News and Blogs

Where Death Comes Cheap - Newsweek Interviews FCA

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Check out the March 16, 2009 Newsweek Magazine story on families looking for a dignified send-off that won't bury them in debt. Writer Matthew Phillips does a great job laying-out simpler, cheaper ways to get to the great beyond.

Last Updated ( Friday, 01 May 2009 13:32 ) Read more...

Home Funeral Services in Colorado in Legislative Question

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4/3/2009 - Boulder Weekly ran a feature story on the bill, highlighting the sponsor's consultation with industry - but not consumer groups - in drafting this bill. FCA did have a productive conversation with the executive director of the Colorado Funeral Director's Association, which resulted in many areas of agreement on possible amendments (though not total agreement). Here's the letter we sent to Rep. Nancy Todd with suggested amendments. She appears to be refusing to communicate with us; why a lawmaker would ignore pleas from a consumer group while drafting "consumer protection" legislation with the aid of a business lobbying group is a mystery.


3/5/09 --- An anti-consumer bill is working its way through the Colorado legislature, and FCA is fighting back with the help of its Colorado chapter, the Funeral Consumer Society of Colorado. HB 1202 purports to better protect consumers by requiring regulation and standards for funeral businesses, but the bill's sloppy language would outlaw private, family-directed funerals and stifle competition that could bring lower-cost funerals and cremations to Colorado families. The bill looks to be the handiwork of the Colorado Funeral Directors Association, and it has all the hallmarks of a lobbying group using lawmakers to circle the hearses to protect funeral industry profits.

Click here to read FCA's critique of the bill.

FCA Executive Director Joshua Slocum will discuss the bill on KGNU Community Radio on March 5, 2009. Click here to stream the live broadcast at 8:00 a.m. Mountain Time.

Last Updated ( Thursday, 19 November 2009 16:12 )

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...

Utah - Freedom to Care for One's Own Dead restored - 2009

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3/25/2009 UPDATE - HB 265 has been signed into law by the Utah governor!

- Joyce Mitchell called us crying with happiness today; after tireless organizing, lobbying, and testifying, this one-woman powerhouse got a bill passed in the Utah House to restore citizens' rights to care for their own dead.

"I can't believe it," Mitchell said by cell-phone after the vote, laughing and sniffling at the same time. "If it weren't for [the national FCA], the FCA Biennial Conference last year, and the FCA email discussion list, I couldn't have done. You all kept up my enthusiasm and broke me out of my apathy."

Actually, Mitchell, the President of the FCA of Utah, is the real heroine. Outraged at a 2006 law that forced Utah citizens to hire funeral homes if they wanted a completed death certificate and custody of the body, Mitchell rounded up families and home funeral activists to testify to the Utah House. David Robles and his wife, Marcia Robles-Racehorse, consumer advocates from the Shoshone-Bannock Tribe in Idaho, were particularly helpful, as were Native American leaders who supported HB 265 . The bill passed the House overwhelmingly, and Mitchell has found a Senate supporter to shepherd the bill through the senate.

Mitchell's success is a testament to what "ordinary" citizens can do when they remember that the government serves the people, not the other way around. Mitchell put up a website dedicated to the issue , gathered families who'd been affected by the 2006 law, and gave Powerpoint presentations on the issue to legislative committees.

Hats off to all of you who went to the mat on this important issue. Your work has restored a fundamental freedom for all Utah families. Special thanks to Rep. Brad Daw, who understood the injustice of depriving families of control over their death rituals, and who was willing to stand up for the right thing.

Last Updated ( Thursday, 26 March 2009 17:04 )

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