The Difference Between
Memorial Societies &
Cremation Societies

Memorial societies

Memorial societies are nonprofit, nonsectarian, educational organizations that are geared to helping people make prudent, no-nonsense funeral plans. Their efforts are well-respected for taking the mystery out of funeral arrangements.

Misuse of the word "society"

Some of the more enterprising funeral business people noted the growth of memorial societies thirty or so years ago, along with an increased interest in cremation. Unabashedly, they adopted the word "society" into the names of new business entities— as in the Neptune Society of California, the Cremation and Memorial Society of Ohio and the National Cremation Society in Florida. In the last few years, there has been a proliferation of these so-called "societies." That's both good news and bad news.

The bad news?

Undoubtedly, people will be lured to do business with these folks, seduced by the name "society." Once in the door, however, there may be subtle or not-so-subtle pressure to up-the-ante of what you might have planned to spend for your funeral. The beginning price for an urn might be $350, though you may be plied with reasons to opt for the $1,000 one. You may not be told that the crematory will return the cremated remains in a perfectly acceptable plastic container for free. Once you purchase an urn, you will be "expected" to purchase an "urn vault." One rascally outfit wanted to charge a couple an extra $1,000 to take care of scattering their ashes, "because there are new and restrictive laws being enacted everyday." Not so!

Because a commercial cremation company calls itself a "society," it may not be the most ethical and least expensive funeral choice in town.

The good news!

A commercial cremation outfit may, indeed, offer a low-cost funeral option in an area where a memorial society does not exist to negotiate an even lower price. Or it may be the mortuary of choice for a local memorial society.

How can people know which are the nonprofit organizations and which are the commercial ones?

Here in the Tampa Bay area, the largest commercial cremation company is The National Cremation Society. Their rates tend to be several hundred dollars higher than ours. And, if you want their "Away from Home Protection", add $250. This means that if you die up north, they'll see to it that you are cremated there.
The local memorial society is the Funeral Consumers Assoc. (FCA) of Tampa Bay (formerly The Memorial Society of Tampa Bay) whose site you are visiting right now. If you die within 35-miles of Tampa, the low published rates apply. If you die while traveling, there is no additional charge for services since the Tampa Bay association maintains reciprocal agreements with many societies in other parts of the country. You will, however, have to pay the schedule of fees that they have contracted with their own local associated funeral home, which will still be much lower.

Portions Copyright © FAMSA~FCA 1996


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