Thursday, April 26 – When I first heard about the Funeral Consumers Alliance, I was stunned. The FCA is an amazing national non-profit organization with volunteers forming 70 local chapters in 46 states.
It has a long, interesting history, to be sure. But the reason the FCA is the most important resource you should know about is because of the wide range of ways in which they support you! They don?t provide financial support, but they do provide information and support for any other aspect of planning and carrying out a funeral, including information about related topics such as body donation. On both the national and the local chapter websites, you can find lots of information and you can also contact them by phone for help.
In addition, the FCA monitors the funeral industry. They keep an eye on upcoming legislation that would affect consumers and they will assist you in resolving problematic situations that might occur. Their local chapters have volunteers who conduct cost-comparison surveys of funeral prices every two years – collecting this information so that you have a head-start to compare your options on a financial level.
The FCA has called out the funeral industry in a number of important ways, but it?s important to know that the Funeral Consumers Alliance is NOT anti-funeral director.
I?m not, either. I?ve had the opportunity to see that my wonderful relatives who are funeral directors care deeply about the families they work with. They have the respect of their community and they deserve it. That?s true for many funeral directors. In addition, when it comes to how expensive funerals can be, let?s remember that (1) there?s a huge overhead of maintaining the funeral home and (2) they are on call 24/7.
But I think it?s important that every industry have a watchdog. My own family had a terrible experience with an unethical cemetery so we?re lucky that the FCA works to prevent things like that. Plus, I appreciate that the FCA?s work can disentangle the idea that how much we spend on a funeral is related to how much we loved someone.
Let?s not fall prey to making decisions under duress and without knowing what choices we have. You?re preventing that by the work you are doing now to plan ahead, as hard as that is. In future posts we?ll look at the possibilities of caring for our loved ones at home and choosing natural burial, among other things. Meanwhile, you can find out about these topics and alot more at the Funeral Consumers Alliance.
The FCA is the source of some of the advice I gave in my last post. It also has one of the planning ahead guides that I like the most. No matter what guidebook you are using, in addition to reviewing the FCA website info, make time to write down the info about your assets and account numbers. This can be straightforward but it can also be provocative in any number of ways. Just get as much information down as you can, before the next post on Sunday. You can have this all in place by Memorial Day!
Sunday, April 29th – input from bereavement therapists and researchers to help us make decisions now