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My son was cremated and his casket cremated with him. I did not want the casket just him. The funeral director said that is the way it is done. I think they just wanted to make money on the casket. I have been told by others that you can rent a casket and then they are taken out of the casket and cremated. Of course the funeral parlor told me they can not be responsible for the condition that the casket arrives in. Another gimmick no doubt for the funeral parlor to soak you at a vulnerable time.

You must remember when a person dies, they are gone so it is a matter of disposing of a corpse (to put it bluntly but no other way to describe it). Especially with elder caregivers, there must be plans how to proceed when that inevitability happens. If you wish no viewing or ceremony the body is cremated in a cardboard box -- and I tend to believe they stick them in a cardboard box anyway and simply reuse the coffin for viewings. BY LAW if there is to be a viewing it is mandatory to use embalming fluid which is an ugly process of sticking tubes into their artery and sucking the blood out and pumping formaldehyde in the *body*. It is no gimmick--it is done for sanitary laws. Cosmetic artists sew the mouth together to give that "peaceful" look and if the body is contracted with rigor mortis the limbs broken to allow the body to look "at rest".

My own belief is that money is for the living..not the dead. There are bills to pay off, maybe the roof needs replacing..or a new refrigerator or washer and drier. For caregivers the cost of caring is exorbitant and often drains the caregiver of their life savings as it has done me. I sacrifice EVERYTHING for my mum.

My own view of death is when they are gone--they are gone. The time to pay homage to them is when they are ALIVE and to love and take care of them every single day. Funerals are for the people who are guilty of neglect to assuage their feelings of guilt.

There are alternatives to funerals such as Neptune Society, who will simply dispose of the body in the ocean.

You can also apply to donate the body to science--the cost of transportation is FREE, and when the tissue samples are extracted for research and body used to help train future surgeons--the body is cremated for FREE and ashes sent back to the loved ones for FREE; in addition, two death certificates given for FREE. However, you must apply ahead of time. If money is a huge issue, then I would consider these alternatives.

For caregivers...if you have family that does not do much--let THEM pay for the cost of the funeral since it will make them feel better for all those years of ignoring them. Otherwise, consider alternatives like the Neptune society or medical science donation. Or get a simple cheaper cremation for under $1,000 without viewing and ceremony. Do NOT buy a "box" -- you will receive the ashes in a plastic bag in a cardboard small box and you can buy a cigar box (very pretty!) for under $50 and the ashes will fit nicely in there.

IF my brothers will not pay for her cremation/funeral, I will get the cheapest cremation possible since I tell my mom I love her every single day and take care of her every single moment attending to her every need. I buy things for my mom when she is alive. When they are dead--flowers and other niceties are just throwing money away because when they are gone that's it.
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ItHappenedToMe Dec 9, 2018
I agree. One needs to be practical.
I do think embalming borders on abuse of the dead (I checked out what they did a number of years ago.)
There are a few differences here with transportation costs when donating a body for research. They charge $1,000 - but cremation, while free, is a "group" plan and no ashes are sent back.
Otherwise, funeral homes here don't have anything under $3,000 for a personal cremation or burial w/o embalming. If the ashes are to be buried, they still require a concrete vault. (I've been checking things out for when it's my time) Totally agree that money is for the living. It doesn't make sense to put almost as much as what I get in a year in the ground. I had one relative say "It's about respect". I disagree with them. The time to show respect is when they're alive - and money is for the living.
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Cremations here in down east Maine cost approximately $1,000.00. That includes pickup and transportation to crematorium, the cremation itself and the ashes returned in a decorative cardboard box. This cost is through a direct cremation business; if we had gone through the local funeral parlor it would have been thousands more. We shopped around before the service was needed as we knew that our grief would make us vulnerable if we waited.
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Here a casket is required for cremation, but you don't have to go top of the range. My mother strongly objected to expensive funerals, embalming, open viewing, speeches, stairway to heaven etc. The undertakers (I also object to funeral 'home') advertised a cheap option, but when I asked they said it was for paupers paid for by the Welfare Department. I mentioned reporting it to the Consumer Affairs Watchdog as advertised but not for sale, and they realised they had 'made a mistake'. We covered it with my mother's bedspread, which felt just right. The funeral service was brief and nice (we wrote it ourselves), I collected the ashes later, my sisters came over from interstate and we sprinkled the ashes in the sea where we went for holidays with Mum as children. It was 1994, and I think cost just over $1000. I probably wouldn't have had the impetus to question the funeral home except that Mum felt so strongly - I said she would be spinning in the coffin if we had gone along with what the undertakers wanted. We are all so vulnerable, tired, emotionally exhausted etc, that the funeral industry has us all at a serious disadvantage. 'The American Way of Death' by Jessica Mitford is still alive and well, decades later.
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NYDaughterInLaw Dec 9, 2018
Thanks for bringing The American Way of Death by Jessica Mitford to my attention. I went to YouTube and watched a video about it. There's also a movie that brought the book to life called The Loved One starring Liberace, which I plan on watching. More people should read Mitford's book or at least be made aware of it.

When my MIL died, she was cremated and no funeral. But the cemetery still charged us $10,000 to open a vault. I always thought that was highway robbery but, after reading your post, I now realize that the undertakers were going to get their money one way or another.
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A "Cremation casket" is essentially a cardboard box that is fabric covered. You can have a direct cremation and save money. Ask for a General Price List at the funeral home, they are required by law to give one. The funeral industry is serious money... and they are serious about preying on families guilt strings to make it. Sorry.
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ItHappenedToMe Dec 9, 2018
That's for sure.
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I’m so sorry for the loss of your son. My parents had no services or funerals as such. I was told that they were cremated in what amounted to a cardboard box.

And, if it’s any consolation, both had a prepayment plan with the funeral home. My mom paid into it for decades. I estimated she paid over $10,000. When she passed two years ago, it still cost us $7,000 for the cremation, burial and headstone. I will always believe we were royally ripped off.
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JoAnn29 Dec 1, 2018
Not really. Cremation is going up. Cost 2300 for a friend. Headstone and opening a grave isn't cheap. All dpends where u live.
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By state law in many places, they must cremate you in a "container " There are cardboard caskets for this purpose available. Tell the funeral director this is what you want. BTW, cremains won't fit in an average cigar box. They take up more space than that. After the body is burned, there are still a lot of pieces of bone left. So they are put through something akin to a food mill to reduce them to ashes. But there are still quite a few ashes left in the process.
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That's so sad. They definitely took advantage of you. My father passed 7 yrs ago. At his service, he was in a closed casket "rented" by the funeral home. He was then cremated and my mom has his ashes at home. When she passes their ashes will be put in one small vault and buried.

Its a shame, and again shame on them for taking advantage of you in such a sad time. So sorry for your loss.
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FWIW, my husband and I pre-planned and prepaid our funerals as required by the senior community we chose to live in. The total cost for the two of us two years ago was $1582 ($791 each) and that includes transporting our ashes to a military cemetery where burial is free for veterans and spouse. We chose to donate our bodies for organ donation if viable, and then to ScienceCare which will do the cremation when they are done and as I said the ashes will be taken to the military cemetery for burial. We have no immediate family and we do not wish to have a "funeral". If we had immediate family, we would have chosen to have our ashes scattered. Personally, I would like to have a "natural" burial....no funeral, no casket, wrapped in a shroud and buried in a forest to decompose naturally, but it is very hard to find a place where you can do that.

I recall when my father died suddenly in 1950, what a ripoff the funeral home was and how upsetting it was for my mother. We preplanned my father-in-law's funeral in the late 1980's, it was not expensive and it was lovely.

I suggest you think about this before it's needed, do your homework, and a good place to ask questions is at hospice providers. We learned about the funeral home we used from a hospice nurse we knew. They get asked for references frequently.
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igloo572 Dec 9, 2018
Suzy - as an aside on this, I don’t know if this is system wide but my MIL was cremated and remains buried at national cemetery in Santa Fe where her hubs (WW2 vet) was buried back in the 1970’s. There was a lag time of several weeks till it could happen. BiL got the box from the FH and kept the cremains till it could be scheduled. There would be a storage & shipping fee otherwise Some national cemeteries- esp. Arlington, Ft. Sam - have months wait time for burial. You might want it indicated as to location based 1st availability in your pre-need.
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Neither one of my in-laws had caskets. Actually, we had Memorials for them when we had the ashes buried at the VA cemetery. Others that kept the ashes just had Memorials later. No viewings. I have also heard where they rent caskets but never heard of having to buy a casket that ends up being cremated with the person. For just curiosity sake, I would call around and see if this is the norm. I wonder if there is an agency that oversees funeral directors. Seems funny to me.
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This is the reason that people should either preplan for their funeral or talk to the funeral parlor of One's choice to get all of the particulars ahead of time, so they can enlighten their loved ones in Charge of this when they do pass someday.
I have done my own homework. Yes, One can sure thing "Rent out" a casket for the funeral service but at the crematory, utilize one of their cheap boxes to cremate your loved one in.
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