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Cremation - Final Arrangements

Updated on January 26, 2014

The Business of Dealing With Untimely Deaths

Dealing with Final Arrangements

If you have ever been involved in planning someone’s funeral, you have had first hand experience in realizing how little you may know. You may need to do a little investigating in this area. It is hard for most people to think someone we love has been taken from us. Then suddenly there are decision that need to be made in a short time. Just doing some basic research may save family members some stress and possibly a lot of money. Don't wait until you are grieving to make these decisions.

First, you will find that if the death is untimely, and there doesn't seem to be an obvious reason for death, fluid samples have to be taken and the state usually takes 2-3 weeks to do the testing. This means that you won’t get a death certificate for several weeks. During that time, dealing with loss is hard enough and calling business contacts is something that can wait, so that is really not an immediate concern. Sometime it is good to be able to say that the results are pending.

Business Note

  • Note: Do not let a cell phone company tell you that the phone is still under contract and therefore the plan cannot be terminated. It can be terminated, and is required to be terminated by law, once the death certificate has been obtained.
  • Also, some Internet sites and cellular phone companies require a birth certificate also. I suppose to prove that this is not a scam to turn off service. I SUPPOSE PEOPLE WILL TRY ANTHING TO GET OUT OF A CONTRACT!!!
  • Also, you might want to ask your immediate family to tell you where they store their passwords. I was lucky in that I knew most of the passwords and ID’s, but there were a few I didn’t. I had to write letters and believe me finding a phone number or even an address where you can contact someone at Yahoo to close the account is time consuming and frustrating.
  • Lesson Learned: After this experience, I decided I would try to put a Trust together for my daughter so things may be a little easier. But, if not a Trust, put together a booklet of all important papers, etc., and tell a close friend or relative where you keep it.

Since our family member was fairly young and not married there was no insurance. We paid for it out of pocket. I think some funeral homes now have payment plans, but that is something that you might want to research in your area.

More to Cremation than Ashes

Things that I had not considered.

  • There are cremation expenses, even if there is no embalming (which is required in some places).
  • There is the cost of the urn, if the ashes are not going to be scattered. There is cremation art, cremation stones, and a number of remembrance items to be purchased, even if you don't buy a display urn.
  • There are different sizes of urns. Consideration has to be made as to the size of the person that the urn is for. If you chose a permanent holding receptacle. Even if you only want a small amount of ashes in an urn, or want ashes for some other type of remembrance, these questions have to be considered.
  • Most people would like to publish the death in the paper if for no other reason then to make sure that people are notified that the family might not remember.

I wasn't aware of the guest books that some newspapers offer when the obituary sites are accessed. People sign-in and leave a message. I would have never known about this without this experience, and it made me happy to see some of the comments and realize that someone took time out of their day to acknowledge our loss. This book can be made permanent for a fee, of course. Plus, you can print off your own copy and keep in your records for free. Usually ithis book is open for a month for comments unless you pay to have it open longer.

What Will it Cost?

Since the options are many, I will just relate my experience. The funeral home was very nice, picked up the body. They had to put it in a special container since we didn't purchase a casket.

In the state where I live, probably most states, funeral homes charge a fee for handling a non-embalmed body. They take it for cremation. If a urn is purchased from them or some other place, it has to be presented to them to make the transfer.

I purchased one online that was nice. It was one of the larger sizes.

Just recently, I did some research on companies that only handle cremations, and they had 3 levels of pricing. The highest price was a couple hundred higher than I paid. The lowest was a couple of thousand lower. For what we wanted and what we did, probably the middle level is what we did in reality, and it would have been about one thousand dollars cheaper.

  • Both the Funeral home and Level II and Level III, offered a guest book and thank you notes.
  • For the middle price at the cremation service we would have help with setting up the memorial services which we did ourselves. Since we were new to the area, I think that going with what relatives offered to do at the time was best for us.
  • We arranged to have flowers delivered, but we had to deliver the urn to the funeral home to transfer the ashes.

Pictures and Videos

I have to admit that I have only been to a couple of funerals or memorial services that had pictures and videos.

  • We used a tri-fold board with scraping booking supplies to put a visual display together. We used embellishments to enhance the pictures that would coordinate with activities, groups, and special occasions that displayed friends or family.
  • We also quickly put a video together of pictures and events. Of course, computers being what they are, and my limited experience with a slide show, this was especially frustrating for me. It didn't help that I had to take time to scan pictures in that were made years ago. Since we had a little trouble, we ended up with a video a little shorter and not as professional as I would have liked to have had.

Note: This might be a good time to put something together, listing pictures, telling others what your favorite songs are, and to keep those pictures organized!!! Maybe you can even make a few videos with pictures scanned in from days before digital cameras.


Flowers are a very personal decision. Some people choose to limit the flowers and indicate that a donation to a charity that has some meaning to the family or individual would be appreciated. In this time when the economy is difficult, some worthy charities are having a difficult time surviving.

Personally, I do like a few flowers at the Service and a few plants if any were sent to be given to the family in memory of their loved one. It is also a reminder that there are people who care and thought of the family at this sad time.

Some people do not like "funeral" flowers. I know I have memories of going to the funeral home as a child and the scent stays with you forever. Or, if you have a Wake, use some of the flowers to decorate the serving table.

Social Media

I had never given Social Media a thought when it came to something like death, but I was able to notify the friends of my loved one through his Facebook home page. There were some gamers from overseas that I heard from that I would have never known to contact.

Although, not all of my friends are on Facebook, I was able to contact those that live in other states without spending hours on the phone at a time when there is so much to do. I, of course, was able to reach a lot of people quickly through my email contacts.

I think Social Media gets a thumbs up on this.


I had some difficulty with cemeteries. I had an idea where I wanted this Urn to be. The cemetery wanted to make me think that I needed to make a selection quickly or the place I wanted would be gone. I saw recently that the place I wanted is still vacant.

I have decided to shop for a place with several niches for several family members, and if someone decides they don't want to use their niche, then they can sell it later on. I will feel better knowing that I at least tried to make things a little easier in a difficult time.

I may still use the first place, but it will my time and decision. I have the Urn, but it is a decision I want to be right.

I hope this article was informative and not too much of a downer.

I am sure that some cemetaries are easier to work with, and my emotional state could have been part of the problem too. I know that the salespeople are there to make a living, but it seems to be that they have a corner on the market and wouldn't have to worry too long about a sale.


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    • justateacher profile image

      LaDena Campbell 6 years ago from Somewhere Over The Rainbow - Near Oz...

      I have also been through this process - twice in the last two years. My mother, luckily, had made all of the arrangements - she knew the cemetery, the service, the songs, the notices, everything. We just had to contact the funeral home and that was it.

      When my uncle passed, we were caught totally surprised...we had been told all of his arrangements had been made, when actually none had been made. Luckily, we knew what cemetery we wanted...and we used the same funeral home that had done our mom's funeral.

      We decided to have my uncle cremated and were told we could buy our own urn or container for the ashes or buy one from them or any other place that offered them. We went to a local home improvement store and found a container for under twenty dollars...then we had to find someone to perform the services and find a place to gather after the services...

      It was a tough time..and at one time or another we all to do it at least once in our lives...

    • K. Burns Darling profile image

      Kristen Burns-Darling 6 years ago from Orange County, California

      Having just gone through the process of making my father's final arrangements, I can honestly say that it is a grueling process, and yes, they will try to get you coming and going. My father had a living trust, but apparently decided that he was going to live forever, and so all funeral arrangements, while provided for financially, were left up to me. We did a powerpoint presentation for my father's funeral, my teenage children and their two closest friends,(who also had relationships with my dad) put it together, and it played before the service, and during the end of the service when people were given the opportunity to file by the casket and pay their last respects. We had done the tri-fold boards at both of my grandparents services, and I had pictures actually stolen from the boards. The other benefit of the PowerPoint presentation was that I was able to provide copies of it for my dad's nieces who live in Alaska and were unable to attend, and each of my children wanted a copy for themselves. A great hub with lots of useful information. Thanks for writing it!