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HALL OF SHAME INDUCTEE: Louisiana

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UPDATE 8.11.2010—St. Joseph's Abbey is suing the state of Louisiana for the right to sell coffins.

UPDATE - No sooner had we posted the story below about Louisiana trying to stop a Catholic church from selling caskets to the public, but we discovered the State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors is up to even more shenanigans. The minutes of their March 5 and 6, 2008 meeting, contain these gems:

 

  • Discussion re: the FTC and their regulations concerning when to present a GPL to a possible consumer ensued. It was suggested by Mr. Pellerin that our State consider, and actually apply for Federal Exemption if our State laws as they relate to the FTC are equal or greater than the FTC regulations. “FROP” is a term meaning Funeral Regulation Offense Program and is used by the FTC when making visits to funeral homes where a violation of the Rule is found.

So the state thinks its consumer protections are so good that it should be exempted from the FTC Funeral Rule? Funeral Consumers Alliance will certainly oppose such efforts.

  • It was also suggested that the State Associations be contacted and informed that the FTC will be visiting Louisiana funeral homes as mock consumers, in the very near future. Mr. Rasch was requested to write a letter to the FTC inquiring what the time frame is to provide consumers with a copy of the GPL.

In case that wasn't clear - at least one member of the state board (which is legally required to protect consumers) thinks the government should warn the funeral directors' trade associations that the Federal Trade Commission is going to conduct secret shopper visits to make sure funeral homes are complying with the law. (Read the whole story by clicking "read more" below). . .

For what purpose? So the association can warn its member funeral homes so they're on their best behavior and FTC investigators don't get to see how real consumers are treated? Is this an appropriate use of Louisiana taxpayer dollars? (By the way, Louisiana State Board - we've sent a copy of your minutes to the Federal Trade Commission).

State Board Goes After Catholic Church for Selling Caskets

Simply unbelievable. Long known for its hostility to the rights of funeral consumers - the state is one of only seven that have the gall to outlaw private, family-directed funerals without an undertaker - Lousiana has sunk to depths even we wouldn't have expected. The state board of funeral directors is going after a Catholic church for selling its own monk-made caskets. A newspaper article quotes the board's attorney:

“No one can practice the law without passing the bar. You can’t be a doctor unless you meet certain standards. The same thing is true for those who sell caskets,” said Michael Rasch, the funeral board’s attorney.

Funeral directors are licensed and taught funeral arrangements such as which type of caskets – wood or metal – and which sizes of caskets are allowed in certain cemeteries, formal training the Abbey does not have to sell caskets, Rasch said.

It's astonishing an educated lawyer doesn't appear to be the least bit embarrassed to make such weak arguments.This may turn out to be a good thing, though. It looks like the board's latest desperate attempts to defend an indefensible law might push public sentiment past the breaking point and get Louisiana's protectionist law off the books. We hope St. Joseph Abbey doesn't give in to the state's intimidation tactics. Fight on SJ Abbey - you've got our moral support.


Here's an account of the whole affair from the St. Tammany News:

 

Abbey casket making practice under fire

By Matthew Penix
St. Tammany News

Mark Coudrain, a former chief executive for WLAE TV, leads a much simpler life now. Two years ago he scrapped the corporate hustle, was ordained a deacon, joined the Benedictine monks of St. Joseph Abbey in Covington and focused on his childhood dream of woodworking, specializing in simple unadorned cypress burial caskets for monks and the public.

It was his calling.

But now an obscure law is calling Coudrain and the Abbey criminals, saying the practice of selling caskets to parishioners without a license is illegal and could net a $2,500 fine for each violation.

“This is Big Brother picking on these poor monks,” Abbey lawyer Evans Schmidt said.

In what amounts to a battle of religious devotion versus manmade law, the abbey claims its caskets help “provide a greater understanding of the passing nature of our earthly existence,” a religious experience no manmade prohibitions can trump. In the year since the abbey opened its woodworking shop, roughly a hundred others parishioners have agreed, plunking down $1,500 to $2,000 to buy the caskets fit for a monk. It’s a pleasure parishioners seem to relish, despite the abbey’s acknowledgement of selling the caskets illegally even in the face of cease and desist order to stop.

And the Abbey takes no measures to hide it. The Clarion Harold has published stories advertising the Abbey’s caskets for sale. And the Abbey’s own Web site, www.clcabbey.com, touts the religious experience of being buried in a casket made for monks. It even provides a number to call to make a purchase.

But the problem, opponents said, is the practice is illegal in Louisiana, one of at least six states that allows only licensed funeral directors to sell caskets to the public. The Abbey, a seminary, church and college on River Road, is not considered a funeral director, according to the Louisiana Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors, the state agency overseeing the funeral industry.

“No one can practice the law without passing the bar. You can’t be a doctor unless you meet certain standards. The same thing is true for those who sell caskets,” said Michael Rasch, the funeral board’s attorney.

Funeral directors are licensed and taught funeral arrangements such as which type of caskets – wood or metal – and which sizes of caskets are allowed in certain cemeteries, formal training the Abbey does not have to sell caskets, Rasch said.

Rasch, through the board, issued a cease and desist order Dec. 11, 2007, after receiving several complaints from competing funeral directors.

“It’s not that we’re picking on the Catholic Church or the Catholic order,” Rasch said. “Were trying to enforce the laws of the state of Louisiana. I’m not saying it’s right or wrong, but it’s the law.”

That law however, is facing some opposition. State Rep. Scott Simon, R-Abita Springs, authored a bill this year that would have allowed vendors other than funeral directors, i.e. the Abbey, to sell caskets to the public. It failed, and Simon could not be reached for comment this week.

“This statute has no public policy value whatsoever,” said Schmidt, the Abbey’s attorney. “This is fundamentally the sale of a wooden box. This isn’t about health and safety issues here. This law is a perfectly protected measure to give funeral directors a monopoly.”

In Oklahoma, that argument reached the Supreme Court, where it ultimately failed. Justices in 1999 voted 2-1 to let stand the Oklahoma law that allows only funeral homes to sell caskets directly to the public. The appeal attacked the law as unconstitutional, the same claim the Abbey makes.

“This law has no legs,” Schmidt said. “It’s a foolish statute … an unconstitutional infringement on their right to free enterprise.”

But Boyd Mothe Jr., vice president of Metairie-based Mothe Funeral Homes, one of several industry insiders to file a complaint, said he respects the Abbey’s reasoning but said society can’t disobey laws because they’re not agreeable.

“Nobody wants to be out of favor with the church or raise a big stink about this, but we want everyone to be playing on the same level,” Mothe said.

He said he would “be happy” to arrange a purchase from the Abbey and then sell the caskets to clients with little to no profit. “I bet that’s true with many funeral directors,” he said.

“I realize there is something to be said about a religious artifact, a casket with a rosary from Rome on it,” he said. “Those caskets are held dear by many. I don’t want to publicly denounce the Abbey ... I just want them to follow the rules.”

But “they took an Aryan position that they were above the law, that they could do whatever they wanted to do,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Abbey’s monks are considering all options and haven’t decided whether or not to comply with the cease and desist order, Schmidt said.

“One physical symbol of the simple Benedictine life of prayer has been the pine caskets in which we monks are buried,” the Abbey wrote on its Web site, adding later, “We also hope that this enterprise (casket selling) will serve as a witness, to educate the greater community to the true meaning of death as taught by our Catholic faith.”

In the end, “the monks just want to be left alone, do their own thing, pray and build their caskets,” Schmidt said.

Last Updated ( Monday, 28 October 2013 11:08 )  
Comments (16)
1 Tuesday, 09 September 2008 21:28
It is not the job of the State Board to inform it's charges (funeral homes) of the step up of FTC compliance investiagtions. FTC Compliance is the law of the land and as such the Board should embrace and enforce the Consumer Law.

By the way it is and has always been clear when the GPL is to be made available to the Consumer......................PRIOR TO DISCUSSING THE SELECTION OF ANY SERVICES OR MERCHANDISE. SAME GOES FOR PERMISSION TO EMBALM AND THE FTC REQUIRED DISCLOSURE EMBALMING IS NOT NECESSARY EXCEPT UNDER CERTIAN CIRCUMSTANCES AND YOU DO NOT HAVE TO PAY FOR EMBALMING YOU DID NOT AUTHORIZE IF YOU SELECT CREMATION OR DIRECT BURIAL.

THE FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION CREATED THE FUNERAL RULE TO PROTECT THE CONSUMER AND FUNERAL DIRECTORS HAVE BEEN FIGHTING IT SINCE INCEPTION. AS FAR AS THE LOUISIANA STATE BOARD OF EMBALMERS AND FUNERAL DIRECTORS...............WELL THAT'S THE CHICKENS GARDING THE CHICKEN COOP.......YOU KNOW THE GOOD OLE BOY THING, POLITICS AS USUAL.

Mr. Rauch's comment about cemetery prohibitions of certian types or sizes of caskets.......... please seek challange him to name and document but one, other than the possibility of a green cemetery. I can't imagin any cemetery prohibiting the use of a particular type of casket and I would think the size would in part be determined by the individual being buried.

Mr. Mothe's offer to purchase caskets from the Abbey and resell at little or no profit SHAME on YOU Mr. Mothe why would you think you are entitled to a profit on such an arrangement. Wouldn't that be considered a handeling fee which is prohibited by the FTC ? OH! you could simply list it as a cash advance and charge a reasonable markup, so long as you informed the client there would be a charge for purchasing this item for them.

I suspect an examination of Louisiana Funeral Homes with regard to FTC GPL Compliance would result in some real eye opening statistics that would show JUST HOW MUCH THE CONSUMER HAS TO BE AWARE OF.


ispy4u@aol.com
2 Thursday, 20 November 2008 10:15
Ann Birdwell
I own Central Monument Co. in Keithville, La. I also own Central Monument & Casket Co. in Texarkana, Texas. We have been listening to our clients complain for years about the increasingly high costs of funerals and we discovered that half that cost was the caskets. People could not afford a nice monument. I live in Texas and decided to open a casket store in Texas. FTC allows funeral products to be bought in another state and can be delivered to funeral homes or anywhere in Louisiana. This is exactly what we are doing. Now, the La. Funeral Board has been trying to stop us since we began this. They sent someone to our shop in Keithville to ascertain if we sold them here or not. They learned we did not. I studied the law and am well aware that Louisiana laws will not allow this. They are trying every way in the world to stop us. Okay, Central Monument and Central Casket merchandise have been advertised in the Shreveport Times. Now the Funeral Board has manipulated the law concerning advertising to fit their mold. They say we can not advertise caskets. They want to shut us down. How monopolyzing and par for the course for Louisiana to pull this. They have subpoened my son who is the registered agent in Louisiana to answer for advertising. This particular law is so loose you can drive a truck through it. They can make it any way they want it. Why are they not out reprimanding the funeral homes for unprofessional and unethical behavior? We have PROOF POSITIVE that certain funeral homes are behaving in unprofessional and unethical behavior and blatantly breaking every law the funeral board is legally bound to uphold. Where are their subpoenas? Why aren't they being fined?
By the way, why are funeral homes selling monuments? If they do not want others selling funeral goods then why don't they stop selling monuments? The people selling monuments do not know the first thing about a monument other than how much commission they can make.
Also, BREAKING NEW!, we just spoke with an attorney with the La. Attorney General's office about the harassment we are receiving from the funeral board. He told us that the funeral board is harassing us. My two companies are in a joint venture to advertise and that is perfectly legal. We do NOT sell nor display caskets in Louisiana and that is all they should be concerned with. However, if anyone wants to go in with us to file complaints and/or lawsuits against the funeral board and/or funeral homes please contact me at centralmonument@valornet.com. We have to do something to stop the corruption and greed. A funeral is not the place for this. Do you not agree?
I also know that the funeral industry pumps millions of dollars into politics so nothing will be done by the politicians. Been there, done that.
3 Wednesday, 26 November 2008 16:40
Kit Kittrell
Though the minutes of the LA Board trickle out 30-60 days after they meet and are sparse in their detail, they give away enough to warn the FTC that some things never change. Arguably, the most important legacy of the Funeral Rule has been the GPL. If LA seeks exemption from overview, it must have shown appropriate regard for GPL enforcement. In the AUG 14th '08 minutes, the board president, Mr. Gill directs their inspector "to request copies of GPL 's of the funeral homes listed on a survey to determine if in fact the info stated therein was accurate as of the stated date." Obviously, LA's funeral board does not even require current, accurate copies of its licensees' GPL or they would already have that info. Do they check GPL's for mandatory disclosures? They have one inspector for hundreds of mortuaries who picks up a list on his semi-annual visit?

In a similar vain,pursuant to a complaint, a north LA firm was admonished to return the casket handling fee it charged or face more severe action. This complaint came before the Board months ago, yet as of Oct'08 its is still being referred to council for further info. How long should it take to return the lady's handling fee? Under the rules and definitions that the Board operates, this FD defrauded a consumer,not to mention violated another bedrock provision of the Funeral Rule. Give the money back (wink,wink,nudge,nudge...)

Add to that their request for a "heads up" when FTC secret shoppers arrived to warn its licensees rather than initiating state-level secret shopping of their own does not indicate an interest or capacity to self-regulate. I'm sure the FTC has seen all this and more and will respond accordingly.
4 Wednesday, 26 November 2008 17:43
Kit Kittrell



In Louisiana, only a licensed FD may display and sell caskets at retail. According to my reading of the state board's minutes, they obtained information that your Shreveport minions were observed operating out of a warehouse by operatives of the Board [Editorial note from Josh S. at FCA - Kit, I enjoy your comments, but this one is puzzling. Whose "minions" are you referring to? If I have minions, I want to know about it, because they're slacking off:)]. Placing an ad in a newspaper sealed your fate. Though you conduct your casket transactions from Arkansas, pre-staging your units in LA is going too far, somehow. Posting an ad on the web is one thing; selling caskets from Arkansas in a Shreveport paper is another. The Texas horse racing commission , if it were as backwardly protectionist as Louisiana's funeral board, should take a page and ban advertising of casino gaming unless licensed by Texas. No buses hauling erstwhile track betters to greener pastures in Louisiana, either. Jerry Womack, a DDS from Monroe, LA has been fighting the same battle for years. His daughter. through her Royale shop in Mississippi, beamed radio ads across state lines and Dad delivered the subsequent orders. This cannot stand! Case still in appeal. Lisa C., whose brother lived in New Orleans, used to refer to us as a Bananna Republic. Joshua [Editorial note - If you mean me, Josh Slocum, you're right that I think Louisiana is about as backward and protectionist as it can be when it comes to funeral matters. "Banana Republic" is too kind. How about a "Mortocracy"?], I know, holds us in similar esteem . I am pleased to announce that two years ago, Louisiana's consumers obtained the right to obtain refrigeration at a funeral home, if you can prove a religious basis. So it goes.
From Josh S. - Keep posting, Kit. I get a lot of good news on LA from you. Much appreciated. By the way, to any Louisiana citizen who wants refrigeration instead of embalming - don't let the government fool you into thinking you have to prove your religion to them. The state funeral board has no right or authority under the Constitution or common law to "test" whether your "religion" is valid or not. Tell them it's none of their business.
5 Wednesday, 26 November 2008 21:01
Kit Kittrell
Sorry, Josh. I was addressing Ann Birdwell and her problem with our state board. Quoting from the Jun 25th Louisiana board meeting " a discussion ensued once again regarding Central Monument selling caskets in the Shreveport, LA area and the discovery of their warehouse on Common Street in Shreveport".

I picture Ann's casket purveyors scurrying about in ninja outfits to escape the selective scrutiny of Board attorney Michael Rasch.

Even if retail sales prevailed, pursuant to a successful St. Joseph Abbey/Institute for Justice push, Louisiana consumers must shake the death grip The Industry has on their check book. After the heyday of open sales, morticians will undercut the retailers and shift their requisite markup to the non-declineable service charge. Combine casket retailers with consumers armed with the same rights as those choosing home schooling, mid-wifery, or a plethora of DIYS options and Louisiana might still claim a foothold in ethics reform.
6 Monday, 01 December 2008 19:36
Kit Kittrell
I've personally been present at legislative hearings (retail casket sales) when attorney for the Board, Michael Rasch, once again hauled in this red herring. The man should have a commercial fishing license. As most know, New Orleans is below sea level and entombs in family vaults (rake to the rear), beginning centuries ago (a more diminutive people). Once, he alleges, bricks had to be removed from the face of the vault of one such site to accommodate a standard casket acquired without the prescient overview of a Licensed FD, as they are the only entities to possess such esoteric knowledge. (The vault owners didn't know, both the funeral board and the cemetery commission weren't concerned enough to disseminate a list of these unique sites, yet members of the fledgling retail casket industry must be denied access to La. markets based on the sub-standard dimensions of one vault. Perhaps, the Benedictine brothers at St Joseph Abbey will be called upon to customize an undersized unit in the future; as long as they wholesale it to Boyd Mothe.

The exec. dir. of the Board, Dawn Scardino, also addressed the commerce committee that day, disparaging foreign made caskets for shoddy craftsmanship, loose handles and soft bottoms. This from the state staff commissioned to regulate the Industry and enforce federal mandates-the Funeral Rule. I truly believe these people do not even see the the insult they inflict to the integrity our State and to consumers.
7 Saturday, 10 January 2009 11:31
Ann Birdwell
To- Kit,
I just learned that according to the protectors of the consumers, i.e. La. Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors, learned we had a warehouse full of caskets in Shreveport. Does anyone know the exact address? As you stated, they wait several months before posting their board minutes and I saw where they discussed finding our warehouse. I also learned that they subpoened Danny to answer for our advertising illegally in Louisiana. They do not know what to do except make up lies to stop us from saving families money on their caskets. This will not stop here. They have pushed us as far as we are willing to be pushed. It is time we stand up and push back. Let me hear from you.
8 Wednesday, 18 August 2010 10:28
Dee Melancon
You think that is bad. What is worse is that the funeral industry sold Burial Policies in the 50's which are "worthless" today. The funeral board is so corrupt and has such a strong lobby, not to mention our more than willing,graft grubbing politicians, after state hearings have managed to sanction their actions to only render original "face value" for such policies. I know, we had 5 policies bought in the early 50's, and yet Mothe's will not honor the policy as written. One could say these poor suckers were the seed money on which they built their business. Do the math, the initial $600 policy cost in 1955 would amortize to close to $18,000 todays value, and yet they have been given the OK by the State to reimberse policy holders merely the "face value"? Surely Mothe's could be a bit more compassionate and less greedy when dealing with their policy holders. It amazes me how they have managed to keep this scandelous behavior moot. This could be a prize winning expose'. As another funeral home recently told me, "this is what gives our industry a bad name." I guess Mothe's Funeral Home does not realize there is a Hall of Records ,death is inevetable and we will all have to answer to St Peter---How ironic
9 Wednesday, 18 August 2010 18:01
Eaton Kittrell
The FD who ratted-out St Jo Abby. Boyd Mothe jr , "you can't disobey a law just because you disagree with it" is quoted in Federal Register as refusing to comply if a proposed statute was enacted which allowed insurance policy holders to upgrade their casket without voiding the contract. He'd been dragging out the same old broken handled, cloth-covered flattop and voiding policies for years. Truly, a prince of men. This guy travels the world hunting trophy animals as guileless consumers, often paying weekly, maintained burial policies on multiple family members, just to be presented with a contrived "non-starter", the ugly box. So it goes in the Mortocracy.
10 Thursday, 19 August 2010 08:57
Brittanie Wittmer
Such an informative piece, and equally informative comments. I don't have much of a following yet at my blog, Kentucky Taphophile, but I do try to direct people here and other places where information like this can be "accidentally stumbled on" before its too late and a vulnerable person learns the hard way what kind of people really run the funeral industry. It really is a shock to go from "pre-knowledge" to "informed" on this matter...and awareness is definitely a challenge. I thank FCA for investing so much time informing us all....hopefully those of us opening eyes to your existence (people should know bout this place before they're thinking funeral!) grows...which may, in turn, result in a bit more accountability and responsibility on behalf of our bureaucrats and the death care world they are supposed to oversee.

I poured my long-winded thoughts about this specific matter into my blog and found myself getting more angry and passionate as I typed. There's just so many things wrong with this story! Its interesting to note that in July Louisiana's governor threw out the requirement that called for FLORISTS (why the hell are we spending money on regulating florists??) to pass a pass/fail flower arrangement test judged by...you got it...ACTIVE FLORISTS and possible competitors. How can Louisiana officials suggest, without stuttering, that our flowers are deemed worthy of saving from such a biased certification process, but our deceased loved ones are not?

I liked on excellent point made by Coudrain, one of the monks involved: Louisiana does not "...require other retailers to obtain licenses that are only tangentially related to the goods being sold, as it does for caskets. For example, Louisiana does not require shoe salesmen to obtain podiatry licenses, or mattress salesmen to obtain chiropractic licenses." So true. My family runs a liquor store and beer bar. Using the logic of Louisiana, I would not only need a business and liquor retail license, but a permit to distill bourbon and conduct winery tours as well. If Louisiana wants to regulate casket retail, and their officials choose to buckle under special interest pressure when someone tries the right way to get a waiver from existing law, they should get off their rears and do so - retail is retail - if a guy can sell parts for a car (which are VERY specific) then he can sell a casket...and, if cemeteries in LA are really that specific, he can reference a book same as he does for the car part (funny how he doesn't endure much "formal training" - and he's effecting moving vehicles that will be on the road!). Besides...if the issue was truly about meeting cemetery specifications, how do they deal with caskets bought out of state or from WALMART? Federal law won't let them prohibit these sales....but I haven't heard about them causing many problems either. Anyone else know of problems occurring at LA cemeteries because caskets off-limits to Louisiana's rules aren't meeting some sort of specs? I really would like to look into this...LA cemeteries are considerably different than most in the nation, and I would love to be educated on this.

I almost felt myself angered when I read the comment from one LA board member about regulations such as these existing "to protect consumers making an at-need purchase at a vulnerable time." This, of course, is when I direct readers to visit FCA and research the causes behind the 1984 Funeral Law being passed. We need protection from MONKS? And our protectors are those belonging to a group with a PROVEN history of fraud and deception DURING TIMES OF MOURNING? Who continue to show an unethical streak by thinking it appropriate to have ACTIVE funeral directors wielding power over competitors that may actually give a damn about their clients? Yup, that comment really got to me. That guy is almost as good as the fishing attorney they have.

Bottom line - every time we turn around in this country some small but significant right to choose for ourselves is taken away. DEATH, of all things, is a matter that should be dealt with by FAMILY - not agenda and profit driven businessmen or bureaucrats. Until they PROVE casket specifications are critical, they should be off limits....hell, they should be held accountable for UNETHICALLY regulating them in the first place. CORRUPTION is CORRUPTION - you don't have to be a Senator to have a detrimental effect on others....but you've got to be a real piece of work to corrupt the world of burying loved ones.

Sorry for venting yall.
11 Friday, 20 August 2010 17:50
Eaton Kittrell
This and your unexpurgated blog comments where a shot in the arm to the LA consumer. We languish in an Industry-designed gulag; and it's the legislature that's to blame. So the IJ has to make a constitutional challenge because to elected representatives of this state haven't the moral fiber to make good laws that enable and protect the citizens they serve. Keep raging, Brittanie Wittermer.
12 Monday, 23 August 2010 22:01
Brittanie Wittmer
Thank you for your thoughts Eaton. I had really hoped my hyper and passionate tendancies hadn't discredited or distracted from my points. My family has been blessed to do business with an amazingly compassionate and family-oriented parlor for at least a decade. The nature of the business should demand no less! I fear consumers in Louisiana and some of the other states that foster heartless funerary cartels have simple grown complacent, knowing no other environment in that regard (I'd say nationally we're all a little guilty of growing complacent to overreaching government regulation), and not realizing how ridiculous the law is until they have a thought disagreeable to a funeral director while laying a loved one to rest. It is my hope that the fact the state of Louisiana, a predominantly Catholic state, is attacking MONKS who tried to work within the system over something as personal as caskets will garner the attention and outrage needed for folks to say enough is enough.
13 Wednesday, 10 November 2010 21:05
Christy
I am having trouble locating the actual laws concerning Louisiana funerals, caskets and burials. Any information anyone could enlighten me with would be greatly appreciated.

I am 40 years old, in college with a 4.0gpa and am currently writing a paper on Funeral laws. I am an advocate of caring for our deceased in appropriate and caring ways, including home funerals and green burials (which I am trying to plan for myself).

I would personally appreciate being buried straight into the earth and am trying to find laws which support my wishes for that cause, so that I can leave my loved ones with a secure footing on which to follow out my wishes. It is my hope that others may find some help in my research as well.

Peace,
Christy
14 Sunday, 05 December 2010 16:06
Mamou
Is there any advice you can give to a Shreveport family who lost a loved one unexpectedly and had made no plans in advance? My dad just passed and he has a plot at Hillcrest but nothing more. I told the hospital that the body should go to Hillcrest, but I wasn't thinking about the difference between the burial and the funeral home. Does that mean that we are now committed to using their Funeral Home as well? They just told me embalming will be $995 which seems an enormous cost. I feel very lost right now! If anyone has thoughts, please reply here or share them with me at:
onemaryland at gmail dot com
15 Friday, 11 March 2011 22:58
Plicque
I have an 86 year old dad who I keep trying to talk to about his funeral arrangements. We buried my 78 year old mom four years ago and it cost him nearly 8,000. And I remember at the funeral when I was reading my eulogy I was told to "hurry up" or we'd be charged extra by the funeral home burying her for runner overtime. My comments took less than 10 minutes, though others spoke about my mom, a popular high school teacher. And I felt cheated that I couldn't read a eulogy I'd spent time and time composing and that was my final goodbye, public and private for my mother. And it truly was creepy to have these strangers, paid or not, standing next to my mother's coffin. In fact, at one point they were closing the coffin before I removed my mother's rosary. What use was she going to have of it in the ground. Plus the embalming job made my mother feel like a piece of wood. I have heard that embalming is not required in La., though it seems everything else is. I'd like to get a monk's coffin for my dad. Really, I'd rather bury him in one of those green baskets I've seen. (I think the boxes are a little too nothing unless you're cremating and he doesn' want cremation) But it makes no sense to put what amounts to the downpayment and consistency of a small car into the ground. We're not preserving people. I so liked the film "A Family Undertaking" that had the dead waked at home and let people see them and say goodbye over a few days. I also, as much as I love my dad, don't see the reason to throw away money to stuff and mount him and show him off in something that's going to rust in the ground. With strangers handling him... Yes there might be some need to have, in some very old vaults, specially sized coffins. but are you telling me that those sizes can't be given to families so they can get appropriatesly sized coffins? They only way any change can happen is if people here are allowed to have choice and those options are clearly stated BY FUNERAL HOMES before any commitments are made. No, Ms. Jones, your father does not have to be embalmed (there are some special circumstances that may have to do with communicable diseases possibly,but nothing else I know of), but we'll have to bury him in three days or less. Yes you may prepare the body before we pick it up. No you do not have to buy the coffin from us and these are the standard dimensions of coffins we sell. You can measure your family member's body and have a coffin made to fit the body. There might be some issue if your family member is extremely heavy or exceptionally tall or both. But we have recommendations for those eventualities if you need them.
I also bristle at the extra charge for funeral, burials on Saturdays or Sundays. If I break my leg on a weekend and end up at the hospital, I still get charged the same fee if I end up in surgery. But after you're dead you're an inconvenience. Weekends are when most people are available, especially out of town relatives, to come to funerals. It's when children are out of school and when most people won't miss work. This is an unethical charge. I am so distressed that my choices for my dad's last ride are so limited in this state and so costly. He has made no formal plans and hasn't talked with my brother and I about it. Which could also lead to difficulty.
It's disheartening, to say the least.
16 Thursday, 24 January 2013 18:41
Kim
Are you allowed by Louisiana laws to purchase your own urn vault in advance. I just returned from the cemetary where my plots are and I am not and I repeat not going to pay the prices they gave me. They wanted to charge me over $900 just to tranfer me from the cremation site to the funeral home. I will be doing more research. My family is not going to be ripoffed.

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