Dolan Funeral Home in Chelmsford, MA, is a state-of-the-art funeral home. One of the largest funeral homes near Lowell, MA, Dolan Funeral home offers traditional funeral services, cremation services, embalming services, catered food and drink services, and aftercare support. We are dedicated to celebrating and honoring your loved one’s life from the moment they pass till the transportation to the cemetery for burial and after. Dolan Funeral Home caters to all funeral service needs.
That’s a lot Dolan Funeral Home offers. But funeral homes didn’t always exist, and it was a slow process to build up such a repertoire of services. In fact, it wasn’t until the 20th century that funeral homes as we know them today came into existence.
THE HISTORY OF FUNERAL HOMES
Thousands of years ago when someone died, he or she was buried almost immediately. This was mainly due to the smell of decomposition, something people did not understand completely. Over thousands of years, embalming gained speed as humans learned if you removed the internal organs and dried out the body, the body would be preserved. This was mainly for religious reasons as the belief the body rose again in the afterlife was ubiquitous in many cultures.
People often wrapped their dead in shrouds for burial. In ancient Egypt, a sarcophagus was used. Cremation was popular as well. Burial in bogs took place in England and Ireland. Caskets of wood and stone were used by 700 AD by the Celts.
For the last few hundred years, memorials were held in a family home. Women took on the role of caring for the dead. They would prepare the body, and lay it out in the home for visitation, usually in the front parlor, surrounded by their finest possessions. Afterwards, a procession would take place where the body would be transported to the church, and then be buried most likely in a family graveyard or in a local cemetery behind the church. Care for the dead by the family was the norm.
WHEN DID THE CARE OF THE DEAD CHANGE?
The change in caring for the dead came about because of the American Civil War in the 1860s. With so many loved ones dying far from home, embalming became popular so the body could be transported back home without decaying too rapidly.
At this time, the family graveyard was moving towards the more park-like settings of the local cemetery. To help root this practice, the United States established a number of national military cemeteries for members of the armed forces to be buried.
The profession of undertaker was established around this era as well. The term “undertaker” refers to the person who “under took” responsibility for funeral arrangements. Many of the early undertakers were furniture makers because building caskets was a logical extension of their business. For them, undertaking was a side business rather than their primary profession. It did not take long for families to prefer to hand the job of caring for the dead off to others, especially in the midst of their own grief.
MODERN FUNERAL HOMES
From undertakers to funeral directors of today, the process remains much the same; the change has come in the amenities offered for the loved ones left behind. The oldest funeral home was started by Anthony Hay, a cabinet manufacturer and maker of coffins, in 1759 in Williamsburg, Virginia. As demand for coffins grew, the business evolved into a full service funeral home, which is still in operation today.
Most funeral homes are small, family-owned businesses that have been passed down from generation to generation. In the late 1960s, a consolidation of the industry began with large companies acquiring these family funeral homes. Still, family run funeral homes such as Dolan Funeral Home in Chelmsford, MA, remain the best funeral homes for burial services and care.
Dolan Funeral Home in Chelmsford, MA, cares about the loved one left behind. One of our greatest services is our aftercare program where we help you navigate the sometimes complicated process (made more-so when compounded by grief) of the death of a loved one. From wills to funeral bills to just being a shoulder to cry on, Dolan Funeral Home proudly serves the greater Lowell, MA, area. Contact us today!
After the passing of your loved one and the initial grief and emotions have subsided, now the “business” aspect of the death takes center stage. Death certificate, bank accounts, bills, debt, assets, will, trust, and the list goes on and on. And probably there’s something you forgot as well that will crop up down the road.
THE HISTORY OF TOMBSTONES
One of the first things you must do after the burial service of your loved one is decide on a tombstone. But how did this tradition begin?
Since the beginning of time, humans have an innate need to remember the deceased after the burial service. A tombstone, otherwise known as a gravestone, headstone, or markers, first appeared as rough stones, rocks, or wood laid on the deceased as a way to keep the dead from rising. Tombstones as we think of them were first thought to have been used in 3000 BC by the Romans and Celts. When few people could read or write, tombstones were simply marked: with the deceased person’s name, age, and birth date and/or year of death.
When important figures in a culture died, royalty or leaders for example, tombstones became larger and square-shaped and able to hold more writings. Simple plots on family farms evolved into churchyard burials and the haphazard rocks chosen for tombstones became made out of slate or sandstone, soft stones which are easy to carve.
As the population of the planet grew, bigger areas to hold the dead were needed, thus the advent of public cemeteries in the 1800s. People wanted to remember their loved ones well beyond death after the burial service, so the idea to turn tombstones into memorials was born. More and more information was added to the stone and the stones became bigger and more elaborate in nature. Symbols, designs, and artwork were added to personalize the tombstone with popular choices being religious symbols (crosses, saints, stars, and angels), occupational designs (sword, saw, ax, and horse), and nature symbols (trees, flowers, and mountains).
In the 1860s stronger materials were desired for tombstones as the soft stones broke easily, suffered erosion, and thus, the lettering gradually faded away, obscuring the person below. Igneous rock began to be used, and today granite, marble, and slate are popular choices.
Tombstones today continue to evolve. Bible sayings are popular as are quotes and sayings of hope and inspiration. Actual photographs adorn tombstones, memorializing the image of the deceased forever. Placing flowers, another tradition we can thank the Greeks for, is still popular today, and many tombstones have built-in flower pots.
Blooming flowers on the grave of a warrior was a sign he had found happiness in the afterlife in ancient times. The ancient Romans, borrowing from their Greek brethren, were the first to unilaterally lay flowers on graves after the burial services. Grief-stricken Americans chose flowers to represent their grief upon the shock of Abraham Lincoln’s death. And Memorial Day used to be called Decoration Day, which was a day Americans laid flowers on graves of soldiers.
Dolan Funeral Home in Chelmsford, MA, aims to make the funeral planning process efficient, simple, and worry-free. We are proud to offer up food options for the visitation and funeral and an amazing aftercare program to help you with the overwhelming tasks ahead. In part two of this series, Dolan Funeral Home will offer up tips for choosing tombstones. Contact us today!
HOW TO WRITE A EULOGY
The death of someone you know, especially a loved one, can be devastating, depending on the relationship you had with that person. You run the gamut on emotions: shock, anger, and grief. On top of all that, you have a funeral to plan. You have to choose a funeral home, a day for the burial service, what kind of burial service, visitation, a casket, what outfit to bury your loved one in, and the list goes on and on.
Probably the most important part is the burial service. Again, a myriad of decisions must be made — and on a time frame. When will the burial service be? Who will speak at the burial service? Will there be a priest? Do we accept flowers or should we ask for donations in lieu? And the list goes on once again.
You’ve been asked to speak at the ceremony. But what to say? How can you capture a life in a few minutes? Dolan Funeral Home in Chelmsford, MA, recognizes the challenges involved in such a task. We’re here to help, so we’ve compiled some tips to help you recognize and remember your loved one.
TIPS FOR WRITING A EULOGY
- From the heart. This is not the place to be concerned about grammar and proper English (especially if your loved one used colloquialisms!). Write with one thought in mind: would your loved one like what you say? What others think doesn’t matter.
- Serious or funny? Humor is a great healer of grief, so even if you want to focus on the accomplishments of your loved one, throw in a joke or funny memory here and there.
- Consider the audience. This is important — mainly for adult language. If there are a lot of little kids there, that favorite dirty joke of Uncle Harry’s may best be left unsaid.
- State your relationship to the deceased. There will be guests you don’t know, so clarity in who you are can give the listener some idea of where you’re coming from.
- Don’t forget the basics. Remind the audience the basics of your loved one: birthday, anniversary if he or she were married, favorite places he or she visited, favorite activities, favorite facts, etc.
- Powerpoint is optional but nice. With technology, don’t be afraid to have a slide show playing in the background of some memorable moments of your loved one. A visual is a great remembrance for your audience members, especially for the littlest ones!
- Personalize the eulogy. This encompasses your memories of you and the loved one. Don’t feel obligated or pressured to leave out stories that someone else thinks is embarrassing. Remember, this is for the loved one and no one else.
- Stories. All of our lives are chapters woven together to make one big book of who we are. Sometimes what speaks the best of who we are are the chapters in this book: the trip we took fly fishing, the time we picked up a hawk by the side of the road and drove it to the rescue center, the unpredicted chance meeting that led to marriage, the reconnected friendship that defined a decade, the tradition of cutting a Christmas tree, carving a turkey, or making homemade cookies for the first snowfall every year. Include the stories that speak to your loved one’s amazing life.
- Quotes. Another defining characteristic of most of us is how we talk, what sayings we have, and what advice we were famous for. Include these as well.
- Stay positive. Leave the past in the past where it belongs. We’re all human, and we’ve all made mistakes and caused others hurt. These past hurts or angsts are personal demons we need to make peace with and not at a funeral eulogy.
Dolan Funeral Home in Chelmsford, MA, is here to help in all of your burial service needs. We are available 24/7 since, like life, death is unplanned. We pride ourselves in providing bereavement support services and aftercare resources as well. If you need an ear to listen to your eulogy, give us a call. Serving Chelmsford, MA, and the surrounding areas since 1974, we’ve heard thousands of eulogy speeches and can offer advice and guidance. If you’ve had a loved one die recently or are just interested in pre-arrangements, contact Dolan Funeral Home today.
Cremation Versus Burial: Which is Best?
A Brief History of Cremation
Cremation has been around probably since the birth of mankind. Scientists know for sure it dates back at least 20,000 from the discovery of a partially-cremated cadaver in Australia. Ancient Viking Lords were cremated at sea along with the ships they commanded. Joan of Arc? She was burned at the stake, a form of cremation and torture.
A Brief History of Burial
We’ve all heard of mummies, perhaps the most famous example of burials courtesy of the ancient Egyptians. Further, any time an embalmed or buried body from history is found it makes the news: a body in a bog in Northern Ireland; a Viking grave unearthed, a warrior with his sword; an ancient Chinese warlord from the third century AD. With the advent of Christianity, burial became the norm due to the belief of the resurrected body (which is the same reason the ancient Egyptians embalmed their dead) in the afterlife.
Cremation and Burial Today
Humans are fickle. Hence, the popularity of cremation and burial has waxed and waned over history for various reasons from practical to religious to economical. Cremation began partly due to the practical difficulty of digging graves in our colder world 20,000 years ago. Furthermore, our ancestors were devoid of organized religious beliefs to influence this decision. Add to this they were nomads and didn’t have a need to visit their loved ones’ bodies in the future so cremation led the way.
Religious beliefs are often the deciding factor for burial. For a time, cremation was outlawed in the Middle Ages because of Christ’s example and was even used as a punishment by the Catholics. Muslims believe in the resurrected body as well and thus do not condone cremation. On the contrary, Hinduism prescribes cremation for its believers.
Enter the economy and today. Cremation is vastly cheaper than burial in our modern times. The expense of caskets, embalming, burial plot, and burial home expenses from transportation of the body and use of the funeral home, costs of burial can add up quick. Outside of religion, the money factor is one of the deciding reasons. The rising popularity of cremation especially in the United States is proof of this. In 1980, less than 10 percent of the US population elected cremation. By 2030, cremation is expected to reach close to 70 percent as estimated by the Cremation Association of North America. That’s a major turn around!
Which is Right for You?
Here at Dolan Funeral Home, we are here for you. As a full-service, family-run funeral home serving the Chelmsford and surrounding area including southern New Hampshire, Dolan Funeral Home will lay out all your options for both cremation services and burial services, including the practical and legal requirements. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year to help you in this very difficult time to make the right decision.
As a full service funeral home, Dolan Funeral Home offers more than just the care of your loved one’s body. We also offer memorial services, celebrations of life, catering services, and visitations. We at Dolan Funeral Home understand your grief. Our mission is to relieve just a bit of the grief and burden you are feeling by taking care of the practical details so you can concentrate on the heart details. Contact us today!
Funeral Ceremony Etiquette
Unfortunately, the time will come in your life to attend the funeral ceremony or celebration of life for a family member or friend. This is a very trying time, and while your mind is still reeling over your loss, you might be wondering about the right things to do (or not do) at a funeral home.
At Dolan Funeral Home, we’ve helped countless families in the greater Lowell and southern New Hampshire areas with funeral planning. Whether you’re interested in pre-arranging a funeral or need to plan a funeral ceremony that’s more immediate, contact us. We are a family-run funeral home in Chelmsford, MA and will help you create a celebration of life or funeral ceremony that suits your unique needs.
Here are some things to keep in mind when it comes to etiquette.
What to Wear
Traditionally, the color to wear to a funeral has been black. However, more recently, the dress code has become more business casual or similar to what you’d wear to church. Dark colors and black are absolutely just fine to wear, but are not required. Dressing conservatively is ideal, as opposed to festive, bright clothing, as well as jeans. All that said, the family of the deceased might want to honor their loved one with a theme, such as Hawaiian-style shirts.
How to Talk to Family
By going to a celebration of life ceremony, you’re not only honoring your loved one, but you’re providing support to his or her family. Knowing what to say or how to act when you greet them can be difficult—you might worry about saying the wrong thing or not saying enough. Expressing your thoughts and how much you cared for the deceased is a sincere sentiment, and can bring comfort. Depending on the context, you might have a moment to share a fond memory. Try to avoid saying things like, “They are in a better place,” or “At least you had a chance to say good-bye,” for example. While you might see the bright side, or feel that you can offer these thoughts for comfort, they are likely not to bring any.
Put Away Your Phone
A funeral ceremony is a time in which you should completely silence your phone and turn off the vibration feature as well. Glancing at your phone for texts or missed calls is disrespectful to those around you, and can be very distracting. The best course of action is to turn your phone to airplane mode, then check it after you have left the funeral home.
Respect the Family’s Wishes
During this very difficult time, the family may communicate wishes that could prove to be disappointing to some. They may wish to have a family-only funeral ceremony, a private burial, or opt not to have a service at all. While this can be trying for some, respecting the wishes of the family is of the utmost importance.
If the ceremony begins at 10am, you should plan to arrive at 9:40 or 9:50. This will give you the chance to speak with other guests and to be seated by an usher. While the unexpected can certainly happen and you arrive late, rather than walk through the center aisle of the funeral home or church, find a side aisle so that you can take your seat as discreetly as possible.
Contact Dolan Funeral Home for your funeral planning needs today.
What a Funeral Director Does
Funeral directors used to be known as morticians or undertakers (these are terms that aren’t used often anymore), and they have a position that is central to many communities. Many see this position as merely funeral planning, but the truth is that directors do so much behind the scenes that isn’t seen by most. In this article, we’ll explore a little more about what they do for local funeral homes and the community.
Dolan Funeral Home serves the greater Boston area, and was established in 1974. If you’re looking for a Chelmsford funeral home, we can assist with everything from funeral planning to burial services and everything in between. Contact us now to learn more about planning a funeral.
Here are some of the duties that funeral directors carry out.
Understanding Local and State Laws
There are some complex laws surrounding the funeral industry and the duties that must be carried out when somebody is deceased. Funeral directors not only ensure that all responsible parties abide by those laws, but they also take responsibility of filing important legal paperwork in a timely manner. They may have to report to a coroner, report suspicious circumstances, and work with law enforcement. Additionally, they may also help with filing insurance claims and burial benefits.
Transportation of the Deceased
After somebody passes away, they will eventually need to be transported to one of their local funeral homes. The funeral director handles this transportation to the funeral home, as well as to the crematorium or burial spot, if necessary.
He or she will work with the deceased’s family to plan a funeral. They will assist with making essential and stressful decisions, and guiding families toward choices that are best suited to their needs. They will carry out embalming, cremation, and preparing the body for the service and disposition.
Depending on the wishes of the family, a funeral director may also officiate the funeral service if no other clergy are set to do so. If the funeral is not held at a church or other location, they may provide their local funeral home as a place to do so. They will work with the family to arrange for catering, tributes, accepting donations, and planning the service.
Losing a loved one is undoubtedly a trying time. Funeral directors provide support to the loved ones of the deceased and guide them through this difficult time. They know the process inside and out, and their experience will ensure that the process is carried out the best way possible from start to finish. They will think of all the things that many won’t, and make sure that no detail is overlooked.
If you’re in need of a funeral director to assist with funeral planning, contact Dolan Funeral Home now. Our compassionate and knowledgeable staff will walk you through the process every step of the way. We can assist with funeral pre-planning, too. Contact us now to learn more.
How to Start Planning a Funeral
Planning a funeral might be something you’ve anticipated for months, or it might be something that happened unexpectedly. Regardless of the circumstances, making funeral arrangements can be a very trying time. To help you understand the process, we’ve put together a guide to inform you of some of the choices available to you.
Dolan Funeral has been serving the greater Boston area since 1974, and is located in Chelmsford. We serve people of all religions, beliefs, and philosophies, and look forward to working with you to create a memorable cremation or burial service for your loved one. Contact us now to learn more.
Contact a Funeral Home
While time may be of the essence, choosing the best funeral home for you is a very important decision to make. If the deceased didn’t specify a preference, you can contact a few in your area to discuss the options available, as well as your budget and the types of funeral arrangements available. Once you have determined the funeral home you would like to use, you can move forward with planning the burial service or cremation.
Determine the Type of Disposition
Your loved one’s remains can be cared for with cremation or burial, and the decision you make is a deeply personal one. Last wishes could have been discussed beforehand, which helps make the decision somewhat easier. However, if that is not the case, then you can discuss the options with family or with the funeral director, who will be happy to answer your questions and help you make the best decision.
Make Cremation or Burial Service Arrangements
You will want to plan a service for your loved one that is just as unique as he or she was. Your funeral director will discuss his/her personality, requests from friends and family, and stories about him/her to create an experience that will be memorable. You will also discuss where the service will be held, whether there will be a burial service, and other logistics such as visitations, viewings, and so on. And sometimes people decide not to have a service at all. These are all considerations that will be made during the service planning discussion.
Purchase Funeral Products
If you’re opting for a burial service, you will want to purchase a casket—depending on the rules of the place of burial, you might also have to purchase a grave liner. Your funeral director will work with you to find the best option available for your preferences and budget. For those who opt for a cremation, you will have a number of choices for urns. Your funeral director will present several options to you based on your preferences and budget.
Discuss Memorial Donations
Many funerals have a table where people can leave memorials that can be donated to help pay for the funeral, to help the family of the deceased, or to donate to a cause that meant a lot to him or her. This is an alternative to flowers, and can provide a way for people to help others in honor of your loved one. If you would like to receive flowers, these can also be donated after the service to hospices, hospitals, or nursing homes.
At Dolan Funeral Home, we can work with you to make funeral arrangements. Whether you’re pre-planning a funeral and burial service for yourself, or planning a cremation for a loved one, we are ready to help you. Contact us now to learn more.