Funeral FAQ's

We’ve provided a list below of answers to questions we are frequently asked about funerals and the services we provide. If you have any additional questions, please feel free to contact us. We’d be happy to give you more information and clarify any of your concerns.

If the death is sudden and unexpected, call the 911 and the appropriate emergency response team will be dispatched including the police and medical examiner. If the death is expected and under the care of “Home Care”, please call the funeral home at (403)274-0576.

If you request immediate assistance, yes. We answer our phone immediately and can typically arrive at any Calgary address within one hour from the time we receive your call.

Local emergency personnel will be there to help you where you are at first, but from there we can help out. Your funeral director can assist you if a death occurs anywhere in Canada or around the world. You can contact us at (403)274-0576. We will assume responsibility and coordinate the arrangements for the return of your loved one to Calgary for funeral services. We typically engage the services of a funeral director in the place of death who will act as our agent. We’ll do this as quickly and easily as possible.

The funeral is a gathering of people to recognize the death of an individual in the form of a ceremony, religious or otherwise. A funeral offers an opportunity for the survivors and others who share in the loss to express their shared love, respect and grief. It allows you to openly face the crisis that a death may present and share that with others. Through the funeral, the bereaved take that first step towards emotionally adjusting to their loss.

A memorial service is also a gathering of people to observe and accept the death of an individual similar to a funeral. Many people consider the difference to be that a funeral has a casket present and a memorial service will have an urn present or no remains of the deceased at all.

A celebration of life could be similar to a funeral or memorial service. The defining feature of a celebration of life is that the ceremony is positive and focused on sharing memories and remembering the life of the deceased rather than focusing on their death.

A private service is by invitation only where selected relatives and a few close friends attend the funeral service.

Whether you choose a funeral, memorial service, celebration of life or private service, all types of services and ceremonies have significance and value to the attendees. All services provide a caring, supportive environment where loved ones and friends can recognize the death, and to share thoughts and feelings about that person. These types of gatherings are the first step in the healing process.

The type of service that will be held for the deceased is chosen by them before their death or by their family after their passing. Funerals can be planned in advance and very specific wishes can be shared for the family to follow. Funeral directors are trained to help you arrange the desired type of service. The service is usually held at a place of worship or at the funeral home in Calgary, however other venues can be considered and may be more appropriate in your unique circumstances.

Absolutely, in fact, we recommend and encourage it. After all, the funeral is a celebration of life so it should reflect the unique life of the person being honoured. Our staff has years of experience getting to know families and incorporating their loved ones’ hobbies, activities, interests and unique requests into meaningful and memorable services and into the funeral reception. Don’t hesitate to inquire about any ideas or requests you may have because you think they might be out of range. We’re honoured to work with you to plan a funeral reception that truly reflects and celebrates your loved one’s individual life journey. You’re welcome to call us at (403)274-0576 to explore the possibilities.

There are many reasons to view the deceased and share that experience with others. Grief experts believe that viewing the deceased aids the grief process by helping the bereaved recognize the reality and finality of death. It can also be a great comfort. It is an important part of many cultural, ethnic and religious traditions. Viewing is even encouraged for children, as long as it is their desire to do so, the process is explained well and they are supported during the experience.

A funeral director is a licensed professional who specializes in all aspects of funerals and related services. They are also caregivers and administrators. They provide guidance and support to the family by helping to identify the services and final disposition the family wishes. Funeral directors are listeners, advisors and supporters. They make the arrangements for the transportation of the deceased, complete all necessary paperwork and implement the selections made by the family. Their job is to ensure everything goes according to plan for you. Funeral directors have the knowledge and information to answer questions about practical matters, such as cemetery spaces, caskets, vaults, urns, flowers or placing obituaries in a Calgary newspaper. They also offer guidance about the logistical & emotional realities of a funeral. Funeral directors have experience assisting the bereaved in coping with death and can provide extra support and recommendations for professional help if needed.

Embalming sanitizes and preserves the body, impedes the decomposition process and enhances the appearance of a loved one’s body. This is done by using preservative chemicals in the body’s circulatory system. It makes it possible to lengthen the time between death and the final disposition, thus allowing family members time to arrange and participate in the type of service they will find most comforting. Embalming the body also enables mourners to view the deceased if they wish. The emotional benefits of viewing the deceased are significant, particularly to those having difficulty accepting or dealing with the death.

Embalming is not required by law, but we highly recommend it if you want a viewing. The factors of time, health and possible legal requirements might make embalming either appropriate or necessary. Embalming may be required if the deceased is being transported by air to another country where local laws need to be observed. Funeral homes in Calgary can advise you on the requirements in these situations.

Definitely! In fact, we encourage you to do so. Choosing cremation only indicates how you’d like to care for your loved one and does not exclude you from celebrating and honouring their life in any way. Whether you’d like to have a visitation and funeral service with your loved one present and then follow it with cremation, or wait and hold the service after the cremation, we’re happy to help you design a service to satisfy your wishes. Cremation is simply one option for final disposition of the body.

No, cremation is an alternative to earth burial or entombment for the body’s final disposition. Cremation in Calgary can occur before or after a service. When the body is present for a service and is then cremated, we refer to this as a traditional funeral followed by cremation. When the cremation is completed before the service, it is considered a memorial service. We can assist you with the necessary information to make the best decision for your family.

There are several options that you can choose for your loved ones cremated remains. A family can choose to bury the cremated remains in a cemetery, or to have them placed within a niche in a columbarium. Columbaria are often located within a cemetery and may be a building, a room or a series of niches along walls. Some cemeteries also have other options including scattering gardens where many cremated remains may be placed together. You may also choose to take cremated remains home for storage or for display. Others may choose to scatter them in a special place, though it is advisable to check local restrictions on scattering remains on public property and obtain permission for private property. Your funeral director can provide you with more information and guidance.

Cremation is the process of reducing the body to bone fragments through the application of intense heat using fire. This usually takes two to four hours and occurs in a cremation chamber or retort at a crematorium in Calgary. The remaining fragments are processed into a finer substance. We refer to the remaining material as “cremated remains”.

Obituaries are not necessary in Calgary, but they do satisfy the requirement of “public notice” if an estate requires it. With the increased use of social media, it has become very easy to let people know when a death has occurred and to offer a tribute and share service details. Of course, not everyone uses social media, so it can still be helpful to have an obituary notice published. Your funeral director can assist with composing an obituary to be published in the newspaper and shared on social media.

No, however we do require that the deceased be placed in a rigid, combustible container for placement in the cremation chamber. We offer inexpensive cremation containers at our crematorium for this purpose.

In some respects, funerals are a lot like weddings or birthday celebrations. The type of funeral will dictate the costs, which will vary significantly according to the choices and budget of the family of the deceased.

A funeral home is a 24-hour a day, labour-intensive business, with extensive facilities (viewing rooms, chapels, limousines, hearses, etc.). These expenses are factored into the cost of a funeral, when they are used. The cost of a funeral includes not only merchandise, like caskets and flowers, but also the services of a funeral director in making arrangements, filing appropriate forms, dealing with doctors, ministers, florists, newspapers and others and seeing to all the necessary details. Contrary to popular belief, family-owned funeral homes in Calgary operate with a modest profit margin. Many people don’t realize just how much work goes into getting everything just right in a very short period of time.

Funeral costs have increased no faster than the consumer price index for other commonly purchased items.

Funerals can cost as little as $1195 for a direct disposition. Direct disposition includes registering the death, a basic cremation container, transporting the deceased to our crematorium in Calgary and the cremation fee. For a full-service funeral for an adult, consumers typically choose to spend an average of $7,500. This includes a professional service, transfer-of remains, embalming, other preparation, hosting a viewing, hosting a ceremony, stationary, hearse, limousine and casket. With the added costs of cemetery space, obituaries, receptions and other incidental funeral expenses, it is not uncommon for funerals to cost more than $10,000.

You can find our Prices and Information guide here General Price List.

Donating organs is very different from donating a body to medical science. Organ donation and autopsies do not affect your ability to have an open casket visitation.

The donation of a body to medical science will prevent you from having an open casket visitation.

Families are welcome to witness the cremation process if they wish. For those who do not wish to, it’s important to know we have a strict process to identify the deceased from the point they are brought into our care until they are placed in an urn and either buried or released to the family. An important element of our high standard of care is to have a metal disk with a unique ID number that is assigned to your loved one and follows them throughout the entire cremation process. The ID disk never leaves the cremated remains and then stays with the cremated remains when they are placed in the urn.

Yes, cremation is currently chosen after approximately 75% of all deaths in Calgary.

Yes, we offer ceremonial caskets that can be rented for the purposes of the viewing and funeral service. The deceased will still need to be placed in a rigid, combustible container for placement in the cremation chamber. The cremation container and ceremonial casket are purchased together as one item.

Country Hills Crematorium offers many caskets to choose from. In Western Canada, over 90% of the caskets sold are made of wood. Wood caskets can be made of fine hardwood such as oak, cherry, maple or ash, while other caskets that are less expensive are made of MDF or plywood and covered in wood veneer or fabric. Caskets can also, less commonly, be made of metal, 18 or 20 gauge steel or precious metal, copper or bronze. Regardless of the material used to make the casket, it can be personalized in a variety of ways to reflect the life of a loved one.

Please contact us to learn more about casket options.

Prices vary, depending on the material used to construct the casket including the outside case of wood or metal and the type of finishing, the fabric and finishes on the inside, the bedding that is used and the style of and type of material used for the handles.

Please contact us to learn more about casket options and pricing.

While most funeral homes provide outstanding services, sometimes things can go wrong. Funeral services in Calgary are regulated by the Alberta Funeral Services Regulatory Board. In most cases, the consumer should discuss any concerns with the funeral director first. If the dispute cannot be solved by talking with the funeral director, the consumer may wish to contact the AFSRB (Alberta Funeral Services Regulatory Board) using the following methods:

Alberta Funeral Services Regulatory Board

11810 Kingsway Avenue

Edmonton, Alberta T5G 0X5

Telephone: (780) 452-6130

Toll free: (800) 563-4652 (in Alberta only)

Fax: (780) 452-6085

Email: office@afsrb.ab.ca

In Alberta, if an individual has no family, the Public Trustee’s office, a division of the Government of Alberta is responsible for the burial of the deceased. A modest funeral is provided by funds from the estate of the deceased. If there are no funds from the deceased’s estate, we apply for assistance through Alberta Human Services (Social Services). When qualified, these clients are entitled to a simple dignified funeral with either a burial or cremation.

Country Hills Crematorium has a history of helping those who are financially disadvantaged and will continue to assist those with no financial means. Our funeral directors can review financial sources such as the Last Post Fund, Canada Pension Plan Death Benefit, Alberta Seniors Death Benefit, Insurance Funds, Victim’s Assistance and others. If none of these sources are available, we assist families with applications to Alberta Human Services, often known as Social Services. When approved, AHS offers a simple dignified service with either burial or cremation.

Yes. Today, pre-planning and prepayment of funerals are becoming more common. It’s as simple as calling our office and setting an appointment for one of our counsellors to meet you, either in our office or at your home. Prearranging will provide you with more time to review your options and give you a choice regarding your own funeral service. Pre-arranging will provide you with the peace of mind that everything has been taken care of, relieving your family of the emotional and financial burden that often comes with making arrangements when a loved one passes away. Planning in advance also relieves the family and executor of making difficult decisions and can prevent conflict in families. Making arrangements in advance also guarantees a service and funeral at today’s prices, free from inflation.

For more information about planning in advance, please click here.

While flowers and cards are still the most common forms of expressing sympathy, there are many other ways of sharing your sympathy regarding the loss of a loved one. Attendance at the service, memorial donations to a charity, a gift of food, a personal visit, a sympathy card or a special act of kindness are all common and acceptable ways of expressing sympathy. Expressing a sincere condolence is often an important first step in acknowledging a loss. Simple words like “I’m sorry for your loss” or “My thoughts and prayers are with you” can convey your sincere concern for the bereaved.

The grieving process doesn’t end with the funeral and it may take time for the bereaved to heal. Depending on how close you are to the family, they may need your help and support for months to come. Keeping in contact with notes, phone calls or emails can be valuable. Continue to invite them when you make social plans, which may be awkward at first. They will let you know if and when they are ready to participate. Reach out to family on special occasions like birthdays, anniversaries and special holidays, especially during the first year following their loss.

Children are often far more resilient than we think and if this is their first experience with death, it may be an excellent teaching opportunity. Explain to them what is happening in a way that suits their maturity level. It’s likely they may be aware that something is happening even if you have not addressed it directly. Although it may be uncomfortable for you and for them, it may be important for them to attend the service or ceremony. Preventing a child from experiencing grief and loss may do more harm over time than embracing the opportunity to cry and feel deep sadness. Loss is a part of life and will be encountered again over time. Use your best judgement for age appropriate responses to loss. Like other social situations with children, you may need to prepare for the challenges they will face during a service. Naps, snacks, age appropriate toys and removing children from a quiet ceremony when cranky may be part of a wise strategy.

FAQ