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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.

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So sorry about the loss of your son.

To speak to your question about gimmicks - I believe the costs associated with funerals are a racket, and prey on grieving people who may feel obligated to “do right” in honoring their deceased love one. American cultural values seem to be changing, though I think it depends on location and family and ethnicity. We used to have a 3 day ordeal, with all day visitation at the funeral home, where the family would gather for exhausting days, and then have a service at the funeral home, on to the church for a mass, then a graveside service, followed by a wake. That’s just too much for me, both in terms of cost and emotional expense. That scenario I just described would be well over $20,000 in my area.

When my husband died this past fall, we had him cremated, and no service at a funeral home. I had contacted a local funeral home and they wanted $2000 to use a room for 2 hours for a memorial, which I think is absurd, so didn’t do that. Fortunately, we had a ceremony at no charge at his Masonic lodge, and then a funeral mass and graveside service. The cremation was about $800. We didn’t have to buy a casket.

At the time a felt a little worried about having a “budget funeral”. After a all, I loved my husband and wanted nothing but the best for him. Now that a few months have passed, I’m really glad I did what I did. The people who loved him were there, and he would be happy we didn’t waste a lot of his hard earned money for no added value. He had a very meaningful send off.
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The one thing that I didn't like is when I dropped my late mother's clothing off to the funeral home, her body bag was in plain sight.
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ImageIMP Dec 2018
I think funeral homes become so used to the whole "business" they lose some of their sensitivity to what will hurt/bother the loved ones of their "clients". When my Dad died (the first dead person I'd ever seen...) and Mom and I visited him in the viewing room, the funeral director was sort of hovering nearby... He came over at one point and said "Oh dear, he's a little crooked" and proceeded to lift Dad up in the coffin a bit and reposition him... FREAKED ME OUT! I'm outspoken enough (now) that I would probably call them out on something like that and maybe educate them for the next family...
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Business, plain and simple.
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Death is big business - always has been. There are ways to make it more reasonable - someone mentioned the Neptune Society. My Mom and I purchased pre-paid cremation plans from a company my lawyer told us about around 2002, (I believe there are a number of plans that people can buy in different areas...) and that is what was followed when Mom died last year. These were very reasonable - roughly $850.00 "all in" - and included everything from picking up the deceased and transportation to the crematorium designated by the memorial company (cremation plan company). We were instructed to call them immediately after the death because they take care of all the details, and if other arrangements take place (alternate transport of the body to a funeral home , etc.) the costs will not be covered.

We also "negotiated" the contract terms when we bought the plans, and they included a nice mahogony cremation urn as well as postal arrangements to mail cremains/urn. (I did have to remind them that the mailing was included in Mom's contract, because it wasn't "standard" with that plan - was hand-written into the contract - and would have been about $125). Basically everything was done very smoothly and with almost no hassle for me. I did have to order and pay for death certificates separately, although they would have helped if I'd needed. (Who knew there are "long" and "short" death certificates? And that the med examiner/coroner can make huge mistakes when filling them out? Mom died "accidentally" from a fall while living in a nursing home when a CNA was transferring her from her wheelchair to a shower chair, and she died 10 days later as a result of that fall.) The med examiner filled out that she had died in MY home after an unobserved fall! It took the State of Oregon an extra month to process the correction!

I feel I need to comment about what are, to me, insensitive responses in this thread? I don't think it's appropriate, necessary, or even kind to go into morbid/graphic details of funeral practices (embalming, cremation details, etc.) and maybe that's not the kind of information many people want to dwell on? I certainly don't... I also think this thread isn't the time for personal critical opinions about the wasting of land for cemeteries or the space taken up by buried bodies? Grief, burial beliefs, individual feelings and choices about organ donation are all personally valid and, to some, "sacred". I choose cremation personally, and don't want to be embalmed (I was already aware of the "details" of that process, but thank you for the reminder...) but this just isn't the venue to criticize or "guilt" those who choose more traditional paths. I don't think that was the intent or content of the topic here. Yes, cemeteries do take up real estate, but so do strip malls and parking garages... Sorry, but I just don't think this forum should be used to disrespectively criticize or demean anyones' choices for these final and personal decisions... In some cases procedures are also dictated by culteral or religious beliefs - and that should also be respected.
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jacobsonbob Dec 2018
Very well stated. I would like to add something regarding the second half of your second paragraph: The saying goes that if something is explained so well that no one could possibly make a mistake, somebody will. Even going through my yearly exam last week added to my belief that one won't ever go wrong assuming anyone you deal with to be lazy and/or incompetent, and then feeling pleasantly surprised to discover otherwise.
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I think it's really disgraceful how funeral homes take advantage the way that they do when people are at their most vulnerable. When my father died, they tried to nickel and dime us every step of the way. My mother was in no condition to protest but I did, right down to wanting to charge us for clothes when all I had to do is drive one of his suits to the home. I also served as one of the pall bearers with my cousins, so they couldn't hit us for that either. The funeral director had the nerve to say "I never saw a family haggle like this at such a time." I told him that now he can say he has seen a family not willing to throw money away unnecessarily, even when they are grieving.
Why would one need a casket for cremation? Doesn't everything go up in flames? Why wouldn't a pine box suffice?
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jacobsonbob Dec 2018
Very well said--you certainly won that one! I think some of the funeral directors would make the proverbial used car salesman cringe!
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Not everyone has siblings or a close relative. Some of us are somewhat alone in this world. I am not trying to be negative but it is not that helpful when it is suggested to rely on that. I wouldn't be on this site if I didn't need help or helpful suggestions at times.
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I am an only child. I am married. I was thinking that the AL facility she is in may help with suggestions. They also have a related NH. Just thought I would ask as I have never been in a position to deal with this and some of the stories sound frightening. We did deal with this with my late MIL but lived in another state and had a good recommendation from a church member at the time but we are newly in a different state now. She also wanted a traditional casket.
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After doing some research, the cremation casket MUST be combustible. Metal caskets are not allowed, as I stated in a previous comment. Most commonly used are the sturdy cardboard boxes and more elaborate a wooden box. I would ask for an itemized list for each charge. I am guessing the term casket was the combustible one. We considered an online casket for my mom, but since she is still living, "where to store it" was an issue. Her final burial expenses were all calculated and we went to 2 different mortuaries. Their costs were basically the same. And in our start you must put the $$ into a CD payable to the mortuary. One is not allowed to pay directly to the mortuary for a prepay. If your interest makes the "amount more than the actual cost, the balance it refunded to the estate.
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Riverdale Dec 2018
Thank you. That was helpful to learn.
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I am not at that place yet but I wondered if I could ask for some simple suggestions. My mother is in AL near me. She wants to be cremated. The remains will be buried on the grounds of a small church in the state we are in. We all want it to be simple. Right now I am overwhelmed with other life issues and have been battling an illness. After reading all these responses I am feeling further overwhelmed. Should I research a place to deal with once she passes. I will honor her but I am worried about all these extras mentioned. She also doesn't really want to deal with it other than having her wishes met.
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Do you have siblings? If not ask a close relative to go with you and just preplan. So much easier than doing everything under pressure at that final time. Helps with the financial planning part of it as well.
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My mother was cremated (of course the card board viewing box, was also the tray that contained her body for the cremation. It was an additional $400.
This probably included the fee to have her presentable for the final identification & viewing by myself and my sister. She was not embalmed or coiffured. However, she was obviously "cared for in death" This was much appreciated as her final days left her looking anguished. We were with her throughout a long decline, it was good to see a peaceful body presentation). The funeral home services for collecting Mom from the hospital, housing the body until cremation, cremation, 15 death certificates, & assisting with other documents was $4300. My parents did not have pre-paid plans. However, this amount was in their planning packet and not an arbitrary amount. I selected a beautiful "Burial Ready Urn for Cremains" from Amazon Prime and had it to take to the Funeral Home to collect moms cremains.
They placed them in the urn in a sealed plastic bag and then sealed the lid for me at no charge. The urn I purchased was $110 on Amazon. It would have been 4x that cost had I went through a Funeral home vendor. I then had no trouble taking Mom's cremains to another state for her funeral services in the Church where she grew up and where most of her elderly family still attend. As 2 funeral urns can be buried in 1 grave plot, I now also have a place for Dad if he is agreeable to cremation. After this experience, I definitely prefer cremation, followed by a church memorial service. An urn allows for a more relaxed time frame and final placement options, Burial, placement in a mausoleum, or kept at home.
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I’m not sure if many people know that they can save money by purchasing caskets, urns, and headstones online. My MILs headstone was $1200 through an online website. If you get one through the cemetery, they are considerably more. The funeral homes and cemeteries obviously upcharge so it’s good to do your own research if money is an issue.
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Two years ago, my brothers and I preplanned my mom's funeral etc. In the options were rental of casket prior to cremation for a visitation. We chose not to have her cremated because our dad was not years ago. But cremation was charged a fee for a cremation box. NOT a casket because they are metal. We have a friend who owns the crematory here, and everything has to go through a grinder and a metal casket etc would be too much. I would question the word casket for cremation. It was more likely a box. Just my understanding looking at all three burial plans
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No, that is preposterous. They should have offered you an urn to purchase.
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This is just an FYI. Anyone can purchase a casket through wholesale at a more reasonable price and the funeral home must accept it. State of TN if you have a private cemetery and want to bury on your own, the remains must be buried in a certain amount of time. You can pick the remains up with your casket or box. This is very true because it did happen, I worked in healthcare at the time. This elderly gentleman picked his wife up and took her to their property to their cemetery. It was very tearful for me. Now unless the laws changed, I am not aware of it at this time. I also live close to a heavy Amish community.
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I have to ask, what did they charge you for that casket? Funeral homes, in my experience, totally exploit one's diminished cognitive strength which they know is overwhelmed by the emotion of the situation. It's a gruesome business
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The funeral home we went to would 'rent' you rent a casket - then afterwards they rip out the fabric lining & replace for the next user - this is a few hundred dollars as opposed to much more - pre-planning takes all this away from the emotion of the moment
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TOMTAge Dec 2018
My grandmother had a very delicate, poignant way of expressing her desires: stick a bone up my ass and let the dogs carry me away.
Naturally we didn't, but we took the super economy: no-view-no burn-cobblestone-have-a-drink-on-her approach.
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We cremated my dad. Im glad we use a casket vs nothing. Part of the ceremony was we carry the casket and place it inside the furnace, then light it up. I would HATE to have carried his body and watched that burn up. Its such an emotional time, and so surreal. You dont have to pick the most expensive casket. If I remember correctly, they ranged from $500 to several $thousand. I think the one I chose was a plane one for about $750. I do agree, it is a racket, but on the other hand, not a very pleasant job, I cant think of many people that want to do it. The cost are pretty high considering a job done in a few hours but it is what it is. You can shop ahead of time and get quotes vs choosing anything at the last second and taking what they give.
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The cost of funeral/burial has skyrocketed in my state. My grandparents paid just under $3000 for each of their buriels and just under $2000 for the headstone in 2003. My parents passed in 2017 and 2018. It cost approximately $11,000 each and the headstone about $4000. From 2017 to 2018 opening the plot for the casket went up $100. The worst part, for me, was that in 2003, the printing of the obituaries were free. Now, it costs $400 or more per newspaper, even if the newspapers for the hometown and birthtowns are owned by the same parent company. People of their generation rely on the newspaper for this information. I consider this a rip-off; they are perceiving the death notice of an individual an advertisement essentially except advertising is at times actually cheaper. $2400; THAT is soaking the family.
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Sherry1886 Dec 2018
We are not putting my parents obit in the newspaper.. his immediate family will be notified of his passing ... the published knit is another way of letting unscrupulous ppl know when the house will be vacant and that a widow will be living there alone afterwards ... I did not publish my husbands obit as we were living out of state and I didn’t want ppl knowing that I was now alone in my house until I could get moved back to my home state around family three weeks after he passed and I had him cremated
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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 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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With cremation, a casket is not necessary. With cremation, embalming is not necessary.

Both are offered but not needed. However, if you chose to have a viewing, then I think a casket and embalming would be necessary for obvious reasons. And yes, the casket is generally cremated with the body.

I have never seen a rented casket so I can't answer that. I had my DH cremated without casket & embalming, no funeral.

My girlfriend had her DH cremated after the funeral ceremony and he was embalmed and in a casket. He was cremated in the casket.
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I so hate that you were taken advantage of, and I fully believe you were. What a callous way to treat a grieving family! I’m sorry for your loss, hope with time you can put this part of your sons story behind you and focus on the good of his life.
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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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That's for sure.
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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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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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First, my heartfelt sympathy to you and your family.

Each State, and even each County, has its own variations on Federal regulations governing the cremation process.

Regarding the casket, surprised the funeral home didn't mention that alternative containers are available when there will be a cremation.

Funerals can become very expensive depending on location. When my Mom had passed, it was $15k as two funeral homes were involved as the final resting place was in another State. Services here, and services in the other State. Same cost when my Dad had passed. The headstone was an extra cost. The grave site was already bought back in the 1950's, thus it was one last thing to worry about.
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Sorry about the loss of your son.

My stepdad and my Mum both prepaid for their basic cremation and two death certificates in 2010. At the time it cost $1700. Now the cost is about $1000 more.

No embalming, cardboard box for the cremation, no decorative urn, included transportation from hospital to funeral home, funeral home to crematorium (about 40 miles away) and back. Now the cost is just under $3000. We did not have any additional charges. In reading over the paperwork, it stated that at the crematorium any metal on a casket would be removed and become the property of the crematorium. If the casket was not flammable, the remains would be removed and the casket become the property of the crematorium. None of that mattered to us as we just use the cardboard box.

We do not do viewings in my family. Mum and I were with him when he passed and there is no other family close enough to have come by. We do not believe in putting the body on display for others to gawk at.

The service will be at the Church, there are costs to that, but they are reasonable, the organist, the caretaker, and catering (at cost). We will give the minister an honourarium but it is not expected.
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I was curious and did a little checking on line and I don't think the rental caskets are that great an idea, most of them were far more expensive than you might expect. They are basically a simple insert - which on the sites I visited cost between $300 and $500 - plus the rental fee for the decorative outer casket, which was double or triple the cost of the insert. Unfortunately I guess it's buyer beware, even at such a vulnerable time.
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