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Funerals + costs
Posted: Friday, June 7, 2019 12:13 PM
Joined: 5/16/2017
Posts: 582

Having had to recently handle the ‘arrangements’ after the deaths of relatives, I am passing along the information I learned during a couple years of research.  

If your family does not want or need a ‘funeral’ per se, you may want to consider what is called a ‘direct cremation’ (the LO is collected + cremated within a day or so.)  There is no service, but you can arrange a memorial yourself at your family’s convenience.  The company arranges for death certificates + makes the cremains available for you to pick up.

Any funeral home can arrange a direct cremation, HOWEVER, the average funeral home will probably try to charge you upwards of $3-4000.  for this service.    Please do some research in advance..most well populated areas have companies that do the same service for you for around $1000.    Google ‘Low cost cremations’..many of them have price lists on line.  

When you call for prices, they are required to give you the information over the phone by federal law...embalming is NOT required, a casket is NOT required, burial of cremains is not necessary, but can be arranged at any time, now or in the future, at your convenience + additional expense.

Experts recommend you DO NOT prepay for funerals..there are few consumer protections if the money disappears or the company changes hands.

Obituaries in large newspapers are very expensive...I paid $950 to place one in two different newspapers, which was my choice, but it cost about the same as the direct cremation itself.

This is not a happy subject, but your LO IS going to die.  Please inform yourself in advance so you are not taken advantage of and end up with a very expensive funeral that you did not want or need.  If you have a plan in place in advance, you do not have to deal with the arrangements while you are emotionally stressed + susceptible to suggestions that a funeral is needed to ‘honor’ the deceased.

If you live in a small town, sometimes you need to contact a company in a larger city to do this for you, since small town funeral homes generally do not offer a simple, inexpensive cremations.  Even if you have to pay for extra mileage to a one of the simple cremation companies, it is usually still much less expensive.

Unfortunately, many of our LOs have outlived most of their contemporaries + an actual funeral is really just lining the pockets of the funeral director.

I have spent many hours researching this subject + would be happy to answer any questions.

Greg G
Posted: Friday, June 7, 2019 12:19 PM
Joined: 2/8/2017
Posts: 986

Hey terei,

Thanks for this.  Good to know for myself and wife.  Mom is pre-paid as was dad.  That was really good for me because all the choices had been made previous by dad pre his dementia.  All I had to do was execute the plan and worry about dementia suffering mom.  And that in itself was enough.  

Best wishes, Greg

Posted: Friday, June 7, 2019 12:32 PM
Joined: 10/24/2018
Posts: 1068

Thanks for posting this, terei. I live in a city where there exist a few very old funeral homes, which many people of any financial situation use.  When MIL passed, no arrangements had been made, but we knew who she wanted. Money was no object. Bereavement "service" is their specialty. Since next-of-kin MUST, in this state anyway, ID the body before cremation, this home provides a private parlor and a tasteful (but re-used/re-usable) open box and a dressed and made-up body for family to ID, visit, be alone with. We all really appreciated the opportunity to get that original "death face" out of our heads. Extra charges were for an urn for the ashes to travel in. We chose this simply for "presentation" at the massive family remembrance service several months later. 

My mom also wants direct cremation. I went to the same funeral home (lets's set aside the $$ in a savings account  now so Medicaid can't have it) and made all arrangements. She wishes to be buried ashes-only, no container, next to my Dad, who is buried the same way. That's legal in the cemetery she will be in.) So when the time comes, one call to the funeral home will set everything in motion, and we can concentrate on other things. 

There are legal fun and games around transporting ashes across state lines via various methods of travel, but I was so confused after hearing about them that I've forgotten what's what. Pretty sure you can take them on a plane. 

I am just starting to think about pre-writing Mom's obituary, for publication in her hometown newspaper, and in the paper of the city she spent 22 years in so late in life. 

Posted: Friday, June 7, 2019 1:11 PM
Joined: 1/17/2016
Posts: 912

I can add something here.  My mom always told me she wanted a "blingy" casket.  We used to joke before dementia and I would send her pics every now and then of purple or silver metal caskets.  When my dad passed years ago, my mom and I picked a beautiful wood casket that he probably would have chose himself, but that is when the topic of caskets came up.

Anyway, last year when mom passed, the mortuary where she was being buried only had one casket that was close to what she would have wanted.  It was $3,500 and I didn't like it.  I went onto Costco's website and for a little over $1,000 found a beautiful casket that was exactly what she had wanted.  I was so happy during such an awful time.  I knew my mom would have been proud that I found it and for so much less.  It is a strange thing to talk about sometimes, but Costco was great, the service they provided and the cost.

Posted: Friday, June 7, 2019 2:22 PM
Joined: 6/8/2015
Posts: 12

I wonder about all of this from time to time. Thank you so much for sharing the information.
Posted: Friday, June 7, 2019 6:00 PM
Joined: 10/21/2016
Posts: 2558

I have found that Hospice and ER's both keep lists of funeral homes, and if you chat them up appropriately, they will mark the list for the facilities that charge the lowest prices.  This was very helpful for us when Dad died in October.  The entire bill at the funeral home (with direct cremation and no service) was $495.  Who knew?
Posted: Friday, June 7, 2019 7:17 PM
Joined: 12/4/2011
Posts: 18481

When my husband died I was a funeral novice. My Hospice social worker was with me the hours proceeding his death and was with me and his daughter and care giver (who sang him into heaven). I asked her what I should do. I knew who I did not want to touch my husband but nothing else.

I asked for suggestions. She gave me several she was familiar with. I chose the one that had cared for her son.

The man came in the middle of the night with a flag, covered my husband and carried him out. 

So step one was completed. The next day the director returned.Due to some serious problems with two of his children I opted for cremation to but some time. Then I decided no service or "celebration' of life". I guess it was a direct cremation. I could not have had anyone kinder helping me. We did tentatively think about interment at Arlington.

Dick stayed at the funeral home/crematorium for several months. Big denial going on here.

Several months later I was ready to have Dick brought home where he is now in his flight bag.

Arlington is penciled in for October, 4 years after his death.

Let me assure you that there were no wishes or instructions from my husband. I was on my own and I opted to go through this traumatic event with my two children and dearest friends who were by my side for at least two weeks. I know I could not have made it through a funeral...the planning and the people.

I could look up the cost but I do not think it was much and used a credit card. Travel to Washington DC will be expensive but .............

Oh, I had 13 stars cut from his flag. One for each of the children, the grandchildren and me. Is may not be kosher but now each has one in a small wooden box.

Posted: Friday, June 7, 2019 8:47 PM
Joined: 6/20/2016
Posts: 2305

I'll add some information for those who haven't 2 cents to rub together and definitely none even for a low-cost cremation, which is the situation I found myself in.

I did a whole-body donation of my mom, as I was a few hundred away from a cremation and my brothers made it clear they were not helping.

I contacted a company called Medcure, which seemed the most useful to me, and they have a 24-hour phone line.  They asked questions regarding her past history, let me know under what circumstances they would not accept the donation, and I had forms notarized and faxed to Medcure for the donation.

This was at no cost to me.  For transparency, I will say that they sell the specimens they get from the body (slides, organs, whatever they can use) and they sell them to medical schools and medical training facilities.  So they do profit.  Also, if they do find a disease or process while working with the body, you will not get any information on that, so hoping to find out what kind of dementia or whether there was cancer will not be occurring.

After death, the NH called Medcure, Medcure contacted a funeral home they arranged in the area to pick her up.  She was then prepared for a flight to Rhode Island to their surgical facility, where whatever they needed was harvested.  The remains were then sent to Portland Oregon for cremation.  I received her death certificate about 7 days after death.  Her ashes were returned to me in a very nice biodegradable urn to do what I chose with.  They also offered a sea burial or general burial if you didn't want to be present.

They emailed me every time my mother changed locations and also when they were done, when cremation was finished and when I could expect her remains back home.

I was pleased with the service they provided and they were compassionate.

You can Google the company to get contact info.  They also explain the process more thoroughly than I just did but I wanted to let those without any means know this is another avenue they can look into.

Posted: Friday, June 7, 2019 8:57 PM
Joined: 5/12/2018
Posts: 83

I am both happy and saddened by this post.  Happy for the info as we all need it and sad that Yes, we will all die.  I wish sometimes death would come as a milestone like many other events like after this event during this year or this month You will die. : ( Morbid I know but am I the only one that feels this way? 

I am very fortunate and I thank God Everyday that Mom is still active and moving around but often, more often than i Like now adays, mornings I awake to thinking: ? I don't hear her?^  Then we go about the day. .. 

It's just me and mom now but when family members died in the past (Dad, brother, sister), me being the youngest of 7, I was the one who stayed home with mom, took time off work, Stayed overnights, made meals, nurturing her while siblings did the things that were done at funerals (**?????????) and there we were at the wake and funeral, just grieving.  ^

Dad and Mom were great, they purchased end-of-life packages All inclusive, right down to the flowers that should be present including what should be written on the memoriam cards. About a year ago we went together and confirmed all still in place.  

Ok, so let's break it down like training a new employee:  What exactly should happen when LO dies? 

I do not expect Mom to die, she's moving  about still, the disease is driving me more crazy than her but what happens when they die? Do I call 9 1 1?  Do I call the funeral home right away? Should I have the obit ready to publish or should I have sent it already with "for when this happens".. I'm overwhelmed about death but there is a book that the funeral gave me for end of life paths and doerh, I need to fillit out.  I'm afraid about death and I don't want to be.  We're not supposed to be.. 


MN Chickadee
Posted: Friday, June 7, 2019 9:33 PM
Joined: 9/7/2014
Posts: 1031

I did this for a relative a few years ago and it was as positive as it can be given the circumstances.  We did a celebration of life a month later, and then a family-only scene  to bury the cremains at the cemetery since the deceased person had a family plot. Holding the memorial service later allowed me to put some good thought and energy into it instead of throwing together whatever we could after a sleepless build up to the end. The funeral home did all the required legal stuff. Picking up the ashes was odd, and perhaps if I had been closer to said relative it would have bothered me even more to ferry them around. I delivered them to the cemetery director a couple months later for the burial.  But all in all it was fine. The price was reasonable, I want to say it was around $1300 for the cremation services and another $600 to the cemetery. And yes, the cost of an obituary in the newspaper was the jaw-dropping part. Almost as expensive as the funeral home. 

It is an uncomfortable thing to discuss, but having been the surprise recipient of these duties for a relative I can say it is best to plan ahead, be informed, and make priorities known to loved ones when possible. 

Posted: Saturday, June 8, 2019 11:15 AM
Joined: 12/4/2011
Posts: 18481

Ah, the obituary. The funeral home took care of a death notice but said to put the obit in for the Sunday paper. He said that it was the only paper people bought anymore and yes it was sky high. are also paying for something that will go on the internet and can be seen for who know how many generations.
Posted: Saturday, June 8, 2019 1:30 PM
Joined: 10/21/2016
Posts: 2558

Daisylost wrote:
. . . what happens when they die? Do I call 9 1 1?  Do I call the funeral home right away? Should I have the obit ready to publish or should I have sent it already with "for when this happens"..

Yes, call 911, unless she is under hospice care.  Otherwise call hospice.  They will arrange for the coroner or your designated funeral home, depending on the circumstances.

I wasn't ready to write Dad's obit until he died.  It always seemed like it was too soon.  It took me a couple of hours, but I had already been thinking about it, and had a list of what I wanted to include.  When my in-laws died, the funeral home wrote it for us.  It was OK, but not as personal as Dad's.


Posted: Monday, June 10, 2019 6:44 PM
Joined: 10/25/2018
Posts: 238

I'm donating my body to science. It will likely go to a local medical school for dissection. I did some research regarding the donations to corporations, and while I have no issue with them selling the tissue, I read that it is now becoming difficult for the medical schools to get cadavers for the students. I'd prefer my body go to educating doctors than being sold for parts.
Posted: Tuesday, June 11, 2019 8:06 AM
Joined: 3/8/2018
Posts: 812

I wrote my dad's obit in between his death and the funeral.

For mom, I've been collecting "talking points" for a while, and a few months back I started a draft, because I needed to get some feelings out, plus I'm a "Be Prepared" kind of person. Good idea for the draft, baaaaad idea to do it on my work lunch break: so many tears.

Posted: Wednesday, June 12, 2019 4:22 PM
Joined: 7/12/2017
Posts: 1596

my mom's brain is going to research I hope, with her body being disposed of in the least environmental way possible, maybe shrouded and buried.  My bods going to whatever parts are usable, then to science.  My husband used to want a big catholic burial with the mass thing, but now its go for cheap cremation and have a party.
Posted: Monday, October 21, 2019 2:59 PM
Joined: 7/1/2017
Posts: 137

I am actually in the middle of doing this for my mother right now.  I know my siblings, one in particular, will be an absolute lunatic after the fact so I wanted to take care of everything beforehand.  

Thankfully my mother told me the funeral home she wanted to use, what she wanted to wear and the music she wanted.  It's amazing to me that the Church will charge $500 extra for a Saturday service and the obituary for our local newspaper is $950 but I guess everything is a business.  Now I know why I don't see as many obituaries in the paper!  I have written up her obituary and have a working document for her eulogy, though most Churches don't allow eulogy's anymore.  

I feel a relief knowing this will all be taken care of instead of trying to pull it all together after the fact.  I am in no way ready for any of this but I feel like if you can do it, it's better to.

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