UPDATE! --The cost of funerals

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by tinamarie1, Oct 26, 2007.

  1. tinamarie1

    tinamarie1 Member

    I wanted to let yall know that I called the Navy Marine Corps Relief Society today and because daddy is retired Navy, they will pay for the full cost to cremate him. And because my husband is active duty Navy, they also will purchase a plane ticket for me and give me money for a hotel room.
    Good people still exist and thank God for this organization. If any of you know of retired military that need assistance (or active duty for that matter), be sure and let them know about this wonderful organization.

    Original post: My dad has been really sick for several years, and yesterday the doctor called me and said that after many weeks on a ventilator, they can no longer keep him on it. So, I have to make the decision about taking him off.
    Several months ago my sister and I looked into the cost of a funeral, because we really felt like it was drawing near. We were so shocked to find out that the no frills funeral/ burial is more than $10,000!!!
    He is retired military too, and they only give a $300 benefit. We can have him put in a military cemetary that is 3 hours from where he lives, but then we have to pay transportation and it sill comes out to about $7,000.
    How do people afford this? Where do they get money for this? Dad had a life policy that my brother stopped paying on, so the value of it is only $1,000.
    I really hate to have him cremated, but that may be my only option and thats still $3,000.
    Does anyone have any advice?
  2. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member

    I am so sorry about your father.

    Funerals are very expensive. My father had no life insurance, but the funeral home had to wait until we sold the house. I think he had a lein on the estate until he was paid - or something like that.
    We now have a lower priced funeral home called Newcomer Funeral Homes - they are in several states. They have gotten some slack as they actually advertise on TV. Morbid, I guess.

    I do not know how people afford funerals, but it is unfortunate that it has to be thought about at a time like this, huh?
  3. Sunlight

    Sunlight Active Member

    The last couple I went to were one day viewing only and then cremation to save costs. sigh.
  4. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    It will be the same everywhere, but the costs of funerals are high and geared to making the best of the opportunity of dealing with people who are too busy grieving to deal with the money side of things.

    We've had too many funerals over recent years. With my parents, they had made plans ahead of time but still didn't want a lot of money spent. My dad said he didn't want a headstone or plaque - nothing. We bought a rose bush and planted it at the church and scattered his ashes on the rose bush. My sister was sad there was no marker anywhere, but as he was a returned serviceman (WWII) he actually rated a plaque in the war memorial. That one was automatic.
    Then when my mother died, the church had been sold and a new one was being built. But it was taking a long time. We had her cremated and waited. And waited. We had put the rose bush into a pot to replant it at the new church and to scatter mum's ashes there, but my brother got impatient and had her ashes interred at the crematorium with a plaque to both our parents. And he got the date wrong.

    father in law had strong ties to Greece from WWII days. He had been a POW there and escaped, hiding out in the hills and living with villagers. He was recaptured but kept the villagers safe, getting back in touch after the war. He went back to visit them a number of times. When he died, he had already insisted on keeping costs down. husband bought a nice coffin but nothing special, the cheapest - since he was a returned serviceman, he had the right to have his coffin draped in the flag. And because he was of Scots heritage, he also had the family tartan on the coffin. With all that drapery, there was no need for anything special coffin-wise. He was cremated - they removed the flag and the tartan before the cremation, but another fragment of tartan which had been on some flowers did go through.
    Then came time to decide what to do with HIS ashes. The basic unit they give the ashes to you, is in a plastic box. I remember my father's - the minister, who had been visiting him in his last days, was surprised at the weight in the box because my father had wasted away to a scrap. "He was a big man though," my brother said.
    Back to father in law - husband & mother in law went shopping for urns, since she wanted to keep his ashes so hers could be mixed with them. We also have been asked to go back to Greece some time and take a handful of ashes there, if we can. So interring the ashes really wasn't an option. Besides, he had been horrified himself at the costs of his own mother's funeral - not that he stinted, more that he was unhappy at how usurious it seemed to be, especially when you are vulnerable.
    So we were looking at urns for father in law and they were awful. And ridiculously expensive, for something in tacky white cement. Where would you put something so ghastly?
    mother in law made a different decision. She went to an import shop, bought a lovely reproduction Greek vase (like an amphora) and a plate. This cost less than half the cheap white cement urn price. And it looked so much better.
    We put his ashes in the vase, dropped in his wedding ring and wiped out the ashes box with another small scrap of tartan (which also went into the urn). mother in law said, "I made sure there was room for two." The plate went on top like a lid, and the whole thing sits tastefully on her sideboard. Only the family knows; visitors often remark on what a lovely Greek vase she has there.
    husband has discussed with her, getting a simple pine box and totally covering it with family tartan. We will use the tartan for everyone, including for happy occasions too (a wall hanging then, like a large plaid; or a cloth cover, with a white table runner over it). The tartan isn't cheap but it's a lot cheaper than even the cheapest coffins; vastly cheaper than casket options.

    My best friend's father died a few years ago; that was a full-on Greek orthodox funeral with all the trimmings. A burial as well. I'd never been to a burial before. They had a casket rather than a coffin, every frill was there. The family expected it. And they bought a twin plot, so her mother could be next to him when it's her turn (she requested this at the time).

    Not sure if I could be happy with that, myself. I know what I'm getting - a plain pine box, with a tartan thrown over...

  5. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    tina, I'm so sorry about your dad. I hope this goes easier than expected for you and your family.

    The costs of funerals have become appalling. I wish there weren't so many restrictions on every little detail so a family could do what's within their budget.

  6. nvts

    nvts Active Member

    I'm so sorry to hear about your dad. The veterans from all of the wars are so neglected in this day and age and it's a dam* shame that families are reduced to trying to cut corners while showing the vet the respect that they deserve.

    I did a search ("veterans funerals - financial assistance") and came up with this link:


    On their presidents message, he spoke about most funerals running $10,000, but they can help reduce that to about $3,800. I don't know how valid it is, but it's worth a shot.

    Also, does he belong to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, or any other veterans groups? They might help you find ways to offset the costs. You may also want to talk to any church that he's affiliated with as well. They may be able to steer you in the right direction.

    Was he an active volunteer anywhere before he became ill? They may be able to help out as well.

    Just a few suggestions!

    God Bless!

  7. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Many funeral homes will also let you have a payment plan. At least in this area they do. If they didn't around here, few ppl would be able to have one we are such a poor area. I know they provided that for Nichole's best friend, she's still paying on it, and making payments for the head stone which is an additional cost.
  8. WhymeMom?

    WhymeMom? No real answers to life..

    Yep, I never understood this idea of buying a box(casket) for which you get to pay $3000 on the low end, only to pay for another "cement box" to put the casket in so that when the "remains" finally deteriorate the ground doesn't fall in and doesn't even include the plot $$$.....

    What I would like to do is donate my body to science and just have a big party with the $$ I saved. I know my husband won't do this, but if I go last this is my plan....Just don't get excited either about going to a cemetary and putting flowers on a grave, just seems to me the living would enjoy receiving flowers.....but once you're gone do you really care what happens to your body, grave, etc....? Just my two cents and not knocking anyone else's beliefs.....
  9. meowbunny

    meowbunny New Member

    Went through this with my best friend when her mother died. My friend really wasn't capable of making any decisions at the time. Fortunately, I'd talked to her mom about what she wanted (cremation), so we went to The Neptune Society. It isn't in every state, but is in many. Its cremation services are much cheaper and they really do help with many of the options, etc. (for Florida today a basic cremation is $1,888 with travel; $1,489 without).

    What we did was opt for the basic cremation and purchased a very nice marble urn. We could have had Neptune Society hold a memorial service for Katie's mom (they scatter ashes over the sea at no extra charge if you choose this) but we opted to hold a rowdy wake on Ethel's birthday, which was 4 months after her death. I think the timing was perfect. The initial rawness was gone but there was still lots of love and laughs and tears left.
  10. Fran

    Fran Former desparate mom

    Wish I knew about the Neptune Society. I had to pay twice. Once for the funeral home to cremate dad, then we flew with his ashes to our hometown for a funeral service and reception. Both places charged us for a funeral. It wasn't a very nice experience.
    I'll keep Neptune Society in mind if I have to go through this again.

    I'm sorry you are struggling with this at such an emotional time. Did your dad have any funeral plans?
  11. HereWeGoAgain

    HereWeGoAgain Grandpa

    I'm very sorry for what you're going through at this time tinamarie.

    The funeral industry has a bad reputation. If you read Flags of Our Fathers you'll see that there are some truly caring people in the business, though. I don't know how typical that is. I'm sure there are many who take advantage of the grieving. The high cost and having to deal with it at such time is a terrible shame.
  12. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

  13. Suz

    Suz (the future) MRS. GERE

    I don't have any advice, Tina. I just wanted to give you a hug. :crying:

  14. skeeter

    skeeter New Member

    first and most important, I am sorry for your pain.

    My dad, as well as many of my relatives, have all donated their bodies to the local medical university. The only cost involved is transportation to the University (and if you die in the hospital there, then there's no cost).

    The use anything "donate-able" (in my dad's case, with his cancer, the only thing they could use was his corneas) and then use the rest in research. They do NOT use the bodies as cadavers in medication classes.

    After about a year - year and a half, they cremate the remains and you have the option of getting the ashes back or having them interred in a donated plot at our large, world reknown cemetery and arboretum. They have a memorial service for those that are "processed" (that's what they call it) at that time.

    My mom has also signed the paperwork to do this, and I have the paperwork but haven't filled it out yet.
  15. tinamarie1

    tinamarie1 Member

    see my original posting for update.
  16. meowbunny

    meowbunny New Member

    I'm glad you found some financial aid.

    I hope you're okay with cremation now. I know you weren't happy with that idea originally. I don't know if this will help, but here's my take on cremation. My body will feel no pain, so being a very hot fire won't matter. I really don't want my friends and family viewing me once dead -- I'd rather they remember the vital, happy person they knew. Being buried means taking up land that can be put to better use.

    Once I'm cremated, there are many options for my loved ones. They can stick me in a place that they can visit when they desire. They can keep me in an urn, vase or box at home if they so desire. They can drop parts of me in places that I had come to love while alive (yes, I know, they'd have to do this on the sly but that would be their choice and I would be happy just knowing they considered this). If I'm buried, there are no options except a hole in the ground. Sorry, I'd much rather become a bunch of ashes.

    In the meantime, I'm sorry you're having to even make these decisions. Losing a parent is painful. HUGS
  17. judi

    judi Active Member

    So sorry Tina.

    When my Mom died in 1986, we had her buried in a cardboard box - yep they exist. Since she was a vet, the burial was free and the headstone free too. She was Jewish so wasn't embalmed and all together it was less than $2000.

    When my Dad died in 2002, we had him buried in the same type of cardboard box, no embalming and he was a vet too - buried at the same federal cemetery.
  18. Lothlorien

    Lothlorien Active Member

    That's great news!
  19. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    I'm glad that plans have worked out for you. We are opting for
    cremation for the reasons given above. As bizarre as it may sound to those of you who are in your middle or early adult years
    it is possible to make plans and pay in 2007 dollars so there
    is no issue when you pass on. There are, on occasion, ads in the
    paper for cremation societys offering services at under $1000.

    Personally, I consider the body a shell for the soul and therefore have no qualms about donation or cremation. In some
    locations donation is not a viable option so adavanced plans have
    to be made.

    On a deeper caring level, please accept my sincere sympathy on
    your lost. All losses are difficult, but losing a Dad has its
    own type of pain. Many hugs coming your way. DDD