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Frequently Asked Questions

Glossary of Terms


What should I do when a death occurs?

Please call us immediately at 619-440-8033; we are available 24-hours a day, seven days a week. Regardless of the circumstances, our professional counselor guides you through the entire process. If preplanning has been done, we will follow the wishes of the deceased. If not, we can assist & inform you of every step, form, legal requirement, etc.

If the death occurs outside the San Diego area, we can assist you with all the arrangements, including the sometimes challenging process of transferring the remains to or from another state, country, or area of California.

Can I contact you before the death occurs?

Yes, making important decisions prior to the highly emotional period after death may help alleviate some stress and let you focus on the needs of you and your family.

Please call us at 619-440-8033 to begin the planning process.

How soon after death must a person be buried or cremated?

In general, the deceased must be buried, embalmed or cremated within 24 hours of death, or held in such a manner that it is not a nuisance to public health. (Refrigeration is the most common manner of holding a body that has not been embalmed.)

It is customary to have a funeral service two or three days after the time of death. Many factors can come into play when deciding the actual day of the service. The travel time for out-of-town relatives, avoiding specific birthdays or anniversaries, holidays and weekends may be some of the considerations when planning a service. Our professional counselor will be happy to work with you on scheduling.

With cremation, there can be more leeway in setting the service time. The actual process of cremation will generally occur within 2 to 4 days after the proper permits are obtained from the San Diego County Health Department. However, a permit is not required to have public viewing of the deceased or to have the body present at the funeral service.


What is the purpose of embalming?

Embalming sanitizes and preserves the body, slows the decomposition process, and enhances the appearance of a body disfigured by traumatic death or illness. Embalming makes it possible to lengthen the time between death and the final disposition, thus allowing family members time to arrange and participate in the type of service most comforting to them.

Except in special cases, embalming is not required by law. Embalming may be necessary, however, if you select certain funeral arrangements, such as a service with viewing.

If you would like more information about this process, please contact us.

With cremation, can there still be a service or viewing?

Yes, you may have a variety of services with cremation. Many families choose to have a visitation with their loved one and a funeral service before the cremation. Other options include a graveside service if the cremated remains are interred; a candlelight vigil after a visitation with the loved one or a memorial service with or without the cremated remains present.

What are the various services?

The term "funeral" is used to describe a service with a person’s physical body present.

The term "memorial service" refers to a service without the person’s physical body present.

A "viewing" or "visitation" affords family and friends an opportunity to gather for mutual support. Often the body is present, which helps mourners acknowledge the death and provides an opportunity to say goodbye.

Regardless of disposition - cremation, burial or entombment - we can arrange for and personalize most any type of service. Many families choose traditional gatherings, visitations and funerals with their deceased family member’s physical body present prior to their cremation.

At El Cajon-Lakeside-Santee Mortuary we feel families have choices and it is our responsibility to assist you in understanding those choices so your decisions are made with the best possible information available.


How can a service be personalized?

Personalization can make the service more meaningful to all who attend. One of the main benefits of personalizing a service is it allows family members to participate in planning the ceremony.

One method of personalization is placing an embroidered panel inside the casket lid, above the head. These panels come in many designs. In addition to the panels, some caskets have corners that can be changed. These corners may be praying hands or a colorful flowerpot, to name a few. It is even possible to have a casket custom designed or use a special white-colored casket for family and friends to write messages directly on the outside of it with special markers. This has been used when it was a tragic death of a young person, and the classmates found comfort in writing a farewell message to the deceased.

Many families like to set up a “memory table” or “memory board” where the service will be held. A memory table can consist of favorite items of the deceased, such as potting tools and gloves for the gardener, or fishing equipment for those who loved to fish. The memory board is often a collection of pictures of the deceased through different stages of his or her life. It may also include pictures of their children, grandchildren and friends.

Sometimes the personalization of the funeral can be as simple as using special poem or prayer in the memorial folders. Personalization can also be achieved through music, flowers, or other enhancements to symbolize one’s individuality.

Can we have a military ceremony?

Yes. Currently, any eligible veteran departing under conditions other than dishonorable is entitled to these core elements of a military ceremony such as the playing of Taps and the folding and presentation of the American flag. For more military related information, please visit our Resources page.

We don't have a church or minister. Can you provide one?

We have several ministers who work well with the families that we serve. We work with all denominations to insure that each family's religious needs are met with respect and dignity.

For a listing of churches in the El Cajon area, please visit our Resources page.


Can a less formal service be arranged?

A service doesn’t have to be religious in nature, nor does a clergy person have to be involved in the service. A service can consist of friends and family talking and reminiscing about the deceased, and may include a few musical selections. The location can also help to make a service less formal. Possible locations for memorial services are endless. The service could take place in a park, a backyard, on the beach, or even at a favorite fishing spot.

We are more than happy to discuss this with you and assist in designing a service that suits your desires. Our professional staff would be happy to share some past experiences and contribute ideas.

What contributes to the cost of a funeral?

Funeral costs include more than just caskets. They include the facilities and services of a mortuary staff who handle legal documents and makes many detailed arrangements on your behalf. Your professional consultant will assist you in dealing with doctors, ministers, florists, and newspapers, with death certificates and legal items, and seeing to all other necessary details.

At El Cajon-Lakeside-Santee Mortuary, we offer affordable, complete packages and a professional staff to assist you during this difficult time. We encourage you to visit our facilities and review our extensive file of complements.

Where do I get Social Security Benefits information?

You must apply in order to receive benefits. You may apply at any Social Security office or, if you wish, you may apply by telephone. Just dial the toll-free number 1-800-772-1213 and the operator will schedule an appointment for you or arrange for the local Social Security office to take your claim by telephone. You may also visit their website - http://www.ssa.gov.

What about death-related Veterans benefits?

Veterans benefits vary depending on many factors. We will be happy to share with you the information on Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery and local organizations that may be willing to participate in the service. You may contact the Veterans Affairs Office to determine what benefits can be claimed. The national, toll-free number for the Veterans Affairs Office is (800) 827-1000. For related web sites, please see the listing on our Resources page.


After cremation, what choices are there for disposition of ashes?

Since the point of cremation is legally considered final disposition of a person’s body, very few restrictions apply to the placement or distribution of ashes. A good rule of thumb is you can do almost anything with the ashes, as long as you don’t infringe on someone else’s rights or property. They can be kept at home, buried or entombed, all of which give surviving family a place to go and memorialize. They can be carried on board an airplane to some distant destination, mixed with a spouse’s cremains, scattered at sea, or buried along with another.

They typically cannot be placed at public or historic places or landmarks. As with every detail involved in a funeral experience, the final disposition of ashes should be appropriate to the person whose memory we honor, and the family they leave to mourn.

Should our younger children attend the service?

Children learn from their parents what to embrace, what to fear, and how to cope with life in general. Having a family unit together during times of grief brings comfort. These experiences may set them up for lifelong, positive perspective associated with a natural part of life ... death.

Do you know of some grief support services?

Please visit our Resources page for links to some local services.

Where do I get a death certificate?

You may obtain a certified copy of the death certificate from the County Health Department where the death occurred. If you let us know how many you will need, we can obtain the certified copies for you. There is a fee for each certified copy ordered.


Are mortuaries regulated?

All funeral home activities are regulated by the Federal Trade Commission. The Funeral Rule was revised July 19, 1994 and continues to require the industry to provide information and disclosures that help consumers when shopping and purchasing funeral goods and services.

El Cajon-Lakeside-Santee Mortuary is licensed through the State of California. The Cemetery & Funeral Bureau licenses and regulates this industry.

Glossary of Terms



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El Cajon-Lakeside-Santee Mortuary & Cremation Service - License FD1022
684 S. Mollison Avenue, El Cajon, CA 92020
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