Frequently Asked Questions

The funeral industry is shrouded in mystery.  Johnson Funeral Home believes that all questions are fair game and that death, dying and the funeral rite should be talked about openly.  If you don't see your question below please contact us and we will answer and get it included

How soon do you have to bury someone after they die?

In the State of Oregon, final disposition (be it cremation, or burial) should occur within 10 days. That's not to say that it is impossible to wait more than 10 days.  The funeral provider will request a 10-day hold and notify the State explaining why disposition did not occur within the allotted time. This is so the State knows that people aren't being stockpiled or mistreated, and of course the obvious reason is that you cannot preserve human remains forever. The main purpose for an embalming is to temporarily preserve human remains to allow family time to make arrangement without the natural decomposition process getting in the way, as well as to make people look their best for public viewing. It is generally recommended that people bury or cremate their loved one within that 10 day time frame. The combination of embalming and mortuary refrigeration can really extend the time that human remains stay intact and non offensive, sometimes a good result can be obtained with an embalming and the person could look very good for a month or more. The opposite is also true. Depending on the cause of death, and time between death and embalming, or refrigeration, you could have someone decomposing very rapidly despite your best efforts.

I have a prepaid funeral already, can I change it to a different funeral home?

Yes! Your prepaid and pre-planned funeral policy (be it a trust or insurance) will indicate which funeral home will be the beneficiary based on which funeral home you choose. This does not mean you cannot change your mind.  Johnson Funeral Home will happily honor pre-arrangements from a competitor. Ultimately it is the family's choice as to where they go and no good funeral provider would or should stand in the way if someone wanted to make a change.  This transfer can happen in advance or at the time of death by the surviving family members.

I have a burial plot already, do I have to use the funeral home associated with my chosen cemetery?  Can I use whatever funeral home I want regardless of my chosen cemetery? 

A common misconception is that if I want to be buried in cemetery A, then I have to use the funeral home located at cemetery A. This is not true. You may use any funeral home you choose.  There is no requirement to use any specific cemetery or any specific funeral home based on the cemetery you chose to be buried in.

How can I plan ahead for my funeral and pay for it?  What is the benefit of having funeral prearrangements?

Contact us! We offer funeral life insurance that will pay a death benefit to cover the cost of the funeral.  We can help you plan all of the details and come up with an appropriate payment plan to honor your wishes.

The benefits are numerous.  As with nearly everything, prices are always on the rise.  The financial benefit to paying ahead of time is you can make your pre-arrangements guaranteed. This means that whether you die in 5, 10 or even 100 years the price won't go up on the guaranteed items. Regardless of how expensive things may become in the future, you've locked in your price. Not all items can be guaranteed. Obituaries, filing fees, death certificates and other "cash advance" items will not have that "locked in price". The other important benefit of planning ahead is the peace of mind knowing that your family will be armed with the knowledge of what you want. They can grieve without the questions and confusion that typically come up when someone dies without a plan. It is a very valuable gift parents and grandparents can leave for their posterity. You can plan basically everything ahead of time too; what casket, what theme to have for your funeral and, what songs you want played.  Leaving no question as to what your wishes are will allow your family to focus on their grief rather than financial burden or second guessing decisions.

What are death certificates, how many do I need?

A death certificate is the legal document, similar to a birth certificate, that is used for documentation and proof of death.  It is used to finalize the affairs of the decedent and as proof for life insurance claims.  The amount needed varies based on how many accounts the decedent had while alive.  On average people need between 4-8, some need far more, some need less.  But, consult with your funeral director.  They will guide you in how many is right for your specific situation.

What is a funeral?

The funeral is a ceremony of proven worth and value for those who mourn. It provides an opportunity for the survivors and others who share in the loss to express their love, respect and grief. It permits facing openly and realistically the crisis that death may present. Through the funeral, the bereaved take that first step towards emotional adjustment to their loss.

What type of service should I have?

Only you can answer that question. The type of service conducted for the deceased, if not noted in a pre-plan, is decided by the family. The service is usually held at a place of worship or at the funeral home. The service may vary in ritual according to religious denomination or the wishes of the family. The presence of friends at this time is an acknowledgment of friendship and support. A private service is by invitation only where selected relatives and a few close friends attend the funeral service. A memorial service is usually a service without the body present and can vary in ceremony and procedures according to the family's community and religious affiliations.

Can I personalize my funeral service?

Absolutely, in fact, we recommend it. After all, the funeral is a celebration of life. We are happy to discuss all options and ensure your funeral is tailored to your wishes. It may be personalized in many unique ways. After all, we do celebrations as unique as LIFE!

Why should I do a viewing?

There are many reasons to view the deceased. It is part of many cultural and ethnic traditions, and many grief specialists believe that viewing aids the grief process, by helping the bereaved recognize the reality of death. Viewing is even encouraged for children, as long as it is their desire to do so, and the process is explained well.  It can help in the grieving process to view our loved ones at peace and no longer suffering or in pain.  Often times our imaginations are worse than reality, if in doubt as to whether your loved one is "viewable," consult with your funeral director.

Why should I not view my loved one?

To view or not to view is very personal.  Many people want to remember those they love at a time where they were alive and vibrant.  Fear is also a big reason.  For whatever the reason, never view, or force anyone to view (like children) when they are not comfortable.  It is highly encouraged to talk about the issue of viewing with your funeral director who can counsel you to in making the best a right decision for you and your family.

Why do we need an obituary notice?

It is helpful to friends and the community to have an obituary notice published announcing the death and type of service to be held. Not all people are technologically savvy and so using the funeral home's free online obituary may not be a sufficient way of getting the word out.

What do funeral directors do?

Funeral directors are both caregivers and administrators. In their administrative duties, they make the arrangements for transportation of the body, complete all necessary paperwork, and implement the choices made by the family regarding the funeral and final disposition of the body. As caregivers, funeral directors are listeners, advisors and supporters. They have experience assisting the bereaved in coping with death. Funeral directors are trained to answer questions about grief, recognize when a person is having difficulty coping, and recommend sources of professional help. Funeral directors also link survivors with support groups at the funeral home or in the community.

What should I do if the death occurs in the middle of the night or on the weekend?

The short answer is call us.  We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. All you need to do is place a call to us at (503) 990-6936.  What happens next really depends on the manner of death, and the medical history leading up to the death.  It is never the wrong decision to call the funeral home.  If you request immediate assistance, one of our professionals will be there within the hour. If the family wishes to spend a short time with the deceased to say good bye, it's acceptable. Then they will come when your time is right.

What should I do if a death occurs while away from home?

Your funeral director can assist you if a death occurs anywhere on the globe. Contact your hometown funeral director of choice immediately. They will assume responsibility and coordinate the arrangements for the return of the deceased person to their community. They may engage the services of a funeral director in the place of death who will act as their agent.

What is the purpose of embalming?

Embalming sanitizes and preserves the body, retards the decomposition process, and enhances the appearance of a body disfigured by traumatic death or illness. It makes it possible to lengthen the time between death and the final disposition, thus allowing family members time to arrange and participate in the type of service most comforting to them. Embalming the body enables mourners to view the deceased if they wish. The emotional benefits of viewing the deceased are enormous, particularly to those having difficulty dealing with the death.  Consult with the funeral director to determine whether embalming is the right decision for your family.

Is embalming mandatory by law?

No. But, certain factors of time, health and possible legal requirements might make embalming either appropriate or necessary. Please note that embalming may be required if the deceased is being transported by air to another country where local laws need be observed.

Is cremation a substitute for a funeral?

No.  Cremation is an alternative to earth burial or entombment for the body's final disposition, it is not a service.  We can assist you with your funeral or memorial service in conjuction with a cremation.  Johnson Funeral Home highly recommends that a service be held for ALL people.  The service need not be extravagant or costly.  It can be very simple or highly involved, but an appropriate service will help honor the life lived, and facilitate the grieving process.

Can I have a visitation period and a funeral service if cremation is chosen?

Yes. Cremation does not preclude having a visitation period and a funeral service. Cremation is simply one option for final disposition of the body.  Rental caskets, cremation caskets allow for the tradition of ground burial while still provided for an end resulting in cremation.

Is cremation as a means of disposition increasing?

Yes, in some areas of the country more than others.

Is it possible to have a traditional funeral if someone dies of AIDS?

Yes, a person who dies of an AIDS-related illness is entitled to the same service options afforded to anyone else. If public viewing is consistent with local or personal customs, that option is encouraged. Touching the deceased's face or hands is perfectly safe. Because the grief experienced by survivors may include a variety of feelings, survivors may need even more support than survivors of non-AIDS-related deaths.

How much is this going to cost?

Our unique price structure allows families to choose only the goods and services they need without being pressured into a funeral “packages”. The competition loves to place families into “packages” that seriously hinder what can be done for personalization and uniqueness. They do this to appear more affordable, or to make you think you're getting a discount. Is it a good deal if you really didn’t want it to begin with? Of course not. 

Just because we don’t have “package” sales doesn’t make us any less affordable, it just means we value your opinion and want to provide you with what you want, not what’s convenient for us to sell you.   You’ll be surprised to see how much more we can do compared to the competition and still stay within your budget.  Stop in to get a general price list (GPL) and see just how affordable we are.

Why are funerals so expensive?

Every day in the United States families spend thousands upon thousands of dollars for events. Events like weddings, birthdays, and general celebrations can cost you a bundle. Generally speaking, people are happy, or at least more willing to pay for these events because these are happy events in our lives. 

The contrast is funeral service.  Funerals are events that require much of the same effort, expertise, and extensive planning as other life events, and they have a much shorter planning period.  Yet when it comes to paying for it, people are less willing and not happy to pay for it.  We spend money on what we like and hate spending money on what we don’t like or don’t see value in.  Johnson Funeral Home is committed to putting the value back in the funeral industry.  We do this by providing the type of services and events that people actually want to be a part of.  Think of your funeral as an event; such as a wedding, or a birthday.  We aren’t in the business of celebrating death, we are all about celebrating life.  Your funeral or memorial service should be a reflection of your life, your accomplishments, your hobbies and interests, and should focus on the amazing legacy and footprint you left on this world.   

Has this cost increased significantly?

No, funeral costs have increased at a rate no faster than the consumer price index for other consumer items.

But again, why are funerals so expensive?

In some respects, funerals are a lot like weddings or birthday celebrations only they are sad and must happen with very little time to plan. The type and cost will vary according to the tastes and budget of the consumer. Not only that, a funeral home is a 24-hour, labor-intensive business, with extensive facilities (viewing rooms, chapels, limousines, hearses, etc.), these expenses must be factored into the cost of a funeral. Moreover, the cost of a funeral includes not only merchandise, like caskets, but the services of a funeral director in making arrangements; filing appropriate forms; dealing with doctors, ministers, florists, newspapers and others; and seeing to all the necessary details. Contrary to popular belief, funeral homes are largely family-owned with a modest profit margin.

Who pays for funerals for the indigent?

Other than the family, there are veteran, union, and other organizational benefits to pay for funerals. Most funeral directors are aware of the various benefits and know how to obtain them for the indigent. However, funeral directors often absorb costs above and beyond what is provided by agencies to insure the deceased a respectable burial.  That is just one of the many ways funeral directors serve their communities.

Are cemeteries running out of space?

In some cemeteries, supposedly so because just like other open spaces, cemeteries are impacted by increased population density in both urban and rural areas. Cemetery spaces are a finite resource, and as such, are at a premium in some regions.  But generally speaking, with cremation on the rise, there is plenty of room.

What is Perpetual Care?

"Perpetual Care" usually refers to the correct terms Permanent Care or Endowment Care. These Care funds are collected with each Interment Space sale to maintain the grounds, roads, and buildings of the cemetery.

Can the casket or vault be personalized?

Yes, we can show you the wide range of personalization choices, including customized nameplates and military insignias.  How about letting everyone sign the casket with markers, or letting family decorate it yourself?  You can do whatever you want to personalize anything at Johnson Funeral Home.

Are there vaults for cremated remains?

Yes, we offer urn vaults, designed for in-ground burial of cremated remains.

Can two cremations be performed at once?

Never. Not only is it illegal to do so, most modern cremation chambers are not of sufficient size to accommodate more than one adult. Thus it would be a practical impossibility to conduct multiple cremations simultaneously.  It is possible to comingle cremated remains of course after the cremation has occurred, if desired, and with family permission.

Can the family witness the cremation?

Yes. In fact, some religious groups include this as part of their funeral custom.  If this is your desire, it will take some additional coordination so please discuss it with your funeral director.

Does a body have to be embalmed before it is buried?

No, embalming is not required for burial. It is always your choice. Your decision may depend on such factors as whether the family selected a service with a public viewing of the body with an open casket; or to enhance the deceased's appearance for a private family viewing; or if the body is going to be transported by air or rail, or because of the length of time prior to the burial.  Some cemeteries have requirements, like for burial in a mausuleum, that the body must be embalmed prior to placement.

Must I purchase a burial vault and what is it for?

In most areas of the country, state or local laws do not require that you buy a container to surround the casket in the grave. However, nearly all cemeteries require that you have such a container so that the ground will not sink. Either a grave liner or a burial vault will satisfy these requirements.  The main purpose is to keep the cemetery looking nice, and safe.  Vaults keep the cemetery smooth for mowing.

What are the advantages of a mausoleum burial?

Mausoleum crypts are both clean and dry. They offer a viable alternative for those who simply have an aversion of being interred in the ground. Furthermore, mausoleums will allow for a maximum number of entombments in a minimum amount of space.

What is a columbarium?

A columbarium, often located within a mausoleum, chapel or in a garden setting, is constructed with numerous small compartments (niches) designed to hold urns containing cremated remains.