Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Ugly Truth About Funeral Costs

Sorry I haven't been around lately. I know people say that if you want to write, you will. You'll find a way. But sometimes, life has to take priority, and your time isn't yours to use. That's what's been going on with my life for awhile now. I don't mind taking care of loved ones, so it isn't a burden, but it is time consuming.

For those of you who follow my blog, you know my terminally ill father has been living with me for almost 10 years. He has a neurological disease that is slowly killing his brain. We finally got him into a care home in October, but we have been dealing with other personal and financial issues for him during the adjustment period. Having him in care, I thought I would be able to take a breath and return to writing. Then my grandmother, who had been stable in a wonderful board and care home for some time, took a turn for the worse. I have dealing with her financial issues and trying to find a good nursing home for her.

With the little bit of money she had left, I wanted to prepay her funeral expenses. She doesn't believe in cremation, so I wanted to honor her wishes. She and her second husband bought a plot together at a cemetery shortly before he passed away, and she wanted to be buried with him.

Since she didn't have a lot of money, I opted just to have her buried without any services and planned to do something privately with the family. I knew funeral expenses were insane, but I was in for a shock. I knew she already purchased the plot, so I didn't think it would cost a ton at the cemetery. I was wrong. To open and close the grave, lower the casket, and pay for some kind of holder for the casket, it cost almost $3700.00. I told him I could rent a backhoe and do it myself for much less. He wasn't amused. I told him he was lucky he wasn't talking to my grandmother.

That didn't leave me much money for the rest. But I didn't think it would be a lot, since it would just be a casket and transportation to the cemetery. I was worried about the cost of transportation though, since she will have to be transported over 200 miles to the cemetery.

I decided to try to use the same company who owned the cemetery, hoping I might be able to get a deal. Nope. No deals. I spoke to a woman on the phone who agreed to meet me at the funeral home to discuss details. When she told me how much it would cost, I felt the same way I do when I'm at the movie theater, and they charge me $7.00 for 50 cents worth of popcorn. It's a slow rage that makes me crazy. I want the popcorn, but it isn't like I can shop around. I'm in the movie theater. If I want popcorn, I have to pay the crazy inflated price.

That woman (with a straight face) told me that it would cost $4362.06 to transport and bury my grandmother. I just stared at her, blinking the same way I do at popcorn lady at the movie theater. I keep waiting for them to laugh and say, "I'm just joking! It doesn't really cost that much. I'm just messing with you."

They wanted $2995 for an immediate burial. That means, no embalming or other services to make the person look nice for viewing. It's just putting the person in the casket. Then she added on the additional mileage for travel, the casket, and don't forget the tax, which added up to the final total of $4362.06. No funeral. No flowers. No limos. No graveside service. Nothing but picking her up, putting her in a casket, and taking her to the cemetery. I did ask her if she thought those prices were a little high, and she didn't even bat an eye when she said "No."

Unlike the movie theater, I wasn't stuck with this funeral home, so I decided to shop around. I was able to find a very reasonably priced funeral home that was able to give me exactly what I needed for my grandmother for half that price.

Before doing this, I didn't believe in cremation either. But this made me a believer. Even cremation costs start at around $2000.00. I'm not going to make my family pay $10,000 just to put me in the ground. That's crazier than the price of movie popcorn and nearly as tasty.


  1. Replies
    1. True. I was surprised at how much it would cost without a funeral. And most people are having to make these decisions when they are in a very vulnerable, emotional state. Sad.