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I didn’t want to be insensitive in the funeral thread but I found myself wondering why are funerals so expensive?  Is it actually reflected in the effort and service provided?

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Not always. At a funeral home recently the least  expensive casket was $8000, not including your choice of whatever the coffin is enclosed in underground, I think it’s called the lining. I know there are places where caskets are cheap( Costco?) but it seems like the funeral home ‘business’ is easily able to take advantage of grief struck family. I’ve dealt with very caring ones and fairly cold ones, and both were very expensive. I have no idea what the costs and skills are involved with the embalming aspects, though. The headstone/monument business also is expensive. We just paid almost $400 to add a death date. The engraver was less than 15 minutes from the site.

Edited by Dotwithaperiod
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a lot of it is the services of the funeral home.  when my father died, my mother "purchased" hers as well.  well - decades later, they actually attempted to inflate the cost to adjust for inflation.  however, she'd already paid for most of it and we pushed back.  

eta: my mother chose cremation,   it's cheaper than embalming.  she chose a bronze plaque - because it's cheaper than marble. dh and sils are expecting their mother to pass away this year.  while they plan on burying her next to their father, I've no idea what they've planned, or budgeted for costs.  transportation to another state, embalming, casket, etc.  or if they've even had a discussion with the cemetery about what needs to be done to bury her in the one plot next to fil.  good questions to ask...

 

Edited by gardenmom5

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The funeral home is in business to make a profit.  One can negotiate.

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Just an FYI, in most states embalming is not legally required. It is only necessary if the family is planning to have a viewing/open casket funeral.

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Even cremation is expensive. I think a lot of it is the cost of handling human remains. Though some of it is upselling and business costs. They purposefully don't stock "cheap" caskets and vessels to take ashes and so forth. And if every funeral home charges such and such amount to use their space, then they all will. Sort of an unspoken monopoly/price fixing sort of thing.

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I was shocked by the price of the "cheapest" casket when my mom died.  It was over $5000.  Really? 

I plan to buy my own online and store it... somewhere (don't know yet since my house is too small to store something like that).  But, even some of those are 2K.    

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I'm another one who really had no idea how expensive a funeral is.   My dh and I plan to be cremated, as do all of our parents.  My FIL died several years ago and was cremated, but one of his children made a beautiful wooden box for the ashes so I suppose you don't have to use their expensive vessels.  I do wonder about what's best for the environment in the long run, but I don't know what that is.  

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Honestly, I think part of it is that families are distraught when they lose a loved one and just take the suggestions of the funeral home.

When both of my grandmas died within months of each other (same city), one funeral cost 6x what the other one cost.

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You do not have to pick a container from the Home for the cremains.  One of the memories my fam has from my father's passing is the funeral home director showing us all the fancy stuff. We just laughed at the absurdity of upselling to a widow with minor children...is there no shame?  Dad grew up in an unpainted house on a homestead, during the Great Depression.  A Mason Jar would be more appropriate than the marble and gilt we were shown as his values were family, not ostentatious display of wealth.  The cremains come back in a cardboard box.  Scatter them or whatever is appropriate to your family. 

Edited by HeighHo
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I do think that sometimes the funeral home takes advantage of the fact that the family is grieving, has no idea what to do, and will listen to whatever the funeral home tells them to do. There is probably also, for some, a feeling of wanting/needing to do something nice for the deceased.  Like, "wouldn't your husband want this nice casket instead of this cheaper one?" I am not sure how prevalent that is.

My mother was very cheap. I don't remember much about my father's arrangements though I helped my mom with them. I know she resisted all efforts to get her to spend money. My parents were both cremated; everything was very inexpensive compared to what I had been led to believe things would cost. Cheapest cremation coffin, inexpensive urn.  When I handled her arrangements, I don't remember any pushback from the funeral home to get me to upgrade things. Maybe they could tell I wasn't open to it and just didn't bother?  Or maybe they were just ethical that way? I kept the ashes for a number of years till my siblings finally agreed on a final disposition.  

(BTW the final disposition was to send them to a company that flies over Niagara Falls and scatters the ashes. My parents had been born in the area and lived most of their lives there, and we spent a lot of time visiting the falls, so it seemed like a good option, for all that it mattered.  Since my siblings and I are/were scattered, we could never agree on a place to bury them, and getting together for some sort of ceremony seemed impossible. Though honestly for all I know, those flights are never made and the ashes are in a warehouse somewhere, or worse, in a landfill. But it wasn't too costly, and it relieved me of the burden of "owning" the remains.  As you might be able to tell, I am not sentimental about such things: another gift from my mother.) 

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In the US, many states have protective laws that allow you to purchase your casket independently. 

The Costco caskets are quite nice, fwiw, and they have overnight delivery. They are about 1/5 of the price of what most funeral homes carry. 

You also aren’t required to be embalmed. It will generally keep you from an open casket funeral, but you can do a closed casket service or have an immediate burial. 

IMO, a lot of the funerary market is a racket.

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I know that prices can vary considerably among funeral homes as well. One of ours around here is known as being cheaper and serving s lower income clientele. I’ve seen funerals from the cheaper and more expensive places around here (DH preaches, so I see a lot of funerals) and I don’t notice much difference in the outward appearance of the casket but mainly in the small touches like photocopied handouts vs. professionally printed ones, flower arrangement size, etc.

Of course I’m firmly in the camp of bury me in a pine box (or cremate me, whatever’s cheap) because I won’t care anyway. I once went with a friend to the dis-interment of her mother’s remains (to be moved to a new place; the cemetery had flooded and they were all told they had to move their loved ones remains) and I am unfortunately aware of how truly. . . temporary? unimportant? Liable to decay?. . .all those fancy funeral trappings are.

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1 hour ago, HeighHo said:

The funeral home is in business to make a profit.  One can negotiate.

This. The wealthiest friend I had in undergrad came from a family that owns funeral homes. Now she’s in charge of the family business. My parents and in-laws chose everything well in advance, so there were no last minute emotional decisions. 

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1 hour ago, eagleynne said:

Just an FYI, in most states embalming is not legally required. It is only necessary if the family is planning to have a viewing/open casket funeral.

Embalming and open caskets are unusual in the UK. My dad had a green burial, where embalming is not allowed for environmental reasons.

http://www.memorialwoodlands.com/

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Because they are so time sensitive so you don't have the chance to shop around.  Also, like weddings, anything associated goes up in price.

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Next to my will, I have a letter that I called, "Wants".    It says at the top that I am not mandating anything but this is what I'd like.   I did threaten to haunt anyone that bought a nice wood container to bury me in.   That it would be a shame to bury something pretty.   I asked to be cremated or enclaved and then buried under the house.  I really don't like the outdoors. 


I remember I read a book once that compared weddings and funerals.   Display of wealth is something that they have in common.   You can both cheaply or spend $$$$.    Neither the wedding venue nor the funeral home will steer you to a cheaper option.   Another book I read on funerals said that in China they had to forbid hiring strippers for a funeral.  People want a great many people at the funeral.   Hiring strippers was to encourage attendance.  I mentioned that my work-husband.   He is anti-funerals and he said that would make him go to one.  It had reached the point that almost everyone had a stripper.  

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6 minutes ago, shawthorne44 said:

Next to my will, I have a letter that I called, "Wants".    It says at the top that I am not mandating anything but this is what I'd like.   I did threaten to haunt anyone that bought a nice wood container to bury me in.   That it would be a shame to bury something pretty.   I asked to be cremated or enclaved and then buried under the house.  I really don't like the outdoors. 


I remember I read a book once that compared weddings and funerals.   Display of wealth is something that they have in common.   You can both cheaply or spend $$$$.    Neither the wedding venue nor the funeral home will steer you to a cheaper option.   Another book I read on funerals said that in China they had to forbid hiring strippers for a funeral.  People want a great many people at the funeral.   Hiring strippers was to encourage attendance.  I mentioned that my work-husband.   He is anti-funerals and he said that would make him go to one.  It had reached the point that almost everyone had a stripper.  

 

I’m treating myself to a kid free lunch and seriously just snorted kiwi-lime limonata out my nose after reading your last paragraph.

I have a somewhat morbid fascination with the funeral industry. My work partner is a part time paramedic, part time county medical examiner, and full time restaurant owner that works with local funeral homes to provide an after funeral meal at a lower cost.  As you can imagine, he has a lot of really interesting stories.  The laws surrounding death and burial are complex; he recently got called into the labor and delivery unit as the medical examiner  for a stillbirth/late miscarriage that the parents wanted to bring home and bury.  It turned into a huge bureaucratic nightmare. I think the funeral home industry takes advantage sometimes of the complexity of the laws.

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I did my MIL funeral last year for under $4000.   I set up direct cremation with the crematorium.  They came and picked up her body and we're very caring and dignified.

We bought a beautiful purple with butterflies urn for the ashes from eBay.

For flowers we went to a local nursery and spent $200 and got lots of beautiful hanging baskets and planters that I sent home with her siblings.

I wrote the obituary and kept it short as it is charged by the word.

That all was under $2000.

I was generous with the priest, musicians, ladies group that did the meal, etc. So that was our other $2000.

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Funerals do cost more than cremation because you have to purchase a plot, a grave liner (that is to keep the grave from collapsing as things decay), and a larger container.  

We have purchased a handmade casket from a monastery for about $800.  It's simple and it's beautiful.  You can purchase a "cremation casket" for use in burial and save a bunch of money.  Increasingly, people are choosing "green" burials, with no box at all, just a sort of "stretcher" wrapped in a shroud, entered into the earth.

Embalming is not required for viewing or for any reason *except* in some cases, transfer across state lines.  Not in any state.  Funeral homes will tell you it is, but it is not.  Embalming is environmentally unfriendly.  

Funeral homes charge a lot for preparing the body for viewing or burial.  This can be done by the family or friends, but most people don't want to do this--so they pay the funeral home to do it.   

Funeral homes charge for doing the paperwork -- social security admin, the coroner, all of that -- and you can do that too, but me, I'd rather pay for it and not worry about screwing it up. 

Funeral homes charge for transporting the body from the home/hospital to the funeral home and from thence to the church or gravesite -- but you can do that if you have the vehicle for it.  We use a truck or a minivan in our parish, for those who want to save money.  One of our parishioners' dad died and they transported him from their home to the graveyard themselves.

Funeral homes charge for keeping the body until the funeral (not required but it is a lot easier than keeping the body on ice in your living room--but you can do that).  They charge for the space for a memorial if you don't have a church or other space to use.  

In most cities, there are several levels of "funeral home"--high touch, mid-range and simple.  We found the simple one in both our town and in the town my parents live in.  They have a la carte pricing for services.  The high touch one in my parent's town has a minimum $10,000 funeral.  Period.  The mid-range one has a minimum $5,000.  The simple one has no minimum--you choose the services you require.  I think we spent about $2,000 for my dad, plus the $2,000 for the memorial garden spot.  My in-laws burial spots were $200 each.  Ours were $1,000 each (burial, not cremation).  Our neighbors spent $20,000 on their burial spot (they wanted a fancy graveyard with landscaping and a view.  It's their money.)

And yes, I think funeral homes take advantage of grief and of ignorance, and of the fact that people don't want to think ahead of time about their death.  And people sometimes (not always but sometimes) try to assuage guilt by spending money (and not just in death--think about the expensive toys people give their children to make up for not spending time with them....)  One of our parishioners' mother died in a state across the country--the lying liars of the nearby funeral home told my friend all kinds of lies about what he was required by law to buy, do.  He knew his stuff, and stood up to them, and got one of our lawyers on the phone and the funeral home backed down.  But they were *bullies* and liars and I can see how people would just be too weary and stunned to deal with it.  

One thing I have been told is that if you tell the funeral home you want what is essentially an Orthodox Jewish funeral, you will get the burial everyone says they want...simple casket, simple vault, no embalming.  

I've learned all of this by writing the parish's End of Life for St. ____ Parish plan.  

 

 

 

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My parents have pre-picked out everything and pre-paid.  I hope we don't run into issues once they die when it comes to owing any more $$.  It isn't that we aren't willing to pay, but why go to the effort of prepaying if it isn't going to do any good in the long run?

They will be embalmed, and transported to another state for burial.  I think it is ridiculous, but they have made their plans.

I don't think we are looking at too many more years before I need to worry about it.  My mom is 88 and dad is 84.  My dad just got out of the hospital, but they are running more tests next week.  He has had several rounds of various cancers.  My mom has COPD and bronchial issues.  I am surprised she has made it this long.

Edited by DawnM

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I've helped plan a funeral, and I also know people in the business; we've discussed this at length.  Yes, it's a business, and of course they want to make a profit.  Keep in mind, though, that funeral homes, crematories, and monument companies all have expenses every day, just like other businesses, even when there isn't a current funeral/cremation/monument to generate income.  Besides the costs of owning and maintaining a physical location and the costs of the "supplies" - casket/cremation box, embalming fluid, monument stone, burial plot - the biggest expense is to pay and provide some benefits to staff who need to be available daily, even when there hasn't been a death.  Discount funeral homes may work on an as-needed basis with all part-time employees, but most workers want regular employment and most grieving people don't want to play phone tag via answering machine to set everything up.  You pay for the convenience of having someone there to help right away.

Unless you are able to do much of it yourself, as Patty Joanna described, there are a lot of services involved.  Funeral homes usually have someone available to take the call about a death or meet the people who walk in the door.  Someone is sent to pick up the body and bring it to the funeral home, even in the middle of the night.  Funeral directors meet with families to make arrangements and then follow through on all of the details to make sure everything goes smoothly, communicating with the priest or other officiant, musicians, florist, etc.  For a funeral with open casket, there is a lot of body preparation - embalming (which requires special training and state licensing), bathing, shaving, dressing, hair/make-up (although apparently it's getting hard to find cosmetologists willing to do hair and make-up), putting the body into the chosen casket.  Even if someone is cremated, there has to be a sturdy box (and even though cardboard is offered as a less expensive option, many families choose wood out of respect for the dead), someone to transport to the crematory, and then the crematory staff needs to be paid.  Staff need to be available at any events the family may want - private family viewing, public visitation/wake, funeral, graveside service.  For casket burial, they need a hearse and, depending on the family's wishes, they may need other vehicles and additional staff to take families and priests/ministers to the cemetery for graveside services and back to the funeral home.  They need staff to stay at the cemetery until everyone leaves and the cemetery crew comes back to fill in the grave - and they need to be paid, too.  There are office staff who greet people, answer phones, and take care of all of the death-related paperwork; in addition to dealing with the death certificate, sometimes they will place the obituary for the family, file for VA benefits, etc.  They need a bookkeeper whose work can stand up to state inspection.  They need custodial staff.  Someone has to be trained and serve as the OSHA compliance officer.  All those people have to be paid.

Yes, caskets are expensive.  Maybe the newer cheap ones have improved in quality, but I was told about families bringing in cheap caskets that didn't latch properly or that had the carrying handles fall off, and the funeral home had to provide different caskets.  The funeral director who told me this replaced them at no additional cost to those families, to maintain goodwill, but that's an expense they can't take on all the time - I'm sure many wouldn't even consider replacing at no extra cost. 

As for the pre-paid funerals, the older the plan, the less likely the amount paid plus interest is able to cover the actual expenses today.  A good funeral home will honor the original agreement and take the loss - but again, that's an expense to them that may lead to current prices being higher.  

Edited by klmama

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1 hour ago, Laura Corin said:

Embalming and open caskets are unusual in the UK. My dad had a green burial, where embalming is not allowed for environmental reasons.

http://www.memorialwoodlands.com/

 

Everybody knows I want a green burial, but  even just to wrap my body in a shroud and throw it in a hole costs around $2k.  If we had land, we could do a home burial 😄 My only concern is that during the zombie apocalypse, I’ll look awful 😞

Embalming is not required in any state here, but if burial isn’t imminent, then you need to be refrigerated or possibly embalmed depending on the state/time.  And I believe crossing state lines requires embalming.  

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3 hours ago, HeighHo said:

You do not have to pick a container from the Home for the cremains.  One of the memories my fam has from my father's passing is the funeral home director showing us all the fancy stuff. We just laughed at the absurdity of upselling to a widow with minor children...is there no shame?  Dad grew up in an unpainted house on a homestead, during the Great Depression.  A Mason Jar would be more appropriate than the marble and gilt we were shown as his values were family, not ostentatious display of wealth.  The cremains come back in a cardboard box.  Scatter them or whatever is appropriate to your family. 

When Mom passed away Dad had her cremated and her remains are in a container beer comes in wrapped in a quilt like covering. Mom was a quilter and all three of us girls are too so we worked together to make it.  When Dad passes we’ll add his ashes and scatter or bury them.  

F337024E-3B6D-43B8-9BBA-8C7D09997F11.thumb.jpeg.b21a1b5afdcde13460cb2296383bea50.jpeg

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39 minutes ago, Ailaena said:

 

Everybody knows I want a green burial, but  even just to wrap my body in a shroud and throw it in a hole costs around $2k.  If we had land, we could do a home burial 😄 My only concern is that during the zombie apocalypse, I’ll look awful 😞

Embalming is not required in any state here, but if burial isn’t imminent, then you need to be refrigerated or possibly embalmed depending on the state/time.  And I believe crossing state lines requires embalming.  

I think bodies are refrigerated here. There was a long gap between my dad's death and funeral.

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5 hours ago, PrincessMommy said:

I was shocked by the price of the "cheapest" casket when my mom died.  It was over $5000.  Really? 

I plan to buy my own online and store it... somewhere (don't know yet since my house is too small to store something like that).  But, even some of those are 2K.    

I have a friend who switched from being a beer salesman to a casket salesman. He did well selling beer, but he says he makes a LOT of money with just a few sales on caskets and the mark up is huge.

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5 hours ago, PrincessMommy said:

I was shocked by the price of the "cheapest" casket when my mom died.  It was over $5000.  Really? 

I plan to buy my own online and store it... somewhere (don't know yet since my house is too small to store something like that).  But, even some of those are 2K.    

 

Check here:  http://www.achristianending.com/resources/. One of the best people I know on the planet is one of the makers listed.  He's making my MIL's (for future use)

Also, I just googled and found many, many sites that sell handmade wooden caskets for $1,000--hand made, simple.  Some of the monks I know stand them on end and use them as bookcases!  :0)  For awhile, anyway.  And there are wooden "flap-a, slot-b" assemble it later, store it flat caskets.  I'd like our parish to get one of these to have on hand. I think we DID get one, but the next man who passed away was exceptionally tall...  

 

 

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I don't understand what my paternal grandparents did.  They bought two cemetery lots next to each other.  Bought and designed their own headstone.  Then were cremated and buried in the lots.   It was their choice, but it seemed like the worst of both options

But, I guess, to each their own.   Me, I want the money to go for quality alcohol at a wake.  

Edited by shawthorne44
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My dad was buried through a rural funeral home, casket, service, pick up the body, transport to gravesite and service there...just a little under 10K. Insurance covered it. 

I literally just got off the phone with my mom. My ex-dh's funeral apparently cost 11k, in a town of 75k, lower cost of living. He did not have a gravesite service. They did have an open casket, but he was cremated afterward sans casket. The rental of the casket cost 1k. 1k to rent a box for a few days. He had no insurance, so his family and girlfriend had to pick up the expense. 

 

 

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51 minutes ago, elegantlion said:

My dad was buried through a rural funeral home, casket, service, pick up the body, transport to gravesite and service there...just a little under 10K. Insurance covered it. 

I literally just got off the phone with my mom. My ex-dh's funeral apparently cost 11k, in a town of 75k, lower cost of living. He did not have a gravesite service. They did have an open casket, but he was cremated afterward sans casket. The rental of the casket cost 1k. 1k to rent a box for a few days. He had no insurance, so his family and girlfriend had to pick up the expense. 

 

 

Man.  I'm sorry for this loss of life, and that is primary.  But the cost of renting a box is mind-boggling.  I spent some time snooping around about this topic today, and I saw many handmade wood caskets for $1000.  Unbelievable.  

 

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5 hours ago, shawthorne44 said:

Next to my will, I have a letter that I called, "Wants".    It says at the top that I am not mandating anything but this is what I'd like.   I did threaten to haunt anyone that bought a nice wood container to bury me in.   That it would be a shame to bury something pretty.   I asked to be cremated or enclaved and then buried under the house.  I really don't like the outdoors. 


I remember I read a book once that compared weddings and funerals.   Display of wealth is something that they have in common.   You can both cheaply or spend $$$$.    Neither the wedding venue nor the funeral home will steer you to a cheaper option.   Another book I read on funerals said that in China they had to forbid hiring strippers for a funeral.  People want a great many people at the funeral.   Hiring strippers was to encourage attendance.  I mentioned that my work-husband.   He is anti-funerals and he said that would make him go to one.  It had reached the point that almost everyone had a stripper.  

Yes I read a news article about this.  From a western viewpoint it is almost impossible to imagine how that would ever be a thing.

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3 hours ago, shawthorne44 said:

I don't understand what my paternal grandparents did.  They bought two cemetery lots next to each other.  Bought and designed their own headstone.  Then were cremated and buried in the lots.   It was their choice, but it seemed like the worst of both options

But, I guess, to each their own.   Me, I want the money to go for quality alcohol at a wake.  

My parents bought their headstone decades ago fortheir family plot, but my mom remarried after my dad died, so the headstone had to be replaced to say Father &Son, when my brother died. Mother and her new husband then bought a plot and headstone in a tiny, historical cemetery about 20 years ago. They were so proud to be eventually buried near Davy Crocket’s family; I’ve got old pics of them clowning around on their graves. She thinks I’m going to hell for wanting to be cremated. Old people are weird, lol.

Edited by Dotwithaperiod
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14 hours ago, Dotwithaperiod said:

My parents bought their headstone decades ago fortheir family plot, but my mom remarried after my dad died, so the headstone had to be replaced to say Father &Son, when my brother died. Mother and her new husband then bought a plot and headstone in a tiny, historical cemetery about 20 years ago. They were so proud to be eventually buried near Davy Crocket’s family; I’ve got old pics of them clowning around on their graves. She thinks I’m going to hell for wanting to be cremated. Old people are weird, lol.


I remember thinking when they were putting my grandmother in (the last to go).   That every person with our last name could be buried in Grandpa's plot.   There aren't many of us and they only used a post hole digger (it seemed) to dig a hole.  

My favorite burying story is from my cousin.   He died of a heart attack at 30 or 31.   He wasn't married and he had an amazing German Shepard.  One of his brothers kept the dog.  When it died they went out in the night and buried the dog in cousin's grave.  The dog might have been cremated, I don't remember.   I'm not sentimental about burials, but that makes me smile.  

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All I can say is the experience of my mother's funeral is what cemented my plans to NOT have one. I will be cremated and told my kids to just have a gathering at someone's home. Honestly, that's all the funeral service really is at a funeral home; family standing around sharing stories and talking about the person (while their dead body is on display, which I cannot STAND - sorry - not trying to hurt anyone's feelings, but I have experienced it too many times, and just cannot get past it). My family does NOT need to spend upwards of 10 grand for that.

**ETA - here it's typical for everyone to gather at someone's home after the funeral anyway. That's why I figure they can just skip the funeral and go straight to the free gathering.

Edited by StaceyinLA
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I don't really get the open casket thing. I've been surprised at how many people in my extended family have insisted on it. Like, they did it for my grandmother and I was like, what? Why? But I guess everyone needs to process differently and that was important to her dd and my cousin, who she was closest with.

The green funeral thing really needs to catch on here.

I do understand the cremation and then burial with a headstone thing. My grandfather did that. My grandmother was buried - and they share a plot. They were really cute about buying the site and so forth. It's in a lovely cemetery, even if it's not near anything we might normally visit. But I have been a few times and it's nice that there's a place to go to honor them, I guess.

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4 minutes ago, Farrar said:

I don't really get the open casket thing. I've been surprised at how many people in my extended family have insisted on it. Like, they did it for my grandmother and I was like, what? Why? But I guess everyone needs to process differently and that was important to her dd and my cousin, who she was closest with.

The green funeral thing really needs to catch on here.

I do understand the cremation and then burial with a headstone thing. My grandfather did that. My grandmother was buried - and they share a plot. They were really cute about buying the site and so forth. It's in a lovely cemetery, even if it's not near anything we might normally visit. But I have been a few times and it's nice that there's a place to go to honor them, I guess.

Yeah I'm definitely right there with ya. With my dad, I was just mortified. He just didn't look like himself at all, and I couldn't stand it. We had been there with him when he died, so I certainly didn't need that to be my closure, and I really hated other people remembering him that way.

With my mom, although we were with her as well, she didn't really look good the last couple days of her life. Without being too graphic/morbid, her positioning just made her not look like herself at all. They actually did a really nice job of making her look peaceful, and I was thankful for that.

However, I've been to too many young people's funerals where they should not have had open caskets. I get it, because the deaths are often sudden and tragic, and loved ones need time, but they often just do not look normal, and I hate having that memory.

As for me, I've told my kids to maybe plant a tree in my memory and buy a plaque or something. They can each have something in their yards if they care to, that reminds them of me. What they do with my ashes is totally up to them. They can sprinkle them somewhere or bury them somewhere if they want - doesn't really matter to me.

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23 hours ago, shawthorne44 said:

Next to my will, I have a letter that I called, "Wants".    It says at the top that I am not mandating anything but this is what I'd like.   I did threaten to haunt anyone that bought a nice wood container to bury me in.   That it would be a shame to bury something pretty.   I asked to be cremated or enclaved and then buried under the house.  I really don't like the outdoors. 


a dear sweet lady had her "wants" for her funeral.   she'd been in greatly failing health and losing her memory for several years before she passed away.  (eta: she was able to visit with family - so this was for her family to visit with each other.)

she didn't want one, she wanted a big party for her family and friends, and for everyone to wear pink. (her favorite color.) she knew there'd be a dedication of the grave - so she did specify what hymns she wanted sung.  I think it was all of 15- 20 minutes.

so, there was a small thing at a shelter (it rains here - so they have permanent shelters scattered around the grounds) near her (military) graveside, then a party afterwards. and many people wore pink.

Edited by gardenmom5
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On 5/17/2019 at 8:10 AM, Ausmumof3 said:

I didn’t want to be insensitive in the funeral thread but I found myself wondering why are funerals so expensive?  Is it actually reflected in the effort and service provided?

 

Because they can.  Because people fear seeming cheap or uncaring to their dead loved one and family or society.

I think there's a LOT of room for middle ground.  For example, there's no need for an expensive casket to decompose in. I didn't have the money for one with my dad so his was cardboard.  Seriously.  It's like a super thick colored cardboard in the shape of a coffin.  It was not fancy or thick or anything that is going to hold up for a 100 years.  And that's okay.  It  could have been open, which I would have preferred, but would have required a ceremony I couldn't afford and storage of the body I couldn't afford. An open casket gives people who weren't there for the dressing of the dead body to get one last look, kiss to the hand or forehead, tuck in a note of love or a flower or whatever.  I did clean and dress the body myself prior to the funeral home coming to get him from my living room.  And after I did that, close family, which is all that was left in his old age, had time to come by the house and do all those things an open casket would have permitted.  He wasn't religious, so he went straight from my house to  freezer at the funeral home and then we had a grave side close family only presence as he was buried.  The plot and the stone had already been paid for when my mom died 20+ years ago.  Even so, the total bill from the funeral home was over $5000, which is nuts to me but there's no way to negotiate it lower than that unless I put him in my chest freezer, which is illegal.  The cardboard casket was donated.  So that cost was just pick up, store in freezer until deliver to cemetery, open the hole and lower and cover.  That seems exorbant to the point of price gouging to me.

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32 minutes ago, Murphy101 said:

 

Because they can.  Because people fear seeming cheap or uncaring to their dead loved one and family or society.

I think there's a LOT of room for middle ground.  For example, there's no need for an expensive casket to decompose in. I didn't have the money for one with my dad so his was cardboard.  Seriously.  It's like a super thick colored cardboard in the shape of a coffin.  It was not fancy or thick or anything that is going to hold up for a 100 years.  And that's okay.  It  could have been open, which I would have preferred, but would have required a ceremony I couldn't afford and storage of the body I couldn't afford. An open casket gives people who weren't there for the dressing of the dead body to get one last look, kiss to the hand or forehead, tuck in a note of love or a flower or whatever.  I did clean and dress the body myself prior to the funeral home coming to get him from my living room.  And after I did that, close family, which is all that was left in his old age, had time to come by the house and do all those things an open casket would have permitted.  He wasn't religious, so he went straight from my house to  freezer at the funeral home and then we had a grave side close family only presence as he was buried.  The plot and the stone had already been paid for when my mom died 20+ years ago.  Even so, the total bill from the funeral home was over $5000, which is nuts to me but there's no way to negotiate it lower than that unless I put him in my chest freezer, which is illegal.  The cardboard casket was donated.  So that cost was just pick up, store in freezer until deliver to cemetery, open the hole and lower and cover.  That seems exorbant to the point of price gouging to me.

 

Here you would never be able to do that. We HAVE to have embalming done - it's our law. The only way to avoid it is direct cremation. I mean sure, if they die in your home, you have some time for people to say their goodbyes if they are nearby, but if they are at the funeral home for any length of time, they have to be embalmed.

I used to be really freaked out by the whole cremation thing, but honestly, embalming is an unnatural and pretty disgusting process. The funeral industry has definitely become somewhat of a racket IMO, making you feel like you aren't doing the best for your (dead) loved one if you don't spend the most. They prey on people's pain, and that makes me really angry.

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Re: open casket.  When my dad died, we had one at a gathering the night before the funeral.  My mom wanted it, not sure why. I am not a fan. But I have to say, one of my nieces felt like that really cemented the fact that grandpa was gone. I don't remember how old she was - maybe 12? - but for her it was like "oh, ok, I get it  now, he is really dead." I mean, she understood it intellectually but it hadn't really hit her. She had felt badly that she hadn't been crying, while everyone around her was weeping copiously and in some cases, dramatically.  (Except me, and I did tell her it was OK not to cry, etc.)  Anyway, she did finally let loose some tears and then was better.  So maybe for some people it is a good thing, closure and all that.   I also remember that we all felt like he looked wrong, because he didn't have his glasses on. :-)

That said, my mom didn't want one, and I wouldn't have one.  When I have been to a "viewing" I have tried to avoid actually looking, or do it as quickly as possible if I can't avoid it.

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12 minutes ago, marbel said:

Re: open casket.  When my dad died, we had one at a gathering the night before the funeral.  My mom wanted it, not sure why. I am not a fan. But I have to say, one of my nieces felt like that really cemented the fact that grandpa was gone. I don't remember how old she was - maybe 12? - but for her it was like "oh, ok, I get it  now, he is really dead." I mean, she understood it intellectually but it hadn't really hit her. She had felt badly that she hadn't been crying, while everyone around her was weeping copiously and in some cases, dramatically.  (Except me, and I did tell her it was OK not to cry, etc.)  Anyway, she did finally let loose some tears and then was better.  So maybe for some people it is a good thing, closure and all that.   I also remember that we all felt like he looked wrong, because he didn't have his glasses on. 🙂

That said, my mom didn't want one, and I wouldn't have one.  When I have been to a "viewing" I have tried to avoid actually looking, or do it as quickly as possible if I can't avoid it.

 

I do think for younger people/kids that it would make it more real, or at least as real as they would be able to comprehend, since I just don't think they can begin to understand that death is permanent, and that person will never be around again.

I just have to hope if that scenario arises with me, those that are younger in my immediate family (as in grandkids/great-grandkids, hopefully) would be nearby and could see me right around the time of death, so I would still be myself if that makes sense. I think that is what cemented for me how different it is to be with someone at/right after death versus seeing them in a casket.  Right after my dad passed, he was still Dad. He was warm to the touch, and looked/felt like himself, only sleeping and at peace. At the funeral home, he was cold and unreal (I mean I didn't touch him, but I do know they're cold and don't feel normal because I have siblings that will touch people in caskets and I've asked). As mentioned above, it was a little different with my mom - she definitely looked more at peace in her casket than at the time of her death due to positioning, but I still had good closure from seeing near the time of death, and would have been fine if we had left it at that.

It's weird because about 20 minutes after my dad passed away, after we had left the room to talk with his cardiologist, we went back in his room to get some things, and, even then, you could tell he was gone. His essence was just no longer there. I will forever be grateful that I was able to be with him immediately after his passing. With my mom, I was there within about 10 minutes, but she had really been gone for days before then. With my dad, he talked and visited with us up until the hour before he passed, so I think we really need that closure in a different way.

I need to stop rambling. This isn't really pertinent to the discussion, and now I'm just sitting here crying. Losing loved ones is hard. 😞

Edited by StaceyinLA

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5 hours ago, marbel said:

I also remember that we all felt like he looked wrong, because he didn't have his glasses on. :-)

You can ask that the person wear their glasses, if you want.  The funeral directors can remove them before closing the casket.  I remember feeling a little relieved when seeing my grandmother in her casket, because she looked just like herself again - glasses, make-up, hair freshly colored and curled.  Before she died, she'd been ill and in the nursing home for a long time, and when I last saw her alive she didn't have on her glasses or make-up, and her hair was white and wild.  The beautician who had previously done her hair colored and set it for her and applied make-up, bless her heart.  I don't think they would have had anyone to do it otherwise.  

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7 hours ago, Farrar said:

I don't really get the open casket thing. I've been surprised at how many people in my extended family have insisted on it. Like, they did it for my grandmother and I was like, what? Why? But I guess everyone needs to process differently and that was important to her dd and my cousin, who she was closest with.

The green funeral thing really needs to catch on here.

I do understand the cremation and then burial with a headstone thing. My grandfather did that. My grandmother was buried - and they share a plot. They were really cute about buying the site and so forth. It's in a lovely cemetery, even if it's not near anything we might normally visit. But I have been a few times and it's nice that there's a place to go to honor them, I guess.

I don't understand the open casket thing at all either.  I do really like the idea of a green funeral.

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7 hours ago, Farrar said:

I don't really get the open casket thing. I've been surprised at how many people in my extended family have insisted on it. Like, they did it for my grandmother and I was like, what? Why? But I guess everyone needs to process differently and that was important to her dd and my cousin, who she was closest with.

 

My family has always done open caskets. For me, there is a comfort and finality to it - it's really what I'm used to. Going to a funeral with cremated remains bothers me, it's like the person you knew was in a box or urn and the first funeral I went to that way emotionally bothered me. I've been to a large number of funerals in my life, there is a morbid sense to seeing the body at rest, but it's a comfort too. 

For my dad, I need to see him in the casket. He looked absolutely at peace and the last I had seen him was right after he died in the hospital - he still was intubated. I'm glad I got to replace that image. 

My ex-dh looked so old in his casket. I had not seen him since Christmas. Having a visual of him in death is helping me process through this awkward grief. I'm more of a visual person anyway, I like seeing things to help me understand. 

 

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Corpses of adults in our household will be donated to the local state university's medical school.  Their body donor program covers all expenses except to transport body from a long distance.  In event that you die while on vacation, the university will coordinate donation to a facility near area where donor died.  University pays for cremation when they are finished with cadaver and return ashes to family members if family members want the ashes.

My father was planning on cremation after death until I told him about the university's body donor program.  He donated his body to the university med school in his area.

 

Edited by annandatje
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I have a personal belief that people shouldn't take up space on the earth after they are dead (no offence to anyone...just my own belief). I will be cremated and scattered if my wishes are honored. I have told my husband and children I will do the same for them, unless they specifically tell me otherwise. My daughter has a similar belief to mine, but her I know her husband has other ideas, so I will let him decide (without objection) if she preceeds me in passing.  He asked her to change her donor status (to not donate her organs) according to his religious beliefs so I assume he would prefer a full burial for her as well. She believes in donating organs, but since he would be the one left behind, she changed it to honor him. 

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On 5/17/2019 at 10:07 AM, eagleynne said:

Just an FYI, in most states embalming is not legally required. It is only necessary if the family is planning to have a viewing/open casket funeral.

In the state we recently dealt with, it is legally required at a certain point. (48hrs? 72hrs? I can’t remember precisely.). We actually had to prepare ourselves to file for an injunction because the deceased’s estranged spouse was refusing to sign paperwork, despite the known intentions for direct cremation.  The law was going to require embalming if the cremation didn’t get scheduled soon.

The professionals dh dealt with were absolutely incredible, even though they would not make much money off of this transaction. Given the headaches our family caused, I think they earned a lot more than they got paid!

It’s still sad to me how much traditional burials can cost. My feelings about what I want have definitely changed.

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I handled all the arrangements for a relative who died last year, and the total bill from the funeral home was $885. That included picking up the body in the middle of the night, storing it for several days, cremation, filing all the necessary paperwork, and providing multiple copies of the death certificate. This was a small family-owned business, and they were incredibly kind and compassionate and never tried to up-sell me on anything. I didn't purchase an urn, because I plan to scatter the ashes, so they were returned to me in a plain black box. The assisted living community where he lived held a "celebration of life," which included cake and punch and people telling stories about him. I sent them a bunch of digital photos of him throughout his life, which they used to make several large posters to display, and they also had a table with some framed photos and memorabilia. It was simple and meaningful and he would have loved it. I hope for the same thing when it's my turn.

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