At some point in everyone’s life, there will come a time when they will be involved in the planning of a funeral. Although there are many pre-arrangement plans available, many people will leave it up to family to take care of the details. The average funeral can be a costly and exasperating experience for the grieving family members. It is not the best time to be making sound business decisions. There are some ways that expenses can be reduced while still maintaining the appropriate honor and dignity for the deceased loved one.
Unless cremation is performed, probably the most expensive item the family will purchase is the casket. Funeral homes are required to provide the client with a price list and usually will have a showroom of available caskets. Casket prices vary from a couple of thousand to several thousands of dollars. A quick look at www.us-funerals.com/caskets.html will be worth the time. Listed there is detailed information on caskets made of different materials from plastic to mahogany and advice for the consumer on purchasing from available sources other than funeral homes. The reader quickly learns that prices can be 50 percent off funeral home showrooms.
A funeral is a lot like a wedding in that it should represent the wishes of the family. Therefore, consumers should not be swayed by what is the “traditional” way of conducting a funeral. For instance, clothing purchased in a funeral home showroom can be an unnecessary cost. If a family member brings an item of clothing from home, it not only eliminates the need to purchase something, and usually the deceased will have a more natural appearance.
Another large funeral expense is the blanket of flowers placed on top of the casket. These flower blankets can run anywhere from $100 to several hundred dollars. Instead, place a meaningful object on top since nearly everyone has something in their life they enjoyed. For instance, if the person is a veteran, a flag, some medals and part of the uniform would be a nice memorial. If the person loved knitting, a nice knitted throw with yarn and knitting needles could be placed there.
Obviously, by law there are certain criteria that must be met which only the funeral home staff can perform, such as embalming and transporting a body. As far as funeral services, there are several options available to save the expense of using a funeral home chapel and staff. One is have the service in the family church, or if it is not available or not applicable, many churches allow their sanctuaries to be used to hold services. Sometimes there is a small cleaning fee and few restrictions, but for many people this environment is more comforting for saying goodbye to their loved one. Of course, simply having a graveside service without a formal service is also an option. This eliminates the need for any location.
Many families will hold a visitation time prior to the funeral in the funeral home facilities where people will drop by, pay their respects to the family and sign a guest book. Family members who choose may have this same visitation in their home after a graveside service or an hour or two before the service. This practice eliminates the need for funeral home staff to work extra.
A smaller item is to eliminate a paid clergyman. If the deceased is a member of a congregation, then a small token payment is encouraged, but if not, then the speaker may be eliminated entirely. Ask family and friends to speak instead. People who knew and loved the deceased can help celebrate the person’s life much more than someone who did not know him. The same is true for musicians. Recorded music is permissible.
Again, dealing with the death of a loved one is difficult enough, but with a little planning and thought ahead, much of the emotional trauma can be minimized.