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Funeral Plans
Old 08-17-2009, 05:04 AM   #1
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Funeral Plans

Starting to put together the final "dirt nap" plans with DW. Need help with the process of funeral home selection, cemetary, cremation issues etc. I'm sure many on the site have dealt with these issues over the years with various and sundry horror stories. Any words of advice / wisdom from the crew. Where are the landmines/rip-offs ? What would you do different ?
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Old 08-17-2009, 07:36 AM   #2
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The only advice I would offer is make sure your loved ones know your wants for burial . It makes it a lot easier when the time comes .
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Old 08-17-2009, 08:15 AM   #3
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When my mother passed away I was SO grateful that she had made prearrangements, even down to the specific casket. The only decision I and my sisters had to make were what flowers to buy. That eased things a lot at a very difficult time.
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Old 08-17-2009, 09:21 AM   #4
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Go to the library or book store and get a copy of this book Amazon.com: Dealing Creatively With Death: A Manual of Death Education and Simple Burial (9780942679243): Ernest Morgan, Jenifer Morgan: Books by Earnest Morgan. It's short and full of plain talk and a great catalyst for family discussion.
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Old 08-17-2009, 09:55 AM   #5
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Pre-arranging things is a good idea. Your loved ones in mourning are more susceptible to pressures to spend, than you would be. Before his death my father arranged to be buried in a plain pine casket. While that was not as cheap as cremation, we still would have felt that we just had to pay for a much fancier casket. Add to that fact the sales pitches and our emotional vulnerability, and expenses could have really skyrocketed.

Be sure to deal with reputable establishments that are likely to be around for a long, long time. I have heard of people paying for their arrangements 20-30 years before their demise, and their money going down the drain due to establishments that were either unscrupulous or no longer in existence. Nobody wants to have to go to court over something like that, while in mourning.
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Old 08-17-2009, 10:53 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by ferco View Post
Starting to put together the final "dirt nap" plans with DW. Need help with the process of funeral home selection, cemetary, cremation issues etc. I'm sure many on the site have dealt with these issues over the years with various and sundry horror stories. Any words of advice / wisdom from the crew. Where are the landmines/rip-offs ? What would you do different ?
We see this all the time in our alumni magazine. Unfortunately it's starting to happen to the alumni we call "classmates".

A good starting point is an organ donor card. Hawaii does it on the driver's license.

Demographically & genetically speaking, in our marriage I expect to set the example. I've asked spouse to defer the following actions until she's sure that I'm actually dead and not just napping. She claims it's hard to tell the difference. Considering that feedback, I figure it's better to have as many people as possible verify her diagnosis before any flammable irrevocable actions take place.

So we've arranged to donate body parts for transplant (and to the local eye bank) while the cadaver goes to the UH medical school. (Their students hack away for a year or two and then cremate whatever's left. Maybe I should ask for the worst & clumsiest student.) If I die at a hospital or a hospice and UH doesn't want my remains then spouse will quietly strip my corpse of all identifying info and leave me lying in a corner of the ER find a cheap crematorium. We haven't picked a crematorium yet because the medical school doesn't exactly have enough traffic to turn away dead customers. They seem to expect to take just about anyonething.

If I die at home (which I'd prefer) then spouse swears she'll still call the transplant guys and the medical school, no matter how low we happen to be on compost at the time. (I know she won't vermipost my remains because that container's just not big enough.) Conveniently, perhaps essentially and legislatively, the medical school offers free pickup & delivery.

I don't care what happens with my cremated remains (Hey, I'd be dead!) but spouse & kid wanted to know where to put my ash. I suggested backyard fertilizer (worth it for our teen's reaction of "Eeew, Dad, gross!") or paddling out at White Plains Beach. Somehow she finds that obligation much more acceptable, but she wouldn't promise to do just one more cutback or to let me finally hang ten for an entire ride before "dropping me off". I guess I'd be dead anyway, so it wouldn't be worth asking for a video.

I also enjoyed writing our obituaries. These would be published in our local newspaper as well as the alumni magazine. Both businesses usually have guidelines on max length, format, details, mistakes to avoid, and so on. The older alumni class columns (which are uncomfortably close to my class's section of the magazine) are refreshingly frank and forthright about how to execute this task. Please arrange for whoever's distributing your obituary to post a copy here!

I've watched too many relatives, who perhaps didn't visit often enough or who never resolved that last argument, get all guiltily sentimental about the dearly departed. They can attract mortuary sales staff like fresh meat attracts wolves. Before you know it the executor is trapped behind emotional demands for a "nicer casket" or a "better memorial service" and the bills start adding up. The deceased's guidance like "I don't care what you do with me, I'll be dead" isn't very supportive in these circumstances. So to help our executor to cope with this syndrome, we've written a clear set of directions for what we want done with our remains. The goal is to minimize costs so that we can maximize our estate for charities or maybe even inheritances.

In your instructions to the executor, be sure to remind them to request at least 20 certified copies of the death certificate. You never know what family, friends, or shipmates are going to drop by to verify the paperwork, and perhaps even ask for one suitable for framing...
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Old 08-17-2009, 02:55 PM   #7
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So this seems like as good place as any to ask this - Cremation seems like the LBYM (DBYM?) way to do things, unless you have issues with that. But what about current, or future, unknown uses for DNA analysis? Seems like that could possibly be important/useful to descendants someday.

Do any crematoriums include some undamaged DNA material with the ashes? Is any of this covered in the book Janet H ref'd?

-ERD50
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Old 08-17-2009, 03:47 PM   #8
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Cremation fer sure, man.

My Mom specified in writing (key point) she wanted cremation and dispersement of ashes in a lake from our boat, specifically naming me (another key point) as the sole recipient of her cremains.
LH liked the idea so much he decided this is what he wanted also. I still have to do that for both of them, in either Lake Ontario or the local lake. I say this positively and will be honored to do so.

I did a full set of instructions for my trust document package, so there are no questions. dh2b has his own set written up, signed and notarized. Each of us is in charge of the other's final arrangements.

dh2b is eligible for national cemetery interment, so if the fates allow and we see our wedding day in 2013, we will eventually be interred together as cremains. If not, he wants to "be with me", so he told me to skip the national cemetery thing. Vice versa.
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Old 08-17-2009, 03:48 PM   #9
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I actually talked to DW and my parents about my own plans just a few months ago. My parents (who live in Europe) absolutely "want me back". So, if I drop dead here, DW is supposed to have me cremated (I don't want to bother her with the paperwork associated with exporting and importing a corpse), keep some ashes for herself if she so chooses and ship the rest back to Europe (assuming my parents still want me back). My mom especially wants to keep some of the ashes for remembrance, and the rest is to be scattered in a beautiful meadow.

My mom was not comfortable with me getting cremated. She envisioned an open casket (brrr...), a lengthy ceremony and a burial next to the rest of the family. So I am glad to have shared my wishes with her so that she doesn't accuse DW of cremating me to hide the evidence...

My mom found this whole discussion sordid but apparently it made her reflect on her own plans. As it turned out, her plans are very different from what I would have envisioned for her.
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Old 08-17-2009, 03:58 PM   #10
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I don't have any plans set up yet. I want to be cremated and that's fine with DH. However my dad can't stand the thought of cremation. So if I die before dad does, it will have to be the coffin and all that other stuff. I just couldn't do anything different...it would be too hard on my dad.
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Old 08-17-2009, 04:07 PM   #11
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My mom was not comfortable with me getting cremated. She envisioned an open casket (brrr...), a lengthy ceremony and a burial next to the rest of the family.
My grandfather was cremated and the remains buried in a plot. You can still be buried next to family if your cremated. Cremation is a cost and space saver so that's my plan for myself.
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Old 08-17-2009, 04:17 PM   #12
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I have not made any plans yet or formulated any written instructions but I think I want a viewing of a couple of days followed by cremation. I wish to have my ashes scattered with my LH's and also ashes of my dogs over the Atlantic Ocean, preferably the Hampton Roads area if possible. I have discussed this with a close friend but not my son as I don't want to upset him. I know for a fact how hard it is to contemplate losing your last surviving parent. As I get older I know I will have to take the subject up with him.
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Old 08-17-2009, 04:37 PM   #13
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My grandfather was cremated and the remains buried in a plot. You can still be buried next to family if your cremated. Cremation is a cost and space saver so that's my plan for myself.
That's actually what my mom has decided for herself in the end. She has changed her mind about cremation (after we talked about it at length), and she now wants her ashes to be buried in her parents' plot.
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Old 08-17-2009, 07:35 PM   #14
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I have donated my body to the local medical school (have an on-site crematorium). Have not decided if I will leave them the remains or leave them (along with some money) to somebody to dump off of Isle le Haut.
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Old 08-17-2009, 08:06 PM   #15
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One potential issue with prearrangement - is there any chance, any chance at all, that you'll live somewhere else when you die?

My father reached the point where he couldn't take care of himself. My sister, who lived 1000mi from him, tried to get him to move in with her (god bless her). One sticking point he had was that he had paid for a funeral in his town, and was concerned the money would be wasted if he died far away.

He finally went anyway, but with hindsight things would have been better had he not committed himself to a funeral 1000 miles from where he now lives.
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Old 08-18-2009, 08:55 AM   #16
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I wanted to donate any part of myself to be used for others who might need something (eyes, kidney and so forth); however, my friend who was a public health nurse said that after 62 they consider your parts just too old. Pity. Guess you could always donate your body for practice autopsy?
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Old 08-18-2009, 10:03 AM   #17
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If you pre-arrange things with a funeral home, and pre-pay, then make sure you keep the paper work and make sure those who will need it know exactly where it is. One of the scams in the funeral industry is to loose the paper work and claim it was never 'fully' paid for. It is amazing how fast they come around when you pull out your copy. I speak for experience.
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Old 08-18-2009, 10:05 AM   #18
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When my husband was ill, the sales guy from "Guardian Plan" came out at my request. When my husband died I called the nicest mortuary in town and it was easy. I had young children and my time was spent on them. The cost was very reasonable and it is available nationwide and AFAIK all funeral homes accept it. They make money on investing what you pay for today and do not use for a long time hopefully. Good business model and less hassle for the survivors.
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Old 08-18-2009, 10:39 AM   #19
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I admit to being irrational about this. After several ugly experiences with the funeral industry, I would prefer that they never get another cent of mine. Does anybody know how to go about donating one's body to a medical school?
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Old 08-18-2009, 10:42 AM   #20
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We had moved to Florida a year before my husband died . We had plots in New Jersey (his family plots) but he left ii up to me whether to bury him in NJ or Fl. Luckily we had discussed all this six months before when we were redoing our wills . Since he got ill suddendly and died without being able to communicate fully . I decided it was his life long dream to move to Florida so he's here under a large oak tree about three miles from his favorite beach.
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