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October, 2018 FCA News

October, 2018

Dear friends,
For us in New England, fall has arrived. Mercifully, as we’re not used to the Deep-South-like heat and humidity that blanketed our corner of the country this summer. We hope that whatever fall is like where you are, that you’re enjoying its arrival.

How’s the project to amend the FTC Funeral Rule going?

—With our partners at Consumer Federation of America, we’re meeting  with sympathetic national and local consumer rights organizations to ask for their stamp of approval on our project. Our colleagues have been receptive and we expect positive responses in the near future.
—Executive Director Joshua Slocum met with one of the five appointed Commissioners, Rohit Chopra, in August. We believe Commissioner Chopra and his staff understand the basis of our request and we’re grateful for their time and attention. We will be scheduling meetings with the other Commissioners as possible.
—We are working to write and place editorial pieces making our case in the journals read by lawmakers and Capitol Hill staff.

—Expect that whatever action the FTC takes, it will occur in 2019. We have not been given a firm timeline, but the Funeral Rule is up for its regular 10-year review. We predict there will be, at least, a request for comments from the public and interested parties next year. You’ll hear it from us immediately when that is announced.

What can I do to help?

Funding our expenses for this project would be the most useful gift you could give to the goal of getting funeral prices online for grieving families. FCA’s travel budget for the executive director is a mere $1,500 a year. Traveling to Washington, D.C.—not to mention around the nation to visit with our affiliated groups—drains that pretty fast.

$200 from you would buy us a train ticket to get Josh Slocum to the capital. $500 would buy that and two nights at a modest motel. $100 would cover the cost of rides and taxis, an unavoidable expense that adds up fast.

Your donation isn’t really for FCA—it’s for the millions of grieving families who bury a loved one every year in this country. It’s hard enough to say goodbye, but it’s harder than it ever should be when you can’t find out how to make it affordable during the hardest time in your family’s life. We’re working to change that. Your donation is what makes it actually happen. Click the pic or this sentence to give—thank you!

Death Salon

FCA vice-president Karen Smith joined hundreds who gathered at Boston’s Mt. Auburn cemetery this September for the Death Salon. The conference brings together academics, artists, consumer advocates and more to talk about how to make the family experience of death more meaningful and less frightening. Karen illustrated our 55 years of national advocacy, and board member Noor Rabah spoke about the nonprofit, Muslim-centered charitable funeral and burial project he runs in New York City.

FCA board members Alison Rector and Rod Stout also attended, staffing a table of FCA literature and making new friends of our work.

Youtube, here we come

Thanks to a generous gift from our friends at the Funeral Consumers Alliance of the Fingerlakes, we’re buying a video kit suitable for educational video production. We’ll be producing short, two-to-three minute videos on the basics of funeral planning. In plain, direct language that will help make funeral planning approachable for anyone. As always, we’re starting at the beginning with “Funeral basics: It starts with your budget.”

We’ll announce the release of our first video soon! FCA affiliates will also be able to use these locally, for presentations and funeral planning seminars and for member-education.

People’s Memorial Association announces new Executive Director

The oldest and largest funeral planning organization in the country, PMA, announced that Nora Menkin will take the top spot after the retirement of Kathy Long. PMA sets the standard for all of us, and has been blazing trails since 1939. For example, they just started offering “aquamation”, or alkaline hydrolyis, a water-based alternative to cremation.

They are also our strongest supporter and regular donor; thank you! Read more here.

Funerals are about our community lives, not just our individual deaths

Dani LaVoire, vice-president of the National Home Funeral Alliance, contributes a personal essay on the meaning of family and community-based funeral care. She finds that the work and care we put in together, rather than handing off to a professional, is what sustains us in the hour of death. 

Before you go, dear reader, did you remember to donate? Thank you!

With our best wishes,
—The board and staff of FCA