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I am worried sick about having enough money to bury my mother when the time comes. My brother is well off financially but says he can't help. I live on a small widow's social security benefit and have no savings. Likewise, my mother has no savings for emergencies. I've heard all kinds of horror stories and am now trying to pay monthly for a prepaid funeral for her. The problem is she's 93 and I'm scared she could pass before the policy is paid off. Any suggestions? Thank you

One of my favorite authors recently wrote ( in a murder mystery): "You do not have to have a funeral.Most people don't know that." BAM! It really hit me and sounded so logical and relaxed. All of my mom's friend are dead, we do not even live in her area anymore, who would come? So, I decided not to have a funeral for my mother (93) when she goes. Instead, I will have her cremated, hold a small memorial with close family, and scatter her ashes where my dad's are (per their wishes). I also called cousins to let them know and get their feedback. They approved.

So: simple, low-key, meaningful. Better.
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Reply to Salisbury
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We worry about the same for ourselves, but have gone to the funeral home and since money is an issue we wanted quotes on the bare bones type of funeral.
No rental of rooms for visitation and no services. We decided to go with cremation and then have a get together for a 'memorial' for ourselves.

The cost was about $1,000 for a direct cremation with no visitation, no embalming, and no fancy ash holder.
Far better and easier to pay for than a full blown funeral that costs about $10,000.

It all depends on what you want to do for a funeral. It doesn't have to be ultra expensive.
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Reply to Val3rie
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Have you considered donating your mother's remains to a medical school? I think this would be a wonderful tribute....your mom's remains could help train medical personnel, etc...Also, there are "Biopods." These are containers which are planted in the ground to grow a tree. The body is cremated and mixed with the soil. I know these two suggestions seem uncaring to some people; but for me, I love the idea of, even in death, helping other people and/or the environment.
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Catneal Aug 7, 2018
Donating your body for scientific research is not as easy as it sounds. A lot of people, including an uncle of mine, thought this would be a good way to die with no costs involved. When the time came, the school would not accept his body and we were left wondering what to do with the body until we realized that as a career veteran of the Vietnam war the VA buried him in a lovely Veteran's Memorial Cemetery at no expense to his family.
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Have her cremated. It is cheaper. I had my mother and brother cremated. My mom was about $1,000 and we found a cheaper place for my brother. Had to pay an extra $200 because he was over 275, and it cost us $725 total. I bought an urn at an antique shop for $8. My moms came from a garage sale and was $5. She loved garage sales, so thought she wouldn't mind!
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disgustedtoo Aug 10, 2018
Loved the garage sale thing! A book I read recently (fiction) had a woman's cremains left to her friend, kept in a Mr. Peanut container! She said her friend had a really warped sense of humor - I guess!
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I know many want an elaborate funeral with all the bells and whistles but my family decided to go the practical way by choosing cremation and using the services of the National Cremation Society. Several years ago my parents paid $1000 each for the service to pick up the body from wherever death occurred and remove it to the nearest funeral home within their network. Family and friends are provided with a viewing of the body once it is prepared, then the cremation. Up to 5 death certificates are provided when the cremains are picked up, an additional charge for more copies if needed (most do). Obituaries can be provided by the funeral home where the body is prepared. Cremains are usually ready within 10-15 days and can be shipped if death happened in another location or while on vacation. They are deposited in a sturdy cardboard box which is designed and labelled for burial. Ashes can then be buried, kept on the mantle, or dispersed to the four winds. A memorial service can also be held at the burial site or whenever and wherever the family desires. It is not a lot of pomp and circumstance but affordable and provides a more intimate time for family members. My parents cremains are buried at a local Memorial Park in a grave which allows for up to 3 cremains to be interred. My sister who died prematurely is interred within the same grave with my parents. This gravesite along with the grave markers and internment costs for all three people was the greatest expense but my parents chose this method beforehand so the costs would not fall to those of us left after their deaths. I am doing the same for myself so as not to burden my son with this matter.
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Be extremely careful with the preplanning contract. Make sure you know exactly what it covers. My mother paid $36 a month for decades for her burial. When I totaled up her payments, it came to about $13,000. When she passed, it cost my husband and me over $7,000. That was the “bare bones” burial. There was no obituary. She and my Dad already had their plots. All they did was arrange for the cremation, and bury her. The headstone (also bare bones) was $5,000. To this day, I really think we were “taken to the cleaners”. I would even go so far as to have a lawyer look it over. My husband and I are considering donating our bodies to a Med School.
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ItHappenedToMe Aug 7, 2018
It costs even to donate one's body to a med school. Transportation must be done by an undertaker, etc.
I'm so sorry that you were taken advantage of. Undertakers seem to have a penchant for ripping people off - more so than any other profession. People are most vulnerable and there is no time to do anything much about it.
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Cremation is the simplest and least expensive route. My mother has plans that we are throwing a lavish 3 day fete in her honor when she dies, but she has no money for that and I don’t believe in throwing large funerals. Funerals are for the living and get tied up in guilt. Do the easiest and least expensive route and remember the good times with her.
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ItHappenedToMe Aug 9, 2018
I agree - funerals are for the living - and money is for the living as well.

I apologize if I offend anyone, but I believe that throwing all that money into the ground is a waste. My sibling said "it's showing respect" to spend it - but I totally disagree. Respect is what they're supposed to show while the person is alive. Spending all that money on a funeral one cannot afford is salving their own conscience. I think that's what happened when my mother died. Some had refused to go see her in the past few years and they didn't seem to be concerned about how expenses were adding up...spending the money soothed their guilty conscience.
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HOLD THE POLICY and google companies who offer free cremation services in the name of science and goodwill. Several are out there and they pick up the body; use what they can salvage; then cremate and send the ashes back to you. If ashes are not desired for whatever stupid reason, they will perform a mass scattering over an area she once loved. CHERISH HER NOW AND THE LIFE SHE HAS LIVED and let Mr Greedy, your brother know he can mark his calendar for his date with Hell!
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Reply to coppertino
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When my father in law died we had him cremated. My sister and brother in law met my wife and me at the cemetery. We brought the ashes, a post hole digger, and our Bibles. My brother in and I had selected the same Scriptures. We opened the ground( country grave yard in the south,) deposited the remains, read the verses, and prayed.
It was simple and very satisfying. Later we had a grave stone installed.
Cremation is best.
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Reply to Jakjak
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My beloved father was an educator and made it clear to us that when he died he wanted to donate his body to the university where he had received his degree. He signed the papers several months before he passed away. There was absolutely no cost involved. Within hours of his death, a very kind, compassionate representative from the university came to transport him. It was a very simple and dignified procedure. My son and my mother both passed away within a year of my dad's passing and, according to their wishes, they were both cremated. In each case, the funeral home picked up the body and several days later, we were able to collect the cremains which were contained in a plastic container. The container was enclosed in a lovely red velvet bag. Each cremation cost $600.
I don't know how you feel about cremation--everyone is entitled to their own opinions. But I feel sad that you are having to stress about finances regarding end of life decisions. Funerals are for the living--there are ways to say good-bye, honor your mom, and bring closure and peace to those who love her without going into major debt. You don't need or deserve the extra stress and expense that burial can bring. My heart is with you.
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Myownlife Aug 22, 2018
Wow, I just spoke with someone about possible cremation for pre-need planning and I was told almost $3,000. What a huge difference.
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