Okay, I did it. I did my very first funeral home shopping for costs. And apparently, for education, since I got that in spades.
What I learned very quickly, in the 30 mins it took me to have conversations with three local funeral homes:
Prices vary! I knew this was true, but doing the shopping yourself and knowing it’s your own $$ being discussed —much more impact. I was inquiring about the cost of transporting my body to a medical facility, since I’m donating my body. The three prices I got were $350, $375, and $675. If my family were in a rush, or felt guilty for “shopping around,” and happened to call the $675 place first and went with it, I’d be turning over in the grave I don’t even have yet. Almost twice as much as the first place. And it’s possible that cost would be doubled, because if my death occurred over the weekend, when the Humanity Gifts Registry (the PA organization that handles body donation) is off-hours, my body would first have to go to a funeral home for storage, and then on Monday to the medical facility, which counts as two trips. So that would be either $700 or $1350 just for moving my dead body!!
There’s an education to be had. Each funeral home gave me varying amounts of additional info about the body donation process, including some of their experiences, good and bad. Very helpful. And I’m someone who’s done some research and thought I understood. There were a number of details I’d completely misunderstood or didn’t realize were entailed. There’s a crazy amount of details, costs, paperwork, laws, processes, and customs at play here. I’m so grateful to have gotten informed and enlightened.
Vibes matter. This was probably the most surprising aspect of all. The three conversations were very different, and my gut reactions were strong. In a nutshell:
- #1 F.H. was helpful and eager to talk, but seemed a little self-sacrificing, like maybe he doesn’t get to vent enough about how hard it is being a funeral director.
- #2 F.H. was exceptionally professional, warm, and inviting, and equally informative as #1.
- #3 F.H. gave me the impression he wouldn’t even want my business. Maybe he doesn’t like just transporting bodies, because his tone was very unhelpful and indifferent. Kinda funny, since he was the most expensive.
I am clear that #2 is the place I would want to visit and perhaps include in my written funeral plans. (And he invited me to come visit, which neither of the others did.) And my decision mostly comes from the vibe I got from each of them.
I had no idea how important shopping around would prove. It seems preposterous to me now, just based on a half hour’s experience, that the average person calls one funeral home at the time of need and just goes with it.
We need to find a way to not leave these essential decisions to the last minute. They’re financial, logistical, and emotional, and impact our experiences and memories forever.
I Want a Fun Funeral is on it. Please reach out and let me know if you’re on it, too.