Frequently Asked Questions

It goes without saying that a funeral can be a trying time for loved ones. We here at Benson & Langehough can help you navigate the process in a way that honors the deceased and provides comfort to the bereaved.

What follows here is a set of frequently asked questions and guides that we hope will assist you in planning and assuages any concerns you may be feeling.

What Options Are Available in Services and Disposition?

A valuable aspect of contemporary funerals is their individuality. Whether a ceremony is elaborate or simple, funerals are often individualized to reflect the life of the deceased and to hold special meaning for family and other survivors. It may reflect one’s religious beliefs as a reaffirmation of faith in a greater life beyond this world.

It may reflect the occupation or hobbies of the deceased. It may center around an ethnic background or social affiliation.

In our society, three basic forms of final disposition are practiced. The first is earth burial, which continues to be the form of disposition chosen most often.

Cremation is also a choice. This is a process of preparing the body for final disposition whereby the body is reduced by intense heat over several hours to a few pounds of small fragments. These cremated remains are usually placed in an urn, which may be buried, placed in a memorial niche, or kept in some other location. Cremated remains may also be scattered where permitted by law.

Finally, entombment in a crypt is also a choice and is one of the oldest forms of disposition. Today many cemeteries maintain crypts for entombment, which may be in a mausoleum or in an outdoor garden.

What Does a Funeral Director Do?

It has been estimated that over 136 individual activities must take place in order for one funeral to be conducted. The funeral director is actually an organizational specialist.

Here is a condensed list of some of the more visible activities of a typical funeral director:

  • Removal and transfer of the deceased from place of death to funeral home.
  • Professional care of the deceased, which may include sanitary washing, embalming preparation, restorative art, dressing, hairdressing, casketing and cosmetology.
  • Conduct a complete consultation with family members to discuss specific arrangements for a funeral and gather necessary information.
  • File all certificates, permits, affidavits, and authorizations, as required.
  • Acquire certified copies of the death certificate as requested by a family.
  • Compile an obituary and place in newspapers of a family’s choice.
  • Make arrangements with a family’s choice of clergy person, church, musicians, etc.
  • Make arrangements with cemetery, crematory, or other place of disposition.
  • Provide a register book, prayer cards, funeral folders, and thank you cards, as requested by a family.
  • Arrange for clergy and musician honorariums, flowers, additional transportation, etc.
  • Care and arrangement of floral pieces and the post funeral distribution as directed by a family.
  • Arrange for casket bearers, automobiles, and special services (fraternal or military) as requested by a family
  • Care of all floral cards, mass cards, or other memorial contributions presented to the funeral home.
  • Your funeral director, with his/her staff personnel, will direct the funeral in a most professional manner, and be in complete charge of the funeral procession to the cemetery or other place of disposition.
  • Assist a family with social security, veteran’s benefits, insurance claims, and other death-related claims.
Social Security Benefits

The following checklist is designed to help you file for your Social Security benefits correctly so that prompt payments may be made.


The deceased worker must have credit for work covered by Social Security, ranging from 1 1/2 to 10 years depending on his or her age at death.


  • A widow or widower age 60 or older (50 if disabled), or at any age if caring for an entitled child who is under 16 or disabled.
  • A divorced widow or widower age 60 or older (50 if disabled) if the marriage lasted 10 years, or if caring for an entitled child who is under 16 or disabled.
  • Unmarried children up to 18 (19 if they are attending a primary or secondary school full time).
  • Children who were disabled before reaching 22, as long as they remained disabled. * Dependent parent or parents 62 or older.


A one-time payment of $255 is paid in addition to the monthly cash benefits described above. The lump-sum death payment (LSDP) is paid in the following priority order:

  • A surviving spouse who lived in the same household as the deceased person at the time of death.
  • A surviving spouse eligible for or entitled to benefits for the month of death.
  • A child or children eligible for or entitled to benefits for the month of death.


You must apply in order to receive benefits. You may apply at any Social Security office or, if you wish, you may apply by telephone. Just dial the toll-free number 1-800-772-1213 and the operator will schedule an appointment for you or arrange for the local Social Security office to take your claim by telephone.


You may call Social Security toll-free, 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. The number to use is 1-800-772-1213. To speak with a representative, call between the hours of 7:00am and 7:00pm on regular business days. At other times and on weekends and holidays, you may leave a message and they will call you back, in most cases, the next business day.

You may use the toll-free number to make an appointment either in a Social Security office or telephone to apply for benefits, transact other Social Security business, or just ask questions.

Veterans Benefits

Survivors of any person who was an active or retired member of the military at time of death, or an honorably discharged veteran, could be eligible for a number of benefits, including:

  • An American flag (usually drapes the casket).
  • Burial in a National Cemetery.
  • A bronze or granite marker.
  • A lump sum payment of $300.00 is usually available to families of those veterans that were entitled to receive VA compensation or pension at time of death (such as retirees), or veterans who died while a registered patient in a VA hospital or other accredited VA facility. If one of these circumstance’s apply and a National Cemetery is not utilized, up to $300.00 could be reimbursed as a plot or interment allowance (requires proof of payment to a non-VA cemetery. Private cemeteries usually assist you by filing this benefit in your behalf). For veterans who die of a service connected disability, the VA could pay an allowance to reimburse funeral costs of $2000.00 or less (no additional VA death benefits would be available). Active duty military personnel are usually entitled to a greater amount, which can vary. This benefit is usually paid by the Department of Defense.
  • If not remarried, the surviving spouse is eligible for burial in the National Cemetery. Dependent children of the veteran are also eligible.
  • Claims for Veteran’s Benefits must be filed within 2 years of death by the veteran’s family, a non-family member who can prove that the veteran’s funeral services are paid, or the funeral director. We will be pleased to make application for these benefits on your behalf if you will provide us with the veteran’s Honorable Discharge papers. For VA Assistance and Information, phone 1-800-827-1000 or visit their website at
Help With Grief

You will probably feel a variety of emotions when you lose someone you love. The ability to make it through the death of a loved one can be challenging. You may have feelings of shock and disbelief, anger, guilt and depression.

Caring for yourself is not selfish. The period of recovery is different for every person. There is no timetable for grief, so don’t compare yourself with others who have lost loved ones. Your life has changed and healing in your own way is important for the health of your mind, body and spirit. It’s normal for some days to be better than others.

The following sources will provide you with sound information to help you manage your feelings and emotions at this most difficult time.

“Though grief is a natural and necessary process, it’s also an extraordinarily difficult one. We’re here to help mourners and those who care for them.”
Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D., Director

Related Links

There are many valuable resources while families go through a loss; here are just a few

Local Support

Bereavement support through Northfield Hospice – Northfield Hospice offers grief support and educational events for all adult community members in the Northfield area. The group is free and open to the public; your loved one did not need to be under Hospice care for you to attend. They also offer a range of educational events and speakers throughout the year. Call or email Katie Jacobi, MSW, Bereavement Coordinator, 507-646-1037.

Northfield Grief Coalition – All groups and events are open to the public, and everyone is welcome to attend. Church affiliation in NOT required. Groups are held weekly at various locations in the community and you do not need to preregister, unless otherwise noted. Contact: Call or email Katie Jacobi, MSW, Bereavement Coordinator, 507-646-1037.

Online Support Groups

The Compassionate Friends
Compassionate Friends provides support for families who have lost a child (at any age).

GriefNet is an Internet community of persons dealing with grief, death, and major loss. GriefNet has 37 email support groups and two web sites.

Helping Others

Helping a Child with Grief

Explaining Suicide to Children

The Ten Best and Worst Things to Say

Helping Yourself

Grieving During the Holidays

Living After Your Spouse Dies
By Alan Wolfelt

Living After Your Parent Dies
From Our House Grief Support Center



What is Pre-Planning?

Pre-Planning is a sincere act of love. It relieves the burden of making arrangements at a most difficult time, enabling family and friends to better support each other’s sorrow. Pre-Planning provides comfort to the family that final wishes are respected. Pre-Planning is capable of relieving an financial and emotional burden of families and friends, making it easier for those we love.

What are the benefits of Pre-Planning?

  • Gives you the time to research the funeral provider, location and price.
  • Allows you to personalize your service, making it as simple or traditional as you want.
  • Eliminates second guessing regarding the wishes of the deceased at the time of death.
  • Removes a tremendous burden from your family on what is certain to be one of the worst days of their lives.

Many individuals and families are making the decision to pre-arrange and pre-pay for the funeral expenses before the need arises. According to industry sources four and a half million people will pre-plantheir funeral and burial arrangements this year.

Pre-Planning for Peace of Mind:

Arranging your service, selecting a casket or urn, selecting an outer burial container, arranging transportation for family and friends, and selecting clothing are just a few of the many decisions to be made. With Pre-Planning, you can make these decisions and remove the financial and emotional burden from your family. You’ll have peace of mind knowing you arranged all these things for those you love.

What are the Advantages of Pre-Planning?

  • Paying today’s prices guarantees that the funeral service will be carried out at no additional cost to the family.
  • Pre-Paying a funeral prevents other life insurance policies from being depleted at the time of a loved one’s death.
  • Allows you to consider cost effective options at a time when you are better prepared to make sound financial decisions.
  • Gives you the flexibility to make payments – into an insurance policy, annuity or trust account.
  • Allows you to shelter assets when paying for medical benefits.

Benson & Langehough Funeral Home and Cremation can provide the best possible guidance and information as you plan your funeral for the future. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to call us at  (507) 645-5123

We invite you to contact us with your questions at (507) 645-5123, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and we are glad to arrange a tour of our comfortable facilities.

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