Frequently Asked Questions

What is a funeral?

A funeral is a ceremony for a deceased person prior to burial or cremation.  A funeral gives the opportunity for family and friends of the deceased to gather and mourn the passing of their loved one, to share cherished memories and celebrate their life.  A funeral is a vital first step to help the bereaved heal after the loss of someone special.

What type of service should I have?

If pre-arrangements have not been made, the type of service is entirely up to you.  Services are usually held at a funeral home or a place of worship.  There are many options available, ranging from a traditional funeral service with the body present, cremation with memorial services, religious or military services to something a little more non-traditional and created to meet your specific needs.  Our funeral directors will guide you to figure out what would be appropriate for you and your family.

Can I personalize a funeral?

Of course you can, in fact many people are choosing to personalize their funeral service.  We at Michael E. Brown Funeral Services offer custom printed prayer cards with your loved ones photo, our caskets and urns are able to be engraved, we can make a D.V.D. with your family photo's and encourage families to bring in pictures or items that belonged to the deceased to make the service as unique as the individual we are celebrating. We also ask families to bring in their loved ones favorite music and we can play it throughout the funeral home. The music can either be on a C.D. or we can play music through our music system from an iPod, iPhone or other electronic device. There are many unique ways to celebrate a life well lived, we would be honored to help you create a personalized, meaningful service for you or your loved one.

Even if I do not live in Cazenovia, can Michael E. Brown Funeral Services handle my funeral arrangements?          Yes. Depending on the type of service selected, we can handle immediate cremations and memorial services; graveside services along with calling hours and funeral services in a church in another area. Please call us to discuss the options available with arranging out of the area funeral services.            

Do we need to have an obituary notice and what is included in one?

It is highly recommended to have an obituary notice that’s either placed in a local newspaper or on our funeral home website.  An obituary lets the public know that a death has occurred, and gives them information about the service.  Obituaries generally include a photograph, the deceased’s full name, age, city and date of birth and the city they were living in when they died.  It also includes the name of the deceased’s spouse, along with the names of anyone else significant in their lives, such as parents, children or grandchildren. Educational background, military service, work experience, significant accomplishments, hobbies, church and civic organizations can be listed as well.  An online obituary or memorial website offers you the chance to add a lot more about the deceased.

Who are funeral directors and what do they do?

Funeral directors are compassionate individuals who care for the living and the deceased in an ethical, sympathetic and dignified manner. They are licensed by the state in which they are employed and are in charge of all the logistics following a death.  An experienced funeral director is usually very detail oriented and they are responsible for completing all the necessary paperwork associated with a death such as obituaries, death certificates, Veterans forms and Insurance claim forms in a correct and timely manner. They prepare and care for the deceased and put into action the choices made by the family in regards to the funeral service and the final resting place of the body.  Funeral directors provide moral support and guidance for someone coping with death. We can be contacted 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 315-655-4615315-655-4615 and are always available to help with whatever you may need.

What happens if the death occurs in the middle of the night, on the weekend or on a holiday?

Do not hesitate to contact us. We are always on call and are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year.

What if a death occurs away from my home town?

We can arrange to have the remains transported home from anywhere in the world.  We will assume responsibility and make the proper arrangements to have the remains return to the community.

What is embalming and what purpose does it serve?

Embalming sanitizes and preserves the body; it also slows down the decomposition process and when performed properly, enhances the appearance of the body damaged by traumatic death or illness.  Embalming gives the family time to arrange a service, and allows them the option of having an open-casket viewing. Michael E. Brown has performed thousands of embalmings throughout Central New York and considers it an honor to prepare the deceased and provide satisfaction to a family in their time of grief.The art of embalming is a procedure that requires patience, knowledge and experience. At our funeral home, it will never be rushed and if the death occurred locally the embalming will not be performed by someone off-site.                            We pride ourselves on presenting a peaceful appearance in a comfortable atmosphere to those we serve.

Is embalming required by law?

No it is not. In fact some religions forbid embalming.  However, some countries require embalming by law in order for remains to leave or enter the country.  If it is not against your religious custom, embalming is recommended, especially if there is an extended gap between death and burial or cremation. Our policy at Michael E. Brown Funeral Services is to require embalming whenever there is public calling hours with an open casket. Due to the weather here in Central New York and the fact that a lot of cemeteries close for the winter, we highly recommend embalming when there is a delay in the burial.

How much does a funeral cost?

The cost of a funeral varies depending on the wishes you have.  The average cost of an immediate cremation can range from $1,700 - $2,300 in the Central New York area. Our direct cremation fee starts at $1,695 and with our least expensive alternative container it is $1,820. The alternative container is required by the crematorium and is provided by the funeral home. Many people call funeral homes to compare prices for immediate cremations, when asking about a price for an immediate cremation, be sure to ask what is included in their fee and if the alternative container is included in their price. Please be sure to see our "Cremation Services" section of our website to see what we include with our immediate cremations.              The funeral home charge for a traditional funeral service average between $7,000 - $10,000 and can vary from funeral home to funeral home. Quite often, cash advance items are added to the funeral home itemization and will increase the cost of a funeral. Cash advance items include the cemetery, crematory, death certificates, obituaries and church/minister fees.                                                                                                                                     Some funeral homes advertise low cost to gain your business, and once you are through their door they have hidden charges that they apply to their service or require payment in full before services are rendered. We believe that a family should not select a funeral home based on price alone and should make an "apples to apples" comparison.The best funeral home for you should be based on their ability to serve you and your family. We truly believe that you can't place a price on compassion. Compassion along with experience and attention to detail is what you deserve at a most difficult time.  

Our General Price List is included on our website.

To gain even more of an understanding of what goes into a funeral service and the price of a funeral, we encourage you to stop by our office or call us at 315-655-4615315-655-4615 to set up a no-obligation consultation.

Why are funerals so expensive?

Funerals are labor intensive and require a lot of work from a lot of people.  The cost of a funeral goes beyond merchandise such as caskets, it includes the services of a funeral director in making the necessary arrangements, filling out forms, and dealing with all the other people involved in the death (doctors, ministers, coroners, lawyers, insurance companies).  Funeral directors work an average of 40 hours per funeral.  The cost of operating a funeral home is factored into the cost as well.  Funeral homes are a 24 hour operation, with extensive facilities that need to be maintained and secured.  

What do I do if I am not satisfied with the way a funeral was handled?

Funeral Services in the United States is regulated by the Federal Trade Commission, they can be reached by telephone at 1-877-FTC-HELP1-877-FTC-HELP FREE (382-4357) or you can fill out a form online at