Final Arrangements…and I do mean final!
Regardless of whether one prearranges for their cemetery and funeral needs (advance planning) or leaves such arrangements to those left behind (at-need), this article will offer some basic guidelines. When friends, relatives or new acquaintances find out that I work at a cemetery, the questions come with the main question being, “How much does it cost?”
To answer this question, I would have to ask a lot of questions in return, throwing the hot potato back at them. “How much does a house cost, or a car, or an engagement ring or even something as simple as a dozen eggs.” What is this guy talking about? Take the eggs, for example. Are they plain old, average sized eggs? Are they jumbo sized? Are they from free range chickens? And that is just trying to get to the answer of how much do eggs cost.
A better approach to the question of the price of a funeral and cemetery arrangements is to let a person know that they should not spend any more than is necessary to meet their needs, or their budget. And a budget is a funny thing as it was just proven during the government shut-down that most Americans are but a couple of paychecks away from being unable to meet their financial needs. Sadly, a great many of the people that come to us unprepared are shocked at the cost of dying. They lose the luxury of choice. If one does not have pre-needed their cemetery and funeral arrangements, have guaranteed insurance money to be available when they die, or they outlive their income, or if they have huge medical bills that empty the money stash set aside for a rainy day, they are out of luck.
So, setting the actual cost aside, lets explore all that is necessary to make complete cemetery and funeral arrangements. By the way, when it comes to funerals, the Federal Trade Commission requires funeral homes give you a copy of their price list when at a funeral home in person, or give you pricing on the phone when asked.
First, what do you want? Do you want traditional ground burial at a cemetery? If so, you will need a grave space, an outer container that the casket goes in, and an opening/closing of the grave. In addition, most people that select ground burial want to place an above ground monument or at least flush memorials that mark the location of a loved one forever.
At the funeral home, most people that choose ground burial want to have a visitation with viewing followed by a funeral committal service at their cemetery. A committal service is when you commit your loved one to a final resting place. In Indiana, a funeral director must be present any time a burial takes place with people gathered to say goodbye. For a funeral service with visitation, a casket would be necessary. Also, supporting products go hand-in-hand when a funeral is arranged which may include a register book for guests to sign in, prayer cards and envelopes, flowers and quite often, food and drinks.
When you add all of these things together, the average cost of cemetery and funeral goods and services is around $12-$15,000. Think of planning a wedding, and all of the costs involved. From a venue, to rings, to wedding dress and attire for the wedding party, to food and music and photography, to guest lists and places for them to stay, to invitations and more. Most weddings today run $20,000 and more…generally, a lot more.
A wedding is one of life’s biggest events and the final “biggest event” is one’s funeral. There are many of the same types of things to arrange as a wedding. The venue (what funeral home and what cemetery), the announcement (obituary), clothing for the decedent and for family that plan on attending, to music and clergy and on-and-on. Now days, people want a funeral to be an experience and not just a cookie-cutter service that is just like every other funeral they have ever attended.
There will be a lifetime of grieving and learning to live without the deceased loved one. A funeral is meant as a chance to gather with friends and family and celebrate the life that was lived. When a person passes, they do not just disappear from the world and from our memories. We all have a circle of friends and family that will also be grieving and that need a chance to say goodbye. Believe me, there is nothing that shouts louder that a parent or child or spouse or friend is gone than to see them lying in state.
Arrangements that funeral homes and cemeteries provide are based on the cumulative needs of any given population. In NW Indiana, seventy percent of the population still want a traditional funeral service followed by interment or entombment in a cemetery. The other 30% select cremation. Sometimes cremation is chosen because of money, sometimes for religious reasons and sometimes for ecological reasons. Regardless, many of those that go with cremation still want and still need a chance to say a proper goodbye. For those folks, they still want a traditional funeral service with all the trappings, to be followed by cremation.
Once the cremation is complete, the cremains (ashes) will be returned to the family for final disposition. That can be as simple as keeping them at home, or letting them blow in the wind, or scattered over Lake Michigan. But so many people have a need to be able to know where their loved one will be for eternity and want a place of peace and reverence that they can visit when the need arises “just to be near” their loved one.
Calumet Park, recent winner of the best cemetery in the country for 2018, has many, many possibilities that meet the needs, the wants and the pocket book of all who come to us.
Rather than try to make a list of meaningless pricing, you are invited to stop in at your convenience and one of our funeral directors or one of our family service people will be happy to take you on a tour of our facilities, and answer all of your questions. In addition, they can tailor an event, whether grandiose or simple, and give you exact pricing. It would be then in your hands to decide if you wanted to prearrange and freeze the price or go home and at least know what you would be up against financially to get what will best meet your needs.
Call 219-769-8803 to arrange a personal meeting with one of our professional staff members. And remember that is better to have your arrangements and not need them than to need them and not be able to afford them.