Know Your End-of-Life Options

On Tuesday the Burlington Free Press published an interesting article about the funeral industry, Some Vermont funeral homes charge twice as much as others—and what that means. Having worked with grieving families over the past twenty years, I was not surprised that funeral pricing varies greatly from one funeral home to the next. I have definitely worked with reputable, professional funeral homes, but I have also worked with funeral homes that prey on people at their most vulnerable. As Josh Slocum of the Funeral Consumer Alliance points out, “Vermonters can pay up to three times as much for the same service depending on which funeral home is chosen.” Neither was I surprised that some funeral homes do not inform clients of all their options.

When making End-of-Life plans, cost may not be the deciding factor in choosing a funeral home.  Other aspects, such as professionalism, quality service, and experience must be considered.  Yet cost is an important factor and one that should be clear upfront. As an End-of-Life planner, I know how stressful it can be to make decisions in a time of grief.  Whether one is making arrangements ahead of time, or facing the unexpected death of a loved one, it is important to know all the options – legally, economically, and spiritually.  As an End-of-Life planner, I can help families navigate these decisions to design end of life plans that take into account their emotional and financial concerns.

As the article points out, there are many end-of-life options available that are not widely known, partly because some in the funeral industry want to protect their profits. For example, embalming is not legally required, even though most funeral homes will not allow a public viewing without it. A family may choose to have a wake at home, rather than in a funeral parlor, bringing the body of the deceased loved one back into a place of comfort and familiarity. There are also options, such as green burials, that do not require cremation or burial in a traditional cemetery. It is important to know all the options when making final arrangements for oneself or a loved one.