How Personalizing Our Father's Funeral Also Saved on Funeral Costs

The author describes how she and her siblings planned a funeral that reflected their late father's frugality and directness, in the process saving on funeral costs.


| January/February 1981



067 funeral costs - Fotolia - Marc Xavier

In keeping with the character of the thrifty man he'd been in life, the family purchased an attractive but unadorned casket for a modest sum, coincidentally saving on funeral costs.


PHOTO: FOTOLIA/MARC XAVIER

"A good death does honor to a whole life." (Francesco Petrarca) 

I think it was Benjamin Franklin who said that nothing in this world is certain but death and taxes. Well, I'd like to add another sure bet to the pair: The cost of both of Ben's absolutes will continually increase!

Although a great deal has been written on the subject of funerals (and what are often scandalously high funeral costs) in recent times, none of the reports really touched me personally until six years ago  when my father was diagnosed as having terminal cancer.

Knowing that we wouldn't be able to think clearly while under the emotional stress that would undoubtedly hit us upon his death, my brothers and sisters and I began early to plan our father's final rites. As a result of our careful forethought, we were able to give him a special, personalized funeral ... and one that cut back on unnecessary expense as well.

Since our father chose never to discuss the matter, it was left to us to prepare a ceremony that we believed would approximate what he'd have wanted. So we decided to make his life of farming, and his intense dislike for pomposity, the funeral's central themes.

For instance, when we went to the mortuary in search of a suitable casket, we didn't insist on the "plain pine box" costing $300 (although we were told that one was stored "down in the basement somewhere," we weren't encouraged to see it) ... but neither did we feel obligated to purchase a beautifully polished hardwood model at $3,000. Instead, we selected a clean lined, attractive casket priced at $700 (and decided against using an "outside container").

dena_1
6/13/2009 12:09:35 PM

Although this article is nearly 30 years old, it is still very relevant. I think in this economy everyone needs to rethink some of the entrenched "customs" that end up costing tons of money and not really giving anyone anything for what has been paid. Several years ago, an uncle of mine died prematurely. Although his death wasn't planned, he had already made arrangements for cremation. Family members disagreed with this and voided his arrangements, requiring that a casket, burial vault and space be purchased. This resulted in debt that several members could not afford and in fact are still paying for today. I encourage everyone to talk to your family members. Death is coming for all of us; don't hide. Tell your loved ones your wishes to avoid these types of situations.


dena_1
6/13/2009 12:09:23 PM

Although this article is nearly 30 years old, it is still very relevant. I think in this economy everyone needs to rethink some of the entrenched "customs" that end up costing tons of money and not really giving anyone anything for what has been paid. Several years ago, an uncle of mine died prematurely. Although his death wasn't planned, he had already made arrangements for cremation. Family members disagreed with this and voided his arrangements, requiring that a casket, burial vault and space be purchased. This resulted in debt that several members could not afford and in fact are still paying for today. I encourage everyone to talk to your family members. Death is coming for all of us; don't hide. Tell your loved ones your wishes to avoid these types of situations.






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