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Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

We’ve provided a list of answers to questions we frequently receive regarding our services and other activities related to funerals. If you don't see the answer to your question here, feel free to contact us. We'd be happy to give you more information and clarify any of your concerns.

What do funeral directors do?

What do funeral directors do?

A funeral director is a licensed professional who specializes in all aspects of funerals and related services. They provide support to the family, guide the arrangement of visitations and funeral ceremonies, prepare the deceased according to the family’s wishes, and ensure that everything goes according to plan. They also arrange for the removal and transportation of the deceased throughout the process and assist families with any legal or insurance-related paperwork they might need to file. They’re experienced at recognizing when an individual is having an extremely difficult time coping with a loss and can provide extra support and recommendations for professional help if needed.

Can I personalize my service?

Can I personalize my service?

Absolutely! Our staff has years of experience getting to know families and incorporating their loved one’s hobbies, activities, interests, and unique requests into meaningful and memorable services. Don’t hesitate to make a request because you think it might be too “out there” — we’re honored to work with you to create a service that truly reflects and celebrates your loved one’s individual life journey.

What do I do when a death occurs while out of town or away from home?

What do I do when a death occurs while out of town or away from home?

It’s important that you contact the local medical authorities first (as well as the police, if appropriate), and then make sure to give us a call as soon as possible. We will work with you to make the necessary arrangements to get you and your loved one back home as quickly and easily as possible. Calling us will also help you to avoid duplication of efforts and fees.

Can I still have viewing and funeral services with cremation?

Can I still have viewing and funeral services with cremation?

Definitely! In fact, we encourage you to do so. Choosing cremation only indicates how you’d like to care for your loved one after the service and doesn’t exclude you from celebrating and honoring their life in any way. Whether you’d like to arrange a funeral service before cremation, or wait and hold the service after the cremation, we’re happy to help you design a meaningful service to accompany the cremation.

Why have a viewing?

Why have a viewing?

A viewing — also known as a visitation, wake, or calling hours — can involve an open or closed casket, and is seen as a vital part of the grieving process. Having their loved one present often helps family and friends to accept the reality of their loss, especially for those who may not have seen him or her in a while. The opportunity to come to terms with the death and say a final farewell is an important step on the road to healing.

Can we have a viewing if my loved one has donated organs or had an autopsy?

Can we have a viewing if my loved one has donated organs or had an autopsy?

Yes. Autopsies and organ donation do not affect your ability to have an open-casket viewing.

Should I bring my children to the funeral service?

Should I bring my children to the funeral service?

You should use your judgment to determine whether your child is old enough to comprehend death, and whether attending the funeral will be meaningful to them. It’s important for children to be allowed to express their grief and share in this important ritual. If you bring young children, explain beforehand what they will see and experience, and make sure that they know the importance of being on their best behavior. If your child becomes cranky or noisy, remove them promptly to avoid disturbing those who are mourning.

What is the purpose of embalming?

What is the purpose of embalming?

In many cases, if you choose to have a viewing before cremation, embalming may be required. Embalming is a process used to sanitize and temporarily preserve the body of a person who has passed away. It also can enhance the appearance of a person that has suffered damage from an accident or illness. By preserving the body through embalming, we can give you and your family time to make personalized and meaningful arrangements.

Is embalming required by law?

Is embalming required by law?

No. Except in rare circumstances, embalming is not required by law. However, most funeral homes do not permit public viewing without embalming. If you opt to not use embalming, usually we can offer a private viewing prior to cremation with minimal preparation excluding embalming.

How long does the cremation process take?

How long does the cremation process take?

This will vary depending on the individual and the casket or container used, but usually takes about 3-5 hours.

How can I be sure that the remains I receive are those of my loved one?

How can I be sure that the remains I receive are those of my loved one?

Cremation of multiple people at the same time is illegal in the U.S. and many other countries, so the cremation chamber is not designed to hold more than one person at a time. In addition, cremation is a regulated process with strict procedures we follow to ensure we’re holding our services to the highest standard possible. All necessary paperwork and fees must be completed with local authorities, and then a checklist is completed at the crematory. A metal disk with a unique ID number accompanies your loved one from the time we receive the person throughout the cremation process, and after cremation occurs we attach the metal disk to the bag containing the ashes. Knowing the level of respect and meticulous care with which we treat your loved one, you can rest assured that you are receiving only your loved one’s ashes.

Where can I scatter my loved one's cremated remains? Are there any restrictions?

Where can I scatter my loved one's cremated remains? Are there any restrictions?

In general, the government does not regulate the scattering of ashes. Most public parks, including national parks, ask that you submit a formal request and may have restrictions on where you can scatter. If you wish to scatter on private land, consult the landowner first. In most cases, as long as you do your due diligence about checking for rules beforehand and are considerate, it’s more of a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

I've never arranged a funeral before. What do I need to know?

I've never arranged a funeral before. What do I need to know?

At some time in our lives, most of us will make or assist in making funeral arrangements. This will not be an easy time, but we offer these tips for smart planning:

  • Be an informed consumer and ask questions
  • Choose an independent funeral home and a licensed funeral director
  • Discuss all service and payment options during the funeral arrangements
  • Make sure you receive a copy of the funeral home's General Price List
  • Be prepared and make decisions and organize details in advance of need
  • Plan a personalized and meaningful ceremony to help you begin healing
What types of funeral services exist?

What types of funeral services exist?

Every family is different, and not everyone wants the same type of funeral. Funeral practices are influenced by religious and cultural traditions, costs and personal preferences. These factors help determine whether the funeral will be elaborate or simple, public or private, religious or secular, and where it will be held. They also influence whether the body will be present at the funeral, if there will be a viewing or visitation, and if so, whether the casket will be open or closed, and whether the remains will be buried or cremated.

What should I do if a death occurs at home?

What should I do if a death occurs at home?

When death occurs, Bruce C. Van Arsdale Funeral Home personnel are available to assist you at any hour, seven days a week. Please call (908) 725-3111 or any of our locations for assistance. If you request immediate assistance, someone will come right away. If the family wishes to spend a short time with the deceased to say good bye, it's acceptable. Our staff will come when the time is right for you.

Is cremation a substitute for a funeral?

Is cremation a substitute for a funeral?

As more people are choosing cremation, funeral service professionals are striving to give consumers a true sense of what their many options are for a funeral service. Often funeral directors find that people have a preconception that they have fewer choices for a ceremony when selecting cremation for themselves or a loved one. Therefore, they request direct cremation and deny the surviving friends and family an opportunity to honor them with a memorial service. In actuality, cremation is only part of the commemorative experience. In fact, cremation can actually increase your options when planning a funeral. Cremation gives people the flexibility to search for types of tributes that reflect the life being honored. But this doesn't mean that aspects of traditional funeral services have to be discarded. Even with cremation, a meaningful memorial that is personalized to reflect the life of the deceased could include:

  • A visitation prior to the service
  • An open or closed casket
  • Special music
  • A ceremony at the funeral chapel, your place of worship or other special location
  • Participation by friends and family

Commonly, cremated remains are placed in an urn and committed to an indoor or outdoor mausoleum or columbarium; interred in a family burial plot; or included in a special urn garden. Cremation also gives families the option to scatter the remains. This can be done in a designated cemetery garden or at a place that was special to the person. Today, cremated remains can even become part of an ocean reef or made into diamonds.

Bruce C. Van Arsdale Funeral Home
111 North Gaston Avenue, Somerville, NJ 08876
Phone: (908) 725-3111
Fax: (908) 725-9945


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