My mom prepaid for her to be in the Mausoleum w/my sister when she passed in 1975. My mom is currently terminal & when I bring up the issue about what the cost will be be when it’s her time to go in w/my sister she says “don’t worry it’s all taken care of”. But IT’S Not. I called the cemetery and asked if there are going to be any fees to bury my mom’s ashes (she wants to be cremated I know that) in w/my sister. The man said he would look it up & found that it will cost between $3700-$4000 to do it. Money which I do NOT HAVE. My mother has no savings, no life insurance. All she has is about $200 in her checking account after her bills are paid. She does have a reverse mortgage where she could ask for money there, but she gets mad at me when I bring the subject up. I don’t want to upset her, but I’m angry at her because she would die & leave me w/the extreme stress of not having any money to do anything w/her body. How can I approach her about this & what should I say?

This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.
Find Care & Housing
You don't HAVE to bury the cremains at all, and I imagine that is what will have to happen if there is no money for Mom's preferred plans. You could put them in a decorative urn or simply leave them in the box. Do you intend to be interred there? Maybe Mother's cremains could be placed at that time. But the cremation will need to be paid for, even if the mausoleum drawer is not opened.

Coy's cremains are in a box in a green velvet bag, sitting on the back of a book shelf. I'm simply not sentimental about them. Coy's essence left his body shortly after he stopped breathing. None of our children have asked for them.

Mother's ashes were mixed with Dad's by the funeral home director. Each of the 7 kids chose a miniature urn. He put a tablespoon of ashes in each. My oldest brother scattered the remaining ashes on the farm where my mother grew up, and that my father loved. Everyone was satisfied. (And Mother would have loved the celebration of her life we held in a lovely park.)

Obviously this is a very, very personal decision. I'm not trying to talk you into what we did! Not at all. But I am pointing out that if it is absolutely necessary there are less costly ways of handling this. But none of them are free.

Do you suppose that Mother may have made prepaid plans at a funeral home? Which one will you be using? Can you double check with them? Or did she perhaps join a cremation society? When my mother experienced dementia all these kinds of details left her completely. The only way we knew what was going on was that we were part of making the plans, and paying for it was her spend-down expense.

I am really sorry you are dealing with this frustration right now.
Helpful Answer (15)

Hangingon61, many people do not realize that even if they have a cemetery spot they purchased years ago, there are still cost involved after they pass.

All your Mom did was buy a joining spot in the Mausoleum, nothing else. Just be blunt, tell her she cannot be placed with your sister because there isn't enough money to pay for what is needed. That should get her attention.

Ask Mom if she has a pre-paid plan with the funeral home. If no, then use a theraputic fib saying you would need to sell the house in order to place her in her final spot.

Once you got Mom's attention again, tell her there is a cost for cremation by a funeral home. And there is a cost for the cemetery to open up the Mausoleum drawer and to close it. The cost of $3,700-$4,000 sounds extremely steep, I bet the cost included the cremation.

What type of Reverse Mortgage does your Mom have? It is a line-of-credit where she can get a certain amount needed, or is the loan a monthly amount each month? If Mom can get the money, have her do a pre-paid funeral plan. And double check with the cemetery as to the cost to open/close the Mausoleum drawer.
Helpful Answer (13)

I’m sorry your mom is terminal.
I’m sure it’s a stressful time for the both of you.

Is your mom now on hospice? Do you have her DPOA? Is mom competent to make her own decisions?

I suggest you ask for a quote in writing from the funeral home (to discuss with mom or not) so you know exactly what the fees are and what is covered. Ask him or her to go over Sisters paperwork so you can compare costs and services. If your source says they don’t have that authority ask to see someone who does. There shouldn’t be a problem. You’ll be happy to come back if they need time to get the records etc. Perhaps your mom has a copy.

There are probably less expensive places to have the cremation so ask for a quote for only opening and closing and no cremation. Ask for that so that they don’t later say it was a “package” price for having them do all the services. There is a high turnover of personnel in many funeral homes and counselors are in all stages of training so getting your quote in writing would probably require a managers oversight.

The book “ Being Mortal: Medication and What Really Matters” by Atul Gawande might help you better understand your moms mindset.
The book contains good questions to help her focus on what’s important to her and help you support her in those decisions.

Come back and let us know how things are going.
Helpful Answer (10)

Depends what you buy with the cremation. If there are funeral services, by law they have to be embalmed even though they will be cremated. The cost of a casket is about $2,000 in itself. If you have their ashes buried that's more money. I got my father cremated for under $1,000 -- no funeral ceremony or casket, no viewing--and I have my father's ashes at home in a very fancy cigar box. The box was $35; the funeral home wanted to sell me a cheap looking box for $1,000 which was the same cost of the cremation. You can have a simple cremation under $1,000 without all of the pomp--remember when they pass they are gone and money is for the living. You can do what you want but remember you have to flip the bill. A funeral home will try to gouge you but remember they are dead and gone -- their suffering is over and is in a better place. You have control of the costs. I hate to say this but shop around and sometimes you will find bargains. The time to spend money on your loved one is when they are still alive. Not when they are dead.  My father had a $5,000 life insurance policy but the house also needed a new roof. I also know he would have preferred it this way because mom still lives here and his main worry was her care after he passed.  I cannot tell you what to do, but a "bare bones" (excuse the pun, it's not intentional) cremation can be done without funeral services and casket. Spend the money when they are still alive on the person. 
Helpful Answer (10)

Yes, that does sound steep. I would ask for a breakdown. There is a charge for opening a grave. Moms cost 1100. If he comes down to you can't afford it at this point than wait until you can. Cremation is about $2300 where I live. That would be your main worry.
Helpful Answer (7)

I can attest to the fact that even with the popular funeral preplanning, there is definitely a cost involved. I knew my parents both had pre-planning in place and made the mistake of thinking all would be taken care of with their monthly payments to the cemetery. NOT!!!!

When Mom passed in November of 2016, I went to the funeral home/cemetery to sign papers and make arrangements. That cost $2,000+. When I was done with them, I went across the parking lot to the cemetery office. I came out of there minus $5,000+, taken on payments of $350 a month. That was for several charges, including opening the grave, burial, closing the grave, and a small,
unassuming gravemarker. To this day, I don’t know what the heck they paid for all those years. Neither had funerals or memorial services. They did have plots, though, for which I am grateful. That would have been another $5,000. There was no inheritance and the cost all fell on us. We’re still dealing with the repercussions.

Make sure you know exactly what to expect when she passes. Get a copy of any pre-planning paperwork and memorize it, especially the fine print. Don’t let her blow you off! My mom would be incensed if she knew how her careful preplanning all turned out and how much it cost us.
Helpful Answer (7)

Hangingon, don't even think about selling your mother's and your grandmother's wedding rings in an attempt to pay for the disposal of your mother's ashes. The money won't come close, even if you get a fair price.

We are talking about plain gold bands, yes? So even if they are very good quality, 18 or 22 carat gold, their resale value wouldn't reach a thousand dollars each. Not even nearly.

For academic interest, today's "gold spot price" on the international markets is $42.96 per gramme. Compared to most other things you'll ever buy by weight, that's a lot of money. But in terms of the price you'll get for your heirlooms, it's almost insulting. Keep them for their meaning.

What you need to do instead - though actually, you know, you really *don't* need to do this, not now - is make a start on sorting out your mother's paperwork. If she gets upset when you rummage through her things (and I can't blame her - wouldn't you?), then just leave it. Sooner or later it will fall to you, probably, to clear up whatever she leaves behind. But this just isn't the kind of job it is sensible to do piecemeal. You will eventually need to gather together *all* of her paperwork and get it into order.

"Sufficient unto the time is the evil thereof..."

And, by the way, it isn't true that most people of your age would have the means to pay for their parents' funeral rites. And even of those who would, a good handful of them bitterly resent the expense. Sit easy. This just isn't something you need to worry about.
Helpful Answer (7)

This is just another one of those things caregivers are left to figure out. It’s a lesson to us all as we will all die. We are lucky that our dad has the money for his funeral and of course he wants a casket burial next to my mom. He has the plot so a few months ago my sister and I contacted the funeral home and made all the financial and written arrangements for his burial. We wanted to do it before he ran out of money staying in LTC. I’m sorry you are having such a difficult time with her understanding but good advice here by 97yomom and others. You need to get this off your mind. Perhaps the chaplain or SW from hospice (assume o have hospice for her) can also help persuade her.
Helpful Answer (6)

What will happen to the reverse mortgage when she passes? Will the house be sold? Once the mortgage is paid off, will there be any balance left? Sorry to give you more to deal with, but those are answers you need too.
Helpful Answer (6)

Hangongon61, I suggest calling around for quotes on no-frills cremations. (Without viewing or service.) And/or donating Mom’s body to science.

Forget the mausoleum. Not sure what Mom paid for, but completing her arrangements through that funeral home and memorial park requires a significant $ top-up — that Mom doesn’t have and you don’t have.

Not to sound crass, but Mom won’t be around to know that you did not install her in the mausoleum slot next to sis. Right...?

Do you have siblings or close family that will balk at this? If so, bring them into the conversation as late as possible (sounds like you’re Mom’s #1 by a long shot). Stay calm and be frank about the price that the funeral home/cemetery quoted you. If anyone’s shoulds-and-woulds are not accompanied by an offer to foot the bill, politely end the conversation and do only what you can afford.

Don’t let anyone make you feel bad that you did not provide their preferred way of sending off your mother’s cremains. There are countless ways they can honor your mother’s memory without putting you in the poorhouse.

Standing on ceremony is....just that. Customary, perhaps. But certainly not required.

Life is hard enough after you lose your last parent. No need to make it harder by taking on debt you cannot afford.
Helpful Answer (6)

See All Answers
This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.
Subscribe to
Our Newsletter