Mom hasn’t passed away yet but I know I should start making arrangements for something to do. I know her wishes but it’s hard for me to face I have to do it alone. My sister died 5 years ago, age 49 of a heart attack and I have no family support. I know there’s people that would like to attend a small service for her. I’m a 56 year old bawl baby when I think I have to do this. Where do I start and how do I get the best prices... and what would I do about a get together after and do I need to do that? I really would rather be alone, but I’m not sure what to do. Thank you for listening and your advice. She wants to be cremated. The time is drawing near and I’m getting scared. Thank you all in advance

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My parents chose the direct cremation route. But remember, if you choose burial you will still have to purchase a plot and that involved opening and closing costs and burial which probably takes less than a half-hour. Then, you must also purchase a marker. My mom has the plainest of the plain and it cost $5000. They charge for the stone, for delivery, and for setting the stone.

I’ve also heard that teaching hospitals will not accept people who have had organs removed. I was a bit surprised by this since few people nowadays make it to 70 or 80 completely intact. But one of my friends was accepted and she had a whole host of Medical issues and many surgeries.
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Reply to Ahmijoy

O, I just want to chime in and second CMS comme t. Why on earth do you think you should know this? P,ease give yourself some hugs, love, a break from all of us.
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Reply to BarbBrooklyn

You are smart to be thinking about it ahead of time. Check websites and/or call all the funeral homes within an hour's drive of you. Most of them will drive that far (or farther) to pick up a body.

I was guardian and conservator for a relative with Alzheimer's who passed in 2015. I made arrangements and prepaid about a month before she passed because I knew her accounts would be frozen the day she passed. The funeral planning staff were so kind and helpful. I believe the total bill was around $800. Prices vary greatly, so call around. Find out exactly what is included. Oh, be sure to go ahead and select a special outfit for her, even though she will be cremated. You can also arrange a one time private viewing if you wish to see her before she is cremated (she will be dressed in what you have selected, but I don't think embalmed). Many choices.

Believe it or not, it is actually EASIER to do this BEFORE she passes. You will be thinking more clearly.
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Reply to XenaJada

Direct cremation is the cheapest process - the crematorium picks up the body (you can be there when they pick it up) and they process it immediately - no viewing, embalming (pumping formaldehyde through the veins), or anything like that ($700 here in a suburban area of the US). You get the ashes back in a couple of days. If you go this route, you can have a nice dinner at her favorite restaurant in celebration of life with all the friends who want to be there for a "funeral."

An even cheaper way is body donation. I've chosen to go this route if they will accept mthr's body when she passes (there are certain things that disqualify, so direct cremation is my backup plan). We filed papers in advance with signatures, or you can do this once she passes. But be sure you have done your research in advance. The body is used for whatever kind of research (must opt in for certain types that some people object to), cremated, and returned or distributed a year later. A local teaching hospital buries cadaver ashes in the cemetery near the hospital, while the one we chose sprinkles over the Pacific, a place mthr always wanted to go. Cost: free (unless you pick one with a transportation cost). Funeral is optional, and we will have a dinner in lieu of the church/funeral home service.

Death certificates are obtained from the Probate Court Office. The funeral home is just a middleman for that service and charges extra for it. There's nothing stopping you from ordering them (often online) and getting them direct.
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Reply to surprise

Meowzer, this just flitted across my mind.

You say "I know I should know this, but..."

Why, should you? Why on earth should you know how to do something you've never had to do before and will never have to do again?

It's a small thing, I'm nit-picking, but oh my goodness many and varied are the ways caregivers find to blame themselves for things they cannot conceivably be at fault about. Be kinder to yourself!
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Reply to Countrymouse

Oh, meowzer, I am so sorry. I have seen this process from all sides. My husband’s family believes in the large (what I call) “festival funeral”. 3 days viewing at the funeral home with coffee and snacks, a pre-funeral service, a large and formal church service, a service at the cemetery and a catered lunch in a rented party room. When my own parents died, they were taken from home, cremated and buried. No funeral, no memorial and since my mom was 95 with no family other than me and no friends, not even a death notice. Friends who donated their bodies to science were cremated and their family had a small memorial when the ashes were returned. The small services I’ve been to were honestly much more meaningful.

Be very wary of the “pre-planning” deals. My mother paid monthly for years into one of those. When she passed, it still cost my husband and I $7000 to bury her and that was without the burial plot. For the rest of my life I will wonder what she paid for all those years.

Don’t have a funeral for other people. Do what Mom wants and what you want.

I am holding you close in my heart and thoughts. Sending much peace to you and Mom.
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Reply to Ahmijoy

Shad raises an issue which I overlooked - notification of insurers and government entities. I called Medicare, BCBS, SS and the VA, even though I was told by one (SS I think) that they would notify Medicare. And of course I documented all the calls, as I expected that one or the other might need to be contacted again.

I contacted our insurance agent to arrange for vacant house coverage, and eventually got a refund for the unused portion of the HO premium.

Also on the contact list (especially since this is an election year) were the township treasurer's and clerk's offices. And I cancelled cell, medic alert, and dental coverage plan. Since there's a house to dispose of, I left the landline phone service, utilities, water & sewerage, lawn service and garbage pickup, as I knew I'd need those when working at the house.

I got refunds from BCBS, Dad's cell phone provider, and the private duty agency.

What I didn't know for sure was what medical companies might bill directly b/c he was on palliative care. There was only one, for medication. I had already paid the facility where he remained until his death.
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Reply to GardenArtist

If it were me I would shortlist three funeral homes. Call them one at a time. Write down what they offer. Compare, and select.

#1 These people are professional funeral directors. If they had a dollar each for every family they've ever served who didn't know where to start or what to do or how much anything should cost... they could probably retire!

#2 Put out of your mind any embarrassment about asking for clear prices and exact details of what is included. At such an emotional time, it is easy to wish you could just say 'Only the best! Money no object!' But money IS an object and there is nothing strange or tight-fisted about asking sensible questions.

And if any company you call gets difficult or makes you feel awkward, that is an instant fail. Go elsewhere.
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Reply to Countrymouse

I'm so sorry ohmeowzer

If your mom has insurance to cover her death, then this could be used to pay any cremation and urn costs. Funeral home suggests a room in case you want to have a memorial for her at a later date. Some funeral homes are lenient enough that you can request the room for a later date, as long as you give them advance notice. You're under no obligation to have a service if you don't feel up to it. Your mom, would definitely understand. Bless you.
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Reply to shad250

ohmeowzer, you're wise to address these issues now, but remember that the most important activity is being with your mother and supporting her as much as you can.

I know you've posted here for some time; I'm sorry that your mother has reached this stage, but hopeful that her passing is peaceful, and that you are able to share precious moments together before it happens.

You've gotten some good advice, so I'll just add and kind of summarize some related options.

1. Funeral - optional. You can have a burial w/o a funeral or any service. I had a burial with just a few family members and local supporters. I bought some long stemmed roses and asked each person to take one in remembrance of my father. I placed some on the vault. The rest I took home and dried, to be added to the vases with flowers from my mother's and sister's funerals.

I originally planned for a memorial later, but it's changed to being a Celebration of Life. I don't want any maudlin activities at all - it's going to be very positive and uplifting. Family and friends only will be invited. I will have memory boards and a video of my father's life, and anyone who wishes to share anecdotes or comments will be invited to do so. Then we'll go to a restaurant for dinner.

I'm still working out other details, such as the music, but I have plenty of time for that.

2. Death certificates: funeral director can obtain these for you; you'll need one for any investments that have to be addressed, possible asset (house) sale, probably for a bank account (my bank made copies), possibly some for creditors, pension plans, the VA (if she was a Veteran), and some just in case something else arises. Get a few more than you need as it's easier to get them in one batch, and cheaper as well if I remember correctly.

If you're handling her bills now, you could call the companies and ask if they need death certificates to transfer the accounts to the estate until it's disposed of.

3. Contact several funeral parlors, ask for basic prices on comparable issues, such as a funeral parlor's charge for (a) taking Mom to the funeral home (b) preparing her (i.e., embalming or not) (c) taking her to the burial site. Also ask about costs for (a) casket (b) vault to encase the casket (c) memory cards and book if you do want them or have a service. "In memory of" donation cards and envelopes will be provided by the funeral home. You'll only have to indicate which organizations would be recipients.

4. Cemetery plot - does your mother have one? If not, after you choose a funeral home, ask which cemeteries they work with or recommend. Or, if there are family in specific cemeteries, contact that cemetery company and discuss purchasing a plot.

5. There will be a cost to open a plot and cover it after the vault is in (if you have a burial and not a cremation). Ask about that. And if the funeral home you choose doesn't have a preference and there are no other family plots, call cemeteries to make comparisons on their costs for plots and interment.

6. In my experience the funeral home will provide a line item breakdown for review. You have an option to change things and should feel free to do so.

But don't do everything at once or together; it's too emotionally overwhelming and stressful. And treat yourself every time you make a decision or resolve an issue - it helps ease the discomfort of the process.

This might be all you want to do now. And that's fine. You can always plan something later after you've had a chance to rest and de-stress.
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Reply to GardenArtist

I have read that it is a good idea to handle this ahead of time and I think that is a wise idea. Maybe I think that way as I used to consider myself as a planner, making notes and such.

Best of luck to you!

Also, I have always been blunt and straight to the point so I apologize.
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Reply to Lostinthemix

Do what you need to do for you.

Let others know that if they would like to plan and have a service for her, you would not be the least bit offended.

I don't enjoy funerals or memorials, I personally spend my time with the living, once they pass on I know that they knew how I felt, because I told them while I was spending time with them. My sister had a huge service and my husband was her main caregiver, we did not attend, we didn't care what others thought, it was our relationship with her. I hope that makes sense.

Hugs 2 u in this hard time. Love her while you can and know that she loves you and is grateful for all you do, even if she can't/doesn't show it.
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Reply to Isthisrealyreal

Hi Ohmy,
I know this seems overwhelming right now, so just relax. Things will work out the way they're supposed to.

If you want to check your options, go to some local funeral homes and ask if someone's available to give you some info. Do the same with crematoriums.

Don't forget, they are there to provide a service for you. Ask all the questions you want, even if you think they are stupid. No one was born knowing things. We all have to ask, when we do something for the first time.

Bring a list of questions, it's easier then trying to think on the spot. A pen and paper for answers too. I ALWAYS forget important stuff.

The ladies above already told you to do what YOU WANT. I agree, don't feel you must do what others expect you to. This is your personal time, you may choose to include others. Or you can choose to keep it between you and your Mom.💕 Follow your heart on this one.

Best of luck🌹
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Reply to Pepsee

where do you start? you could start online. I just checked my town for funeral homes. most have websites. I was surprised there were more than I realized in my area. im sure they can give you some estimates (?)

you shouldn't feel bad for not knowing what to do. a lot of times I feel like a fish out of water. and why me, why am I in control? then I find my inner strength - its in there somewhere. I just force myself a lot. cause I have to :(

you can plan a small service. the funeral home or maybe hospice can refer you to a minister (?) if you choose. my mom and dad both choose cremation. they both had made prior arrangements. it was still hard going to the funeral office and going in to do the paper work. when it got near the time for my dad, I contacted them ahead of time so they knew id be coming in soon.

you are wise to be thinking about this ahead of time. because its really gets hard if you wait. do you have a close friend that might accompany you to an office visit?

after my dads small and short service. we just took my mom out for lunch. I know when my aunt passed, she had a large service, video, pics. speakers. and then everyone was invited to her home.(but I had nothing to do with that planning)
so its up to YOU. you do what feels comfortable to you.
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Reply to wally003

Ohme, do what feels right for you. Memorials are all over the board. The option is yours. Many wait months to have a memorial some have them within 24 hours even. My mom's was a month after she passed. Some have large services, some have small get togethers at a favorite location of the deceased. Make it easy on yourself and allow the place she is cremated to help you with it. Best wishes to you.

And it is ok to do nothing at all.
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Reply to gladimhere

Ohmeowzer, I'm in the same situation. Mom is 95-1/2 and at end of stage 6 Alzheimer's, so I don't think there's too much time left. I'm an only child too. No one helped with my dad but hubby does help by visiting her and has taken me to a few crematoriums to see what would need to be done "when the time comes".

We are trying to be realistic about things. There's not a whole lot of money so cremation is the cheapest and easiest choice. I believe that's what she wanted anyway. Believe it or not (at least here in Tijuana) the prices vary widely. If you're up to it, check around for the best price. You don't need anything except a cremation. One place tried to sell us the funeral home room for a service (don't need it), a limo ride from the crematorium to the resting place (don't need it), etc.
We finally found a place for $600. (U.S.dollars) that was willing to pick up from the NH and do just the cremation.

Since most of Mom's siblings have passed, all friends are long gone and I'm the only child, I've decided that she'll just be cremated and not have any service. Her 94 y.o. sister can't travel, so I would be having her memorial for myself. It doesn't make any sense. We'll pick up her ashes and put them in the urn I'll order. I'm in no hurry to figure out what to do with them (scatter, keep at home, etc.) That can be done at a later date.

If you don't want any get-together afterwards, then don't have any. It's not mandatory and, if it would put you more on edge, then just send a note or e-mail to her distant family, neighbors, etc. If they want to contribute, they can send a donation to her favorite charity.

I'm sorry to sound so casual but one has to be "on it".  Amazon has a wonderful assortment of urns, if that's the way you want to go. I've picked out my mom's (and mine too!) They range from $80.-$250. If you want to keep her ashes, you can, or you can bury them, put them in a columbarium or scatter the ashes at a site she used to enjoy.

I understand being scared. I'm waiting for "the call" any day from the Memory facility. It's a constant state of anxiety and dread, a persistent knot in the stomach. 
If you can get the busy work done now, you won't have to make any (poor) last minute decisions.

I'm with you in spirit. This is hard. :(
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Reply to SueC1957

oh- You are in my prayers, so sorry for what you are facing. It is really up to you as to having a get together after, or even having any sort of service at all. These people that would like to attend, do they attend to her now? Are they apart of her life now? Because if not, IMO it doesn't matter what they want.
My Dad always said if people don't see him while he is alive, why would they care to see him when he wasn't.
Even though, you feel alone, you are never alone. God is a very present help in times of trouble. Truly.
I know it is a scary thing, I have been through it once. My heart goes out to you. The choices you are trying to make is really up to you. Just pray about it and do what's in your heart.
(HUG) You will get through this.
I only have with the help of God, that is for certain.
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Reply to smeshque