Funeral home
A funeral home, funeral parlor or mortuary, is a business that provides burial and funeral
A funeral is a ceremony for celebrating, sanctifying, or remembering the life of a person who has died. Funerary customs comprise the complex of beliefs and practices used by a culture to remember the dead, from interment itself, to various monuments, prayers, and rituals undertaken in their honor...

 services for the deceased and their families. These services may include a
prepared wake
Wake (ceremony)
A wake is a ceremony associated with death. Traditionally, a wake takes place in the house of the deceased, with the body present; however, modern wakes are often performed at a funeral home. In the United States and Canada it is synonymous with a viewing...

 and funeral, and the provision of a chapel
A chapel is a building used by Christians as a place of fellowship and worship. It may be part of a larger structure or complex, such as a church, college, hospital, palace, prison or funeral home, located on board a military or commercial ship, or it may be an entirely free-standing building,...

 for the funeral.


Funeral homes arrange services in accordance with the wishes of families and the deceased. The funeral home often takes care of the necessary paperwork, permits, and other details, such as making arrangements with the cemetery
A cemetery is a place in which dead bodies and cremated remains are buried. The term "cemetery" implies that the land is specifically designated as a burying ground. Cemeteries in the Western world are where the final ceremonies of death are observed...

, and providing obituaries
An obituary is a news article that reports the recent death of a person, typically along with an account of the person's life and information about the upcoming funeral. In large cities and larger newspapers, obituaries are written only for people considered significant...

 to the news media.

There are a few common types of services in North America.
A traditional funeral service consists of a viewing (sometimes referred to as a visitation), a funeral service at the church of the deceased (or at the funeral home chapel), and a graveside committal service.
Direct cremation consists of the funeral home receiving the remains of the deceased, filing the necessary paperwork (according to state/provincial laws), and completing the cremation
Cremation is the process of reducing bodies to basic chemical compounds such as gasses and bone fragments. This is accomplished through high-temperature burning, vaporization and oxidation....

Direct/immediate burial is when the family of the deceased forgoes a funeral ceremony and solely wishes their loved one to be buried in a timely manner.
Forwarding or receiving of remains to or from another mortuary consists of preparing the body for shipment in a casket strapped into an airtray or a combination unit. This is used when the cemetery in which the deceased is to be buried lies in another state or country.

When the deceased are brought to the funeral home, they are sometimes embalmed
Embalming, in most modern cultures, is the art and science of temporarily preserving human remains to forestall decomposition and to make them suitable for public display at a funeral. The three goals of embalming are thus sanitization, presentation and preservation of a corpse to achieve this...

 to delay decomposition. The typical embalming procedure involves replacement of the blood of the decedent with a mixture of preservative chemicals and dyes, aspiration of the internal organs, and the setting of the person's features. The use of makeup to make a person look more lifelike is often employed. If the deceased was disfigured from an accident or illness, the embalmer can sometimes utilize restorative techniques to make the body presentable for an open casket service. If the embalmer is unable to do so, or if the family requests otherwise, the funeral home can perform a closed casket service.

The funeral home often sets aside one or more large areas for families to gather at a visitation. This area may contain a space to display the deceased in their casket for visitors to pay their respects. Funeral services and memorial services may also take place at the funeral home. Many funeral homes also offer prearrangement services for those who wish to prepare their own funeral services before death.

Several large multi-national corporations in this service field have received exposure from high profile litigation. The Loewen Group, Inc., received a particularly large jury verdict in the State of Mississippi which was later found to be in error as the allegations against Loewen Group proved false. The Canadian based company then brought suit against the United States alleging violations under N.A.F.T.A.. Houston based Service Corporation International
Service Corporation International
For other uses of the acronym SCI, see SCIService Corporation International is North America’s largest provider of end-of-life arrangements and services. With its headquarters in Neartown, Houston, Texas, United States, SCI operates more than 1500 funeral homes and 400 cemeteries in 43 states,...

 has also had their share of legal troubles with the operations of both their funeral home and cemetery operations.

With the advent of many people favoring cremation in North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

, there has been a new classification of a funeral establishment that has started to become popular, these are classified as a "Transfer Service", they can provide the basic needs to have someone either cremated or buried without a funeral service. Transfer services are limited as to what they can offer the public as they do not have licenses issued for preparation embalming
Embalming, in most modern cultures, is the art and science of temporarily preserving human remains to forestall decomposition and to make them suitable for public display at a funeral. The three goals of embalming are thus sanitization, presentation and preservation of a corpse to achieve this...

nor can they hold or offer services for a visitation with the remains present, however, this process is becoming more valuable in North America despite the loss of what traditional funeral service can provide a grieving family.
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