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A $27,000 Send-Off

– submitted to FCA by April Fisher

 I thought I would also share my experience with a funeral home when my husband committed suicide in 1996. I was 25 years old, he was 31.

I went in very distressed. My mother-in-law had chosen Restland Memorial Home in Richardson, Texas. It was very beautiful, like a park, and very, very expensive, although I would have no idea until much later.

I wanted him cremated; Michael had always said he never wanted to be buried. His mother vehemently refused; she had a priest come in and tell me that if I didnt bury her son she would stop eating. So of course, I agreed. The next thing the professionally dressed funeral sales lady takes all of us to a board room, gives us a heartfelt speech about how sorry she is, then says she will take us out together to pick the perfect spot for Michael.

We all get in her van and she drives us to a beautiful spot on the lake, — swans, a gorgeous weeping willow hanging over. I picked the spot right under the tree in front of the water. She says, “wonderful choice.” We all go back to the board room. She gets her assistant and whispers some things to her, gets some papers out, starts writing stuff, etc., etc. 10 minutes go by, she walks out, we’re all sitting there. We’re all wondering how much this is going to cost, but no one can bring themselves to say anything at a “time like this.”

The lady comes back and very politely says she has picked out a beautiful coffiin that will complement the gravesite perfectly if we would like to see it now. We would. Its beautiful. White enamal with brass railing — gorgeous, heavenly. White satin interior.

We go back to the board room. She starts writing again, then finally, my mother sees my anxiety and tears and speaks up. “So are you going to tell us how much this is going to cost and give us our payment options?” The woman says, yes, yes, I was just getting to that. Of course. Ive got it almost figured, you of course want programs, etc., etc., etc.

At this point, my mother catches on even though everyone else in the room is too distraught to say anything. She says “Listen, first we should really talk about how much the plot and casket are going to cost, because my daughter and her husband didnt have life insurance.” AT this remark the woman, opens her eyes wide. No life insurance? Well, payment is needed in full before anything can be done. No checks. Cash, credit card, cashiers check.

Then she gives us the prices. Now, remember, this is 1996 and none of us really have any experience with funerals. The plot alone will cost $12,000 and the casket is $10,900. And that is only the beginning. Then there is the mandatory [grave liner], embalming, preparatory services, etc., etc. Grand total: $27,000. I had a panic attack. I couldnt breath. I couldnt get it together. My mother asked the lady to walk outside with her. After about 15 minutes they came back in with papers and handed them out to everyone. They were price lists [editor’s note: Federal Regulations state the saleswoman should have given the family the price list at the BEGINNING of this discussion!].

After a horrible 4-hour ordeal, we finally arranged the funeral for the soonest available date: 1 week later. The bare minimum funeral we could arrange came to $12,000 which my parents paid for in full because the home would not even touch the body before they had full payment in hand. That did not include a headstone. I paid for that over the next year and had it placed a year later.

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