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FCA recognizes that the dissemination of individual experiences, the reporting of public information, and linking to other sites can help further our mission of educating the public on their funeral rights and options. However, FCA's limited resources and the nature of the Internet make it impossible to verify the content of personal experiences that are supplied by others or to verify the content of linked sites. FCA accepts no responsibility for these. Comments on the contents of personal reports and linked websites should be directed to the author(s).



The Surprising Satisfaction of a Home Funeral

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Author Max Alexander has written a moving account of the family-directed funeral of his father-in-law, contrasting it with the conventional and costly mortuary affair for his own father. Here's a sampling from the March, 2009 article in Smithsonian Magazine:

One was buried, one was cremated. One was embalmed, one wasn't. One had a typical American funeral-home cotillion; one was laid out at home in a homemade coffin. I could tell you that sorting out the details of these two dead fathers taught me a lot about life, which is true. But what I really want to share is that dead bodies are perfectly OK to be around, for a while.

I suppose people whose loved ones are missing in action or lost at sea might envy the rest of us, for whom death typically leaves a corpse, or in the polite language of funeral directors, "the remains." Yet for all our desire to possess this tangible evidence of a life once lived, we've become oddly squeamish about our dead. We pay an average of $6,500 for a funeral, not including cemetery costs, in part so we don't have to deal with the physical reality of death. That's 13 percent of the median American family's annual income.

 

Last Updated ( Friday, 01 May 2009 13:31 )
 

Undertaken With Love

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2/15/2009 - FCA volunteer Holly Stevens has completed work on a comprehensive guide to caring for one's own dead, with the help of activists and volunteers from around the country. Here's her press release:

I am pleased to announce that after six months of diligence and hard work by a truly talented nationwide group of home funeral advocates, our manual and study guide to home funeral committees is now published and available!

Undertaken with Love: A Home Funeral Guide for Congregations and Communities is intended for:

* Congregational committees that form to support home funerals for their members

* Pastors and other spiritual leaders contemplating a home funeral ministry

* Secular social groups that form to support home funerals for their members

* The families themselves

Last Updated ( Monday, 25 January 2010 21:04 ) Read more...
 

Caring For Your Own Dead: Myths and Facts

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1/30/2009 - Joshua Slocum, FCA Executive Director

Caring for one's own dead isn't something the majority of families do. Most of us are so distant from the realities of death, we've forgotten that our great grandparents regularly waked the body at home, and an undertaker was a helper, not a funeral director. But in my six years as the executive director of FCA, there's been a surprising resurgence of interest in private, family-directed funerals. Formerly confined to a few hippies (I mean that affectionately) in Northern California, or in the pages of Lisa Carlson's Caring for the Dead, Your Final Act of Love, home funerals are finding new life in volunteer groups and in the mainstream media. In 2004, Public Television aired an hour-long documentary on the topic.

But families in seven states (CT, IN, LA, MI, NE, NY, UT) face legal obstacles. Astonishingly, those states have seen fit to require families to engage a funeral home for everything from filing the death certificate, to transporting the casket, to getting the body released from the hospital. Whether the family wants to hire a funeral director or not, whether they can afford to pay one or not. Click READ MORE for the rest of the story. . .

Last Updated ( Friday, 30 January 2009 21:43 ) Read more...
 

Why the Law Matters - What Every Funeral Consumer Needs to Know

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1/21/2009 - Holly Stevens, a co-founder of the newest FCA chapter, The Funeral Consumers Alliance of the Piedmont in North Carolina, has assembled an easy to read guide to funeral law for consumers in her state. Most people aren't even aware there is such a beast as "funeral law." If they are, they usually think, "I don't need to worry about that." Wrong. Grieving families who don't know their legal rights are vulnerable to sales pressure, manipulation, and overspending when it comes time to plan a funeral. Stevens knows this well, and has done an excellent job putting arcane legalese into plain language anyone can understand.

Did you know that in North Carolina:

1. Families can act as their own funeral directors - they don't have to hire a funeral home and they can complete all the paperwork themselves?

2. That there's no state fund to pay for funerals for those who die poor?

3. That it's almost impossible to get a refund after 30 days (even if you move or change your mind) when you buy graves and markers ahead of time?

Probably not, but these are things every savvy funeral consumer should know. Stevens has kindly given us permission to excerpt the introduction and Q & A from her book, Care of the Dead: North Carolina Statutes. This is a must-read for any North Carolina citizen. It's also a great model for other Funeral Consumers Alliance affiliates to adopt. If you're on the board of an FCA group and you can't answer these questions about your own state's laws, now's the time to assemble a helpful guide for your members. We're sure Holly Stevens would be pleased if you're inspired by her work. Click READ MORE for the excerpt. . .

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 21 January 2009 23:27 ) Read more...
 

Detroit Paper Covers Undertaker Suit Against Consumer Advocates

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1/21/2009 - FCA announced in September that prominent funeral director and author Thomas Lynch sued us in federal court, claiming we libeled and defamed him. The suit also names the Funeral Ethics Organization, its Executive Director Lisa Carlson, and the Funeral Consumers Alliance of Idaho, our volunteer-run chapter in that state. Detroit's arts and weekly, the Detroit Metro Times, put the story on their cover this week. It's well worth the read.

Last Updated ( Sunday, 15 February 2009 21:42 ) Read more...
 


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