Saturday, November 7, 2009

Funeral costs

I haven't written an entry for a few days -- it's been a busy time, and I've been talking to a relative about a death that he's having to deal with.  I'm not really going to go into details, but there's some stuff that I think would be generally good for folks to be reminded of. 

Living wills are good for the folks you leave behind
I've talked at length about slaughter, and I've killed many critters myself.  I've said to myself, and to other people in my life, that I'd much rather go out with a bullet to the head by surprise than just about any other way. 

Right now I'm pretty sure that the last two weeks of my life are going to suck.  I'm in rude good health right now, and don't expect to go anytime soon, but so were these other people.   One was 47, the other was 51, and the third was in his 70s.  The first two died by surprise -- no idea it was coming. 

I'd really reccomend that you write down your wishes regarding how your care will be managed in the event of an incapacitating accident.  Forcing your loved ones to make the decision to pull the plug, well, frankly, it sucks.  And our current medical technology can keep parts of your body alive indefinitely, with no chance of recovery. 

So be kind to the people around you and make a living will.

Funeral expenses

One thing that happens when someone dies is that the people around them feel guilty that they died, and often assuage that guilt by buying an elaborate coffin, or service, or additional.   I'm all about ritual when it comes to important things, and if you have the money to spare, and it makes you feel better to do that, by all means, spend whatever you think is appropriate. 

But sometimes there's just not the extra money around, or spending the money would create a hardship on the living.   My uncle is a mortician, and I've spent some time "behind the curtain" so to speak, and I'm going to write up here what I've counseled my relatives on in the past regarding funeral expenses. 

The absolutely lowest cost is just not claiming the body from the county.   If you are truly at wits end as to how to pay for the body disposal, this is one choice. 

The second least expensive way is to have the body cremated.  A cremation typically runs between $600 and $800, and you pick up the cremains.  It's probably illegal to scatter the cremains, but I don't know how you'd be caught, and you can do a small service at the time that allows some closure for the people around. 
DO NOT pay for embalming the body, or a fancy casket, or for any other services.  It just costs more to burn the additional weight. 

If you loved one was a member of the armed forces, they may be entitled to a burial from the armed forces

With respect to burial, there is really no value in having a burial vault or other "protective" packaging around the body of your loved one.  We'll all be going back into the soil, and burial vaults and casket liners and concrete shields and so on are all a complicated way to extract money from you.  Let's just keep it simple, as nature intended and if you choose burial as the way you're going to go, skip all of this. 

I know, this isn't really farm related, but it's what I've been dealing with this last week, and I'm hoping that other people find it useful. 


Anonymous said...

A will is also good idea. Don't for get to update it - it doesn't hurt to consider our own deaths regularly.

damae said...

I especially like the option of not claiming the body from the county. LOL
I know a lady whose family spent $15,000 to bury her mother.
I went home and told my hubby that if he spends money like that on me after I die, I WILL come back and hurt him. However if he chooses to spend money to throw a big party for those still alive in celebration of my death, then that's cool!
I totally agree, let my body go back to the soil. This whole thing of preserving dead bodies is asinine, imo. Uses a ridiculous amount of resources and land, for what?