Things You Should Know Before You Go

By Andrew Hodges

In 2005 I began a monthly series of articles to educate readers on funeral service. The goal of the series, which lasted for four years, was to separate fact from fiction and inform our community about what happens at time of death and the steps that take place following.

I’m pleased to relaunch this series. I will update the original articles, then carry forward with new topics. The articles will also appear on the funeral home website ( as a blog, and as a post on our Facebook page – both of which will allow readers to ask questions or give their opinion.

So to quote my first article from 2005:

But why do we need to know about death?

The simple answer is that we all have to deal with the death of a loved one, not to mention our own mortality, at some point in our lives. We will have to deal with arranging a funeral and settling an estate while coming to terms with our own emotions.

Our culture doesn’t like to talk about dying – we prefer to defy our age and live every day to its fullest. Our society is commercially youth-driven and our life expectancy is longer than those of other areas of the world. Also, death in the western world is professionalized. Taking care of an ill loved one was once the responsibility of families and friends, not hospitals. And when a loved one died, there was no such thing as a funeral home to take care of the final farewell. In today’s world, however, most of us do not see what goes on during the final stages of life, and so death has become a mystery.

Funeral directors such as myself also share the blame for professionalizing death. Few people know what happens between the time of death and the start of a funeral visitation. Television shows and movies sometimes give us a peek, but it’s usually shown in a stereotyped way. Also, when funeral homes do make the news, it’s usually for something negative; controversy makes for better headlines.

Simply put, for most, there are a lot of unknowns associated with death and funerals. I personally find the people in St. Marys and area have a good handle on funerals, because when there is a funeral in a small town everyone shows up. So, my goal in revisiting and updating these articles is to keep the families that come to my funeral home as informed as possible so that when they face death, they will know their options and make clear decisions.

Questions or comments can be emailed to

Andrew Hodges is a Class 1 Ontario Licensed Funeral Director & Embalmer who owns, operates and lives at the Andrew L. Hodges Funeral Home, St. Marys.

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