Funeral advice needed

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Posted 9/26/2013 by cbee in NSBR Board


PeaNut 383,986
July 2008
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Loc: Washington

Posted: 9/26/2013 11:47:05 PM
My mom passed away today. It was unexpected but she was 90 years old, believe it or not. I could really use some advice or perhaps warnings about dealing with funeral homes, services, etc. What questions should I be asking about costs or other?

Before I had any chance to shed tears, the funeral director is insisting over the phone that I supply names, middle names, social security numbers, etc. for my mom and her parents and so forth. I had no idea how to answer the questions, and he was so insistent. All her relatives are dead. I am scrambling around the closets to find anything, old photos, old documents, and searching the internet for grave site info.

Do all of you know everything about your grandparents? The funeral home has to put her parents names on the forms to obtain death certificates.


Just Lizzy
Original Pea #5005

PeaNut 19,817
August 2001
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Posted: 9/26/2013 11:53:33 PM
I'm sorry for your loss. May your memories of your mother live on in your heart.

Do all of you know everything about your grandparents?
Pretty much so. I have my family tree pretty well filled out back at least five generations.

Even before I started doing genealogy, though, I at least knew the basics: grandparents and great-grandparents names, dates of birth and death, and places for each.

My mother also has all this information spelled out in a living will she and my dad established about ten years ago (they are both 83). I think once you get "up there" in age it's prudent to have this information gathered for your children/surviving relatives.

Feeder of Denali, Dakota, Shadow & Kai

Ancient Ancestor of Pea

PeaNut 289,166
December 2006
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Posted: 9/26/2013 11:57:27 PM
I'm sorry for your loss as well. It must be so hard to have so many questions and have your heart be so heavy. I haven't had to handle the arrangements so I can't help you there. I have lost a parent though so I know how hard that is. Take care of yourself.

Sugar Snap Pea

PeaNut 257,999
April 2006
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Posted: 9/26/2013 11:58:25 PM
I'm so sorry for your loss. No matter how old we are, losing a parent is tough.

You have a lot of decisions to make. Burial or cremation? Do you have a plot? Do you want a stone and if so, what do you want on it? Do you want a religious leader to conduct a service? Lots of questions but the funeral home should be able to help you with those.

You also want multiple copies of the death certificate to send to various agencies, insurance, etc. I think we got six for my mom.


PeaNut 383,986
July 2008
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Posted: 9/27/2013 12:01:01 AM
I am sure it will be much easier for my own kids in our digital age.

So I found Grandma's birth certificate. But the spelling of her name (it was all in German from 1893) was different from her grave site. Sigh. And the last name she took from her husband (with the same spelling used by all her children/my aunts and uncles), was spelled differently on her husband's grave site. Sigh again.


Ancient Ancestor of Pea

PeaNut 340,335
October 2007
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Posted: 9/27/2013 12:02:36 AM
(((Hugs))) for you and your family! Any chance you can find her birth certificate? Newspaper articles of her parents' or siblings deaths?



PeaNut 383,986
July 2008
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Loc: Washington

Posted: 9/27/2013 12:11:37 AM
Funny I could find Grandma's birth certificate but not my mom's scrapbook. She started me on all this scrapbook stuff. But tomorrow is another day. I will look for it.

Thanks for the nice thoughts and good advice. I guess more death certs is better.

And I guess I have to find those long lost cousins....


I'm Alive!

PeaNut 266,636
June 2006
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Posted: 9/27/2013 12:12:38 AM
I'm sorry. Prayers and positive thoughts.

Must be different here. My MIL died at 93 in July. We needed her SIN#(like a ss#) and birth cert and that was it.

Funeral director is being an ass, tell him to back off.

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PeaNut 468,133
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Posted: 9/27/2013 2:03:37 AM
I'm sorry for your loss. My mom died in 2010, so it's been a few years, but I don't remember having to supply her birth certificate. Just her social security number. Of course my sister and I did things together, so I could be wrong on the birth certificate. We did have to supply her parents' names and her place of birth. Nothing we had to look up.

And we made the mistake of way over ordering death certificates. Like we got 10 of them. Don't do that, they were about $20 each. About 4 will be more than enough. We had to show the original at the banks, but then they made copies, so we actually only needed about two originals when all was said and done. Maybe three.

Both she and my father were cremated, so we didn't have to deal with much. We had also decided on a funeral home beforehand (dealt with them for my grandma and my Dad,) so we didn't have any decisions to make there either. They handled her cremation. There was no viewing so we skipped the embalming.

I know it's a chaotic time right after a death, but in a way it's kind of good to keep busy with the details.

froggy one

PeaNut 479,242
August 2010
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Posted: 9/27/2013 7:24:19 AM
First of all I am very sorry for your loss.

Mom passed away suddenly. My brother and SIL contacted the funeral director and he made an appointment to meet us at their home. He walked us through everything. What information we didn't have ready we just dropped off later. He was very accomodating. This funeral director you are working with doesn't sound very sympathetic.



PeaNut 294,285
January 2007
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Loc: Minnesota

Posted: 9/27/2013 7:27:48 AM
I have no advice, just want to say I am so sorry. Sending hugs and love your way, cbee.



PeaNut 30,852
February 2002
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Loc: Ohio

Posted: 9/27/2013 7:32:50 AM
I'm so sorry.

I agree that the funeral home is not a great one. I've been involved in planning 4 funerals with 2 different funeral homes and never had anyone be like that.

They all told me to take my time and not to worry if I didn't know something.

It's probably too late to switch funeral homes, but I agree with telling the person there to back off and give you a minute.

Ancient Ancestor of Pea

PeaNut 75,215
March 2003
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Loc: massachusetts

Posted: 9/27/2013 7:38:47 AM
I'm so sorry for your loss. My dad died last month, so it's all very fresh to me. The funeral director can wait a day or so. The only decision you need to make today is to choose a funeral director. They need that info to fill out the death certificate, but it hardly has to be done today. My sisters and I met with the funeral director the day after my dad died, and gave her the info -- she didn't need any original documents.

We had my dad cremated, and that was the only decision we made for about 3 weeks. We're just planning the service now for October. Long story, involving my mom having major surgery the day my dad died.

We got 6-7 death certificates, but only needed a couple (one for my sister who is doing all the financial side, and one for my mom.) Pretty much everyone who needed one just made a copy of the original.


PeaNut 230,609
November 2005
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Posted: 9/27/2013 8:59:28 AM
So sorry for the loss of your mom. My mom passed at the end of July at 95, and the small town funeral home that we were obligated to use, had called and left a message on my home phone and cell phone while I was at work....before I even knew mom had passed!!! God was looking out for me though, because my brother called me before I had a chance to check my messages!

I wish you well with everything that you have to arrange.


PeaNut 8,908
January 2001
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Posted: 9/27/2013 9:08:00 AM
So sorry for your loss... We are never ready to lose a parent, even when our minds know it is time.

Mary Kay Lady
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PeaNut 367,913
March 2008
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Posted: 9/27/2013 9:13:37 AM

I have no advice. I just wanted to say that I'm sorry for your loss.

Stay Gold, Ponyboy

PeaNut 41,779
July 2002
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Posted: 9/27/2013 9:43:22 AM
I'm so very sorry. May her Memory be Eternal.

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PeaNut 514,615
July 2011
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Posted: 9/27/2013 9:45:26 AM
I'm so sorry for your loss. Take things one step at a time. If you don't like this funeral director, fire him and find someone else. The process sucks enough without someone stressing you out. While there is a lot of info that goes on the death certificate, keep in mind if you don't know the answers you don't know. In doing genealogy, I can reassure you there's a whole lot of "I don't know" that gets listed on death certificates. There's a also a whole lot of variation on spelling of names. I'm sorry for your loss!

Thrift Ninja

PeaNut 226,011
October 2005
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Posted: 9/27/2013 9:48:52 AM
I'm so sorry for your loss, truly. I'm not sure where you're at in WA, but we had very positive experiences with Kern Funeral Home in Mount Vernon when both my Gramma and Dad passed away. They are family owned and never made us feel pressured or ripped off.

Gail OH
Ancient Ancestor of Pea

PeaNut 108,385
September 2003
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Loc: Ohio

Posted: 9/27/2013 9:55:06 AM
They are full of it aren't they and I am sorry you are dealing with a bad director...and you I may sound harsh but I am not meaning too, I don't want you burned here...

I am also sorry for your loss...that said here I go...

The last time I had to deal with a home was in 1995...but that said...the reason he wants SS number is so he can claim the $ 255.00 but you can do that yourself, have the birth and death certificate and go to the SS office yourself...tell him you will take care of that firm in what YOU want...unless things have changed since I dealt with this...the check should come to you then...

Will this be a regular funeral or just family ? You can do what I want for myself and I want it fast and cheap...does your state say embalming is necessary, I don't want it if it isn't, I know some of what they do to us in this and I don't want that done...

The big money draw for them is also the casket...told my kids I want it cheap but the vault I want is the top lid kind,( like a shoe box) the vault is what they put the casket in...and calling hours, kids, husband come in one time see me and that is real calling hours...

To save what you want her in , not from the funeral home, they over charge, I don't want flowers but a family spray on top is fine if they want that but I would rather they send a check to the Animal Humane Society in my name.

Do you want it in newspapers about her, that also can be costly and I do not want it either...I do not want my kids spending money to bury me, I will be gone and the funeral home plays on "well you want the best for your loved one" etc. kind of thing...I am dead, so money spent will not do me any good then...

Also do not sign insurance over to them pay them with it...really hope you can still do this if she had insurance...

You also be certain BEFORE you sign anything that you see the itemized cost...that is law....

Will you have a minister, you can pay him yourself not thru the director call the minister and set it up, graveside service is all I want...not in the funeral home itself...

Burying my mom then a year later my dad I learn the hard dad only wanted my mom and my little family so there was not a lot of people there...

We drove ourselves no limo, that is another big one that you can save on...I was still grieving for my mom from the year before and this was numbing still when this I know what I want for me not for the funeral home...remember they are a business and only a business...

he is trying to speed you up on this BEFORE you have time to think...don't let him do this and you do not have to have photos and such...the things he wants is to put in the paper and write up they do and the more put in is more costly for love your mom...she will never have a price tag for the love and memories you have...he is playing you...

Go in and you "tell" him what you want, don't let him intimidate you or push you like this...he is hearing you already how grief stricken you are...I so hate it now how my family was played...

My sister buried her grandson and it cost her over $13,000 ...she didn't have that kind of money and put it on her charge card...there was no insurance...

Have a trusted family member or friend go in with you to do this with you...

Again if I sounded harsh I don't mean it to you is the funeral homes I get mad at...again remember they are a BUSINESS...they play on your grief...

hugs to you...


Running the Marathon, Not the Sprint

PeaNut 110,589
October 2003
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Loc: Texas

Posted: 9/27/2013 3:51:18 PM
I am so sorry for your loss.

Gail in OH has the best response - the funeral director can wait. Take this time to breath.

Do not be pressured to buy anything from them.
Ask for an itemized price list before agreeing to anything.
Do not sign over any life insurance to them.

In Texas, you can order a casket and have it delivered to the funeral home. The funeral home, by law, must accept it. When my Dad passed, the funeral home was going to charge us $3600. I could get the exact same casket on line for $1200. The funeral director wasn't happy when I called him on it but I saved my Mom over $6000 on my Dad's funeral because I went over the FD's list with a fine tooth comb. I wasn't about to allow that guy to take advantage of my Mom. I know my Dad was laughing in Heaven.



PeaNut 383,986
July 2008
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Loc: Washington

Posted: 9/28/2013 11:13:49 AM
Thank you everyone! Such kind thoughts! and Gail, so much wonderful detail! And all you who stopped to give specific advice, I am so grateful! I learned a lot from you folks and will keep all your thoughts and advice for the future as well.

A lot of the funeral had been preplanned (not by me) so I was stuck with this weird funeral director. But the pastor seems to be ok with him and knows him. So, you know, deep breaths. I like that the pastor is willing to have a small memorial right at the funeral home. I have been trying to find anyone from her past/age group but she outlived them. So it will be a very small gathering. I guess we could have done a graveside service, but the weather could be quite bad, and sometimes you do want to have a conversation with individuals in a low key situation.

The only thing that seemed to matter to me, probably as a result of trying to create an ancestor scrapbook in the past, was the newspaper announcement. I decided I really wanted one. I put all sorts of names and dates in it. If someone does a search someday, I think this info would be very helpful. It is sort of a legacy thing for my mom and her family.

And I love the fact the pastor will be saying a few words. And he is undaunted by the fact we will have very few people.

So having said all this, if there had not been some pre-planning, would I being doing things the same way? I think I would like to share my thoughts on that once I return. Would that interest anyone?


Gail OH
Ancient Ancestor of Pea

PeaNut 108,385
September 2003
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Posted: 9/28/2013 6:51:34 PM
I would love to hear your thoughts later...

you are in my prayers as well

hugs, Gail


Burning Feather
I conceived but I can't see you

PeaNut 158,336
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Posted: 9/28/2013 6:58:53 PM
I'm sorry for your loss.

I think that more and more, funeral directors take the responsibility of making official notifications to Social Security, etc. because of the amount of fraud that has gone in the past.

I don't even remember supplying any of that information to the funeral director. I think I had supplied it to the facility that was treating my dad and they contacted the funeral home and all legal notifications were done before I even got involved in 12-18 hours or so. My dad's plans were premade and the Director didn't try to "upsell" me on one single thing. In fact, he was very helpful in working with the Coroner where we lived to get dad's body transferred back to his home.

The only thing that I wish hadn't happened was that a death notice (not an obit) was published and a few people found out about his death that way before I had a chance to call them (although to be completely honest, I really wasn't up to having that conversation over and over so it was probably a blessing)

It sounds like you have gotten things worked out to your satisfaction up to this point, so hopefully the Director will be more of a help than a hindrance from this point on.



PeaNut 294,285
January 2007
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Loc: Minnesota

Posted: 9/28/2013 7:07:25 PM
I love your thought about the newspaper being a source for future geneologists!

Again, my deepest sympathy.


I Remember You!

PeaNut 34,854
April 2002
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Posted: 9/28/2013 7:33:41 PM
I'm very sorry for the loss of your mom. (((hugs)))

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PeaNut 146,748
May 2004
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Posted: 9/28/2013 7:39:59 PM
I am sorry for your loss.

can you take someone with you who can help you see past emotional decisions, etc?


PeaNut 259,367
April 2006
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Posted: 9/28/2013 9:43:05 PM
I am so sorry for your loss.


PeaNut 570,285
October 2012
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Posted: 9/29/2013 2:39:41 AM
I'm really sorry for your loss.

If you need any further help, please private message me. My dad owns two funeral homes and a crematory, so I would be more than willing to ask him and get back to you.

Don't rush into anything. Take your time and do it at your own speed.

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