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Celebration of Life Planning Questions

1. What is the purpose of a Celebration of Life?

Celebrations of life, a more appropriate name for a funeral or memorial service, provide surviving family members and friends a caring, supportive environment in which to recognize the death of a loved one, and to share thoughts and feelings about that person. Celebrations of life are the first step in the healing process. The ritual of attending a celebration of life service provides many benefits including:

  • Providing a social support system for the bereaved

  • Helping the bereaved understand death is final and that death is part of life

  • Integrating the bereaved back into the community

  • Easing the transition to a new life for the survivors

  • Providing a safe place for embracing and expressing pain

  • Reaffirming one's relationship with the person who died

  • Providing a time to say good-bye


It is possible to have a full celebration of life service even for those choosing cremation. The importance of the ritual is in providing a social gathering to help the bereaved begin the healing process.

2. I've never arranged a celebration of life before. What do I need to know?

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

  • Be an informed consumer and ask questions

  • Discuss all service and payment options during the celebrations of life 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

3. What are my options for paying for end of life costs?

We always recommend, if you can, to execute a pre-need contract prior to death, it alleviates all of the financial stress.   Also, Iowa allows the ability to utilize a guaranteed contract, which allows you to lock in the price of the services you desire.

If you need to pay for the end of life expense after the person has passed you can do so with cash, check or credit card.  Payment is due when you make the end of life arrangements.   We also can do an assignment against a verified life insurance policy.

4. What types of end of life services exist?

Every family is different, and not everyone wants the same type of Celebration of Life. Celebrations of life practices are influenced by religious and cultural traditions, costs, and personal preferences. These factors help determine whether the celebration of life 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 visitation for a viewing, or if it will be a gathering of family and friends with a photo or the urn present.

5. Why have a public viewing?

Viewing is part of many cultural and ethnic traditions. Many grief specialists believe that viewing aids the grief process by helping the bereaved recognize the reality of death. Viewing is encouraged for children as long as the process is explained and the activity voluntary.  We are visual, the old adage “I will believe when I see it” holds true with grief.  Seeing the individual breaks down the barrier of denial, and leads to acceptance which is a very important step to healing.

Cremation Questions

1. Is cremation a substitute for a celebration of life?


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 celebration of life. 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 fewer services and deny the surviving friends and family an opportunity to honor them with a celebration of life. In actuality, cremation is only part of the commemorative experience. In fact, cremation can actually increase your options when planning a celebration of life.

  • 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

1b. Is cremation a substitute for a funeral? (continued)


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

Prearrangement Questions

1. Why “preplan” your celebrations of life arrangements?


  • Prearrangements provide a record of your wishes that will be accessible to surviving family members  

  • Relieves surviving family members of some of the emotional burdens associated with making celebration of life arrangement decisions.  

  • Allows for a less stressful environment, without time constraints, to make important decisions  

  • Allows for surviving family members to concentrate on the memories of a lifetime rather than the details surrounding death.

2. Although it is possible to make these arrangements without pre-paying , many families choose to take care of the final expenses in advance. Why?


  • Prepaying relieves surviving family members of the financial burden associated with final expenses.  

  • Allows you the opportunity to determine exactly how much to spend for celebration of life.  

  • Protects assets from confiscation due to long-term care expenses.  

  • Relieves your loved ones of the financial responsibility.

  • Guarantees your family will never have to pay more for your celebration of life - no matter what happens with inflation.

  • Shows you care.

  • Offers the opportunity to pay for the final expenses in installments.

3. What are my payment options?


That is an important reason to do a pre-payment of your end of life expense.  A pre-plan allows you to take advantage of payment options, many interest-free.   If you do not have a pre-plan, the end of life expense is due at the time of arrangements.   There is not a payment plan available after death has occurred.

4. How do I begin?


We provide trained and licensed Family Service Advisors to assist you with making arrangements in advance. There is no cost or pressure associated with making advance plans. We strive to inform you about all options available so you can make intelligent decisions regarding what is best for you and your family.


To schedule an appointment or ask questions about advance planning, please call (515) 278-4633.

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