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Hello, my 94 year old mother never planned for her old age nor did my father. Fortunately, she had money to properly bury my father. Now she just has her SS and my father's pension every month. It helps pay our high rent and my SS helps pay for groceries and my own bills. However, the kind of funeral she wants costs 8,000.00. Neither she nor I have that kind of money readily available. No stocks or IRAs or 401ks....nothing. I'm trying to save as much as I can but unexpected things happen occasionally. I feel totally guilty if I have to have her cremated. She does have a free burial plot on top of my father's grave at the veteran's cemetery. I don't have a crystal ball to tell me how much longer she has to live. Alzheimer's I understand could go on for years. I'm a senior too and am in the same boat as my mother. It's too sad to talk about. I'm crying as I write. Thank you.

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I am 85 years old and went to a lot of funerals in my life. As someone said, they are for the living. If a huge send-off was really a priority for your mother, she should have saved for it.

I have been to huge services that cost over $30,000. and a few that cost less than a thousand. One I remember with sadness was a friend's father. They had no money, the county cremated him, a minister came to the house for free and gave a talk. There were only 3 of us there. Myself, his daughter, and his granddaughter. They scattered his ashes.

When you think about it, you don't see dead bodies laying in the streets for long, the Coroner will dispose of them if no one claims them.

One of my daughter's friends died, the county cremated her and wanted $350.00 to defray costs. When her family realized she had no insurance, they turned their backs on her. My daughter and I were able to get her ashes and we had a little service for her in a park. Then her ashes were scattered.

My best friend's husband, who owned a construction company, passed. They had the service in church, and a very nice luncheon in a hall. She mixed the ashes of his buddy, a Pit Bull named Dozer, with his and scattered them on some of his construction sites and hiking trails. That way they would always be together.

My mother was cremated, we had a service at her church, a few flowers from the Grocery Store, and we scattered her ashes in her favorite spot. She didn't want any service, but I felt the grandchildren and great grandchildren needed something.

My Aunt was cremated, put in her favorite cookie jar, and buried beside her husband in a National Cemetery. Her son, had an open house at her home with photos and mementos of her displayed. Her uniforms from the Texas Air National Guard and a Registered Nurse, back when they had the cap and blue cape, were on display also. The food was catered from her favorite Mexican Restaurant. It was very moving and personal. More so than a huge church service would have been. Too, since both ladies were in their 90's when they died, nearly all their friends and family were on the other side waiting for them there (a nice way of saying they were mostly dead). In fact last year I lost my last three aunts. One of them younger than me.

My late Sister-in-Law was cremated and buried in a cardboard box with her favorite quilting fabric wrapped around it. I have a piece of that fabric and every time I look at it, I think of her.

I hope my experiences will help you see that personal is much more important than money. Please, don't feel guilty, guilt is for when you do something wrong.
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Reply to MaryKathleen
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EssieMarie Oct 10, 2019
A million thanks for your heartfelt stories. Not everyone can afford expensive funerals. The soul as you suggested reunites with those on the other side and that's what we should probably be celebrating instead of well meaning relatives and friends talking about the appearance of the corpse and so on. If i have to cremate her at least she will be buried over my father's gravesite. Thanks again for sharing.
(13)
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She won't be there to criticize - sorry to be blunt. Have the funeral you can afford!!
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Reply to Kimber166
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Essie, my heart goes out to you. I understand wanting to give your mom the funeral she wants but please, don’t beat yourself up or feel guilty for not having $8k to pay for it. My own personal belief is that if you want an expensive funeral then it’s on YOU to pay for it. If you don’t have the money, then don’t expect your loved ones to foot the bill. Besides, funerals are for the living. (Again just my opinion. They are to honor and celebrate the dead but really, they are for the living). Truth is, NO ONE NEEDS an expensive funeral. If you don’t have to pay for a plot, then it appears your mother wants an extravagant funeral! If I were you, I would save what you can and when the time comes, do the best you can with the money you have. You can start researching prices now. Remember, it is cheaper to buy a casket or urn online then it is to buy them from a mortuary. You don’t need to order flowers from an expensive florist. Heck, Costco sells flowers! I ordered my wedding flowers from Costco, they were beautiful and much cheaper than a florist! And as far as your mom, I would just tell her she’ll have a beautiful service and leave it at that. Don’t make any promises. If she’s laid out her plans, when the day comes, choose what is reasonable and what is most important and try to balance them out with the budget.
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Reply to worriedinCali
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EssieMarie Oct 9, 2019
Thank you so very much. I'm now thinking cremation and a memorial service will be reality. God bless you friend.
(19)
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I buried my husband 19 months ago. I was fortunate, he wanted to be cremated.
I am wondering why you would feel guilty if you have to have her cremated. When a person dies the body goes through oxidation. Burial is a slow form and cremation is a rapid form. You are under obligation to pay for a funeral you cannot afford. She will not be her to know what kind of funeral you are doing. And in this case guilt is one of the useless emotions there is. My husbands arrangements were $2000 total. We did not have him embalmed, We did not use the funeral cars, the hearse, the funeral home ushers. We drove our own cars, Men at our church were the ushers, etc. However, his service was very dignified and many commented on its simplicity but beauty. We used an urn his brother had made on a lathe, put the ashes in it and had a picture of his on the altar table with the urn and a bouquet of flowers.
I have spend 45 yrs. in ministry, conducted many funerals, and find myself being angry when funeral homes try to quilt families into funerals they cannot afford.
Please do what you can honestly afford and don't go into debt.
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robinr Oct 11, 2019
Cremation is a personal choice and it is an ethical if not moral duty if a person knows of someones wishes to abide by that. I think it is very wrong of you to encourage such a decision in this case just because the person is dead and unaware.
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EssieMarie, let's put the funeral expense issue aside for a moment. If I were in your shoes, I wouldn't be saving up for a funeral when I barely had enough money to pay for my living expenses. Please take care of your living selves first. There are services, like low-rent housing, food assistance etc. available. Contact your local area's Council on Aging and talk to them about your financial situation so they can help you with resources. They can also answer your question about not having enough funds for a burial. Blessings
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worriedinCali Oct 9, 2019
To be fair, Essiemarie says absolutely nothing about being able to barely afford her living expenses. Also there is almost always a waitlist for low income/income based housing.
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We had a cremation and a short graveside service for my brother. Funeral arrangements don’t have to get out of hand.
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Reply to NeedHelpWithMom
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Bottom line is, if she did not make and pay for Pre-Arrangements, then you can only do what you can afford.. I took my parents to a Funeral Home approximately 15 years or so ago. I am so glad I did, because when it was time to bury them, everything was paid for.

I have a brother that is around 70 now. He has never planned for the future nor worried about it. When he dies, he will have no money for any of us to use for his funeral. The way I look at it, is if he doesn't care to make an effort to set aside money or get a Pre Arrangement to help out his family when the time comes to bury him, then why should anybody else?
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Reply to Caregiverhelp11
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EssieMarie Oct 10, 2019
I agree with you but when I was younger like your brother, i never even thought about death. I'm certain relatives of the deceased during the depression years probably buried their loved ones in the back yard. It's all about the money.
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You have the plot. You know *where* your mother wants to be buried. Those are the important bits, and anything else that inflates the funeral figure to $8K is an optional extra.

Why not contact the people in charge at the veterans' cemetery and work out a manageable budget with their help? You could also liaise with the relevant church or similar officials if religious or ceremonial wishes are pushing up the price.

As far as discussions with your mother are concerned, you don't have to lie; just reassure her that everything will be decently and properly done.

It is sad, and you sound as if you are stressed out not only about the funeral plans but also about managing in general. Can we help?
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Reply to Countrymouse
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We went to a beautiful and respectful funeral 2 weeks ago that was followed by private cremation.
“Properly bury” means love and respect and memories, not anything els. You are doing the right thing.
No guilt.
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Reply to AnnReid
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Dear EssieMarie,

The most important thing right now is for you to reassure mother that her funeral will be taken care of, even if it isn't all that she expects... as many others have pointed out, funerals are for the living... the deceased don't care.

Just give mom lots of love and comforting words, even if you have to 'exaggerate' a bit. Her last thoughts shouldn't be ones of worry about her funeral.
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