Last night was the segment on funeral costs on WIS-TV
There are lots of comments posted…including mine. Here are my comments below:
I think this segment was a good public service. Unfortunately, the devil is in the details and I think there needs to be some additional information provided, along with some clarifications. As one who owns a traditional funeral home and the cremation society, I feel I have a unique perspective on this. Since it appears that other funeral directors are chiming in, I feel right at home.
For me, the most important idea to come away with from this is to discuss options with family members and to make some sort of plans. Costs are likely to continue to rise, so you can pay now or pay more later.
I am not sure why the average cost of embalming being $613 is added. It is akin to saying the cost of the muffler on a car is “X” number of dollars. Embalming is part of the services provided when there is going to be a visitation. The price is broken out in accordance with State and Federal regulations, but it makes no sense to me to list it the way it is.
I must comment on Mr. Ganong, who I have met on several occasions. He mentions that caskets are a profit center for funeral homes. So? Every business needs profits to be able to provide their goods and services. There is nothing wrong with making a reasonable profit. Yes, there are ways to purchase caskets outside of the funeral home. There are however, some downsides to that option… but it is an option. As far as burial vaults, in my 32 years as a funeral director, I have never even heard of a $30,000 burial vault. I think that may be a typo. Most cemeteries require vaults to lower ongoing cemetery maintenance concerns. That being said, many people think they are very important, while others do not. Most vaults are between $900-$1,500.
My quote for the price of a simple cremation is that for people who are not members. Our member price is $1,395.
I think there was some information left out of the portion regarding “Green Burial”. The website it mentions that he only handles burials, not funerals. That would necessitate a funeral home to provide those services.
Mr. Ganong, makes reference to funeral homes being able to set prices at whatever people are willing to pay. If he was to take the time to look into how funeral homes operate, he would learn that our operating costs continue to rise and for firms to be able to pay their taxes, regulatory and compliance fees, insurance costs and other involved in operating any business…especially one that operates 24/7/365, we have to raise our prices. He would come to learn that it’s not as simple as making up a price and seeing if people will pay it. We should be so lucky.
The last point I would like to make has to do with the Funeral Consumers Alliance being a good place to get information. For some, it may, but my experience being a member of that organization for a few years is that the Alliance is simply an anti-funeral home group. Their premises are based on the fact that “spending money on funerals doesn’t make sense”. I simply respond that Grief is the emotional response to loss, not an intellectual response. If it made sense, we would just throw away our pets when they die…right? But we don’t do that. Some people may think that the idea of caring for their own dead is something they think they could accomplish. My experience however, is that very few people have the emotional willingness and/or the physical ability for dealing with the “raw data of death”…and that is why we have undertakers to handle those details. For many folks in the Alliance, it is a black or white issue. For me, it’s not as simple as that. Ray Visotski, President, SC Cremation & Burial Society http://www.southcarolinacremation.com