Frequently Asked Questions

What is the purpose of a funeral?
Funerals are an important step in the grieving process, as well as an opportunity to honor a life lived. They offer surviving family members and friends a caring, supportive environment in which to share thoughts and feelings. Often funerals are the first step in the healing process.

Why should I attend a funeral?
The ritual of attending a funeral service provides many benefits including:

  • Providing a social support system for the bereaved.
  • Helping the bereaved to understand that death is final and part of life.
  • Integrating the bereaved back into the community.
  • Easing the transition to a new life after the death of a loved one.
  • Providing a safe haven for embracing and expressing pain.
  • Reaffirming one's relationship with the person who died.
  • Providing a time to say good-bye.

What role does the funeral director fill?
Funeral directors are there to help you through a very difficult time in your life. Among other things, your funeral director can:

  • Provide the family a private time to say good-bye.
  • Remove and Care for the body
  • Based on information about your wishes, they are able to offer guidance and help in coordinating a very personal tribute for your loved one.
  • Help notify friends and family
  • Assist in preparing the obituary.
  • Secure necessary permits and death certificates
  • Notify and coordinate all details with the clergy
  • Arrange the funeral plans to include burial or cremation
  • Help secure any veterans' burial allowance, social security or other benefits to which you may be entitled
  • Tastefully arrange the visitation environment to include photographs and personal mementos of the deceased.
  • By acting as an experienced source for support and guidance, a professional, ethical funeral director can provide you with emotional relief during one of your greatest times of need.

What about after the funeral service?
We are available 24 hours a day for any needs that may arise. Our funeral directors follow up after the funeral, by:

  • Providing practical help with unforeseen details.
  • The Register Book is presented to the family following the service.
  • Providing acknowledgement cards for thank you notes.
  • Arranging for additional copies of death certificates.
  • Informing you of bereavement information, including support groups.

How Can a Funeral Director help me receive Social Security and other benefits?
Our office can advise you on receiving insurance survivor benefits. You may also file a claim for a lump sum death benefit of $255, which is paid to the surviving spouse, or minor children if certain requirements are met. Benefits are not paid automatically. To file a claim, you will need:

  • Marriage Certificate
  • Birth Certificate of Deceased
  • Children's Birth Certificate
  • Proof of Widow's or Widower's age, if 60 or older
  • Record of Income for Preceding Year
  • Proof of Termination of any previous marriage
  • Death Certificate or a statement from the funeral director, which confirms the death.

Many other questions about benefits can usually be answered by calling:
Social Security Administration
5455 Bankers Avenue
Baton Rouge, LA 70808

4332 Harding Blvd.
Baton Rouge, LA 70807

General Information & Services

What about Veterans' Benefits?
Our staff can advise you about possible benefits. You will need to visit the Department of Veterans Affairs, being sure to bring a death certificate and discharge papers or service number and information.

Any of these benefits are subject to change at any time, at the discretion of the Veterans Administration. Before going, be sure to call the Veterans Administration Toll Free Number, 1-800-488-8244, or 225/925-7268 for their closest address and any additional information.

What items should I receive from the funeral home?
The Federal Trade Commission has mandated that every family seeking the services of any funeral home must receive a current general price list from that establishment. You will also receive a statement of funeral goods and services if they are agreed upon and purchased.

What determines the cost of a funeral?
The choice is made by you and your family. A funeral can be as extravagant or as simple as you desire. Preplanning your funeral can help control costs. By making decisions ahead of time, you avoid making choices at a time when your emotions are heightened. It also provides an opportunity to pre-fund your funeral with life insurance. If you are interested in information on pre-arranging a funeral that meets your financial needs, check with one of our funeral directors, pre-need counselors or insurance agents. They can be accessed at our Staff and Appointments section.

Is it possible to plan a funeral in advance?
Both SIFH and NFDA recommend that everyone preplan his or her own funeral. Doing so can offer emotional and financial security for both you and your family. By preplanning a funeral you will get the kind of service you want and your family will be relieved from making decisions at a stressful time. Preplanning doesn't necessarily mean prepaying. If you are considering preplanning your funeral, please visit our Pre-Arrangement Form section of this web site. If you would also like to learn ways to fund the final expenses, visit the Pre-Arrangement Services section of our web site.

What can I do to prepare to plan a funeral?
First, be an informed consumer. Don't be reluctant to ask questions so that all available options are clearly explained. Avoid the burden of making decisions while under emotional stress by organizing details with us ahead of time.

Can I still have a funeral service if I choose cremation?
Yes. Families choosing cremation are offered a number of different funeral options. From traditional services with visitation to more modest memorial services, cremation gives you the flexibility to personalize the services for yourself or a loved one. To learn more about memorialization with cremation, please visit the Cremation Options section of this web site.

Can you perform the funeral service if I already own a cemetery plot?
Yes. The location of your plot should not affect your decision on funeral home selection. Rabenhorst Funeral Homes does not sell plots, but maintains close working relationships with all local and many out-of-town cemeteries. We recommend that consumers get an itemized disclosure of all cemetery charges in advance, in addition to funeral goods and services.

What is a customary honorarium for the clergy member, who officiates at a funeral?
Typically, a family will make a contribution of $100.

Who would conduct a service if we are not members of a church?
Our funeral director will attempt to make arrangements for you with a local clergyman from any denomination you desire. If no clergy is desired, a family member or good friend can offer some simple words. The important factor is that the service is meaningful for your family.

What if a loved one dies while away from home?
Call Rabenhorst Funeral Home immediately. In most cases, we can act as your agent either by arranging for the remains to be returned home or by planning for burial in a distant city. If you need to select a funeral home out of the Baton Rouge area, we recommend that you consider a member of Selected Independent Funeral Homes. A member listing can be found on their web site,

What can I do to make the funeral service a unique tribute?
The funeral director can provide ideas and answers for the selection, display and use of personal items within the service. To help make it personal, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What did the person like to do?
  • What was the person like as an individual?
  • What was the person like as a professional?
  • Was the person spiritual?
  • Was the person proud of his or her heritage?

If I am unfamiliar with the religion being observed, what should I know about attending the funeral service?
If you are nervous about attending, we encourage you to contact the specific church or the funeral home for detailed information about the religious aspect of the service.

Furthermore, Selected Independent Funeral Homes, provides a brief description of what participants can expect during very different and unique ceremonies for the following religions:

Bahai, Baptist, Buddhist, Christian Scientist, Episcopalian, Greek Orthodox, Hindu, Hmong, Islam, Jehovah's Witness, Jewish, Latter Day Saints/Mormon, Lutheran, Methodist, Pentecostal, Presbyterian, Protestant, Roman Catholic, Scientology, Seventh Day Adventist, Shinto and Sikhism.

I am interested in Organ Donation. Can I still have a funeral service?
Yes, you can. Organ donation does not interfere with the preparation of the body for funeral service. The Uniform Anatomical Gift Act permits persons over the age of 18 to donate organs (heart, kidney, liver, etc.) and tissue (skin, bone, cornea, etc.) to be used for transplant or research purposes. However, consumers should be careful to only work with reputable organ donation organizations. For more information, contact:

Louisiana Organ Procurement Agency
3545 N. I-10 Service Road, Suite 300
Metairie, LA 70002-3626
800-521-GIVE (4483)

How can I protect myself from fraud?
Consumers should ask the following questions:

  • How reputable is the business I am considering?
  • Is this business one that operates with strong consumer standards?
  • What are my rights as a consumer?
  • How does government regulation protect me when it comes to planning a funeral?
  • Is the funeral home locally owned?
  • How long has the funeral home been in business?
  • How is Rabenhorst different from other funeral homes?

How is Rabenhorst different from other funeral homes?
Rabenhorst is locally owned. Since 1866, our services have included an ever-expanding continuity of care-- from advance planning to at-need arrangements. Our services can begin long before a funeral and extend well beyond the service. We are also members by invitation of Selected Independent Funeral Homes.

What is the significance of membership in Selected Independent Funeral Homes?
Selected Independent Funeral Homes is a professional association that ensures its members not only abide by the FTC rule, but also to a stricter membership code. In fact, the Selected Independent Funeral Homes Code existed long before the FTC rule and provided the foundations for the FTC guidelines.

Why is an independent funeral home better than one belonging to a national chain?
In recent years, four large, publicly traded national conglomerates have acquired more than twenty percent of the community-based, family-owned funeral homes. Many neighborhood funeral homes, thought to be locally owned, have been acquired by a national, publicly traded corporation. Being owned by a chain usually leads to standardized, sometimes inflexible and impersonal funeral services. Locally owned businesses also may be more dependent upon and responsible for involvement in affairs of the local community. In fact, families that have been caring for friends and neighbors for generations own most Selected Independent Funeral Homes.

Should I consider the possible savings that can be achieved through Direct Casket Retailers?
Over the past decade, direct sale retailers have emerged. Typically, they only sell caskets; but, in some cases may offer a broader array of services. Most direct casket retailers are currently not subject to price disclosure regulations, and therefore consumers should be certain to obtain a price list for all available casket options they are considering. In addition, consumers should understand the liabilities and obligations of the parties in the event of a failure to deliver the casket on time, or the delivery of a damaged casket, which could substantially impact a funeral service.