Funerals and Pre-Planning – It’s a Business!

This stroke reminded my sister and me about how tenuous our hold on life truly is.  That’s not to say that Mom’s previous strokes didn’t have that same effect on us, but this one showed us differently.  The one in 2008 brought about gut wrenching fear and worry.  We were much calmer with the one on Monday.  But again, the reminder was there.

Mom’s 67 years old.  I know that’s not old, but when you combine it with the fact that she’s got a multitude of health issues you come to realize that the next stroke could be her last.  I don’t want to plan her funeral while my family is wallowing in grief and making decisions from an emotional standpoint.  I want to be able to grieve with them and know that everything is taken care of.  Apparently, my sister feels the same way.  My brother is shying away from it and chalks it up to us being weirdos.

We made an appointment with two different funeral homes/mortuaries/cemeteries (whatever you want to call them) today.  I’m not sure what I was expecting, but man… what a sales pitch!  Their pitches came with package deals (How much do you love your mother? Prove it by spending more!), limited time discounts (Book now and we’ll give you 50% off the opening and closing of the niche), fancy folders with multiple brochures inside – the works. One of them even offers a discount because I’m a government employee.

Is it morbid to say that pre-planning very much reminded me of wedding planning?  Seriously!  The packages, the announcements, the thank you cards, the flowers, the officiant, the services.  I’m not really disgusted, I just find it hilariously absurd.

I did almost walk out of one of the two appointments, though.  The pre-planning coordinator actually scolded me for wanting to do what mom asked – cremate her remains and spread the ashes in a rose garden or some place pretty.  I guess he saw the $3,000+ they would charge for her niche slipping away and was frightened.  Only my desire to not appear rude kept me seated, but I did stop smiling and began to glare.  Is it any wonder he directed all further conversation to my sister?

So, I came away from today’s experience with a bit more knowledge of the funeral business.  And it is just that – a business.  I also have a better idea of what things will cost and I have begun to visualize what needs to be done to plan the memorial celebrating Mom’s life so we can find comfort in her death when that day comes.  Planning it now is a bit morbid, but it makes some sense to me.



  1. My mom passed in 2007 and we had just enough time to talk to her and find out her wishes, which were to cremate her and have her ashes scattered at sea by her favorite lighthouse at home. So that is what we did and we did it legally. I don’t think mom was considering cost at this time, however, since she had no life insurance, her wishes were easily carried out in spite of that. Her burial ended up costing us $2000 total.

    While preparing for her burial at sea, I did some research and found that a typical funeral with all the fees ends up to be %15,000. I also learned that had mom wanted to be buried traditionally, that I didn’t have to buy a casket at the funeral home, I could buy it online and have it sent to the funeral home for less than half the price of those in the funeral home. I also learned that it would have been less expensive to bury her in a wall in the cemetary, versus in the ground, because the wall doesn’t require the concrete protector for the casket, nor does it require the manual labor of digging. Morbid information for most, however, when you are devastated at your loss – and add to that that some people know they are geting a lump sum of money, people make bad decisions trying to just get them over with and don’t care what they spend. It is a time in which many people overspend and cannot think.

    So though your idea is kind of weird, it is really good to do your homework now. Ultimately I’d recommend asking your mom what her wishes are. If they are to be cremated and buried in the roses, then so be it. No need to go through the pain of detail if she doesn’t wish for it.

    Great post, and great job thinking ahead. 🙂

    • I know there are ways around spending way too much money on a funeral. I mean, I was looking at the urns that they had on display and the prices listed for them and thought “I bet I can find the same thing for less”. I also thought the same of the guest book, prayer folders, thank you cards, etc. The only prices that aren’t negotiable are the cremation fees, the permits and state/federal/local death taxes.

      Mom has historically never been one to plan ahead, but I almost always have been. The most I could get out of her was cremation + rose garden (or someplace equally pretty). I figure those are easy enough requests to grant.

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