Preparing for the End
Posted by Liana | Filed under Liana
Most of my blog posts have an aspect of humour in them. This one may too, though I’ve only just started writing it so I cannot say for sure.
You see, my Aunt just died and while I wasn’t as close to her as I would have liked, she was my blood. She was my Father’s sister, the last of his 6 siblings to predecease him. My Aunt was 80 years old.
My Father, being elderly himself, requested that my older Brother take care of my Aunt’s needs. I acted as backup to his role, providing care when he was out of town, accompanying him to visits, related appointments, and so on.
My Aunt wasn’t at all sick. She did have to deal with some typical ailments associated with old age, but otherwise she was relatively healthy. Her mind was sharp, she was independent and looked after herself at the elder care facility where she lived. Her illness took her quickly, she did not suffer, for which we are most grateful.
After my Aunt turned 80, my brother and I decided that it was time to do some pre-planning for her funeral. We wanted to take care of the details so my Father wouldn’t have to.
Let me begin by saying that there is no such thing as an inexpensive funeral, that is, unless you consider $12,000 inexpensive.
My Aunt was a simple woman and so, her funeral would be simple too; a plain wooden casket, a 1 hour viewing (I hate that word – “viewing” – makes me think of an art auction or something) and Catholic prayer service, a mass, some prayer cards and of course, the actual burial. Her plot and headstone had already been purchased years ago so that cost wasn’t included. I can’t imagine the cost if it hadn’t been!
The base cost for funeral services is approximately $5,500, right off the top. This includes taking possession of the deceased, preparing the body, organizing services, basic transportation (one lead car + hearse), registering the death with the government and assisting with the application for government death benefits, producing/providing death certificates and providing staff at varied times during the varied services.
Add to this the cost of the casket, which as I mentioned was simple yet still cost around $2000, cement crypt; $700, flowers; another $700, and taxes of course. These costs came to approximately $10,000, which we paid in full. Regardless of when my Aunt passed away, these costs would stay the same (and even earn some interest).
The key benefits to pre-planning are peace of mind for your loved ones and knowing that the cost for final expenses (those you can pre-pay) will never increase.
Add to the $10,000 the costs that cannot be pre-paid; digging the hole at the cemetery; $1200, church fees; $400 and of course, more tax. WHAMMO, $12000 total cost!
At one point, I asked the funeral director what loved ones did if they simply couldn’t afford these costs. The gentleman hummed and hawed, then suggested that “the deceased usually have some family that can help or, they could always apply for government assistance.”
So, when my Aunt passed away only 5 months later, we had everything done, more or less. We still had to meet with the funeral home to confirm the details but otherwise, things were ready. Overall, pre-planning for my Aunt’s final expenses was a very good idea. Everything in life comes at a price. I suppose death should be no different.
And, of course, I began to think about my own situation, my husband’s and mine. We’re only 54 and 47 years old respectively, but after this experience, I know that it makes sense to start planning now. In fact, my Father has since agreed to some pre-planning himself and has asked me to assist. Here we go again, I guess.
I’ve reached the end of my blog post and it appears that no humour has made its way into my words. Suffice it to say, as a family, we did share some joyful, happy memories of my Aunt and her aunt-tics and yes, we even laughed.
Rest in peace, Zija.