October 23, 2023
We are all vulnerable to an upsell when we want to honor a deceased family member. Fortunately, the Federal Trade Commission offers some protection in the form of standards all funeral homes must follow. This enables you to make apples-to-apples comparisons.
For instance, you have the right to price information when you phone. And an itemized price list when you visit. Basic services must be described in the same way: Direct burial, direct cremation, embalming, etc. You can use a casket or urn that is purchased elsewhere. Or an alternative container. (Consider shopping online and having the casket or container shipped.) Embalming is not required if refrigeration is available. Or if the burial is to take place within two days of death.
Separate the public gathering from disposal of the body. There are low- or no-cost places to hold a memorial service or celebration of life: At home, in a park, etc. This provides the option to postpone the service to a date best for everyone concerned.
Closer is not necessarily better. It’s prudent to check out mortuaries in a fair radius around you. If there is a large price difference, a fifteen-minute longer drive may be the wisest choice. (Morticians will generally travel up to twenty to thirty miles to transport the deceased without charging extra.)
Establish a budget before you start calling. Don’t equate the funeral price with the love you feel for your relative. You don’t want to have to contend with debt on top of grief! In fact, an alternative casket made of reinforced cardboard with personalized notes and drawings on it may be more meaningful than a fancy, lined, lead casket.
Visit the short list. Ask a less emotionally involved friend to check out funeral homes with you. An objective perspective will help you buy only what you truly want and can afford.
Are you making preparations for a funeral?
As the Iowa City, Muscatine and Cedar Rapids experts in family caregiving, we at Iowa City Hospice have walked through this part of the journey with many of our clients. What we notice is that it’s the tender, personal touches that seem to make the service meaningful, not the big flashy displays. If you are concerned about what style of service to arrange, consider the options that will prioritize heartfelt connection and not break the bank. Give us a call at 1-800-897-3052, toll-free.