Discussion Forum and Mailing List

The FCA has created online forums to encourage discussion and the exchange of ideas and experiences among funeral consumers. Note that you must be a registered user of the site in order to post to the forum threads. To register, visit our home page and click "create an account" on the lower left-hand corner. There's also a Help section in the forums you can click on below.

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TOPIC: First post

First post 25 Jan 2009 16:39 #189

Let the discussion begin.
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Re:First post 26 Jan 2009 09:07 #193

I live up in the Adirondack mountains of northern NY State, and have gone through the funeral experience twice. My mother passed away back in '95. She was life flighted to a hospital in Burlington, VT and so died there. Her wishes were a direct cremation. My father, brother, and I, wanted to be as much a part of the final disposition as possible. With advice from Lisa Carlson (VT FCA) we found that VT state law allowed me to file the death certificate myself (a very simple matter - and family has to provide all the information anyway). With a transit permit from VT, my father, brother, and I delivered my mother's remains to the crematory in St. Johnsbury, VT. The following summer, at a time convenient to all her friends and relatives, we held a memorial celebration of my mother's life.

More recently my father passed away. He died here at home with the assistance of hospice, and surrounded by family. I held his hand as he took his last breath. (My wife and I have been living together with my dad since the day my mother passed away.) Here in NY State the laws are quite different from VT, and from the laws in most of the United States. Here, a 'licensed funeral director' is required to sign the death certificate (after the doctor has already stated cause of death and signed it), has to be present at both ends of any transit of the body (which effectively means that he is going to transport the body or charge as much as if he did), and he must be present for all other aspects of the funeral. This has created a funeral industry monopoly here in NY State because NY State law forces you to employ the 'services' of a funeral director.

We need to change that law! This does not mean folks will have to perform their own funerals. Most everyone, I suspect, will carry on as usual and deal with a funeral home. But, anyone should have the RIGHT to do it themselves if that is their wish - and I can state from personal experience that this provides a great deal of closure for what is always going to be a very sad time in your life. Such a change should also have another effect. Prices will probably come down for everyone because funeral homes will not have you over a barrel.

The 'licensed' funeral director, sitting at our kitchen table alongside the town clerk (with whom he had to 'file' it) filled out the death certificate INCORRECTLY because I had been called away for a few moments to the telephone. He had started casually asking my brother questions about my father and thus filled in the wrong information for my grandfather's first name (because my grandfather was always referred to by a name that was not his actual first name) and he got my grandmother's name wrong spelling Catherine with a 'K'. I returned from the telephone and they had to make corrections. This was difficult because they had only one copy of the form that had been signed by the doctor so this held up my being able to receive a correct copy of the death certificate for several days.

The 'licensed funeral director' then transported my father's remains to the crematory in Queensbury, NY. On the day my father was to be cremated the family all traveled down to Queensbury to attend, and then brought my father's ashes back home with us. We shall hold a memorial celebration of his life this coming summer.

I am attaching a pamphlet I recently wrote that I hope hospice will use as a hand-out to families to assist them with the funeral process. At the present time hospice simply tells the family that it would be appropriate to start making funeral arrangements leaving the family on their own to work through this.

Dick Bentley
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Re:First post 26 Jan 2009 12:11 #194

Thanks for starting this forum, Josh. As you requested in your e-mail, I'm logging in to introduce myself. I'm Julie Lomoe, Administrator of the Memorial Society of the Hudson-Mohawk Region in upstate New York. Our chapter was founded in 1964, and we have over 1,000 members.

It's exciting to be in on the beginning of a long overdue initiative to change NYS funeral law. It's a formidable undertaking :S , but at the very least, I'm confident it will help bring wider attention to the benefits our chapter has to offer.
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