Funeral homes, for the most part, are run by trusted families that live in the communities in which they serve.  They are honorable people who truly want to help families in their time of need. Their work is emotionally and physically draining.  The pay is decent but comes in irregularly.  He or she can have weeks that are so filled with details and stress when a number of calls come in all at once.  Other weeks, they can spend time looking for things to do.

Averages mean little to a funeral director.  A funeral home may average 150 funerals per year.  However, those funerals do not come in spaced in such a way to make sense of a formal schedule.  One week they may have six funerals followed by seven followed by two.  And each funeral is planned to meet the particular emotional needs and affordability of the family experiencing the loss.

The general public is not aware of all that is involved with keeping a funeral home operating the way they would like.  For years, they complained to their congressmen and women about being ripped off by funeral directors.  For instance, in the early 1980’s, a casket may have cost the funeral home $300 and they would sell it for $1000.  In order to keep their doors open and be available when needed, prices had to be set with a different mindset than other types of business.

From the perspective of the consumer, and after enough complaints were made to individual congressmen and women, families and funeral home owners were invited to meet with the Federal Trade Commission to tell their side of the story.

The conclusions of the FTC were made as a public record, and are shown below.

1984 Ruling by the FTC

It was then that the FTC was assigned authority over funeral homes in regard to pricing standards.  To make it possible for families to compare pricing, the FTC introduced the Funeral Rule.  You can look on-line for the entire rule.  As part of the rule, the FTC established that a traditional funeral service would be composed of seven items.  They dictated that these seven items be printed on a General Price List, along with other offerings available to families when seeking pricing for funerals.

The GPL, as it is referred to, must be given to anyone asking for one, whether friend or foe (competitor) of the funeral home.  Pricing was also to be given to anyone calling in to inquire about prices.  The traditional funeral was to be made up of the following:  basic services of funeral director staff, embalming, other preparation of the body, transportation (transfer of body to funeral home), use of facility and staff for visitation/viewing, use of facility and staff for funeral ceremony/memorial service, and hearse.

The FTC did not care what a funeral home charged for services and merchandise.  They only sought transparency.  The idea was for a grieving family to be able to go to any funeral home in the country and, with a GPL in hand, the family could compare the bottom line for a funeral among all funeral homes that they might consider using.  Regarding caskets and outer containers as required by most cemeteries, a casket price list and an outer container price list must be made available (CPL and OBCL) for comparison purposes.

Although price alone should not be the deciding factor on choosing a funeral home, it is a good place to start.  More importantly, the GPL can be useful in getting a feel for prices in your city or town.  Reputation and visiting funeral homes is the best way to find out what is best for you.  There is a feeling when you visit a funeral home, an ambiance if you will, that feels “right” as you make your visit.  Staffing is very important to help a family gain trust that their loved one will be in good hands, and that can best be judged by having personal contact.  After all, you will be turning your loved one over to strangers.  Although money is important, professionalism and caring directors and staff supersedes all.

The best time to check out funeral homes is now, before you have a need.  Visit when your mind is clear and your heart is not broken by the loss of someone dear to you.  We invite you to come to any of our three funeral homes (Merrillville, Hobart or Gary).  Our funeral directors and staff would be happy to show you around, answer your questions and help you find what feels best to you and to your wallet.  Call 219-769-8803 or stop in.

Calumet Park Funeral Chapel in Merrillville 219-736-5840
Rendina is owned by Calumet Park (Gary locations) 219-980-1141
Hobart location 219-940-3791