Dealing with the death of a loved one is one of the most difficult things we ever do. The best advice we can provide is to plan ahead. Many people make advance plans for when they die. The wishes of the person will be known and met. Making these arrangements is very helpful for the survivors.
Find out which funeral homes provide the kind of ritual/service/funeral that fits your faith? Which provides cremation? Which provides services tailored to your faith? Which is willing to work closely with you to honor the traditions most important to you?
There are many funeral homes and that is where you begin. Some will offer arrangements that best fit your needs; others may only do more traditional Christian services. Some will work with your priest/rabbi/monk/holy person to tailor a service to your needs.
There are certain regulations and reporting requirements that must be adhered to when someone dies; you need to find those out. You can find these out by arranging to meet with staff at one of the funeral homes or at your church/mosque/temple/place of faith.
You will have some basic questions:
• How much does a funeral ceremony cost? It can get expensive.
• How can I arrange to have the body of my loved one transported back to his/her country of origin? What are the regulations? The costs?
• Will the funeral home work with my particular faith/mosque/church/temple/ to coordinate the service?
• Will the funeral director also help me make cemetery arrangements? Can I, for example, make arrangements to bury above ground?
• Am I required to have a funeral? Can I just adhere to the regulations for burial of remains?
• Do I have to have a grave marker? What are the requirements?
• Is there a Social Security or other government death benefits owed to me?
The Iowa Funeral Directors Association (IFDA) is the premier source for funeral arrangements in Iowa: http://www.iafda.org/ which is a resource primarily for traditional funerals.