Cremation Public Service Announcement

Here is why price should not be the only driving factor when choosing cremation. Since the onset of COVID19, cremation has become increasingly popular. Here are 7 questions everyone should ask when choosing cremation provider.

When inquiring about the cost of cremation, please do not rely solely on the informational material, or well-intended recommendations from a hospice or caseworker. To know the truth about who you are trusting your loved one’s cremation with, know the right questions to ask.  There is a reason when selecting cremation, a local provider should be preferred. Your loved one is not a commodity, they are family. To be completely candid, I am in the death care business, but this is not about my business. It is about ethics, transparency, and providing you with the knowledge to make an informed choice. When it comes to end of life decisions, you do not want to be treated like a number.

Here are the following questions to help guide your decision.

  1. Where is your cremation provider located?
  2. What crematory does your provider use?
  3. Where is the crematory located?
  4. Does your provider have onsite refrigeration to hold your loved one until the cremation takes place?
  5. Can you be present or witness the cremation at the crematory if desired?
  6. How will your loved one be returned to you?
  7. Are payment plans available?

This is why these questions are essential.

When a sudden death has occurred, many times, a person is provided a list or even searches google for the cremation providers in their area. For example, in my service area when I “google” cremation over 21 locations appear (Muskegon & Ottawa County, Michigan).  When you break it down even further there are only two local and well-established funeral home & cremation providers who can control the cremation process from hello to good-bye. These funeral providers have a sister company who owns and operates their crematory.  This means that once your loved one enters their care; they are not outsourced to a 3rd party. This is important as many cremation providers do not own or operate their own crematory.

If your provider outsources their cremation, ask where the facility is located. It is within your community or is your loved one being transported to another city or county. In my service area, there are two local crematories who are reputable. What is concerning is that there are cremation providers who are not local and do not use a local crematory. Everything is done remote and your loved one is being transported anywhere from one to three hours away without clearly explaining this to the next of kin.

Here is why onsite refrigeration is important. Most people are unaware that the cremation itself does not take place immediately. It is not uncommon for the process to take place multiple days after death has occurred. Without going into detail, the reason behind this has everything to do with paperwork requirements, the identification process, and communicating with the legal next of kin. Then and only then can cremation take place. Add weekends, holidays, and now a pandemic into the mix, it can become lengthy.

Always ask your provider if you can witness or be present for a final farewell. Even if they outsource the cremation, this should be able to be scheduled.  TRANSPARENCY IS EVERYTHING. Whether or not you desire to be there ask if this is an option! If they hesitate or say no, that should be a red flag.

Once the cremation is complete and your loved one is ready to come home, you or a designated individual should be able pick up the remains personally. Being told you will receive your loved one’s remains through the mail as your only option, is a clear red flag that your cremation provider, crematory, or both are not local.

There are many cremation providers to choose from, however, many providers do not financially work with people. Not everyone can pay 100% of the cost upfront. Ask your provider if there is a payment plan, or they will work with you until funds can be accesses.

Bottom line, as a consumer, you need to be your own advocate. No question should be off limits. Local is always better as these businesses and the individuals that provide the services, live and work in the community. There is a sense of pride that comes with caring for people who are their friends and neighbors.  Just like anything else in life, when you see a price that is too good to be true – question it. Ask the above questions. If you are comfortable with the answers, then make your choice.

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About the Author

Jodi M. Clock is an international speaker and expert on helping families have difficult conversations with their loved ones about legacy planning. After personally witnessing the financial confusion that families endure, especially at an emotionally taxing time, Ms. Clock has centered her career on helping people understand the options available to them. Since 1988, Jodi has worked in the “end-of-life planning” industry, including family and corporate-owned funeral homes, advance funeral planning companies and casket manufacturers. Today, she practices what she preaches at Clock Funeral Home and Clock Timeless Pets with her husband, Dale.

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