Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Dark Side of Sod...5

I’ve said this a million times…ultimately having a death plan in place is THE BEST form of defense for whenever death actually occurs. But let’s just say in this case…there is no plan. If you are the responsible party to make the funeral arrangements at the time, there is always the nagging question…”What is the right thing to do?” And this question remains the same regardless of how the death occurred and to whom. For example, a wife making arrangements for a her husband who never made it home from work because he was killed in an automobile accident can differ let’s say if a person had an extended illness and the death actually came as a “blessing”. (You know what I mean) We want to make decisions that will result in the best interest of all parties…the person who died (we think we know what they would want), and the surviving family members and close friends. There are steps that absolutely have to be taken when we die. Something HAS to be done with the body. There is no getting around it.  Funeral homes are one of those steps.

Not wanting to deal with death in advance puts us in a terrible position…ALWAYS. Why? Unfortunately some us already “know the drill” about the process. We are in shock, we cannot fully comprehend the scope of the experience we will have when we meet with a Funeral Director at a funeral home. Every person is different, as are each experience. We may not ever understand the experience…some actually forget it all together. 

So we walk in, we are in a total zone unlike any other; we are emotional, exhausted, confused, concerned…so many unanswered questions. We understand that this meeting will result in a financial transaction at some point. We have no idea about how much money will be needed or when the money will be needed. We’ve just heard “it’s expensive”, and that’s terrifying. Not having resources readily available will compound the stress you’ll experience because with the majority of funeral homes, the funeral home bill MUST be paid before their services are rendered. Question:  How many people (who have either made funeral arrangements for someone at death or attended a funeral of someone close to you) would remember what the casket looked like? What color was the outside, or the inside for that matter?  Or was it made of metal or hardwood?

It’s true that there are people who cannot remember the funeral details for some months immediately following death.  Yet decisions were made at that time with such great certainty, we never considered the fact that down the road looking back, it was more than likely emotion that guided those decisions. One perfect example of this decision making would be caskets. When someone chooses burial as final disposition, in an arrangement meeting with a Funeral Director, you should consider this. What type of casket do you want? What type of material is it made of? Hardwood caskets are typically more expensive than metal caskets. Are you looking at the physical casket where you can touch it, or are you looking at a picture in catalog? Sometimes people spend more on a catalog selection when they can’t touch it because it’s not so personal that way. Some want to see the actual casket…again, everyone’s different. Your decisions should be your business…keeping up with the Jones’ should never be a consideration as you make the arrangements. 

If you select a metal casket, does it matter to you how thick is the gauge of steel? Most caskets are 18 or 20 gauge steel. The difference in the two would not be able to be seen with the naked eye. I can assure you however, there is a pretty substantial difference in the cost. Remember the higher the gauge number, the thinner the metal. So a 20 gauge casket would cost less than an 18 gauge casket. Most funeral homes do not display their least expensive casket because they would probably sell a higher number of less expensive caskets.

It would be to your advantage to inquire about less expensive selections as well. Make sure you are presented with all the options available to you. Ask the questions. If you feel you can’t, then make sure someone else goes with you to help with this. You have the right and can ALWAYS shop for a casket online or get a casket from a vendor outside of the funeral home you are working with. Every funeral home has to accept the casket and not charge you any additional fees as a result of buying the casket from another source. They will more than likely ask you to sign a waiver relieving them of responsibility from damage or malfunction that could occur, but you still have the right. If you do decide to purchase a casket outside the funeral home, be sure to check the delivery schedule so that it arrives in time for the services. Most vendors can have caskets delivered within 24 - 48 hours of ordering it. You still will want to definitely check and confirm delivery.

I’m not saying that funeral homes are about selling you a casket to help out the bottom line, but caskets and vaults are major profit centers for them. Resolving your thoughts about what you think is going on with the body after it is buried will help with the decision. If you are of the opinion that it really doesn’t matter… “When you’re dead, your dead”, or “the body’s just a shell”, then consider the least expensive casket.

If you can’t imagine water being on you or “ewww bugs”, then the lined or steel vault along with sealed casket would be something to think about. Of course more you get, the more it cost. There are thousands of other scenarios to talk about but the point is… KNOW THE DEAL. Ask the questions, write them down…research your options ahead of time, shop around.

Whether the arrangements would be for you or someone else, do everything you can to eliminate the questions…Have I done the right thing? And it’s how much, due when? You will be so much better off.

Be well friends and make the best your life every day!