Marissa: 618-295-2321 | New Athens: 618-475-2151 | Sparta & Tilden: 618-443-2139

Common Questions about Funeral Service

Many people have questions that they may or may not feel comfortable asking their funeral director. We hope this will be of some help to you. If you think of something else you would like us to add to this list of questions, please contact the funeral home directly.


What do we do if our family death occurs away from home?
Our funeral home staff will arrange with another funeral home or mortuary, where the death occurred, to have preparation and transportation made back to our funeral home. We can also help you if you are planning to have a service prior to having the family member returned to your home area.back to top


Why is a funeral important?
For thousands of years, funerals have allowed survivors to express their feelings about the death of someone they love. The rituals provide comfort when things seem chaotic and out of control. The funeral is for expressing intense grief. For many, a visitation followed by a funeral or memorial service is the first step in the grieving process. It is a time when friends, family and other guests can come together to grieve openly and to support one another in a community environment. It is also a time to say good-bye. Viewing the deceased can bring a sense of closure to the bereaved who may be in shock and denial. back to top


What does a funeral director do?

  • Pick up the deceased and transport the body to the funeral home (anytime day or night)
  • Notify proper authorities, family and/or relatives
  • Arrange and prepare death certificates
  • Provide certified copies of death certificates for insurance and benefit processing
  • Work with the insurance agent, Social Security or Veterans Administration to ensure that necessary paperwork is filed for receipt of benefits
  • Prepare and submit obituary to the newspapers of your choice
  • Bathe and embalm the deceased body, if necessary
  • Prepare the body for viewing including dressing and cosmetizing
  • Assist the family with funeral arrangements and purchase of casket, urn, burial vault and cemetery plot
  • Schedule the opening and closing of the grave with cemetery personnel, if a burial is to be performed
  • Coordinate with clergy if a funeral or memorial service is to be held
  • Arrange a police escort and transportation to the funeral and/or cemetery for the family
  • Order funeral sprays and other flower arrangements as the family wishes
  • Provide Aftercare, or grief assistance, to the bereaved
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What is embalming?
It is a process that sanitizes and preserves a dead body. It delays the decomposition process and allows time for viewing and services by the family prior to burial or cremation. It restores a life-like appearance to the body and can enhance the appearance of a body that has undergone a traumatic death or illness. This process can take anywhere from one to three hours to perform. The time spent embalming depends upon the severity of damage to the body, whether it be from traumatic injuries and or by not being able to perform it immediately after notification of the death. back to top


Is embalming required when a person dies?
No. However, most states insist on embalming under certain circumstances such as when the death is caused by a contagious disease or if final disposition isn’t made within a certain time frame. Embalming preserves the body, often allowing more time for arrangements. It is required if there will be a visitation. If the deceased is to be directly buried or cremated, embalming is not necessary. back to top


How can I personalize a funeral service?
A funeral service can be personalized in a number of ways. Every funeral should be as unique as the life being celebrated. Ideas for a special service are always welcome in our funeral home.

Many families add a personal touch to the funeral service by incorporating memorabilia that represent a loved one’s hobbies or passions. For the avid sports fan, a few of his or her collector’s items could be displayed. For the artist, a display of recent works or even the artist’s tools can provide a personal touch. Some families take it a step further, such as providing homemade chocolate chip cookies for funeral attendees who knew the deceased as a skilled cook. These unique touches can help family and friends remember the deceased’s personality and relive the traditions that meant so much. Photo albums and memorial tribute DVDs are also great ways to remember the past.

Personalized merchandise is also popular. Some caskets include interchangeable corners, and you may choose corners that represent the life of your loved one. Caskets can also be personalized with an embroidered panel. Cremation urns and keepsakes can be engraved. The funeral home also offers a wide variety of other merchandise such as keepsake jewelry and stationery products that can reflect the life of your loved one.

Today, it is becoming more popular to hold unique services outside of the funeral home. Churches are always a warm and comforting place for a funeral service. Memorial services can take place nearly anywhere–in your home, in a local park, or even at a sporting event. A funeral director is also an event planner. Whatever your preferences or ideas may be, we can work to help you create a memorable and meaningful tribute. back to top


What is a viewing/visitation/wake?
Depending on the area of the country in which you live or your religious tradition, viewing, visitation and wake are generally synonymous terms for an informal gathering that precedes the funeral. Traditionally, it takes place the day before the funeral, but many families today will hold same-day visitation and funeral services. Often, the deceased is embalmed and in an open casket, but the casket may be closed or not present at all. This ceremony is an informal time for family, friends and colleagues of the deceased to stop by and offer condolences to the bereaved and socialize with others.

A visitation typically lasts for several hours, allowing people to drop in and depart as they wish. It is not necessary to remain for the entire time, and guests may feel comfortable leaving after offering words of support to the bereaved. It is customary, upon arriving at the visitation, to offer your condolences to the family first. Remember to introduce yourself if you are not well-known to the family. It is acceptable to talk about the deceased and offer a fond memory or a few kind words about him or her to the grieving family. You may also wish to send flowers to the family. If you order them ahead of time, the florist will deliver your gift directly to the funeral home and it will be on display during visitation hours.

A visitation is often the site of a wide range of emotions. You may see individuals crying, and it is important to not stare and allow them to grieve with dignity. You may also see individuals smiling and hear their laughter as they share happy memories of the deceased. Always remember to sign the guest book with your full name before you leave. back to top


What is a memorial service?
A memorial service is a special service that takes place without the body of the deceased present. Memorials are often held in a church, fraternal hall, or other location. A memorial service can take place just days after the death of a loved one, or even weeks or months, allowing the family to make time for distant relatives to travel or reserve space at a special venue of their choice. A memorial service can even become an annual event if the family chooses.

As cremation has increased in popularity, so has the idea of a memorial service. Often, a memorial service will take place after cremation has occurred. Sometimes the cremated remains will be present in a decorative urn. However, memorial services are not exclusive to cremation–many families will hold a memorial service after burial has taken place. A memorial service can be held in conjunction with other services like a visitation and funeral, or it can be the only service held to honor the life of the deceased. back to top


What should the obituary say?
To learn more about how to write an obituary, refer to this article from our partners at back to top


What if I still need support after the funeral is over?
The grieving process does not end just because funeral services have concluded. There are many resources available to you on our website. Click here to visit our grief support section. You may also call the funeral home staff. We can refer you to local grief counselors, support groups, and other resources that will help you cope with your grief. Remember, effects of grief can be both emotional and physical, and every individual grieves in his or her own way. Never hesitate to ask for help. We are here to serve you. back to top

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Heil-Schuessler & Sinn Funeral Home Locations


114 South Main Street
Marissa, Illinois 62257
Phone: 618-295-2321
Fax: 618-295-2322

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New Athens

101 South Jackson Street
New Athens, Illinois 62264
Phone: 618-475-2151
Fax: 618-475-2152

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111 West Main Street
Sparta, Illinois 62286
Phone: 618-443-2139

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847 North St. Louis Avenue
Tilden, Illinois 62292
Phone: 618-443-2139

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