Sponsored by George Fox University
Home Back Issues February 2010 Consumers go for cheaper burials

Consumers go for cheaper burials

| Print |  Email
Articles - February 2010
Thursday, January 21, 2010

The recession is having another unforeseen consequence. Funeral directors report more and more people are making cheaper choices when choosing arrangements for their deceased.

“People are definitely opting for minimum services and merchandise,” says Jerome Daniel, the owner of Niswonger-Reynolds Funeral Home in Bend.

Customers are purchasing fewer flowers, less ornate headstones and urns, and having services at home or at a park rather than at a funeral home’s chapel, avoiding costs that can range from $1,000 to $3,100 for a cremation and $3,500 to $5,000 for a burial.

Beverly LaFollette says that her funeral home, LaFollette’s Chapel in Burns, has seen a “huge” increase in people choosing cremations, perhaps as much as 20%.

As the unwillingness or inability to pay for funeral services rises, so has the popularity of a quick and cheaper way to say goodbye: immediate disposition companies.

Immediate disposition companies will take the body from the family and either cremate or bury it immediately. They do not offer options for viewing, embalming, spaces for memorial services, or other services typically found at a funeral home. The price is typically under $1,000.

According to the Cemetery and Mortuary Board, the state regulatory agency for funeral homes and immediate disposition companies in Oregon, there are 194 funeral homes in the state and eight immediate disposition companies, the oldest of which was licensed in 2003.

John Gerbish, the owner of such a company, Affordable Funeral Alternatives in Gresham, says a direct cremation costs $585 and a direct burial (which comes with a casket) costs $895.

The lower cost makes immediate disposition cheaper than traditional burials or cremations, and funeral homes are feeling the impact.

“We are losing business to direct cremation societies because they are viewed as the more economic choice,” says Andrea White, owner of Mt. Scott Funeral Home in Portland. “People are going to be forced into that because they don’t have the funds available to do anything else,” says Cindy Hinton, the president of the Oregon Funeral Directors Association. Also, demand on the state’s indigent burial fund has grown as the economy has faltered, and the death filing fee was recently increased to help.

Hinton says that disposing of a family member so quickly, without viewing them for a final time, having no service or other traditional rituals, and going without what White calls “a personal touch,” will have effects on more than a person’s pocketbook.

“It is going to change the way we deal with death,” Hinton says.

“People are bypassing the grieving process,” says Erin Phelps, the owner of Omega Funeral and Cremation in Portland.

Gerbish doesn’t necessarily think that is the case, although he admits families are “probably short-cutting the whole process.”

AMANDA WALDROUPE
 

Comments   

 
Marian Spadone
0 #1 short cutting grief?Marian Spadone 2010-02-04 22:58:20
Hello,
Thanks for this article about what I find to be a somewhat alarming trend. It's sad to think of people believing they are unable to afford the kind of closure they may need when facing a death of someone they love. There is often another option though. In Oregon, as in nearly every state, a designated friend or family member has the right to act as a funeral director for someone they love who has died. In practical terms this means that a family can take on both the care of the body and filling out the death certificate. In terms of closure, this means that people can engage their spiritual beliefs and create a meaningful vigil or wake in the home or a place of their choosing. (church, community center, etc.) In Oregon, you have the right to transport a body home from the hospital or nursing facility. (you can verify this by a call to your local county medical examiner) Embalming is neither necessary nor required by law (except in rare cases) and a family can use dry ice to preserve a body long enough for a dignified home vigil. In addition, a simple inexpensive cardboard casket can be purchased at most funeral homes and family and friends can decorate or "personalize", in a surprisingly satisfying way. Of course this still leaves the cost of a burial plot plus the fee for opening and closing the grave, if a person chooses burial. Prices for plots vary widely so it's good to think ahead on this and do some research. If a family chooses cremation or even direct cremation, they can still do all of the above and perhaps save even further on some of the costs. Some funeral homes will work with people and offer a list of individually priced services that support home care of the dead. In addition, there is a growing network of people calling themselves Home Funeral Guides who have researched all of the above and can be available to support a family's legal rights to a home or family directed funeral. The bottom line is to think about all of this ahead of time, and talk about it with your family members. You can make informed choices about this, and you may find that doing so gives you a surprising sense of relief and confidence about facing death. And that can change the way you live your life.
Quote | Report to administrator
 

More Articles

Attack of the Robin Sages

Contributed Blogs
Monday, July 07, 2014
070714 thumb linkedinfakesBY TOM COX | OB BLOGGER

Named after the 2010 experiment by Thomas Ryan, "Robin Sages" are fake social media profiles designed to encourage linking and divulging valuable information.


Read more...

Understanding Oregon medical marijuana dispensary tenants

News
Friday, June 13, 2014
061314 thumb grassrentBY CLIFF HOCKLEY | OB GUEST BLOGGER

This article summarizes the key considerations a building owner must keep in mind when thinking about leasing to a medical marijuana dispensary.


Read more...

Why I became an Oregon angel investor

Guest Blog
Monday, July 14, 2014
AngelInvestBY TERRY "STARBUCKER" ST. MARIE

I really didn’t know that much about angel investing, but I did know a lot about the entrepreneurial spirit.


Read more...

13 West Coast seafood species now 'sustainable'

News
Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Fishing OrBiz Fishing 0357 ADOBErgbCiting the transition to catch shares management as a key to rebuilding stocks and reducing bycatch, 13 species caught by the West Coast trawl fishery today earned designation from the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) as sustainable.


Read more...

Q&A: David Lively of Organically Grown Co.

News
Tuesday, July 01, 2014
OGCLogoBY HANNAH WALLACE | OB BLOGGER

Demand for organic food continues to soar: Last year, sales of organic food rose to $32.3 billion — up 10% from 2012. In Oregon, organic produce wholesaler Organically Grown Co. has been championing organic growing methods for four decades.


Read more...

Oregon Business wins awards

News
Monday, June 30, 2014

ASBPEOregon Business magazine won two silver awards for excellence in writing in the National American Society of Business Publication Editors Western region competition.


Read more...

Oversight? Or gaming the system?

News
Monday, July 14, 2014
AmazonBY VIVIAN MCINERNY | OB BLOGGER

Some people think Amazon’s winking eye logo is starting to look like a hoodwink.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS