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FAQs

FAQs

We’ve provided a list of answers to questions we frequently receive regarding our services and other activities related to funerals. 

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.

What do funeral directors do?

What do funeral directors do?

A funeral director is a licensed professional who has graduated with a degree in Mortuary Science and specializes in all aspects of funerals and related services. Their primary role is to  support the family and guide you through the funeral process. They are experienced with funeral ceremonies and traditions. They also arrange for the removal, transportation and preparation of the deceased. They can assist families with any legal or insurance-related paperwork they might need to file. 

Unlike some other positions in the death care industry, who are compensated via sales, Wisconsin law does not allow Funeral Directors to make a commission. So you can rest assured at Schaff, you will make arrangements with a licensed funeral director and will never feel any sales pressure.

Can I personalize my service?

Can I personalize my service?

Absolutely! Our staff has decades 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.

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 doesn’t exclude you from celebrating and honoring their life in any way. We offer temporary caskets for services and are happy to help you design a meaningful service prior to your loved one being cremated.

Why have a viewing?

Why have a viewing?

A viewing — also known as a visitation or wake — 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 awhile. 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?

Most often, yes. Autopsies and organ donation do not always affect your ability to have an open-casket viewing. 

Donating Body to Science

Should I bring my children to the funeral service?

Should I bring my children to the funeral service?

Generally only immediate family bring their children to funeral services 

  • Ask yourself, will you be able to grieve the loss if you have parental responsibility distraing you? Also 
  • 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.
  • Consider your child's perspective and their tolerance for the length of time you will be there and their need to be on their best behavior. 

If you do decide to bring any children,

  • At no time should children be unattended.
  • Explain beforehand what they will see and experience.
  • Explain the importance of being on their best behavior.
  • Be sure they have burned off some energy before arriving, as the volume and environment are more subdued.
  • If your child becomes cranky or noisy, please remove them promplty to avoid disturbing those who need the service as part of their mourning or healing.
What is the purpose of embalming?

What is the purpose of embalming?

Embalming is a process used to sanitize and temporarily preserve the body of a person who has passed away. There are many restorative process that our skilled embalmers can use to enhance the appearance of a person that has suffered damage from an accident or illness and allow for a viewing that is initially considered not to be an option. By preserving the body through embalming, we can give loved ones additional time that might be necessary to make personalized and meaningful arrangements, especially when family may be out of town and there is need for travel and schedule considerations.

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, we can offer a private viewing for immediate family. Exception examples include but are not limited to...public visitiations or when transporting the deceased via common carrier such as airplanes, trains, or ship.

How long does the cremation process take?

How long does the cremation process take?

The law requires a 48 hour period before a person can be cremated. The actual process of cremating a person will vary depending on the individual and the casket or container used, but usually takes about 3-5 hours. Please note this is only one step in the cremation process. To obtain proper paperwork, medical examiner's release, and other legal documents, it generally takes 5-7 days.

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?

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.

What is a columbarium?

What is a columbarium?

A columbarium is a place for the interment of urns containing cremated remains. They’re often located in mausoleums, chapels, or memorial gardens, and contain numerous small compartments, or niches, designed to hold urns.

What can I do to help the bereaved after services?

What can I do to help the bereaved after services?

The grieving process doesn’t end with the funeral, and it will take time for the bereaved to heal. The family will need your support for months to come, so make sure to check in on a regular basis. Drop a note, make a phone call, and continue to invite them when you make social plans; they’ll let you know if and when they are ready to participate. Reach out to the family on special occasions, like birthdays or anniversaries, especially during the first year following their loss.

What should I say when I run into the bereaved in public?

What should I say when I run into the bereaved in public?

What you’ll say depends upon whether or not you’ve already had contact with the bereaved. If you’ve already offered your condolences, or attended the visitation or service, simply greet the bereaved warmly and express an interest in their wellbeing. If this is your first meeting since the death and you’re in a public setting, it’s best not to bring up the death directly. Instead, say something like, “I understand these must be difficult days for you,” and perhaps ask about when might be a good time to visit, or suggest that you meet for lunch.

Schaff Funeral Service
Phone: (414) 541-7533
Fax: (414) 541-7570
5920 West Lincoln Ave., West Allis, WI 53219


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