Frequent Questions

Click on the questions below to reveal each respective answer.

What do I do when a death occurs?

When a death occurs, there are decisions to be made immediately, arrangements to be coordinated, and a lot of things to be considered for your loved one’s final farewell.

Your first step is to contact Ryan Funeral Home. The funeral home is here to help you and your family through your time of loss and assist with the coordination of your personalized funeral arrangements to honor the person you lost with dignity, respect, and compassion.

Click here to learn more about what to do when a death occurs, including notifying the proper authorities, meeting with a funeral director and staff, gathering information for the obituary, and more.

When I call, will someone come right away?

Yes, our staff is on-call 24 hours a day to serve our families at their time of loss. They are available whether you request immediate assistance or if the family wishes to spend a short time with the deceased to say goodbye, that’s perfectly acceptable too. Your funeral director will come when your time is right to take your loved one into our care.

Why have a Funeral?

While funerals are the traditional way to recognize the death of a loved one, it is not the only reason to have a funeral. Funerals fill an important role for those mourning the loss of a loved one. It provides surviving family and friends with an atmosphere of care and support and is considered to be the first step in the healing process. A funeral also allows loved ones the opportunity to share thoughts and feelings about their loss with others dealing with similar emotions.

Funerals can be recognized rituals for the living to show their respect and to help survivors begin the grieving process but they also can be a way to honor the life that has been lost. Full funeral services can be arranged for either traditional burials or cremation and can be customized to pay tribute to each individual. Planning a personalized ceremony or service can help begin the healing process.

Overcoming the pain is never easy, but a meaningful funeral or tribute can help those left behind cope with their loss and allow others a way to support them through this time in their life.

Why have a viewing?

Viewing is a 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. A common misconception is that Viewings need to be public. Many families are now choosing to have a private family viewing and then a closed casket for the public visitation. Viewings are also encouraged for children, as long as the process is explained, and the activity is voluntary as it can aid in the child understanding the loss or absence of a loved one. The main benefit of a viewing is it assists with the closure people need to process their loss.

Should I choose Burial or Cremation?

There is no right or wrong choice between the two and there are benefits to both. Cemetery burials in a casket are the most traditional method of burial in the United States, although entombment is an additional option to in-ground burial. Cremation is becoming more popular because it allows for the memorial service to be very customizable. It also allows for the services to be held at a more convenient time in the future when relatives and friends can come together.

A funeral visitation and service with the casket present followed by cremation provides a balance of the two options and can include a traditional burial, family placement, or other options for the placement of the ashes after cremation. Cremated remains can be placed in an urn before being committed to a final resting place, or placed in keepsake urns or other custom receptacles. The remains may also be scattered, according to state law. The urn may be buried, placed in an indoor or outdoor mausoleum or columbarium, interred in a special urn garden that cemeteries provide for cremated remains, or given to a loved one.

Below are a few basic questions that may make that decision process easier for you

  • Where do you want your final resting, is it in-ground or above ground?
  • Is it important to you to have religious ceremonies conducted or your loved ones be able to say their final goodbye’s with you present?
  • Do you want a public visitation or a private viewing with a casket?
What is the purpose of embalming?

Embalming is a process that is used to sanitize and preserve the body after death has occurred. Embalming makes it possible to lengthen the time between death and the final disposition, allowing family members time to arrange and participate in the type of service most comforting to them.

According to law, does a deceased person have to be embalmed?

The Federal Trade Commission says, “Except in certain special cases, embalming is not required by law. Embalming may be necessary, however, if you select certain funeral arrangements, such as a funeral with viewing. If you do not want to embalm, you usually have the right to choose an arrangement that does not require you to pay for it, such as direct cremation or immediate burial.”

What does a Funeral Director do?

Funeral Directors have a variety of talents, roles, and responsibilities utilized to serve our families. First, and foremost, they are the direct contact with the family to discuss, coordinate, and oversee the implementation of each family’s desired final arrangements. These responsibilities include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Pick up and transport the body of the deceased to the funeral home (anytime, day or night)
  • Meet with families to discuss and define details of desired services and arrangements
  • Coordinate arrangements with desired facilities/vendors/Veteran’s Services, order specified merchandise, coordinate staffing and services desired by the family, etc.
  • Assist the family with funeral arrangements and purchase of casket, urn, burial vault, and cemetery plot
  • Schedule the graveside services, opening and closing of the gravesite with cemetery personnel, if a burial is to be performed or services are desired
  • Coordinate with the church, clergy, or desired location if a visitation, funeral, memorial service, or celebration of life is requested, including luncheons.
  • Arrange, prepare, and order death certificates and/or cremation permits, submit certified copies of death certificates and cremation documentation for insurance and benefit processing applicable to funeral services
  • Work with the insurance agent, Social Security, or Veterans Administration to ensure that necessary paperwork is filed for receipt of benefits
  • Prepare and submit the obituary to the newspapers of your choice
  • Prepare the deceased body as needed for desired services, i.e. embalming, dressing, cosmetizing, and preparing the body for private and public viewing, services, or cremation.
  • Order funeral sprays and other flower arrangements as the family wishes
  • Provide aftercare, or grief assistance, to the bereaved
Do I have to make different funeral arrangements if I choose cremation?

It really depends entirely on how you wish to commemorate your life. One of the advantages of cremation is that it provides you with increased flexibility when you make your funeral and/or cemetery arrangements. You might, for example, choose to have a funeral service before the cremation so your body is present for the visitation and/or memorial service; a memorial service after the cremation with the urn present; a committal service at the final disposition of cremated remains at a cemetery/mausoleum, at a scattering site or in a uniquely desired disposition manor. Funeral or memorial services can be held in a place of worship, at a funeral home, or in a personal location. Cremation provides the unique opportunity to provide you with the opportunity for traditional or non-traditional services to honor you, as you desire to be honored.

What is memorialization for a cremation?

The wonderful thing about cremation is that memorialization is whatever you want it to be. You might choose an in-ground burial of the urn with only family present. Or you may choose a Cremation Niche in a columbarium as your final resting place with a public graveside service. One of the benefits of cremation is that you can choose to have a memorial service that is Traditional with your casket present for the visitation and service or you may choose to be memorialized in a planting ceremony the following spring with your ashes placed in the root system of a tree of your choosing at a location you love. How you choose to be remembered, where you choose your final resting place, is not determined by the fact that you chose cremation, it can be as traditional or as unique as you are.

What can be done with the cremated remains?

Your options are endless for what you choose to do with cremated remains. They can be buried in a traditional or non-traditional service in a cemetery plot, retained by a family member in an urn or multiply keepsake items, scattered on private or public property at a place that was significant to the deceased. It is recommended to check for local regulations regarding scattering in a public place and to obtain approval of the owner for a private location.

There are many other different types of memorial options from which to choose as well. From fireworks to tree roots, and everywhere in-between, where the skies meet and the seas part, the type of memorial and final disposition you choose is your personal decision.

Can we scatter the cremated remains?

If you wish to have your ashes scattered somewhere, it is important to discuss your wishes to be scattered ahead of time with the person or persons who will actually manage the scattering ceremony. If you pre-plan these events with your funeral professional they will be able to assist your family with the coordination of your scattering ceremony. The services can be as formal or informal as you like. Scattering services can also be public or private. It is advisable to check for local regulations regarding scattering if the location is in a public place. State, County, and City regulations may apply to public property, however, private property is typically up to the discretion of the owner and their approval would also be required.

If I am cremated, can I be buried with my spouse even if he or she was in a casket?

Yes — Depending upon the cemetery’s policy. Each cemetery has its own regulations surrounding burials on its property. However, most cemeteries do allow cremains within a non-biodegradable urn to be buried on top of the casketed remains of your spouse. Some cemeteries allow family members to utilize the space next to him/her. Many cemeteries also allow for two or more cremated remains within approved urns to be buried within a single grave space. We recommend you contact your desired cemetery to explore its specific rules, regulations, requirements, and fees.

Are funerals expensive?

When compared to other major life events like births and weddings, funerals are not comparatively expensive. A wedding can cost as much as three times more than a funeral. However, because it is a happy event, wedding costs are rarely criticized or scrutinized as much as a funeral cost. Most families do not realize, until they need to make that call, that a funeral home is a 24-hour, labor-intensive business, with extensive facilities (viewing rooms, chapels, hearses, etc.), and a continuously on-call staff ready to serve our families any time of day. These expenses are factored into the overall cost of a funeral.

The cost of a funeral includes not only the funeral home facilities and merchandise, such as caskets, but the time associated with the services provided by a licensed funeral director in making arrangements: filing appropriate forms; dealing with doctors, ministers, florists, newspapers, and others; and seeing to all the necessary details prior to, the day or days of, and post services.

A common misconception is that the funeral home cost is the only expected expense. Families often don’t take into account the vendor services required to implement a funeral that is outside the services provided by the funeral home. Our staff assists each family with the coordination of the services listed above, but each of these outside services are also associated with additional costs, i.e., printed obituaries, flowers, clergy, organist, soloist, choir, church staff, luncheons, cemeteries, headstones, etc. Each have their own fees associated with their services. Collectively it is an investment, but with each life event, like a wedding or birth, the reflection of that memory should be of the event that happened in life.

And as with most life events, there is typically a financial component associated with how we choose to honor that person with the selections we include within the coordination of that event.

What do I need to know about income tax when I lose a spouse?

Don’t let uncertainty about income tax issues add to the stress experienced by the death of your spouse. Meet with your family attorney and/or tax advisor as soon as possible to review your particular tax and estate circumstances. Bring a detailed list of your questions to the meeting. If you do not have an attorney or tax advisor, call the IRS toll-free at 800-829-1040 for answers to specific tax questions. It is not uncommon to have questions. Let experts guide you through your uncertainty. It may be the first time you are experiencing this situation, but it is not their first time. Remember, they are there to help you in this time of need.

Is there financial help if I need it?

Yes, there are a number of options available, including:

  • Determine if the deceased person qualifies for any entitlements. Check with the Social Security Administration, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and your State Fund. Many people are entitled to get financial assistance with their funeral costs from these agencies if they qualify.
  • Review all insurance policies the deceased person has, including life insurance. Some life insurance policies have coverage clauses for funeral-related costs.
  • Find local charities providing financial help for funeral expenses. Search for non-profit organizations and for churches in your area.
  • Talk to your Funeral Director about local burial and cremation options – these may be less expensive depending on your choices.

Have additional questions?

If your question wasn’t answered above, or if you have additional questions, please get in touch with our team. We’re happy to help.

what our families say

Tiffany Foster went out of her way to fulfill all my requests, talked me through problems I was facing, and tried to make me feel as comfortable as possible when I was a wreck, totally crushed, and I thank her with all of my heart for that.

James S. | July 2020

The professional manner of the staff made a difficult time a little easier.

Lynda R. | July 2020

Services provided for both parents were perfect, on time, and no issues. Brenda is awesome and strong!

Michael M. | July 2020

Skyler was absolutely amazing. She was so caring and helpful through this whole process. She even went above and beyond to meet with us in DeForest and even to make a stop at our home to drop off or pick up anything needed. While it was a small gesture, it was so helpful and greatly appreciated.

Brooke S. | Dec. 2020

Madison North East

2418 N. Sherman Avenue
Madison, WI 53704
Tel: 608-249-8257

Madison West

5701 Odana Road
Madison, WI 53719
Tel: 608-274-1000


220 S. Enterprise Drive
Verona, WI 53593
Tel: 608-845-6625

DeForest / Windsor

6924 Lake Road
DeForest, WI 53532
Tel: 608-846-4250