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Finances After a Death: What to Know

When a loved one dies unexpectedly, a lot of things can remain undone. This can involve finances which can affect the entire family and which can make the grieving process even more difficult for everyone involved. It can be very important to know the exact steps to take after a loved one dies without warning. We have some suggestions of what to consider if this has occurred so that the process can be smoother for everyone involved.

Ask for Many Copies of Death Certificate

Most official institutions, including banks, will require a copy of the death certificate to verify that the person is actually deceased. This is why it is vital to ask for at least ten copies of the certificate, although twenty can be even better. Keep in mind that if you purchase a single certificate the cost can be anywhere from $5 to $20, but if you purchase a lot of them at the same time, you can get a substantial discount.

Consult a Lawyer

Having a lawyer on your side when dealing with the finances that a loved one has left unresolved is always an excellent idea. However, even if you decide not to hire one, at least have a consultation. This is especially true if you are the executor of the will, since you are legally bound to follow the will’s directions to the letter. You want to ensure that the lawyer you consult is someone with experience in the field of wills, estates, and the like. Not all lawyers know this field, so be wary when it comes to choosing one. If you are not sure of who to choose, there are many Dale City, VA funeral homes that will be happy to help.

Notify Financial Institutions

It is important to notify the financial institutions, like banks, credit bureaus, creditors, and whatever else is necessary. This is where having lots of copies of the death certificate can make a huge difference, since it will save you the hassle of having to order them every time you need one. Be sure to notify Social Security as soon as the person dies. Not only is this fiscally advisable because the one-time payment can help with the funeral arrangements, but it will also ensure that no one steals the person’s identity and starts cashing in social security checks in the deceased person’s name. If there is insurance to cash, the sooner you get the process started the better it will be for everyone, since these things take time.

Take the time to read up on the financial issues that can arise after the death of a loved one. Taking care of the finances can be stressful and confusing, so consider hiring a lawyer that specializes in this before getting started. The right lawyer will simplify this for you. If a loved one has died and you need assistance, consult with a funeral home like Morrissett Funeral and Cremation Service, located at 6500 Iron Bridge Rd. Richmond, VA 23234. Call them at 804-275-7828!

Facts to Know About Green Funerary Options

After a loved one has died, many people struggle to decide what the best option for their deceased loved one is. There are all manner of choices, and these days, more and more people are opting for “greener” arrangements. It is well known that a traditional burial can place a strain on the environment, especially if the deceased is embalmed and buried in caskets that are not bio-degradable. For people who are worried about this, greener funerary options are available.

Green Burials are Possible

Just because not all casket are not bio-degradable does not mean that burial is not an option for your loved one. There are many companies that create caskets that do not have any metal parts, which will not degrade. These caskets can be made of wicker and other types of wood. To make the burial as environmentally friendly as possible, do not choose embalming for your loved one since it will end up seeping into the ground. Another thing to consider is that green burials are done in shallower graves.


Although regular cremation is better for the environment than traditional burial, it can still take its toll on the earth because of the carbon emissions. This is where bio-cremation can make a difference. Bio-cremation breaks the body down using water instead of fire, which does not release any carbon into the air. It is important to consider that not all companies offer this service, so ask about it when deciding on the right provider. There are a number of Dale City, VA cremations providers that can offer this option.

It Does Not Cost More

One of the concerns that people have with greener funerary options is that they think they are more expensive. This is just not the case. Although some companies can ask more for services that are less common, like bio-cremation, on the whole, environmentally friendly options tend to cost less, not more. A bio-degradable casket or urn is usually much less expensive than a regular one. When deciding on the right option for your loved one, this is something else to keep in mind.

Green Cemeteries Exist

There are entire cemeteries that are dedicated to being green. This can be a great choice for a lot of people, though it is important to keep in mind that usually these cemeteries do not allow for elaborate markings or outer burial containers. If this is not something that you wanted for your loved one, then it will not affect your choice.

Having green arrangements made after a loved one dies can have a huge impact on the environment. By doing a bit of research, you can easily find the best company to provide these options for your loved one. Depending on whether you want a cremation or a burial, some companies will be better than others. To get started making arrangements, contact Morrissett Funeral and Cremation Service, which is located at 6500 Iron Bridge Rd. Richmond, VA 23234. Reach them at 804-275-7828!

Everything You Want to Know About Embalming

One of the processes that is least talked about when it comes to the arrangements necessary after a loved one dies is embalming. Although burials and cremations can be done without this process, if you are planning on having an open casket at the funeral, it is recommended that you choose to embalm the body. But what does this mean? We have everything you want to know about embalming below.

Purpose of Embalming

There are usually two main purposes for the embalming process. These include preservation of the body, for when funerals are open casket or when the arrangements have been delayed. The next purpose is presentation and restoration, which allows the funeral director and embalmer to fix the body up for viewing.

How Long Does it Take?

The embalming process is an elaborate, complex one that can take up to an hour in its barest form. If other services are required, such as dressing, cosmetology, and placing the body in the casket for viewing, the entire thing can take several hours. This is why it is important to speak with a funeral home ahead of time. The right funeral home in Midlothian, VA can help make these arrangements.


The cost of embalming can vary from funeral home to funeral home and it does depend on the different added services you may want for your loved one. On average, it can cost anywhere from $500 to $1300, so keep this in mind when making decisions for your loved one. Be sure, as well, to ask for a price list from the funeral home to know exactly what you are paying for.

Is it Required?

Embalming is not required, though some funeral homes will not allow a public viewing in its location without the body being embalmed. For home viewings, embalming is not necessary. It is important to note, however, that if the body will cross state lines, embalming may be a requirement depending on where you are going. It is also a more practical option if the body will be in transit.

Are there Alternatives?

Although embalming is the most effective option for preserving a body, refrigeration can also be effective. Many funeral homes provide this choice, so be sure to ask about it. Another option is to forgo the preservation altogether and go for direct cremation or for a fast burial. Not only is this less expensive, but it can also be better for the environment.

Embalming is not a requirement. This is important to know so that no funeral home attempts to sell you this service when you do not want it. If you are planning a viewing for your loved one, however, it is definitely an option to keep in mind to ensure that your loved one looks his or her best. Take the time to speak with a funeral director about the options available. Get started by reaching out to Morrissett Funeral and Cremation Service, located at 6500 Iron Bridge Rd. Richmond, VA 23234. Call 804-275-7828!

Choosing the Right Flowers for a Funeral

Having flowers in a funeral can add the kind of beauty and tranquility that people who are grieving need. There are lots of options when it comes to choosing these, so it can be a somewhat complex process to select the right ones for your loved one’s funeral. If you have started making arrangements and have found yourself at a loss as to the flowers you want, then there are a few things to keep in mind to make the process easier.

Have a Budget in Mind

One of the most important things about choosing flowers for a funeral is to know what kind of budget you have to spend on them. There are flower arrangements in many different budget options, so you want to ensure that you know what you can afford. Fancy arrangements can be quite expensive, especially if you are decorating a large venue, but there are lovely, simpler arrangements that can save you money and still look beautiful. You can also ask a Richmond, VA funeral home to help with the selection of flowers.

Loved One’s Favorites

Take the time to consider what your loved one’s favorite flowers were. Using these flowers can be a perfect tribute to your deceased loved one, and can bring those mourning lots of comfort. This is especially true if the flowers are those that are scented. The smell of the flowers will bring to mind the departed and will allow people to feel his or her presence in the room.

Scented or Not

For some people, flowers that have perfume, especially strong ones like roses or gardenias, can become overwhelming. This can be a concern if the space where the funeral will take place is a small one or one that does not have lots of ventilation. There are lots of gorgeous flowers that have no scent, making them a good choice in this respect. Take the time to see if large bouquets of scented flowers are a problem at the location of the funeral.

Make it Personal

Another great option to have a really personal funeral is to ask people to bring their favorite flower arrangements or arrangements that remind them of the deceased. This can not only save you a substantial amount of time and money, but can get people involved in the funeral. Simple things like this can make a huge difference in how personalized a funeral is.

Flowers can turn even a somber affair like a funeral into one that is beautiful and memorable. With the right flower arrangements, you can make a statement as well as commemorate a loved one’s life. There are lots of options, so be sure to look up different styles and budgets of flowers in order to have a good idea of what to expect. Many funeral homes are more than happy to help you with this process, so be sure to enquire. Turn to Morrissett Funeral and Cremation Service at 6500 Iron Bridge Rd Richmond, VA 23234 to learn more. Call 804-275-7828!

Letters to Mr. Goss

This is the story of how scores of students rallied in support of one of their former High School teachers because they wanted to show him just how much they appreciated the positive influence he had on their lives. Turns out it was just in time.


During my Senior year of High School I had the privilege of being in Mr. Goss’s English class. He was one of those amazing teachers that got students excited about learning and about life, despite his occasionally crusty exterior. We appreciated his energy and passion and his unique view of the world. We loved the fact that he could teach with equal levels of earnestness the symbolism of not only Dante’s Inferno but also Dr. Seuss. In his class we examined the literary devices used in the book of Job, and had a spirited debate on how to define “Quality” after reading the book, “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.” He encouraged us to think deeply and think differently, and despite his tendency to crack some truly corny jokes he was a gifted storyteller.

Mr. Goss left a lasting positive impression on me, despite the fact that my constant disorganization frustrated him. When I first started trying to write again, almost twenty years later, he was on my mind a lot. I wanted to reach out to him to say thank you and tell him that he had a huge influence on my writing style and self-confidence. Around that time a number of former classmates began to reconnect on social media and the name Mr. Goss came up often. He was described as, “My favorite teacher,” “The best thing to happen to English,” “My inspiration for becoming a writer/teacher,” and “The only person I felt I could talk to.” Many students stated that he made a huge difference in their lives, and that they still remembered the things he taught them. One student wrote, “He was just one of the coolest teachers I think I’ve ever known. Even when it wasn’t about English or Literature, he was teaching about so many things.” Another said, “We LOVED Mr. Goss!! Who else could discuss how important it is to have your glass of milk so cold it almost hurts? Or read Dr. Seuss’ ‘Are You My Mother?’ to you and put it on your senior English exam?”

All those kind words were said on social media, however. I wondered if Mr. Goss himself knew how important he was to all of us. I had also heard whispers that our former teacher may be ill. I wasn’t sure just HOW ill, nor was I sure if that information was supposed to be public knowledge. It increased the urgency of my desire to contact him, but I did not wish to invade his privacy. I waited a while, but the feeling of urgency and desperation kept growing inside me. What if he was REALLY sick? I was sure that those students who sang his praises on the internet would be devastated to learn that they could no longer tell the man himself what he meant to them. I decided that it would be an utter tragedy for Mr. Goss to die without the possibility of knowing how many students spoke so highly of him; without knowing that he had made such a difference. In general I think everyone deserves the chance to know that their efforts did indeed matter to someone. Everyone deserves to know that they had a positive impact on the world and helped make it a better place, yet far too often we stay silent and don’t speak up and tell people what they mean to us. I didn’t want that to happen in this case.

As Valentine’s Day approached I decided it was a good time to reach out to someone in an act of caring and that I should not wait any longer. I used an old-fashioned thing called the Phone Book and looked up the number for a “Raymond Goss.” I called it, hoping I had the right person. His wife answered and I introduced myself, saying that I was a former student who simply wished to say thank you. Her response was that he was very sick and resting. She went on to explain that he had cancer and even though they were trying to remain optimistic and he had been beating the odds his prognosis was not good.

Her confirmation of his illness gave me the opportunity for which I had been waiting. I frantically began to pray silently while trying to quell the rising emotion in my voice. With a catch in my throat I asked her for permission to share information about Mr. Goss’s situation, and explained that there were many students who would like to show their appreciation for their former teacher. I knew those students would be upset if they did not have a chance to do so. She agreed and gave me their mailing address, admitting that they did not go on the internet much and preferred to not get flooded with phone calls. She then allowed me to speak with her husband, gently reminding me that his strength was limited.

I wish I had a recording of that all too brief conversation. I was thrilled to discover that, even after almost 20 years, Mr. Goss remembered me. He was tired so I did most of the talking, and we discussed my writings and life experiences. I reminded him that when I was in High School, “I didn’t always do my best writing, but when I did…”, and he cut me off, stating simply, “It was REALLY GOOD!”

I will remember that moment for the rest of my life. He, who had read countless papers from countless students, remembered my writing. I thanked him for believing in me, and for being one of the first people to make me feel like a good writer. I also read to him some of the kind things that other students had written about him as they reminisced about High School, and he seemed surprised but happy. I said, “Hopefully you will be receiving letters from these students soon, so they can tell you themselves how much you mean to all of us!”

We then talked briefly about his illness, and he shared that he was doing his best to fight. “I am looking forward to the spring,” was one of the last things he said to me.

That day I made a post on social media about Mr. Goss’s illness and gave his address (again, with permission), asking former students to please consider sending him notes of encouragement. The response was immediate and overwhelming. Even though at the time we were still not sure just how sick he was, somehow the urgency of the request was understood. One person responded, “Mr. Goss was the most influential person, teacher, advice-giver, and friend at a time in my life when I needed someone the most. I am truly heartbroken that he is apparently so ill and I wish I would have known before now.” The information was shared repeatedly, former students rushed to their mailboxes, and by Valentine’s Day the cards began to arrive. Hundreds of them. So many students from so many years, several DECADES worth of students, wanted to reach out to the man they admired to say “thank you.” They strove to encourage him as he continued to fight for life. Many sent pictures, or whole albums of pictures, and even small gifts. His family later shared that he looked forward to the moment when he could ask his wife to check the daily mail, and that “Although his physical strength had left him, his mental strength was just as strong as ever and he LOVED reading the letters each day.” They said that the look of joy on his face as he opened the stack of mail, hearing stories from countless students that he taught over the years, brought happiness and comfort to all of them.

Mr. Goss did not get to see the spring. He died on March 1, 2010. Cards continued to arrive even after his death. A family member later wrote, “I can’t tell you how many letters he received, but I can tell you that I read letters all morning and was still unable to read through the complete stack.” My heart is warmed when I think of the outpouring of love for this great man, and I realize that what was intended as a simple “thank you” became so much more. It was an encouragement during his battle with illness, and a comfort during his final days. The family shared that the countless pieces of correspondence also provided solace for all of them during a sad and painful time, and “a light” in the midst of darkness. Those same letters now also serve as a tangible, lasting reminder for them of the legacy that Mr. Goss has left behind. His family will be able to read them and proudly remember the man that they love. Eight years later one of his grandsons actually wrote an homage to his grandfather in his Senior English portfolio and used the letters in his assignment.

All because a group of students cared enough to respond to their former teacher in his hour of need. It is incredible that such a kind man was able to receive words of thanks and encouragement from so many students before he passed away. The response was overwhelmingly beautiful.

I think of Mr. Goss every spring and it makes me wonder, who else in my life do I need to thank? So many people go through this life not knowing that they made a difference, and not knowing that they changed this world for good. It shouldn’t take an illness or crisis to spur us to reach out to someone in gratitude and support.

Mr. Goss was able to read and hear the words of people that cared about him before his time on this earth was ended. Yet far too often as I help officiate funerals I hear from bereaved individuals who voice regrets about the things they did not say while they had the chance. People are praised and celebrated after their death, yet we seem to forget to share positive affirmation with the people we care about while they are still with us.

Say the words while you have the chance. Encourage someone. Thank someone. Tell them you love and appreciate them. If someone had a positive influence on your life then tell them. Find a way to give something back to a person who deserves it. Even a simple “I appreciate you” or a helping hand in time of need could mean the world to someone. They may need you now more than you realize, and you never know when it might be too late.

This story is shared with the permission of the family of Raymond Goss.


Jennifer Roberts Bittner
Certified Celebrant/ Life Tribute Specialist

Morrissett Funeral and Cremation Service
6500 Iron Bridge Rd.
N. Chesterfield, VA 23234
(804) 275-7828