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Philadelphia funeral homes: where are your prices?

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Local FCA of Greater Philadelphia board member Rachel Zeldin wrote a compelling, pithy column in the Philadelphia Inquirer. Why the heck are Philly funeral homes so cagey about cost? 

To this day in Philadelphia, you are lucky to find a funeral home with a decent website and even less likely to find one that posts its prices online.

In 2015, the Funeral Consumers Alliance of Greater Philadelphia collected price lists from 86 of the 137 Philadelphia funeral homes through a yearlong effort of calls, emails, and follow-ups. Shockingly, what we learned is that the price of direct cremation ranges from $700 to $4,465 - for the same thing. Embalming ranges from $293 to $3,000. (Of course, the skills of embalmers vary, but those skills are not tied to the prices they're charging.) The average non-declinable basic service fee is $1,876; that is just the base cost of doing business with a funeral home when you haven't even purchased any actual services or products yet. (The full survey results are at FCAPhilly.org.)

In a nationally publicized 2015 report by the Funeral Consumers Alliance and Consumer Federation of America assessing ease of access to funeral pricing information, Philadelphia funeral homes proved to be the worst in the nation. Only nine of the 15 surveyed had websites, none had prices online, and three refused to provide prices at all - a violation of federal law. Worse, to obtain a copy of these price lists, it took a minimum of three calls before the information was sent over - by fax.

Read the whole article. 



 

Conference 2016

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Join us June 23 through 25, 2016, at the FCA Biennial Conference in Atlanta! Book your room at the Crowne Plaza at the Atlanta airport today. We’ve worked a special discount for attendees; rooms are $92 a night plus tax so book early as the room block is limited. Book your rooms directly with the Crowne Plaza. Be sure to tell them to book you within the FCA ROOM BLOCK. 

Crowne Plaza Atlanta Airport, 1325 Virginia Avenue, Atlanta, 30344. Front desk: 404-768-6660.

REGISTER HERE


Social workers and hospice professionals! For the first time we're offering Continuing Education Units during a Friday afternoon block of programming. See the registration function at the bottom of  this page for details. The program block is highlighted in a gray box in the materials below that appear on this page. 


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Last Updated ( Tuesday, 22 March 2016 14:22 ) Read more...
 

Home funerals are under attack in Virginia

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Do you live in Virginia or know someone who does? Your help is needed to keep SB595 from becoming law. Introduced by Virginia Senator Kenneth Alexander, also a funeral home owner, this bill would require dead bodies to be stored at 40 degrees after 48 hours, effectively making home funerals under most circumstances impossible. The proposed law would compel private families to contract with a funeral home, for pay, unless they refrigerated the body. 

Visit the National Home Funeral Alliance to sign the Change.org petition and get all the information you need to fight back against this bill. 

Watch Caitlin Doughty of Ask A Mortician break down how this bill will affect consumers.

 

 

Alkaline hydrolysis is facing challenges in Orange County

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Alkaline hydrolysis continues to be an issue of contention, currently in California. The safety of the byproduct's disposal down the drain is now being debated in Orange County, threatening a local pet water cremation business. The liquid that remains is sterile and ph neutral. Municipal water treatment officials confirm the effluent is some of the cleanest of all the material that we put down our drains everyday. Flushing organic waste, human or animal is not something new as it happens daily in our homes as well as butcher shops, farms, hospitals, and funeral homes where blood removed from the body during embalming is disposed of along with the more toxic associated embalming fluids.

Alkaline hydrolysis, which has been a common practice in the farming industry for years, is gaining popularity as a method for disposing of human remains. It is now available in 13 states. The Mayo clinic has used the process for bodies donated for research since 2005, but there remains a certain portion of the public that finds the process distasteful. From the Orange County Register:

Dean Fisher pioneered the technology on humans at the Mayo Clinic and now runs the only approved human unit in California. He took issue with the proposed ban. The water is safe, he said, and tests would show that.

“They haven’t done their homework,” said Fisher, who now runs a water cremation unit at UCLA’s Donated Body Program. “I just don’t get it. Most of these individuals are scientists; they have water backgrounds. They would just have to look at the test data from people running it.”

At the end families are given back the processed bone just as they would in flame cremation. The remains look like pure white sand.

 

***Update 1.29.16***


Alkaline hydrolysis in Orange County prevails!  The sanitation department decided not to let perceived "ickiness" color their judgement. Read more here.

 

Last Updated ( Friday, 29 January 2016 15:38 )
 

The "no-fuss" funeral

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-by Leda Nutting

In the weeks following pop music icon David Bowie's death after battling cancer, much has been made by the media of his choice to have no funeral or memorial service. Bowie was reported to have asked his friends and family for a "no-fuss" funeral, and they did just that. He was cremated with no family or friends present.

Many of the calls we receive at this office are from those who have experienced a recent death and who are attempting to scrape together what little money they have and are stunned by the high cost of putting together a "full service" funeral at a funeral home. People often report feeling as though they are failing their loved ones when they are unable to deliver a big funeral for them. I often suspect that many of these people are more worried that they will be perceived as cheap by the living, than of letting down their loved ones, if they don't put themselves into debt trying to pay for a funeral beyond their means. Some unscrupulous funeral directors have ways of encouraging this feeling with terms like "welfare casket" for a simple burial container or "immediate disposal" for direct cremation. 

In spite of the sadness of Bowie's death, it is nice to be reminded that those who most certainly could afford otherwise might choose conservative funeral arrangements, or to eschew the funeral entirely. Direct cremation is not only reserved for the poor. It is a perfectly dignified funeral and an arrangement that my own family has chosen multiple times for personal and practical reasons. Public funerals are not for everyone and grief is not expressed through one's wallet. 

This article on our website has many suggestions for those who can't afford the funeral they imagined, or for those simply looking for an inexpensive or simple arrangement. 

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 27 January 2016 09:44 )
 
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