Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions2022-05-28T13:23:29-04:00


Oftentimes we are asked a variety of questions pertaining to our business, regarding rules and regulations, or about standard death care practices in general. We have compiled a list of those questions and have them answered here for you to read. Should you have additional questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us and ask! There are never silly questions, and the more information is understood /contact/and shared, the more informed people are!

Are all the cremated remains returned?2021-02-15T11:51:02-05:00

All of the cremated remains are given back to the family.

Are prices at all funeral establishments the same?2021-02-15T11:54:48-05:00

No. Every funeral establishment must have a general price list to provide upon request and without obligation. Funeral establishments will set their fees depending on their costs of operation, which will vary depending on the size of the facilities, location, number of staff, vehicle costs, wholesale costs from vendors, etc.

Are there any government benefits that can help cover the cost of death care services?2021-02-15T11:53:21-05:00

Our Canadian government offers a death benefit of $2500. To be eligible to receive this benefit, the deceased would have had to make contributions to their CPP through their employment payroll deductions. The $2500 is a one time taxable lump sum payment made via cheque. This is mailed to the executor or the person who paid for the funeral. If there was a will, this cheque is payable to the “The Estate of….” If there was not a will, then the cheque is payable to the purchaser of the funeral arrangements or next of kin.

Are you required to purchase an urn? Can I bring something from home?2022-05-28T15:12:52-04:00

Purchasing an urn is not mandatory and that choice is completely up to the family. When a loved one’s cremated remains are returned to us from the crematorium, they are contained in a plastic bag which is placed into a white cardboard box. That receptacle can be buried at a cemetery, placed into a niche or can be scattered(check local bylaws and regulations). If a family chooses something personal to use as an urn (providing it is large enough), they are more than welcome to bring it in. We have had families bring in beautiful jars and even handmade pieces to place ashes into. Should a family wish to purchase an urn, we have a beautiful and affordable variety of urns for our families to choose from. No matter what, we will make sure that their loved one’s cremated remains are returned back to the family safely and respectfully.

Visit here to learn more about cremations.

Can an urn be brought into church?2021-02-15T11:51:02-05:00

Nearly all Churches allow for the urn to be present during the memorial service.  Catholic Churches also allow the remains to be present during a Funeral Mass.

Can cremated remains be sent in the mail?2021-02-15T12:11:56-05:00

Canada Post is the only mail service that will allow for mailing of cremated remains. Delivery within North America is permissible with supporting documentation. Some European countries prohibit the transportation of cremated remains via mail services. The most secure method of transportation for cremated remains is to have a family member to personally transport the ashes themselves.

Can green burials take place in the winter?2021-02-15T12:11:36-05:00

When the snow is falling, choosing a green burial may not be top of mind. You may be interested to know that it is still possible to have a natural burial in the winter (depending on where you live). Here in the Niagara Region, the ground does not freeze solid through the winter months, so all types of burials, including an eco-friendly green burial are still able to take place.

Can I bring someone with me to make arrangements?2021-02-15T12:00:00-05:00

We would always encourage people to bring a friend or another family member to make funeral arrangements. This way, the information being shared is being heard by more than one person, the individual will feel supported when making their decisions, and they might even think of additional questions to ask. The additional support is often appreciated, especially when having to make decisions while grieving the loss of a loved one.

Can the body be viewed without embalming?2021-02-15T11:51:02-05:00

Yes,  family members may briefly view the deceased prior to cremation (this can also be known as an “identification”).

Can the family witness the cremation?2021-02-15T11:51:02-05:00

Yes they can; some crematoriums will allow family members to be present when the body is placed in the cremation chamber.  Some religious groups even include this as part of their funeral custom.

Do I need an urn?2021-02-15T12:09:52-05:00

An urn is not required by law.  However, an urn may be desired if there is to be a memorial service or if the remains are to be interred in a cemetery.  If an urn is not purchased or provided by the family, the cremated remains will be returned in a temporary cardboard container.

Does a body have to be embalmed before it is buried?2021-02-15T11:51:03-05:00

No. Embalming is a choice which may depend on factors like if there is to be an open casket viewing of the body or if there is to be an extended time between death and interment. Public health laws may require embalming if the body is going to be transported by air and into another country.

How can I be sure I receive the correct remains?2021-02-15T11:51:02-05:00

All reputable cremation providers have developed rigorous sets of operating policies and procedures in order to maximize the level of service and minimize the potential for human error.

How do funerals get so expensive?2021-02-15T11:55:21-05:00

When you consider adding up the costs of a funeral establishment’s services, cemetery services, monuments and catering, it can certainly end up being a considerable amount of money. We understand that financially, funerals can add additional strain to an already difficult time. At Essentials, the fees in our price list allow us to cover the costs of our day to day operations while keeping the financial impact as minimal as possible for the family. The total cost will depend on the choices the family makes when it comes to services, merchandise and third party disbursements such as obituaries, catering, etc.

How do I know that this is my loved one’s ashes?2021-02-15T12:13:56-05:00

When someone passes away in a care facility, most of the time they have an identification band on them. Once they are brought into our care at Essentials, we place a “personal tracking form” directly with them. Family members are given the opportunity to see their loved one prior to cremation or burial. Identification must be confirmed prior to any disposition process. The name of both deceased and of the funeral establishment is recorded on the casket. Once in the care of the crematorium, they will assign an identification tag, which follows the casket right up to the cremation chamber. Following the cremation, that tag is placed with the cremated remains and is returned to the funeral establishment. The number on the cremation tag will match the paperwork provided from the crematorium.

How long does the actual cremation take?2021-02-15T11:51:02-05:00

It all depends on the weight of the individual.  For an average sized adult, cremation can take two to three hours at a normal operating temperature of between 1,000 and 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

How long will it take for the cremation to take place and to receive my loved one’s ashes back?2021-02-15T12:14:00-05:00

Once the paperwork has been completed and the deceased is transferred into the care of the crematorium, it can take between 3-4 days until the cremated remains are returned back to Essentials. Once the ashes are back in our care, we will call the family to let them know that their loved one’s remains made it back safely to Essentials.

How soon after or how long after a death must an individual be buried?2021-02-15T11:51:03-05:00

There is no law that states a specific time from for burial.  Considerations that will affect timeline include the need to secure all permits and authorizations, notification of family and friends, preparation of cemetery site and maybe religious considerations.  Contact your local funeral provider for more details.

I am considering buying a niche in a columbarium. Is there anything I should be aware of?2021-02-15T12:11:50-05:00

It is very important to keep in mind that the size of the urn(s) that will be able to fit within that niche. Please ask the cemetery for exact dimensions of the niche that you are purchasing, so you know exactly how much space you have for the urns (avoiding the chance of any surprises or disappointments the day of the interment). We can also help you with this.

I am planning on travelling with my loved one’s ashes. Do I need any paperwork?2021-02-15T12:12:04-05:00

The safe answer to this is yes. Depending on where and what method you are travelling, certain documents and urn materials may be mandatory. If you are flying into another country, additional paperwork may be required by the country’s consulate. Our funeral directors can assist you with ensuring you have the correct paperwork for the location you are travelling to.

I’d like to make pre-arrangements. Do I have to pay ahead of time?2021-02-15T11:59:22-05:00

Many people are choosing to pre-arrange to make things easier on their family for when they pass away. While there are a number of benefits to pre-paying, you don’t have to pre-pay to pre-arrange. Pre-arranging involves our funeral professionals collecting information and recording your wishes. Ultimately, this reduces the time family members will spend filling out paperwork and assures them that your final wishes.

If someone chooses to pre-pay, the contracted amount is guaranteed once paid in full. Even if prices go up, the family will not be charged more for any services or products that were included in the contract. Whatever you desire to do, we are here to guide you and offer our support. We will answer any questions you have and there is never any pressure to make a decision.

If I have made pre-arrangements at another funeral establishment, can those arrangements be transferred to Essentials?2021-02-15T11:59:45-05:00

The short answer to this is, yes! However, there are a number of aspects to consider prior to transferring arrangements from another establishment. It is important to identify how your pre-arrangement funds were invested to ensure there is not a great financial loss if you were to cancel or transfer. In some situations, family members can even receive some of their money back (especially if the original funeral plans were more than our costs at Essentials). When it comes to transferring pre-arrangements, our funeral directors will sit down and review what options are available to ensure the decision being made is in the best interest of the family.

In a hundred years will this cemetery still be there?2021-02-15T11:51:03-05:00

We think of cemetery lands as being in perpetuity.  There are cemeteries throughout the world that have been in existence for hundreds of years.

Is a casket needed for cremation?2021-02-15T11:51:02-05:00

A cremation casket which most people know as a “cremation container” is required.

Is a visitation required?2021-02-15T11:56:33-05:00

Gatherings are not mandatory, but oftentimes families are comforted by being surrounded by their family and friends in their time of loss. These gatherings don’t have to be held in a traditional funeral home. They can take place in a private residence, restaurant, hall, legion, winery, outdoor space, etc. Having friends and family around during these difficult times remind the family of the support system that they have for the upcoming days ahead. It also allows those in attendance to express their grief and help remind the family of how significant their loved one was to others.

Sometimes families choose not to have these gatherings, which is a personal preference. It is important to remember that we all grieve differently, and base these decisions on previous experiences or on what a family can emotionally handle at that time. Gatherings don’t have to take place immediately after someone’s passing, but keep in mind that the emotional support will be greatly beneficial for those in attendance.

Is embalming mandatory?2021-02-15T12:15:41-05:00

Embalming is not a mandatory procedure. Embalming is offered to all families and may be beneficial when families are looking to have a viewing, especially if that viewing is delayed a number of days after the deceased’s passing. A family can still see their loved one without embalming taking place, but they must understand that natural changes to the body will occur after death takes place. Embalming may also be recommended if an autopsy has been performed. As funeral directors we will provide all options and suggestions so the family can make a well informed decision.

Is embalming required prior to cremation?2021-02-15T11:51:02-05:00

No.  Embalming is not mandatory by law.

Is Essentials Cremation and Burial Services a chain or a franchise?2021-02-15T11:55:05-05:00

No! Essentials was established in 2017 by Krystal Riddell and her family. We are proud to be independently owned and family operated. Our business’ success has allowed us to give back to our community by supporting local families and charities.

Must I purchase a burial vault?2021-02-15T11:51:03-05:00

In Ontario, this is generally not mandatory. Most active cemeteries have by-laws and regulations that suggest the use of a basic grave liner for maintenance and safety purposes. Either a grave liner or a burial vault will satisfy these requirements.

My loved one has died. Will there be an opportunity to see them before they are cremated or buried?2021-02-15T11:56:49-05:00

At Essentials we have a quiet space that allows for friends and family to say a final goodbye to their loved one prior to cremation or burial. If a family member is not able to come in for a final goodbye, we always invite them to take some time to write a letter to their loved one. We can print and place those letters in the casket and this allows the family member to say goodbye privately in their own words.

My loved one has passed away. What do I do next?2021-02-15T11:55:38-05:00

Regardless of the time, we would encourage you to call us so we can help give you guidance and support. If a call is placed to us outside of our office hours, our phones are sent to an after hours answering service. They will collect your contact information and will notify our funeral director. You will receive a call back from our funeral director within approximately 10 minutes.

My loved one is going to pass away, or has died and we aren’t prepared financially. What options do we have?2021-02-15T11:52:37-05:00

We would suggest giving us a call to help alleviate the stress and worry. We have a number of affordable options that are available to you and your family. We can also provide you with contact information for Niagara Region Community Services and they can help provide financial funding towards cremation or burial services. Niagara Region Community Services will cover all of our essential services so the financial debt doesn’t have to be taken on by a loved one. Approval from Niagara Region Community Services is based on a short interview with a regional case worker. Once they determine your eligibility the financial aspect would be covered between the Region and Essentials.

My loved one was not religious, but I would still like some type of ceremony for them. What options do I have?2021-02-15T11:55:57-05:00

Selecting the right officiant is important. Officiants can have a religious affiliation, be non-denominational or certified as a funeral celebrant. The ceremony should be a reflection of the person who passed away. A funeral celebrant is an individual who can prepare a written service based on some one’s life events and milestones. They can incorporate meaningful literature and music to create a personal tribute for your loved one. The family should sit down with an officiant to discuss the content of the service to ensure that the ceremony brings a form of closure, inner peace from their reflection, and even spiritual fulfillment.

Our family would like to bring our loved one’s urn to the cemetery for an interment. Do we have to use the services of a funeral director?2021-02-15T12:11:20-05:00

It is not mandatory that a funeral director is present for an interment. However, we would encourage our help and guidance. When we assist families with an interment, we can ensure that the cemetery has the proper paperwork, organize the cars and family members so they know where to go, can bring and set up flowers, respectfully deliver the urn and help walk the family and officiant through the graveside ceremony step by step. Our guidance will help ensure that the final interment is seamless, more reflective and less stressful.

To what extent are families allowed to participate in a funeral?2021-02-15T11:57:26-05:00

We encourage families to participate as much or as little as they want depending on what they are comfortable with. Some families wish to be as hands on and involved as possible, which can include; helping with the removal from their family’s home, bathing or dressing their loved one, acting as pallbearers, officiating a ceremony, witnessing the cremation, or even filling in a grave at a cemetery. At Essentials, we encourage family participation and will walk alongside the family members and help guide them to create a meaningful experience.

We are wanting cremation. Is a casket required?2021-02-15T12:13:34-05:00

A basic cremation casket is required as per provincial regulations. We offer a variety of casket options, ranging from cardboard and plywood to a variety of standard wooden caskets.

What are burial vaults and grave liners?2021-02-15T11:51:03-05:00

These are the outside containers into which the casket is placed.  Burial vaults are designed to protect the casket and may be made of a variety or combination of materials including concrete, stainless steel, galvanized steel, copper, bronze, plastic or fiberglass.  A grave liner is a lightweight version of a vault which simply keeps the grave surface from sinking in.

What can be done with the cremated remains?2021-02-15T11:51:02-05:00

While laws vary by provinces, for the most part cremated remains can be buried in a cemetery lot or a cremation garden, placed in a columbarium, kept at home or scattered.

What do the cremated remains look like?2021-02-15T11:51:02-05:00

Cremated remains resemble coarse sand and are whitish to light grey in color.  The remains of an average sized adult usually weighs between 7 and 8 pounds.

What happens if my loved one does not have a will?2021-02-15T12:00:56-05:00

If someone dies without a last will and testament, funeral establishments must follow a specific order in regard to the next of kin who would be in charge of completing funeral arrangements.  This order is as follows: 1) Spouse, including common law spouse 2) Adult children 3) Parents 4) Adult grandchildren 5) Adult siblings. Please note that this pertains to funeral arrangements and that estate requirements may differ. Also worth noting is that if someone was legally married and separated but without a finalized divorced at time of death, the spouse is still the next of kin for funeral arrangements. In the case that someone is without family or is estranged from family members, a friend is not considered “next of kin” and cannot authorize cremation unless they’re listed as an executor or permission from the legal next of kin is granted.

What happens when a cemetery runs out of land?2021-02-15T11:51:03-05:00

When a cemetery runs out of land, it will continue to operate and serve the community.  When we get to this point, the percentage of cremation would likely become the main method of disposition. Depending on cemetery by-laws, most cemeteries will allow for multiple urns to be interred on top of an existing grave.

What is an opening and closing fee?2021-02-15T11:51:03-05:00

Typically, the opening and closing fee includes administration and permanent record keeping such as determining ownership, obtaining permission and the completion of other documentation which may be required, entering the interment particulars in the interment register, maintaining all legal files.

The opening and closing of the grave also includes; (locating the grave and laying out the boundaries, excavating and filling the interment space); installation and removal of the lowering device; placement and removal of artificial grass dressing and coco-matting at the grave site, leveling, tamping, re-grading and sodding the grave site, leveling and re-sodding the grave if the earth settles.

What is cremation?2021-02-15T11:51:03-05:00

Cremation is the process of reducing the human body to bone fragments using high heat and flame. It is a regulated method for disposition of a deceased body.

What options are available besides ground burial?2021-02-15T11:51:03-05:00

Besides ground burial, some cemeteries offer interment in lawn crypts or entombment in mausoleums.  In addition, most cemeteries provide choices for those who have selected cremation.  These often include placement of cremated remains in a niche of a columbarium or interment in an urn space.

When burying an urn at a cemetery, does the urn go in the ground or into a vault?2021-02-15T12:11:38-05:00

Although urn vaults are not mandatory, some families choose to use one when interring an urn at a cemetery. Urn vaults are available in materials such as marble or fiberglass, and come in different sizes to fit any urn. They give space to place mementos and keepsakes such as: flowers, photos, letters, trinkets, etc. It also provides a layer of protection to the urn itself. If a family chooses not to have a vault, the urn can be interred naturally into the earth.

Why is having a place to visit so important?2021-02-15T11:51:03-05:00

To remember and to be remembered are natural human needs.  A permanent memorial in a cemetery provides a focal point for remembrance and memorializing the deceased.  Throughout human history, memorialization of the dead has been a key component of almost every culture.  Psychologists say that remembrance practices, from the funeral or memorial service to permanent memorialization, serve an important emotional function for survivors by helping them bring closure and allowing the healing process to begin.  Providing a permanent resting place for the deceased is a dignified treatment for a loved one’s remains, which fulfills the natural human desire for memorialization.

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