News and Blogs

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...
 

Minnesota - 2009, Caring for Your Own Dead

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1/12/2009 - A misguided bill in 2007 significantly restricted the rights of families and religious groups to care for their own dead without the involvement of a commercial funeral home. Green burial activist Theresa Purcell, founder of the Natural Burial Project in Minnesota, is bringing together concerned people who want to return those rights to ordinary citizens. If you want to help with the effort, email her at theresakay [at] gmail.com. She's getting ready for a meeting with sympathetic lawmakers, so now's the time to contact her. You can also email us at FCA at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it for more information.

Funeral Consumers Alliance and the Funeral Ethics Organization wrote a joint letter to Minnesota lawmakers asking for revisions to the law. Here's what we're asking for:

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 21 January 2009 23:49 ) 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...
 

Georgia County Bans Green Burial - FCA Responds

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UPDATE 1/16/2009 - Billy Campbell, founder of the nation's first green cemetery, wrote an editorial in the Macon Telegraph inviting Bibb County Commissioners to tour his burial ground. Let's see if he gets a better response than we did.


For the first time, an American county has banned green burial. Bibb County, Georgia, enacted an ordinance November 4, 2008, essentially making it impossible for environmentally friendly cemeteries to open. Astonishingly, residents and Commissioners claimed they were protecting the environment by banning the most environmentally benign form of burial. Misinformation stoked fears among citizens about decomposing bodies leaking into the groundwater. Never mind that naturally decaying bodies don't harm aquifers, never mind the environmental impact (and out-of-pocket cost) of burying corpses full of formaldehyde and encased in steel and concrete. The Commission went on a legislative frenzy with the perverse consequence of enshrining the most expensive and resource-intense burials as the only kind allowed in Bibb County. Click "Read More" below. . .

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 28 July 2015 12:05 ) Read more...
 


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