Saying your final goodbye

Published 4:47 pm Tuesday, July 24, 2018

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Funerals can be a trying time for loved ones, under the best of conditions. Preparations can take a toll on those whose hearts are aching from the loss. Where to go? What to do, first? That’s where pre-planning comes in.

Much of the burden can be alleviated with the help of any one of the caring funeral directors inside the county. Each funeral home offers attractive preplanning packages.

At the Harrogate-based Arnett & Steele Valley Chapel, formerly known as Reece Funeral Home, arrangements can be made far ahead of the event. As with the other funeral homes, act early and the costs associated with the service and merchandise will be locked in at the current prices. The drawing at Arnett & Steele is currently up to 4.5 percent or “same as cash” if paid within two years.

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Coffey Funeral Home, located in New Tazewell, has served local folks in a tradition dating to 1938. The funeral home officially opened its doors in 1954, serving east Tennessee, southeastern Kentucky and western Virginia.

Whether an immediate need or planning ahead, the team will guide you through each step, helping you choose between traditional and contemporary services, assist in scheduling flexible visitations and explaining your benefits. Coffey will even organize any catering for the service.

At Claiborne–Overholt Funeral Home of New Tazewell, “ShareLife” can be chosen as part of the service, whether preplanning or at the point of passing.

ShareLife allows loved ones an intimate final farewell as they recall moments that were meaningful to the departed.

This program provides a “room of remembrance” that allows the recreation of the amazing story that was the life of the loved one. The room is outfitted according to certain requested specifications. Special scenes and photos can be projected that showcase meaningful moments.

Favorite songs can be chosen that represent the musical tastes of the departed, as can soothing scents that remind those left behind of the person they are memorializing. Maybe, the loved one enjoyed nothing better than sitting alongside the ocean, breathing in the scent of salt water upon wet sand.

Maybe a distant tolling of a church bell or the chirping of happy birds was pleasing to the loved one.

Whatever the fond memory, Claiborne-Overholt will strive to recreate the sights, sounds and smells that surrounded the one now gone.

At Coffey, loved ones can create an “Everlasting Memorial” digital archive and multimedia scrapbook, using a collection of about 30 favorite photographs.

The three funeral homes provide a plethora of tips. Following is a sample from each website.

When a death occurs, certain information is needed to complete the state vital statistic requirements. That information includes the birth date, birthplace, father’s and mother’s names, social security number, veteran’s discharge or claim number, education and marital status.

Arnett & Steele suggests making prior arrangements as to who will be responsible for such tasks as answering the door or taking phone calls during those first few days.

Information from the Coffey Funeral Home website states that loved ones will need to decide who will be the main point of contact when dealing with the funeral home. Were there any arrangements made ahead of time? Was the funeral service or cemetery property prepaid? Were the wishes of the deceased written down? This information should be presented during the funeral planning meeting.

As for embalming, the Federal Trade Commission says that, except in certain special cases, the practice is not required by law. In most cases if you do not want embalming, you have the right to choose direct cremation or immediate burial, foregoing the normal charges associated with the practice.

Should you choose traditional burial or cremation? Although burial and entombment are most common, cremation is increasingly selected because it can be less expensive and allows for the memorial service to be held at a more convenient time.

A funeral service followed by cremation need not be any different from a funeral service followed by a burial, according to information from the Arnett & Steele website. The cremated remains are placed in an urn and may be buried, placed in an indoor or outdoor mausoleum or columbarium or interred in a special urn garden. The remains may also be scattered, according to state law.

All three funeral homes have packages for veterans. Coffey states in its literature that those planning funerals for veterans should be aware of the limitations associated with VA burial benefits. These do not come automatically and must be requested in advance. A common misconception is that funeral or cremation arrangements for all veterans will be funded by the VA. But, this is only true in some cases, like when a veteran has been killed in the line of duty.

The law does require, however, that every eligible veteran receive a military honors ceremony, which includes the folding and presentation of the flag and the playing of Taps. The funeral director must request these honors in advance of the service.

These ceremonial rights are provided for active duty, military retirees, members and former members of the Selected Reserve, eligible veterans of any war and other veterans who served at least one term and separated under conditions other than dishonorable.

Arnett & Steele says there are a number of options available to those facing the financial costs of a funeral. First, determine if the deceased qualifies for any entitlements from social security or from such agencies as the Department of Veterans’ Affairs or the State Fund.

Local charities are another good place to look for financial help.

There are a number of online crisis, grief and healing sites listed on the Arnett & Steele website. was the first to create an interactive grief website, offering discussion boards, articles, book suggestions and advice for working through every aspect of grief.

Its companion site,, helps children and their parents deal with grief and loss in an appropriate and safe environment.

Willowgreen offers support and information for those dealing with life transition and aging, or illness and caregiving. The site also deals with loss and grief and hope and spirituality.

The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) website includes a grief and loss section.

Growth House is an award-winning website that offers international resources for life-threatening illnesses and end of life or palliative care. The site features pages that explain major issues across the spectrum of hospice and home care. It provides information on pain management, grief, death with dignity and quality improvement. The website also offers disease specific guides, an online bookstore and its own radio station.

The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization website provides information and resources for those facing life-limiting illness or injury. The site also gives caregivers a good source for information.

Arnett & Steele was founded in 1949 by Alvin Reece, who opened Giles and Reece Funeral Home that year. In 1952, Reece bought out Giles and reopened his ‘first modern funeral home in the county.’

Eddie Overholt and the late Clay Neely co-founded in April of 1993 what would later be known as Claiborne-Overholt Funeral Home.

For more information, call Arnett & Steele Valley Chapel Home at 423-869-3651.

You may contact Coffey Funeral Home at 423-626-4274.

Claiborne-Overholt Funeral Home may be reached at 423-259-8586.