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How Much Does a Funeral Cost?

How Much Does a Funeral Cost?

For most of us, one of the first questions think of when we think we need a funeral home soon is, “How much will it cost?”  It’s understandable that everyone wants a simple answer to this question. Unfortunately, there is no one simple answer.

Think of the last time you bought a pair of shoes. It’s not really helpful to know that the average cost of a pair of shoes is $75.00. So, what does an “average” pair of shoes look like? Shoes come in many different sizes, colors and styles. You wouldn’t expect to call the shoe store and ask, “How much does a pair of shoes cost?” Everyone needs some help finding the right fit for his or her feet. You also understand that you’ll need to share more information about the kind of shoe you are seeking before you find the cost.

It’s the same with funerals. The funeral you choose will need to fit your family’s needs as well as your budget. The funeral director will help you with both. You will be pleased to know funeral homes are required to have standardized prices for everything they do. This price list must be printed and available for you. You should also take comfort in knowing there will be a range of prices associated with the choices you will be making. The funeral director wants you to be satisfied with both the service you select and with the costs associated with those services.

As soon as you are able, it is a good idea to call the funeral home and ask to set up a time to meet with a funeral director to review your options and prices. There should be no cost for this meeting. This is the best way to assure that you understand what is involved with the various services so that you can get the best value for your dollar.  You can schedule this kind of meeting with as many funeral homes as you desire.

At first, this may seem like a lot of work. The reality is, however, that you’ll obtain far more information by meeting with the funeral director versus searching online or making phone calls. You’ll save time, too. Don’t wait to set up that meeting if you think you’ll need a funeral home soon.

Thank You for Your Service

Thank You for Your Service

Because you are there we all sleep better at night. You serve in the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard. Some of you serve for two years, some for twenty or more. Some enter into service at a tender age looking for opportunity. Some are following a longstanding family tradition. You are mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters. We, thank you for your service.

You spend days, weeks, and even years away from your family. You are not always there to teach your daughter to ride her bike; perhaps you missed your son’s first steps. Because you serve, you can’t always be counted on to attend the baseball game or the teacher conference. With your service comes sacrifice. Sacrifices made by both you and your family.  We thank you and your family for your service. 

Thank you for being ready and on alert so that we can go about our business without even thinking about the “what ifs”. Thank you for putting yourself in harms way.  Thank you for giving us your time, your energy and your youth. Thank you for representing us with honor where ever you are stationed.

Regardless of whether you serve us at home or in foreign lands, in time of war or peace, we thank you for your service. 

On Memorial Day we remember those who gave their lives in our service, on Armed Forces Day we honor those currently serving. On Veterans Day we honor all who have served our country from the Revolution in 1776 to today. Thank you.

Talking with a Veteran

Talking with a Veteran

Talking with a veteran of the more recent wars or conflicts such as Vietnam, Afghanistan, or Iraq can be intimidating. You may have a parent or spouse who served in Vietnam who has never shared anything about their experience with you. The Vietnam War was different from wars in the past in that the value of the war itself was questioned and many of those who served came home to a hostile public. It was not a hero’s welcome. Their story may have been bottled up all these years and time is running out for families to learn about their loved one’s experience.

Since the Vietnam War, a small percentage of the U.S. population has served in our armed forces. This means the Vietnam experience is not shared by the broader population and those who did not serve can’t possibly understand what war is like. Not understanding can make us uncomfortable about starting a conversation.  As a result, veterans can feel isolated while we remain unaware.

How can we push past our discomfort? How can we talk with these people we love and appreciate about a period in their life that was so very important to them? It can be tricky depending on how well you know the veteran. Below you will find some tips to aid your conversation with a veteran:


During the discussion:

  • Take your time, go slow
  • Plan to LISTEN
  • Listen without comment or judgment
  • Listen to learn, not to tell.

Below are some suggestions you can ask:

  • Would be willing to talk with me about your experience?
  • What service were you in?
  • What inspired you to join?
  • What does your service mean to you?
  • Would you mind sharing what you are currently doing?
You may want to avoid some of the topics/questions below:
  • Don’t ask if they killed anyone or saw any dead bodies.
  • Don’t be surprised if they don’t want to talk.
  • Don’t ask about PTSD.
  • Don’t make it about you.
  • Don’t think you know what it is like to go to war unless you have been to war.

It is always a good idea to do your homework and study the war prior to your discussion. And most of all, express your appreciation for their time and service.

How to Thank a Veteran

How to Thank a Veteran

Three hundred and sixty five days a year, twenty-four hours a day, rain or shine, hot or cold, from the year 1776 to present day, they’re serving our country.  They are our veterans and November 11th is the official day that we honor and thank them each year. 

So what can you do to show your appreciation?  Here are a few ideas:

  • Attend a parade or remembrance event held in your community
  • Brush up on your patriotic etiquette
  • Teach your children things such as when to stand for the American flag or what to do during the playing of our National Anthem
  • Visit the gravesite of a veteran
  • Hang a flag in your yard
  • Support a veteran-owned business
  • Hire a veteran or the spouse of a veteran
  • Visit a veterans hospital
  • Say thank you to a veteran and his or her family

Did you know you can even hold a “Care Package Party”? Here’s how:

  • Invite friends to bring items for those serving away from home. 
  • You can contact the US Post Office for help with packaging supplies for military care packages.  Some items you could send:

          1.    Foot care products

          2.   Cotton socks

          3.   Flavorings for water

          4.   iTunes gift card

          5.   Snacks

          6.   Hand written notes expressing your thanks

Everyone is busy and on Veteran’s Day we’ll be inundated with advertising. It will be easy to see November 11th just as another great sale day…but it is so much more. Perhaps the most important thing you could do is ask a veteran you know to tell you about their experience and then listen. Just really listen.

Funerals are for Saints and Sinners

Funerals are for Saints and Sinners

These days we’re hearing a lot about life celebrations. A funeral is a ceremony for someone who has died and the survivors. A celebration of life is a funeral with a celebratory feel and it may or may not have a faith-based component. Celebrating the life of the accomplished, the kind, and the generous feels natural. It feels like something we should do.

On the other hand, what do we do about the “broken” people? The bullies, the addicted, the angry, or those who just never got it all together. What do we do when they die? Most of us have one or more imperfect people in our immediate circle. 

The loss of one of these folks is real and it hurts. Because they are gone, our lives will not be the same. We may be relieved of a burden, but we are also without hope. The hope that we will get a hug or a kind word is gone. The hope that a child will get sober and realize the potential you knew was there is gone. The hope that we will hear “I’m sorry” or understand the reason behind the addiction, the anger, or the hatred is now gone. It’s painful. Someone we love has died. Having a funeral will help.

It can be hard to know just what to do when “celebration” doesn’t feel right. This may be especially true if a faith-based service does not feel like the right fit. Ask your funeral director for help. There are funeral celebrants who are not attached to a church who can help you find the right fit. Your funeral director can help you find the right person. 

Funerals are always for the survivors. Regardless of how the deceased spent their time on this earth, survivors need to gather with each other and their friends.  Everyone needs to share in a safe place. All survivors grieve. We all need the opportunity to begin our grief journey in a healthy way. A funeral, a ceremony for someone who has died, is the beginning of that journey.    

The History of Veterans Day

The History of Veterans Day

Veterans Day, a national and state holiday, serves as a day for Americans to come together to show their deep respect and appreciation for the military veterans of our country. It is the one day a year when we pause, reflect and show our gratitude to all those who are serving or have ever served in our military. So how did it come to be?

What we know today as Veterans Day was originally called Armistice Day. On November 11, 2018, we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended World War I. This armistice was signed at the 11th hour on the 11th day in the 11th month of 1918. At the time, we believed World War I was “the war to end all wars”.  One year after the armistice, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed November 11th as Armistice Day to commemorate the end of World War I. In his address to his “fellow-countrymen” delivered from the White House on November 11, 1919, Woodrow Wilson praised the contribution of the American people and shared hope for the future:

With splendid forgetfulness of mere personal concerns, we remodeled our industries, concentrated our financial resources, increased our agricultural output, and assembled a great army, so that at the last our power was a decisive factor in the victory. We were able to bring the vast resources, material and moral, of a great and free people to the assistance of our associates in Europe who had suffered and sacrificed without limit in the cause for which we fought.

Out of this victory there arose new possibilities of political freedom and economic concert. The war showed us the strength of great nations acting together for high purposes, and the victory of arms foretells the enduring conquests, which can be made in peace when nations act justly and in furtherance of the common interests of men. 

To us in America the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service, and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of nations. 

Of course, lasting peace was not to be. After the Second World War, Alabama veteran Raymond Weeks had the idea to expand Armistice Day to honor all veterans. On May 26, 1954, President Dwight Eisenhower signed into a law a bill presented by Congressman Ed Rees from Kansas establishing Armistice Day as a national holiday eight years after Weeks began celebrating Armistice Day for all veterans. Congress amended the bill on June 1, 1954, replacing "Armistice" with "Veterans," and it has been known as Veterans Day since.

Memorial Day honors those who died in service, Armed Services Day honors those who currently serve. Veterans Day honors ALL veterans. Thank a Veteran on November 11th and be very proud and happy to go to bed tonight in the United States of America.

Control Funeral Costs by Planning Ahead

Control Funeral Costs by Planning Ahead

How does planning for your funeral in advance save you money? Doesn’t it just let the funeral home make money on your money? How big a part should emotion play in your funeral selections?

First, let’s be honest. Emotion is not a bad thing. Some life events should move us emotionally.

Marriage, birth, and death all appropriately tug at our heartstrings. But the cost of all three can also get out of hand if you make all the decisions when emotions are running high.

Put the word “wedding” in front of anything and the cost doubles. If you’ve ever planned a wedding, you know that the dress will cost you half as much if you buy it in far in advance instead of just before you need it. The same is true of funerals.

When you and your spouse sit down together with the funeral director or the advance planning specialist, well in advance, you’ll feel a little emotion as you consider the reality of your death.

But that little tug is nothing compared to what your husband or wife will feel if you don’t prepare in advance and they’re making those decisions alone hours after you’ve died.

Emotional overspending happens. Funeral directors don’t make it happen. In fact, they don’t like it either.

Advance funeral planning allows you to make all the decisions that determine the final cost. Making them together with cool heads and warm hearts saves dollars.

Planning ahead eliminates the excessive spending that can occur when someone is in a heightened emotional state.

Think back to wedding planning.

Starting early can also help you absorb the cost over a longer period of time. That means you don’t drag the wedding debt into your brand new marriage.

When you plan your funeral in advance, you will also have the option of paying for it over time. That means you don’t have to take money from your savings or investments and your survivors won’t have the financial burden of paying for your funeral days after your passing. Advance funeral planning eliminates the need for a lump sum payment when death occurs.

All money set aside in advance for a funeral should be held with a third party. Nearly all funeral homes participate in programs that hold the dollars in either insurance or a trust product until the death occurs.

The funeral home should not have access to your funds and the insurance products they use should have an increasing death benefit to help offset inflation, providing a cushion for increasing funeral costs.

Consult with an advance funeral planning specialist for more details.

Food Provides Comfort

Food Provides Comfort

Why is food such a fundamental part of any funeral?

Food provides comfort and strength. A gift of food shows that we care. It’s natural to connect food with the healing process of a funeral.

When should you give food? What’s helpful without being overwhelming?  How do you accept food graciously without having to buy a second refrigerator?  

If you’re helping a friend who is dealing with the death of a loved one, a gift of food is appropriate before the funeral, at the conclusion of the funeral, and even weeks or months after the funeral. 

As you think about your gift, be aware that your friend may not even know they’re hungry. They likely won’t be able to tell you what they want or need.

Take the initiative and make it easy on them. Call with a simple offer that can be changed to meet the needs of those on the receiving end. You might say something like this:

“I’d like to bring your family dinner tomorrow evening. I thought I’d bring you a turkey roast with a broccoli casserole. Will that work for you? I’ll bring dinner by around 10:30 a.m. It’ll be all ready for you to warm in the oven or microwave.” 

When you’re on the receiving end, be gracious, but honest.

Your friends want to help you. If their offer won’t be helpful, give them an opportunity to make a different suggestion.

“Thank you for your offer, but we’re all set for the next few days. May I have a rain check?”

If you’re part of a close circle of friends, consider coordinating with others in your group to cover the family’s food needs on different days and with a variety of dishes.

Consider breakfast food. A basket with granola, muffins, or a breakfast casserole may be a nice change.  

Sheet pan dinners, where the entire meal is cooked on one pan in the oven, are easy for both parties. You can find lots of recipes online.

If you don’t cook, consider giving a gift card for a local restaurant that offers take out. 

Whatever you do, don’t forget your friend after the funeral is over. Most people find sitting alone at the dinner table one of the bigger challenges of their bereavement.

A loaf of your famous zucchini bread will be greatly appreciated and it’ll be even better if you can share it together over a cup of tea.

How to Dress for a Funeral

How to Dress for a Funeral

First, understand that what you wear to the funeral is much less important than actually going to the funeral or gathering.  Don’t underestimate the value of your presence. 

Your kind words, shared stories, or even just a hug will mean a great deal to friends and family when there has been a death. Don’t let not having a pair of dress shoes keep you from offering your support.

That being said, what you wear depends on several different factors. The first thing to consider is who died.

If your 80-year-old grandfather passed, the funeral is likely to be more traditional. His older friends will attend, so you will want to be more conservative.

A pair of slacks and a collared shirt for men and boys will do nicely. If you own a sport coat, by all means wear it. A tie with or without the jacket would be a nice, but not a required, addition. 

For the ladies and girls, dress slacks and a nice sweater or blouse will serve the purpose. A dress or skirt would also be lovely. Do pay attention to necklines and length of the skirt. 

When the funeral is for a younger person or will not be faith based, it may be more informal.

A celebration of life is typically more relaxed and may even have a theme that the family will ask attendees to support.  So if you’re asked to wear golf attire to the funeral of an avid golfer, don’t be surprised. 

Like the dress code for most events today, what we wear to a funeral has relaxed. Black is no longer required, but neat, clean, and subdued are always in good taste.

A funeral is not a place to stand out or be the center of attention. As you survey your wardrobe, think in terms of what you would wear to an important job interview or something you would want to wear to apply in person for a bank loan. 

How to Say the Right Thing at a Funeral

How to Say the Right Thing at a Funeral

First, take a deep breath and relax. We all worry that we’ll say the wrong thing.

Second, know that you don’t have to be eloquent. While we wish it were so, you can’t make everything all better with a few words.

Here are a few simple ideas to keep in mind to be sure you say the right thing when attending a funeral.

Don’t underestimate the power of your presence.

It’s important. Just being there says more than you can know.

Keep your words simple.

“I’m sorry for your loss” may be all that is needed.

Share your story.

If you have a brief anecdote about how you interacted with the deceased, share it. Knowing how her sister lit up her workplace may just be the most comforting thing a mourner can hear. 

Use deceased person’s name.

“Mary always made me laugh.” “John had the longest drive, too bad it wasn’t always straight.” “We always knew when Big Bad Byron was in the plant, everyone was on their toes.” “Nobody made better chocolate chip cookies than your mother.”

Avoid using common platitudes.

Resist the temptation to tell the bereaved how they must feel -- “grateful that he is in a better place,” “relieved that his suffering is over,” “grateful for a long life,” etc.

We don’t know how that wife, husband, mother, son, or daughter actually feels. Just say you’re sorry for their loss.

Let them tell you how they feel and accept it with a nod or hug.

Don’t forget about listening. 

Listen to understand, not just to hear. Listen to show you care, not to judge. Listen with love, even when you’ve heard the story before.

What to Expect at a Funeral

What to Expect at a Funeral

We’ve all been there. Going to a funeral can be a little daunting, especially if it’s your first or if it’s been awhile since you attended one. Let’s talk a little bit about some of the terms you will hear and what you can expect in general.

There’s a great deal of variety in funeral service today. The funeral home works with the surviving family to help them choose service options that reflect their lifestyle and belief system. The spouse, parents, or children of the deceased determine the content of the service.

The service typically includes:

1.    A gathering or visitation

2.    A religious ceremony

3.    Burial or placement in a final resting location (committal)

4.    A luncheon, brunch, or wake

The gathering may be held the evening before the service or the same day as the service. 


The religious part of the service may be held in the funeral home chapel or in the family’s place of worship.

At the conclusion of the service, a procession will usually travel to the graveside where the casketed body will be buried. Cremated remains may be buried, placed in a niche, presented to a family member for keeping, or scattered.

The committal service is often followed by a meal at the church, the funeral home’s celebration center, the family home, or a restaurant 

If you are attending a gathering or visitation that takes place before the service, the body may or may not be present. When the body is present in an open casket, attendees will usually approach the casket briefly and silently say a few words of farewell or prayer.

The family may choose to receive their guests informally and casually engage in conversation as they circulate among those attending or they may choose to receive guests in a more formal receiving line. 

If you are attending a memorial service, the body will not be present. A memorial service may take place weeks or even months after the passing and may or may not include the presence of cremated remains.

The family may choose to have a memorial service for a variety of reasons. Some religions require that the body be buried immediately, necessitating service after burial. Some families just need more time to come together.

How we celebrate a life is often less formal today.

The service may include pictures and music that reflect the lifetime of the deceased. Work or interests of the deceased are often reflected in objects placed in the room or favors shared with attendees.

Attendees may participate by sharing memories of the deceased. A family member or celebrant may also tell the life story in the form of a eulogy.

Funerals are an important part of the grief journey that all families must travel when they loose a family member.

We attend to support and help the family members transition their thoughts from the cause of death to the life’s legacy. This is so they can begin their long healing process.

Your attendance is appreciated and important.

What do funeral directors do?

What do funeral directors do?

It’s late, why is the light on at the funeral home?

Today, there was a funeral. People cried. Tissues were crumpled and left on the tables.  Flower petals fell to the floor. Now, the cleaning staff is making things tidy for the family who will be here tomorrow.

It’s late, why is the light on at the funeral home?

Someone in our town died away from home, the funeral director is traveling many miles to bring him home and into the funeral home’s care. The light is on in anticipation of her safe return.

It’s late, why is the light on at the funeral home?

Hospice called. The teacher who taught the funeral director -- and you -- in the third grade isn’t expected to make it through the night. He’s catching up on paperwork while he keeps vigil. Soon he’ll be called to the home and it will be his turn to take care of the teacher.



It’s late, why is the light on at the funeral home?

There are computer problems. The video tribute file a family sent won’t work. We’re staying late to make it right for their service.

It’s late, why is the light on at the funeral home?

It was a busy day today and we still need to notify Social Security and the Veteran’s administration of Mr. Smith’s death.

It’s late, why is the light on at the funeral home?

There’s been a terrible accident. We’re doing our best to make a loved one presentable so that they can say goodbye with dignity.

It’s late, why is the light on at the funeral home?

The obituary the Jones’s gave us for their father is full of misspellings. We need to correct them and get it to the paper.

It’s late, why is the light on at the funeral home?

We’re reviewing all of the details for tomorrow’s service. When will the celebrant arrive? Do we have drivers for the cars? Who will be the pallbearers?

It’s late, why is the light on at the funeral home?

We’re checking tomorrow’s weather in case we need the umbrellas.

It’s late, why is the light on at the funeral home?

The light is on because your neighbor, the funeral director, is pacing the floor. He can’t sleep. Tomorrow, he will oversee the service for his daughter’s classmate. 

Sometimes death is just too close, even for him.

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