn or container.

As the deceased is usually cremated in a wooden casket or rigid container there is some residue of ash remaining after cremation. However, the dark ashes are easily distinguished from the light bone particles and fragments, which are removed from the ashes prior to their reduction. Therefore. The urn contains the “cremated remains” of the deceased not his or her “ashes”.

Visit our Cremation Explained section, to learn more.

Can I preplan the funeral of a parent who may be ill or is reluctant to do so themselves?

It is not uncommon for persons terminally ill or incapacitated to have their funeral preplanned by a third party, such as, a next-of-kin, executor, legal representative or friend with or in many cases, without their knowledge.

In a case where the subject of preplanning arrangements is in poor health and is unable to sign any documentation, then the third party should clearly identify to the funeral director his or her relationship to the subject and his or her authority to make such arrangements.

Although not a requirement, the choice to prepay these funeral services would also be available to a third party.

Visit our Preplanning section, to learn more.

I want to donate my body to medical science. Do I have to look after my funeral?

When one donates their body to medical science, the estate of the deceased essentially assigns all rights to the body, including its final disposition, to the Medical School. It would then be the School’s responsibility to look after all funeral arrangements once their work was completed.

It is understood the Medical School will release the remains of the deceased to a funeral home approximately 18 to 24 months after the date of death. Again, the final decision respecting the selection of a funeral home along with the desired services will rest with the School. However, the wishes of the family are taken into consideration.

In most instances the deceased will be cremated immediately upon his or her release to the funeral home with the cremated remains placed in a wooden urn or temporary container. The family may then wish to have a memorial service at graveside.

If cremation is not desired the School will contribute to the purchase of a casket or provide one, which will at least meet the Provincial Government specifications for indigent funerals. In this case the remains would be placed in a casket for immediate burial at a cemetery chosen by the family.

With the exception of the purchase of an expensive casket, the Medical School will incur all costs associated with the funeral services provided. They will also place a small headstone or bronze marker on the grave of the deceased.

Visit our Anatomical Gifts section, to learn more.

What happens if the casket previously selected during the preplanning meeting is not available at the time of need?

Should a selected casket, or any other product be discontinued or out-of-stock at time of need, alternate of equal or higher value and quality will be provided. Most funeral homes have a wide range of products on hand to satisfy this product guarantee.

Visit our Preplanning section, to learn more.