13 Things the Funeral Director Won’t Tell You

13 Things the Funeral Director Won’t Tell You© Hemera/Thinkstock

1. Go ahead and plan your funeral, but think twice before paying in advance. You risk losing everything if the funeral home goes out of business. Instead, keep your money in a pay-on-death account at your bank.

Plus: 13 Things Your Financial Adviser Won’t Tell You

2. If you or your spouse is an honorably discharged veteran, burial is free at a Veterans Affairs National Cemetery. This includes the grave, vault, opening and closing, marker, and setting fee. Many State Veterans Cemeteries offer free burial for veterans and, often, spouses (www.cem.va.gov).

3. You can buy caskets that are just as nice as the ones in my showroom for thousands of dollars less online from Walmart, Costco, or straight from a manufacturer.

4. On a budget or concerned about the environment? Consider a rental casket. The body stays inside the casket in a thick cardboard container, which is then removed for burial or cremation.

5. Running a funeral home without a refrigerated holding room is like running a restaurant without a walk-in cooler. But many funeral homes don’t offer one because they want you to pay for the more costly option: embalming. Most bodies can be presented very nicely without it if you have the viewing within a few days of death.

6. Some hard-sell phrases to be wary of: “Given your position in the community …,” “I’m sure you want what’s best for your mother,” and “Your mother had excellent taste. When she made arrangements for Aunt Nellie, this is what she chose.”

Plus: 13 Things Your Florist Won’t Tell You

7. “Protective” caskets with a rubber gasket? They don’t stop decomposition. In fact, the moisture and gases they trap inside have caused caskets to explode.

8. If there’s no low-cost casket in the display room, ask to see one anyway. Some funeral homes hide them in the basement or the boiler room.

9. Ask the crematory to return the ashes in a plain metal or plastic container — not one stamped temporary container. That’s just a sleazy tactic to get you to purchase a more expensive urn.

10. Shop around. Prices at funeral homes vary wildly, with direct cremation costing $500 at one funeral home and $3,000 down the street. (Federal law requires that prices be provided over the phone.)

11. We remove pacemakers because the batteries damage our crematories.

12. If I try to sell you a package that I say will save you money, ask for the individual price list anyway. Our packages often include services you don’t want or need.

13. Yes, technically I am an undertaker or a mortician. But doesn’t funeral director have a nicer ring to it?

See 9 more secrets from funeral directors.

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Sources: Funeral directors in Illinois, New Jersey, Tennessee, and Washington; funerals.org; and Joshua Slocum, executive director of the Funeral Consumers Alliance and coauthor of Final Rights: Reclaiming the American Way of Death.

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207 thoughts on “13 Things the Funeral Director Won’t Tell You

  1. I suggest that Readers Digest do their home work before posting defamatories.  Under statute, no funeral home may hold pre paid monies in their own account. All monies must be invested either in bank or insurance accounts with full portability.

  2. Another thing when choosing a funeral home, make sure it is family owned and NOT corporation owned. Otherwise you get no friendly, compassionate service, just people out to make the most $$ for the company and yes you will pay more.

  3. Pacemakers aren’t the only things they take out before cremation.. Gold Fillings and joint replacements are also removed.

  4. This article was written by someone who didn’t do their homework.
    Funeral plans  funded with a burial policy are protected by insurance laws. If the funeral home goes belly up,  you take the policy to another funeral.  You didn’t mention the benefit of the funeral price being frozen.
    Caskets do not blow up.
    States require embalming for public services and viewings.  Funeral homes many times charge the same whether the family chooses refrigeration and/or embalming.
    The state requires a release from the family to cremate a loved one and it states very clearly that pace makers are removed because they can explode. No terrible secret there.
    How about 13 things Reader’s Digest won’t tell you.
    1). We don’t check out the veracity of our writer’s articles.
    2). We count on people believing anything they read so we don’t work at getting the facts.
    3). We stir up resentment and try to be controversial instead of informative.
    4). We went to the journalistic school of  Garbage in – garbage out.
    I could continue but this isn’t worth that much trouble.  I’ll go find my news somewhere else.

  5. Personally I believe  funeral homes have gotten greedier and greedier.  I for one dont plan to have anything at all – sure have a funeral but the Genesis Project seems like a good way to go.  Medical science can research your body and put such knowledge to good use.

  6. if you are dealing with an ethical business, little to none of this will reflect your true experience. State laws differ as to public viewing without embalming, and what type of container you can be buried in. a cardboard container with no grave liner is not likely in most states.  A reputable, ethical company tells families that pacemakers must be removed prior to cremation.  Caskets bought on line cannot be guaranteed by the funeral home you choose. Once again, laws may differ as to refrigeration facilities. Any reputable home will have refrigeration available for those choosing cremation. Any reputable home will make sure all our Veterans get the respect and benefits they deserve as it relates to their service. This list is really offensive…don’t believe everything you read.

  7. This article is deceptive, misleading, and as one commentator remarked, “80% crap.”  The writer of the article is not worthy to the title journalist. 

  8. Who cares if the Walmart casket comes unglued after five days……..ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Funeral homes with their morticians laying on heavy make-up and selling embalming fluid is a joke and rip off.
    The margins are unbelievable with the average funeral cost running, $9000.00 and only costing the funeral home less than$2500.00.

  9. Shame on the The Readers Digest for allowing this poorly researched article to appear in their publication. I work in a family owned and operctaed funeal home and this in no way resembles the way we conduct business. The author simply doesn’t know what she is talking about.

  10. I had a cremation and memorial service for my two children. That was the cheapest and easiest way to go. We were on a tight budget and did not expect the bury our children. I have also chosen cremation for myself and for the rest of my family if it happens again. Cheapest way to say goodbye and your family would be much happier knowing youve saved money for other things that are actually needed, or wanted outside of a “fancy funeral” 

  11. I had a cremation and memorial service for my two children. That was the cheapest and easiest way to go. We were on a tight budget and did not expect the bury our children. I have also chosen cremation for myself and for the rest of my family if it happens again. Cheapest way to say goodbye and your family would be much happier knowing youve saved money for other things that are actually needed, or wanted outside of a “fancy funeral” 

  12. I had a cremation and memorial service for my two children. That was the cheapest and easiest way to go. We were on a tight budget and did not expect the bury our children. I have also chosen cremation for myself and for the rest of my family if it happens again. Cheapest way to say goodbye and your family would be much happier knowing youve saved money for other things that are actually needed, or wanted outside of a “fancy funeral” 

  13. I had a cremation and memorial service for my two children. That was the cheapest and easiest way to go. We were on a tight budget and did not expect the bury our children. I have also chosen cremation for myself and for the rest of my family if it happens again. Cheapest way to say goodbye and your family would be much happier knowing youve saved money for other things that are actually needed, or wanted outside of a “fancy funeral” 

  14. I work at a Funeral Home.. This is not true about everyone.. We let people know about all of these things. We are here for console and encouragement not to harm or hurt even more. This is a load of crock.. 

  15. Mrs. Crouch, you should really try to get your facts straight!  Totally disagree with 99.9% of your article!

  16. Mrs. Crouch, you should really try to get your facts straight!  Totally disagree with 99.9% of your article!

  17. I work in a funeral home and have for 15 years, 90% of this article is incorrect, you should really get your facts correct.

  18. None of that happens when we had to bury my father and 9 years later my  mothe, the same can be said for my wifes mothe and father, I think this more fiction than fact.

  19.  I just finished reading the comments.  It seems as if they undertakers have a great communications system.  This article really brought the special pleaders out in force.  It speaks to the truth of what the author wrote.

  20.  I just finished reading the comments.  It seems as if they undertakers have a great communications system.  This article really brought the special pleaders out in force.  It speaks to the truth of what the author wrote.

  21. It was written a number of years ago, but Jessica Mitford’s “American Way of Death” is just as useful now as it was then.  I had read it a few month before I was put in charge of my grandfather’s funeral.  The undertaker tried to pull every single scam that Mitford outlined in the book.  I felt like an expert swordsman dueling with an amateur.  For every cut he made, I had a parry ready.  Oh, I was 18 years old at the time.

    Not all, undertakers are con artist although.  Recently my wife’s mother died.  The undertaker was professional and correct BUT to be forewarned is to be forearmed.  People should educate themselves so they won’t fall for the snake oil salesmen who push expensive caskets when a box that costs a few hundred is just as good.  Remember, it only going to be above ground for a few days… or it will be going up in smoke.

  22. It was written a number of years ago, but Jessica Mitford’s “American Way of Death” is just as useful now as it was then.  I had read it a few month before I was put in charge of my grandfather’s funeral.  The undertaker tried to pull every single scam that Mitford outlined in the book.  I felt like an expert swordsman dueling with an amateur.  For every cut he made, I had a parry ready.  Oh, I was 18 years old at the time.

    Not all, undertakers are con artist although.  Recently my wife’s mother died.  The undertaker was professional and correct BUT to be forewarned is to be forearmed.  People should educate themselves so they won’t fall for the snake oil salesmen who push expensive caskets when a box that costs a few hundred is just as good.  Remember, it only going to be above ground for a few days… or it will be going up in smoke.

  23. A casket is a casket… does not matter if it comes from Walmart or Toys are Us.  Funeral homes no longer are a ” we care about you and your loved ones”, they are out for greed.    It is a business like any other except the sad thing is this one plays on the emotions of people who are hurting deeply.   They are only out for the money.  A casket is a product…. it is bought by the middle man who up charges it to make a profit.  Thats the way of the world.     You may be suppose to be supplied an itimized list…. but how many people when they are upset are not supplied one?  I can name two times my mom and my dad….  We was not supplied it because of greed and not knowing that we was suppose to be.    I am going to bet we are not the only ones. 

    False information is not what I read above it is funeral homes not telling it all so they can get more money.  

    It probably is illegal a lot of things that is sad but that does not stop them from being said or from funeral homes leaving things out. 

    Compassion and caring is just words said by people.  Probably the same ones that call themselves Christians.  The same ones that gossip about others and think they are better than others.  

    Guest,  lastly regarding not using the information soon, I also wished the same but the bad part of life happened way before I was ready.   SO I am sitting here on Mothers day reading about greed from funeral directors and from stupid people like Mortschool1 thinking he has all the answers.   When he/she talks of the way it is suppose to be but he/she does not live in the real world.

    Mort when you talk you would be better talking about how things are suppose to be in life…. because your version of life is not reality.

  24. A casket is a casket… does not matter if it comes from Walmart or Toys are Us.  Funeral homes no longer are a ” we care about you and your loved ones”, they are out for greed.    It is a business like any other except the sad thing is this one plays on the emotions of people who are hurting deeply.   They are only out for the money.  A casket is a product…. it is bought by the middle man who up charges it to make a profit.  Thats the way of the world.     You may be suppose to be supplied an itimized list…. but how many people when they are upset are not supplied one?  I can name two times my mom and my dad….  We was not supplied it because of greed and not knowing that we was suppose to be.    I am going to bet we are not the only ones. 

    False information is not what I read above it is funeral homes not telling it all so they can get more money.  

    It probably is illegal a lot of things that is sad but that does not stop them from being said or from funeral homes leaving things out. 

    Compassion and caring is just words said by people.  Probably the same ones that call themselves Christians.  The same ones that gossip about others and think they are better than others.  

    Guest,  lastly regarding not using the information soon, I also wished the same but the bad part of life happened way before I was ready.   SO I am sitting here on Mothers day reading about greed from funeral directors and from stupid people like Mortschool1 thinking he has all the answers.   When he/she talks of the way it is suppose to be but he/she does not live in the real world.

    Mort when you talk you would be better talking about how things are suppose to be in life…. because your version of life is not reality.

    1.  How on earth are you an authority on all things funeral related?  I am a funeral director and I have buried both of my parents at different funeral homes from the one I work in.  Mort is right.  Most of this stuff is nonsense.  If you believe that a casket is the same no matter where you buy it from, that alone destroys your credibility and shows that you are speaking from ignorance.  Try burying someone in a philipino casket vs one made by batesville here in the U.S.  The batesville will stay together when the casket is lifted by the bars. As far as being out for the money, that’s silly.  The thousands and thousands of dollars I, or any other funeral director, spent on the education required to do this job would have a far better return if we’d spent it on a degree in computer programming or any number of other fields.  I make less than 50k a year because I love what I do and I feel called by God to help the bereaved.

    2.  How on earth are you an authority on all things funeral related?  I am a funeral director and I have buried both of my parents at different funeral homes from the one I work in.  Mort is right.  Most of this stuff is nonsense.  If you believe that a casket is the same no matter where you buy it from, that alone destroys your credibility and shows that you are speaking from ignorance.  Try burying someone in a philipino casket vs one made by batesville here in the U.S.  The batesville will stay together when the casket is lifted by the bars. As far as being out for the money, that’s silly.  The thousands and thousands of dollars I, or any other funeral director, spent on the education required to do this job would have a far better return if we’d spent it on a degree in computer programming or any number of other fields.  I make less than 50k a year because I love what I do and I feel called by God to help the bereaved.

  25. Wow???? Michelle Crouch needs to actually do some “real’ research…all she did was think of what she thinks happens and wrote this junk…I’m a funeral director and my goodness this is appalling. Let’s break it down 1.) pre arranged funerals are placed by law in a irrevocable trust…this means that heaven forbid the funeral home goes under, your funds are not tied up in the funeral home, they can simply be transferred to another funeral home. That it why if another funeral home buys out another, they don’t even include the preneeds on file in the purchase price, because the owner of the policy has the option to transfer at anytime. 2.) They are completely correct with the veterans cemetery option, that screws over a cemetery more than the funeral home…my funeral home charges for our services…the merchandise is optional to buy with us…we feel that our families cam to us for our service not our casket and vault selection, because anyone cam offer the same exact stuff. 3.) this goes with my response to # 2….buy your merchandise somewhere else it’s your option. 4.) this is an option that we always disclose to any family that is interested. 5.) You don’t have to embalm….but ALL funeral homes with a cooler charges a per day fee…that comes out to the same as embalming….coolers are not cheep and how do you think we pay our bills???? we are not ripping anyone off, it is a business…embalming is a one time price and you can have the funeral the next day or the next month for that one flat rate….we just discuss what would be best for them, not us. because you are not going to run a successful funeral home by driving away families, they are our livelihood. 6.) yes, there are scum bag funeral directors that only care about the bottom line…you can not judge every funeral home one one or two cases you have heard about and think that is how ever funeral home operates. My advice is to not go with the “Big Box” funeral homes, but look around at the family run funeral homes that do not have that “dignity” logo on the sign, that means they are owned by a national corporation and don’t care at all about quality, just quantity. 7.) Caskets do not explode, these seals are meant to let out gasses and not let anything in…but as I explain to my families, eventually the environment is going to get into the casket overtime…nothing can last forever…that’s the truth. 8) We as well as most funeral homes now use a virtual show room on a flatscreen TV…there is no casket next to the boiler (what crap, haha) with this technology, we give the mouse to the family and let them pick what ever they want…no hard sales …no tricks. 9.) The temp. container is not a sales tactic…this allows those that want to scatter to do it at a low cost, if the want an urn than they are shown a wide variety….like I said before …its a business. 10) This is true that every funeral home has different costs, if a funeral home is “law abiding” they give their general price list immediately, not at request. 11.) throw a AA battery in a camp fire and see what happens, now times that by 1,000…batteries blow up in extreme heat..we actually remove the pacemaker and donate it to a foundation that ships it over to 3rd world countries to help out those in great need (and most do this). 12) as I said before the General Price List is a state law that it must be presented to the family the second they sit down for arrangements…. the “packages” if you do the math save you money…as I said before, there are scum bag directors tat rip people off. 13.) An undertaker is someone that does the embalming a funeral director …..directs the funerals (get it)….this is just a personal dig at funeral directors (point 13)

    1. Get a life!!! And stop worrying about the dead. You have problems like anyone who works with the dead.

    2. Get a life!!! And stop worrying about the dead. You have problems like anyone who works with the dead.

  26. haha this article cracks me up. I dare you to put a loved one in a casket with a public viewing without embalming and smell what comes from that body, see the fluids leak from that body, see the swelling that occurs and have your last memory of that loved one be a decaying piece of meat. Sure some funeral directors are dirt balls, but most are good people who are honest and want to help. Gosh i can’t even imagine if i had a loved one who died and autopsy was required and have the body viewed by friends and family without being embalmed…. disgusting, literally nasty

    1.  My “loved one” is gone if they are dead. All that is left is a corpse. Not everyone buys into the  memory picture idea. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. I hope to make a good pile of compost myself one day. What is disgusting and literally nasty is using toxic chemicals to preserve a lump of flesh so that it slowly dessicates and molds instead of decomposing as is natural. Death is real, and people should realize that it is a very real part of life.

  27. IN THE  PAST YEAR I HAVE BEEN TO 3 FUNERALS…FUNERAL HOMES ARE WORST THAN USED CAR SALESPEOPLE

  28. Ridiculous!! I have never heard such garbage!! I work very closely to the industry- there may be a few bad apples but not every funeral director is a crook. Plus the pacemakers do damage the retort- (the portion of the crematory that actually cremates the body)- 

  29. Ridiculous!! I have never heard such garbage!! I work very closely to the industry- there may be a few bad apples but not every funeral director is a crook. Plus the pacemakers do damage the retort- (the portion of the crematory that actually cremates the body)- 

  30. i just had a pass in the family she was 13 years old she went so fast people are so rude at the burial the person putting the sand on her jumped on her casket to spread the sand who agrees  that thats rude

  31. My response:
    Before I read your article called “13 things the funeral director won’t tell you”, I did not have any idea of all the sorts of scams you could get from any funeral director. The crematorium facts really helped after the death of my grandmother on both sides of my family within a three week time. My grandpa never would’ve thought about having to come back for the most expensive urn, but when I told her she made sure to ask! Another thing I found amusing was the fact that they’re called funeral directors to sound more professinal, when the truth is they’re just like any other morticians. I never would have expected an article like this from any magazine, but I thought it was very interesting.
      “13 things the funeral director won’t tell you” came in handy a lot for my family. With a recent deaths in the family, we learned from what i read to call every near funeral home for the best price possible for us. We debated between getting a casket and an urn, and by using this article we decided going with cremation because we didn’t want the funeral home to charge us for embalming the body. It really surprised me that many funeral homes don’t have freezers. I especially thought this was an important fact, because keeping the body fresh and showing it at a wake within a few days costs a lot less than paying a freezer-lacking funeral home for embalming. Thanks so much for the article! It helped us a lot.

  32. My response:
    Before I read your article called “13 things the funeral director won’t tell you”, I did not have any idea of all the sorts of scams you could get from any funeral director. The crematorium facts really helped after the death of my grandmother on both sides of my family within a three week time. My grandpa never would’ve thought about having to come back for the most expensive urn, but when I told her she made sure to ask! Another thing I found amusing was the fact that they’re called funeral directors to sound more professinal, when the truth is they’re just like any other morticians. I never would have expected an article like this from any magazine, but I thought it was very interesting.
      “13 things the funeral director won’t tell you” came in handy a lot for my family. With a recent deaths in the family, we learned from what i read to call every near funeral home for the best price possible for us. We debated between getting a casket and an urn, and by using this article we decided going with cremation because we didn’t want the funeral home to charge us for embalming the body. It really surprised me that many funeral homes don’t have freezers. I especially thought this was an important fact, because keeping the body fresh and showing it at a wake within a few days costs a lot less than paying a freezer-lacking funeral home for embalming. Thanks so much for the article! It helped us a lot.

  33. My response:
    Before I read your article called “13 things the funeral director won’t tell you”, I did not have any idea of all the sorts of scams you could get from any funeral director. The crematorium facts really helped after the death of my grandmother on both sides of my family within a three week time. My grandpa never would’ve thought about having to come back for the most expensive urn, but when I told her she made sure to ask! Another thing I found amusing was the fact that they’re called funeral directors to sound more professinal, when the truth is they’re just like any other morticians. I never would have expected an article like this from any magazine, but I thought it was very interesting.
      “13 things the funeral director won’t tell you” came in handy a lot for my family. With a recent deaths in the family, we learned from what i read to call every near funeral home for the best price possible for us. We debated between getting a casket and an urn, and by using this article we decided going with cremation because we didn’t want the funeral home to charge us for embalming the body. It really surprised me that many funeral homes don’t have freezers. I especially thought this was an important fact, because keeping the body fresh and showing it at a wake within a few days costs a lot less than paying a freezer-lacking funeral home for embalming. Thanks so much for the article! It helped us a lot.

  34. You should probably get your facts straight before you post something like this. For example 5. “Most bodies can be presented very nicely without it [embalming] if you have the viewing within a few days of death.” Well considering the law states that embalming is required after 24 hours of holding and with a public visitation, your statement is absolutely wrong. I don’t know why you are trying to mislead people but you should really check your resources. I also could keep correcting you but I feel like it would just be a waste of time, kind of like you typing this up was a waste of your time! Funeral directors do not get into the business to try and munipulate and mislead people. It is a tough business, having to be on call 24/7 and organizing every single detail and process of an entire funeral service so that the grieving family does not have to worry about any of it. It takes a compassionate, strong minded individual to be a funeral director. Obviously there are some crooked funeral directors out there but unfortunately you see that in any and every single business out there!

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  36. wow never knew that considering i just lost my brother in a car accident.

  37. How some of you feel about funeral homes really makes me quite sad. I am from a small town and just heading back to school to take over the family business that is going on 60 years. My family has always had a comfortable living, However we never have gotten rich by any means. We have trouble making payments every month just like some of you. I have always said I would never take over the business, but as I grow older I have seen why our family continues to do it. The thing that makes it worth while is when these familys come back and say thank you everything was beautiful, Mom/Dad Looked great. I would love if we could provide you with a service for 2000 dollars, but then 
    we do go out of business then you don’t have someone who care so much about your family and does everything they can to make this as easy a possible. 

  38. If I were to pay a cheque to the funeral home but the
    Cheque took seven to ten days to clear into
    My own account, would this be aceptable

  39. i am a funeral director and i have never withheld the info above nor have i ommitted it from any explanation of benefits to any grieving family.  do some more fact checking b/c not all the information that reader digest would have you believe about the evil funeral director is true or current.

  40. Whoever wrote this must have just been working with the wrong funeral home. Not all funeral homes are just after your money. 

  41. In the state of California embalming is required for health and safety reasons unless the deceased is to be interred  in less than 24 hours. Further more if the deceased is embalmed properly then 99% of all bacteria and viruses are destroyed. However it is not always possible to embalm a person properly if the deceased used certain medications that hinder the embalming process. This is sad but true.

    The morticians I worked for as an embalmer always had a detailed list of prices with each casket in the display room. I was never allowed to “sell” the family a casket. I only allowed to inform them as to the different types. Then I was to leave them to themselves as they made a selection. No pressure to buy a particular casket or funeral package was allowed. I would have been fired.

  42. In the state of California embalming is required for health and safety reasons unless the deceased is to be interred  in less than 24 hours. Further more if the deceased is embalmed properly then 99% of all bacteria and viruses are destroyed. However it is not always possible to embalm a person properly if the deceased used certain medications that hinder the embalming process. This is sad but true.

    The morticians I worked for as an embalmer always had a detailed list of prices with each casket in the display room. I was never allowed to “sell” the family a casket. I only allowed to inform them as to the different types. Then I was to leave them to themselves as they made a selection. No pressure to buy a particular casket or funeral package was allowed. I would have been fired.

  43. I dont think the person who wrote this got any information from someone in the business. I agree with Mortschool1, but to add to his thought: 
    Preneed is usually done thru a third party insurance and is federally regulated.
    Funeral directors will inform you of VA benefits, because 
    grave, vault, opening and closing, marker, and setting fee are fees that go to the cemetery or monument company, not the funeral home.  -Walmart caskets are cheap and are not to be trusted. and yes you can be buried in a cardboard box, just ask, theyre just not in the selection room because its a  CARDBOARD BOX! 
    Embalming is generally required by most states if a public viewing is desired. not to mention that and unembalmed corpse, looks like a corpse, not someone at rest, especially after a few days.
     a protective casket would only explode if it were sealed at a low altitude  then brought to a high altitude, like in an airplane(and funeral directors shipping remains know not to seal a casket), not just randomly.
      yes funeral homes do offer low cost caskets that arent in the show room, thats because its a SHOW room. a temporary urn is almost always included in the price of cremation because it is required by most states that cremated remains must be placed in a container. 
    Yes its a good idea to shop around, but be sure to ask what the prices include, for example the $500 direct cremation may not include removal of remains from the place of death. 
    A pacemaker WILL blow a hole in the crematory retort. 
    Packages can save money and a funeral director will give prices individually because its required by law. Most Funeral directors would probably rather be called a mortician or undertaker, but when someone is putting to getting an event that includes churches, cemeteries, florists, pallbearers, an escorted procession of vehicles, etc, they really are a DIRECTOR of that event.

  44.  Don’t need a funeral, just bury your family member in your back yard or have a bond fire and stick them on the barbecue and do your own cremation, darth vader style.   Remember in the old days, there were no funeral parlors.  People buried or burned their own.

  45.  Don’t need a funeral, just bury your family member in your back yard or have a bond fire and stick them on the barbecue and do your own cremation, darth vader style.   Remember in the old days, there were no funeral parlors.  People buried or burned their own.

    1. I CAN TELL YOU NEVER GOT PAST THE 5TH GRADE. CANT EVEN SPELL. SO MUCH FOR PUBLIC EDUCATION

  46. No. 1. is a completely false statement. Pre-arranging is a good thing! Funeral homes are REQUIRED by the state to place funds into a FDIC bank account. As long as it is a Guaranteed Trust account (Fixed Price trust)  your funds will be there for you even if the Funeral Home goes out of business. That is YOUR money. Granted if said Funeral Home goes under you will lose their services but that money can be withdrawn by you or taken over by another Funeral establishment.

  47. No. 1. is a completely false statement. Pre-arranging is a good thing! Funeral homes are REQUIRED by the state to place funds into a FDIC bank account. As long as it is a Guaranteed Trust account (Fixed Price trust)  your funds will be there for you even if the Funeral Home goes out of business. That is YOUR money. Granted if said Funeral Home goes under you will lose their services but that money can be withdrawn by you or taken over by another Funeral establishment.

  48. Interesting article. My very large extended family has had several funerals over the past ten years and at the last one had a long meeting about what we did and didn’t like about the process. We researched and planned and came up with something that works for our family. We worked on how to do it all ourselves, it is more personal and loving for us and cuts the funeral home out of it completely. We don’t hate the funeral business, but it doesn’t meet our needs and we don’t have to use the services that are offered. As one of the people commenting wrote, it is like going to McDonalds. I can choose a package, or a la carte. Or, in my family’s case, I can go home and make a gourmet feast and work side by side with my relatives celebrating the life of our family member. I don’t need someone to make my dead relative “presentable”, they aren’t going anywhere fancy. Fluids bubble, skin abrades, and stuff decays because we are just vessels. No one is there anymore, and we just want to say goodbye.
    I understand that some people may be completely happy with the funeral business model, good for them! I choose otherwise and will fight for my rights to do so.

  49. Interesting article. My very large extended family has had several funerals over the past ten years and at the last one had a long meeting about what we did and didn’t like about the process. We researched and planned and came up with something that works for our family. We worked on how to do it all ourselves, it is more personal and loving for us and cuts the funeral home out of it completely. We don’t hate the funeral business, but it doesn’t meet our needs and we don’t have to use the services that are offered. As one of the people commenting wrote, it is like going to McDonalds. I can choose a package, or a la carte. Or, in my family’s case, I can go home and make a gourmet feast and work side by side with my relatives celebrating the life of our family member. I don’t need someone to make my dead relative “presentable”, they aren’t going anywhere fancy. Fluids bubble, skin abrades, and stuff decays because we are just vessels. No one is there anymore, and we just want to say goodbye.
    I understand that some people may be completely happy with the funeral business model, good for them! I choose otherwise and will fight for my rights to do so.

  50. Interesting article. My very large extended family has had several funerals over the past ten years and at the last one had a long meeting about what we did and didn’t like about the process. We researched and planned and came up with something that works for our family. We worked on how to do it all ourselves, it is more personal and loving for us and cuts the funeral home out of it completely. We don’t hate the funeral business, but it doesn’t meet our needs and we don’t have to use the services that are offered. As one of the people commenting wrote, it is like going to McDonalds. I can choose a package, or a la carte. Or, in my family’s case, I can go home and make a gourmet feast and work side by side with my relatives celebrating the life of our family member. I don’t need someone to make my dead relative “presentable”, they aren’t going anywhere fancy. Fluids bubble, skin abrades, and stuff decays because we are just vessels. No one is there anymore, and we just want to say goodbye.
    I understand that some people may be completely happy with the funeral business model, good for them! I choose otherwise and will fight for my rights to do so.

  51. Interesting article. My very large extended family has had several funerals over the past ten years and at the last one had a long meeting about what we did and didn’t like about the process. We researched and planned and came up with something that works for our family. We worked on how to do it all ourselves, it is more personal and loving for us and cuts the funeral home out of it completely. We don’t hate the funeral business, but it doesn’t meet our needs and we don’t have to use the services that are offered. As one of the people commenting wrote, it is like going to McDonalds. I can choose a package, or a la carte. Or, in my family’s case, I can go home and make a gourmet feast and work side by side with my relatives celebrating the life of our family member. I don’t need someone to make my dead relative “presentable”, they aren’t going anywhere fancy. Fluids bubble, skin abrades, and stuff decays because we are just vessels. No one is there anymore, and we just want to say goodbye.
    I understand that some people may be completely happy with the funeral business model, good for them! I choose otherwise and will fight for my rights to do so.

  52. i did live in florida but now i have lived in michigan for  3 yrs where i will die at but i want to go get my mom dad and brother i buried my brother dug it up and reburied my brother i want them here with me is there a possiable thingg to do with out getttin in trouble?

  53. As clergy, I can tell you that most churches or synagogues will provide free or at cost to their members some of the services that funeral directors charge so much for.  Grandma’s church will usually let you have the service in their sanctuary or chapel for free, or for the custodian’s fee; they will also print up order-of-worship pamphlets, and help you locate a pianist or organist for a flat musician’s fee.

    Funeral directors usually have a horrible attitude toward churches and other religious institutions, because they don’t make nearly as much money when one is involved.  Pastors frequently can give you an idea of usual prices and practices in your area, and also know which funeral homes are the least greedy.  I am sometimes asked to accompany the family to meet the undertaker; I have had one cancel the meeting twice to try and avoid having me in the room while sell the family on spending $5000-$1000 for a box they will never actually see.  They will also steer the family to a plaque instead of a headstone, so it is cheaper to mow the cemetery by driving a big industrial mower across it.  Lovely people.  ”  

  54. CORRECTIONS:

    1. Most states have very stringent preneed laws to protect the consumer’s investment. Prepaying  isn’t for everyone anyway. The key is to be knowledgeable about the facts, not Michelle Crouch’s dribble.

    2. Michelle, does the VA pay for a casket and services PRIOR to it getting to the cemetery. Nope, that’s all up to the family. Misleading statement.

    3. You can buy your casket where ever you like. But it’s “caveat emptor”. A lot of these caskets are Chinese imports. Some are good, some not so good. Take your own chances. Besides, times  have changed in the funeral industry. Most are in the business of selling service now, with less emphasis on merchandise.

    4. No comments on this one, Rentals work well for some situation.

    5. Again, not a lot of disagreement with this one. But embalming is optional. Not mandated except for certain services. 

    6. Yeap, unscrupulous business men will do that. In ALL businesses. Not just funeral directors. Keep in mind only I said unscrupulous. That’s only a small number. Use people you trust.

    7.Gaskets on caskets don’t protect the body from anything except the outside elements. (mostly water). Made right, they allow gases to escape, but even the space shuttle exploded when a gasket on it malfunctioned.

    8. Funeral homes are required to show families their casket price list. It has all the caskets on  it that the funeral home sells. Showroom space is finite. You can’t show everything you carry, so you show what is sold most often. I am sure that most funeral homes will be happy to bring in anything on their price list, even if it means having to go to the “boiler room” (Do places still have those??)

    9. True for the most part. However,  I’ve never seen a container stamped with anything. Actually the containers I have seen look pretty decent. 

    10. Yeap, prices vary. Imagine that. It’s called competition. But again, like any business, be prepared to get what  you pay for. Some places have lower prices because they offer limited services and have less overhead. Others, charge higher prices because they offer more services, more options and higher overhead.

    11. A lot of the earlier model pacemakers were nuclear powered. This is no longer the case. A slow drain lithium style battery is the more common method of powering pacemakers now. And as with most batteries, they exploded at high heat. While they may not blow up a crematory, removing them does prevent damage to the fire brick lining the retort. And lets be honest, even someone like you doesn’t want mom or dad’s body getting a hole blown in it. 

    12. You DON”T have to buy packaged services. Period. 

    13. Undertaker was a term used in the infancy of the industry. It pretty much mean that they would undertake or do what needed to be done. Funeral director (hey, what do you call someone who directs weddings?) is the accepted term used by training and legislative boards across the country, but hey, call them anything you want. Most funeral directors are proud of their heritage. 

  55. america has a heartless way to say goodbye,i live in the uk & here & europe you have 2 weeks to say goodbye,there are several rooms in the funeral directors that hold the open casket in a lovely room that’s refrigerated & you can visit your loved one all day everyday morning noon or night, it makes saying goodbye less harsh then death,viewing & buried the next day

  56. america has a heartless way to say goodbye,i live in the uk & here & europe you have 2 weeks to say goodbye,there are several rooms in the funeral directors that hold the open casket in a lovely room that’s refrigerated & you can visit your loved one all day everyday morning noon or night, it makes saying goodbye less harsh then death,viewing & buried the next day

  57. america has a heartless way to say goodbye,i live in the uk & here & europe you have 2 weeks to say goodbye,there are several rooms in the funeral directors that hold the open casket in a lovely room that’s refrigerated & you can visit your loved one all day everyday morning noon or night, it makes saying goodbye less harsh then death,viewing & buried the next day

  58. Like others that actually work in the Funeral Industry, the majority of this article is NOT TRUE.
     First of all, each state has its own laws and regulations regarding funeral practices.  Ok.  This article is generalizing, not taking this into account.  These laws are not hidden, either.  They’re available for public viewing.  So, there is no excuse for the author’s ignorance.
    1) In New York State, this is 100% False.  Other states have similar systems to protect the consumer in regards to pre-paying for a funeral.  If you pre-pay for a funeral, your money is kept in a seperate  bank account.  No one can take that money to pay for anything but your funeral.  The only person who can take it out it the person who signed the pre-need contract, and the supporting parties.  If the funeral home goes out of business, your money is not lost.  You’re notified that the funeral home will be out of business, and you get ALL of your money back.
    2) This is true.  But, any professional Funeral Director will tell you this.  Funeral Directors want their families to be happy.
    3) You are able to purchase a casket from Costco or Walmart.  However, there is no guarantee that it won’t fall apart, or malfunction (imagine the bottom falling out while being carried), or be missing pieces.   Essentially, there is no guarantee with these caskets at all.  Of course a funeral home isn’t going to guarantee it because it’s not their product.  And, where is Costco and Walmart when a problem should arise?  Again, a Funeral Director wants the family to be satisfied.  With products that the funeral home carries, we can be certain that any problems will be addressed and taken care of.  Walmart and Costco are the guys trying to make a buck.
    4) Any merchandise a funeral home has, has to be presented.  This isn’t hidden from the public.
    5) Refrigeration does not preserve a person for any substanstial amount of time.  Once a person dies, break down begins immediately.  Being in a cool environment slows this process, but embalming slows it down more.  Have you seen a person three days after they have died without embalming?  There is a HUGE difference between that person, and the embalmed person.  Regardless of being refrigerated.  Also, the majority of locally owned funeral homes don’t have refrigeration because of space and cost restraints.
    6)  No decent funeral director will guilt any family into purchasing anything.
    7) NOTHING stops decomposition.  Various practices will slow it down, but every living being will break down.  No funeral director would or should ever guarantee your loved one will be preserved forever.
    8) Again, there are regulations in each state.  This includes the casket show room.  All merchandise has to be listed on a price list that has to be presented to the consumer before entering the casket display room.  If they do have another room of caskets, guess what? These will also be on the price list.  Nothing can be hidden from the consumer.
    9) Crematories return ashes in the same container for everyone.  There aren’t various containers to receieve ashes back in. Again, it’s the same container for everyone.  There is nothing stated saying  a family has to purchase an urn from the funeral home.  Funeral homes do offer a large selection in every price range, and are able to ensure that the urn you’re receiving is able to contain ashes effectively. 
    10) Yes, shop around.  A funeral director won’t prevent you from doing so, and we’re glad to answer any questions in person, or over the phone that you may have.
    11)  Pacemakers can explode when being cremated, not only causing damages to the crematory, but potentially to the staff inside of the building, as well as the building itself.  Imagine if a pacemaker exploded, causing the building to explode, in turn causing the buildings next to the crematory to be damaged?  How awful of us to remove this, right?   Removing the pacemaker is for safety of the funeral staff, as well as those surrounding the building.
    12) A price list has to be presented to the consumer before any arrangements are made.  A complete price list.  Again, state regulations require this. 
    13)  First of all, we are professionals.  We went to school, completed residencies, and passed exams to receive a license to become a Funeral Director.  The terms “undertaker” and “mortician” often put us under a ghoulish light because of media portrayl, so calling us what we literally do isn’t us making up a “nicer” name.
    And, since it seems you didn’t do too much research for this article, I’ll throw in some facts about why we generally don’t go by “undertaker” or “mortician.”  An undertaker, was initially someone who undertook a task.  It was a catch all term for someone doing a particular job.  Since a Funeral Director’s job has a varied amount of tasks, it just made sense to call us “undertakers,” because, we were completing a wide array of tasks. 
    The root of mortician, mort, means death.  It translates to a person who’s trade is death.  And frankly, that’s just not true of Funeral Directors.  Our trade includes arranging care and final disposition of the dead, but our trade also includes providing a time for families to grieve for their loved one and celebrate their life. 

    I can’t say enough how horrible, and misleading this article is.

  59. ‎”Oh you’re a funeral director? what do you make?” 
    What do I make? I make your child presentable after they get killed in a car accident or your mom finally look healthy and at peace after she fights disease for years as a shell of herself. I make suggestions, decisions, and speak on your behalf when you’re so overcome with grief that you cant even remember your name. I make my family wait to open Christmas presents or eat Thanksgiving dinner because I’m at work helping you. I make every minute of my work a formal occasion by the way I dress, speak, and act–and I do that out of respect for you. Thats what I make.

  60. What people dont write about the funeral director is that this isnt a job. Most of us funeral directors believe it is a CALLING. We are doing God’s work. Like St. Joseph of Arimathea our patron saint. I went to school because I knew this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I wanted to help YOU, when you didnt know where to turn. I wanted to answer YOUR questions when no one else did. We dont want to take advantage of you. We work with your budget. It is whatever you choose. I dont care what type of casket you buy. But I am going to tell you that the casket you bought at Walmart I had to glue pieces back in place after delivery so you wouldnt worried. I made sure the flowers you and your family ordered look presentable. I make sure everything is 100% flawless so you can be at ease and spend the last moments with your loved one not worrying about anything else. 

  61. Jewish funerals must take place within 24 hours (or as fast as possible leaving time for family to arrive) and Jewish law  does not allow embalming.  ALL Jewish Funeral Homes have refrigeration on-site or very nearby.  Jewish law requires a plain pine casket – so they are always available and rather inexpensive.  AND they will happily do a funeral for non-Jews.

  62. Jewish funerals must take place within 24 hours (or as fast as possible leaving time for family to arrive) and Jewish law  does not allow embalming.  ALL Jewish Funeral Homes have refrigeration on-site or very nearby.  Jewish law requires a plain pine casket – so they are always available and rather inexpensive.  AND they will happily do a funeral for non-Jews.

  63. While this article was very helpful, it’s sad that we even need it.

  64. What a worthless article by an author that apparently doesn’t know how to properly research a subject matter prior to  writing about it.  You might want to consider a career change to an apprentice Funeral Director versus a writer.  Obviously you don’t know the fundamentals of writing a good article.

    Your Editor might want to consider a career change too for allowing such trash to be posted in the first place.

    1. Posted by your local ripoff  ‘Funeral Director’ who doesn’t like to be undersold! :)

  65. Make sure you ask to see everything you are being charged.  They will rip you off if you don’t pay close attention.
    We buried my grandmother in October and delt with a buch of crooks.  My grandmother had a prepaid furnal policy.  We knew there would be other costs but they nickel and dimed my family.   My grandmother wanted the least expensive funeral money could buy.  So many “extras”  we did ourselves just because they were charging an arm and leg. 
    Not only that, the 3 men we worked with were so unprofessional and uncaring.  I do understand funeral homes are a business but they are in the business of being there for the family and helping during this hard time.  I have never been so disgusted. 
    I know they are not all like that but please do be careful..you are in such a vulnerable position when dealing with a death…don’t let them take advantage of you!

  66. Make sure you ask to see everything you are being charged.  They will rip you off if you don’t pay close attention.
    We buried my grandmother in October and delt with a buch of crooks.  My grandmother had a prepaid furnal policy.  We knew there would be other costs but they nickel and dimed my family.   My grandmother wanted the least expensive funeral money could buy.  So many “extras”  we did ourselves just because they were charging an arm and leg. 
    Not only that, the 3 men we worked with were so unprofessional and uncaring.  I do understand funeral homes are a business but they are in the business of being there for the family and helping during this hard time.  I have never been so disgusted. 
    I know they are not all like that but please do be careful..you are in such a vulnerable position when dealing with a death…don’t let them take advantage of you!

  67. I see there are many “FUNERAL DIRECTORS” getting upset!  They are worse then used car salesmen.  They lie cheat and steal.  Becareful, for every one good one there’s many trying to screw you!

    1. Oh, ignorant EasterBunny you are so silly!….Don’t you realize that there are always going to be bad apples in every profession? How many bad doctors, lawyers, and cops are out there?  Yet, the majority out there are dedicated and good.  These “FUNERAL DIRECTORS” as you so ignorantly say are defending this profession, a profession that has been a DUTY since the beginning of time.  They are defending this profession against the deception of this ignorant author who unfortunately has a preset agenda, who clearly doesn’t realize that all states have different laws and California and New Jersey for example have the strictest funeral laws in the nation.  I cannot get angered by your ignorance, because it is people like this ignorant author that plant an agenda in the impressionable minds like yours, EasterBunny.

  68. Alos buy flowers through a private florist!  The flowers offered at funeral homes are marked up a lot.  Try to let everyone know the flower shop you are using and they will probably give you deep discounts if multiple orders come in!

    1. This statement just goes to show you how unknowledgeable people and J. Henderson are in general.  No business owner, least of all a funeral director, would sell a basket of flowers for a $ 100. more than the florist down the road.  You would not stay in business long if you did.  I sell flowers to my families at the exact price the florist down the road sells them to the public.  I order them from the very same florist, as does every funeral director.  The florist discounts my bill 15% so the funeral home does make a few dollars of profit, the family has one less task on their hands, and the florist is happy for the business.  Everyone wins and it does not cost the family a dime.  Maybe when you grow up and learn to listen, you will  understand a few more things in life.   To each their own.  If you think funeral directors are out to get you, then don’t call upon us.  I am sure a professional can help you with this mental disorder.  Again, to each their own.  I have many letters and notes from families thanking me for helping them.  That is all that really matters.  They needed my help and I was there, were you?  

      1. How can you speak for ALL funeral homes. And you just made her point about mark ups, you just pocket the discount instead of passing the savings on to the customer. It’s the same thing. Do you tell them about the discount you pocket.

        1. Mellondrop/J Henderson, I’ve read up on certain state laws, and New Jersey for example says it is ILLEGAL to mark up cash disbursement items in their state such as obituary write ups; floral arrangements would fall under this category as well.

        2. Mellondrop/J Henderson, I’ve read up on certain state laws, and New Jersey for example says it is ILLEGAL to mark up cash disbursement items in their state such as obituary write ups; floral arrangements would fall under this category as well.

  69. I could be wrong, but I don’t think the article ever says that pacemakers WON”T explode in the Cremation process…..I think the person is saying that this is something that you aren’t generally told. And lets be honest, you ARE a bunch of crooks. Playing on people ignorance and grief. We don’t need any of the crap that you offer. YOU”RE DEAD! Dead people don’t give a crap if their wig is on crooked, or if their teeth have lipstick or if they smell bad, they are DEAD!  Plus, the things (nutritions, minerals etc) in our body are meant to go back to the earth! When I die, toss me in a ditch somewhere, cover me with dirt and get the hell on with your life!

    1. I doubt you’ll ever see this, but if you do, consider donating your body to an open air body farm, if you haven’t already. They essentially throw you in a ditch (or something) and then document your body’s decomposition for research. You’re returning to the earth AND helping science.

    2. I doubt you’ll ever see this, but if you do, consider donating your body to an open air body farm, if you haven’t already. They essentially throw you in a ditch (or something) and then document your body’s decomposition for research. You’re returning to the earth AND helping science.

    3. I doubt you’ll ever see this, but if you do, consider donating your body to an open air body farm, if you haven’t already. They essentially throw you in a ditch (or something) and then document your body’s decomposition for research. You’re returning to the earth AND helping science.

  70. From what I see in these replies, funeral directors do not know how to spell. At least try to know how to spell interred.

  71. As a funeral director, I am appalled at this list. There is a lot of misleading information posted here and some of it is downright incorrect. Before posting on a particular industry, it might be worthwhile to do some research first with legitimate sources.  I find it interesting that the sources are listed as “Funeral Directors” from various states as well as someone from a consumer’s alliance who is completely against the profession to begin with. For someone who actually is licensed to practice in this profession, this article completely discredits the author and Reader’s Digest.

  72. if I know iam going to die ahead of time ,going to get a pace maker shoved up my rear.lol
    these stories in here just makes me want to kill myself/lol
    after Iam dead.I dont give a dam what happens to my body.ok.you all can fight over it/lol
    but watch out for the pace maker if you want to burn me/lol

  73. Jessica Mitford wrote an excellent book called The American Way of Death Revisited. Funeral Directors hated her and her book, but it is truly an excellent read. So is Caring for the Dead by Lisa Carlson. Funeral homes aren’t for everybody, but funeral directors have a limit to their market and don’t want to lose a single customer. My family will never use one. Interesting article. (if your loved one dies at the hospital, you can ask to have a pacemaker removed)

    1. Yes, yes, Mrs. Mitford described how Funeral Directors guilt people into spending more then they want on funeral’s and she spend over $ 18,000. on her own funeral, this being several years ago too.  If your gonna talk the talk…..  I guess it is easier to give advise then follow it, especially when it does not affect you.  For your sake, I pray your family never needs to make that phone call to us at 2:00 AM after a something has gone terribly wrong.  I am sure you local cremation society clerk will know what to do.  

    2. Yes, yes, Mrs. Mitford described how Funeral Directors guilt people into spending more then they want on funeral’s and she spend over $ 18,000. on her own funeral, this being several years ago too.  If your gonna talk the talk…..  I guess it is easier to give advise then follow it, especially when it does not affect you.  For your sake, I pray your family never needs to make that phone call to us at 2:00 AM after a something has gone terribly wrong.  I am sure you local cremation society clerk will know what to do.  

  74. 1. Untrue – The money goes into a trust, through the State licensing board.

    2. You can be buried on a Veteran Cem, but nothing is free -except the US Flag and military funeral, which it is customary to give them a donation.

    3. You can, but they are made extremely cheap – you get what you pay for….

    4. There are State laws that you must be buried in a Approved container, yes you may rent a casket then be cremated. I’ve never incountered a funeral director that would not tell you about a rental casket (for viewing) if your gonna be cremated.

    5. Untrue -A body is embalmed as soon as the funeral home hets it to the funeral home. Plus, every embalming room has air conditioning and it is USED!

    6. VERY untrue. If you feel your being taken advantage of, I suggest you go to another funeral home. You will have to pay for any cost incurred by the 1st funeral home. Then I suggest you contatc the state board of Funeral Service in your State.

    7. Unture -I’ve seen bodies un-intured that had been buried for over 50+ years and people that were there say they look as good as when buried; maybe some slight discoloration were jewelry has touched the skin. But remember ashes to ashes and dust to dust.

    8. Untrue -Every funeral has to have one in the showroom!

    9. They will be returned (barring you don’t purchase a container) in a plastic bag inside a card board box marked: HUMAN REMAINS!

    10. It is Federal Law, that EVERY funeral home must provide a price sheet for services to anyone that ask. If they don’t contact the State Board.

    11. This is done before the body is picked up or a doctor removes the device.

    12. Untrue -See answer to #6.

    13. We provide a service when your loved one dies. Following State and Federal Laws!

  75. 1. Untrue – The money goes into a trust, through the State licensing board.

    2. You can be buried on a Veteran Cem, but nothing is free -except the US Flag and military funeral, which it is customary to give them a donation.

    3. You can, but they are made extremely cheap – you get what you pay for….

    4. There are State laws that you must be buried in a Approved container, yes you may rent a casket then be cremated. I’ve never incountered a funeral director that would not tell you about a rental casket (for viewing) if your gonna be cremated.

    5. Untrue -A body is embalmed as soon as the funeral home hets it to the funeral home. Plus, every embalming room has air conditioning and it is USED!

    6. VERY untrue. If you feel your being taken advantage of, I suggest you go to another funeral home. You will have to pay for any cost incurred by the 1st funeral home. Then I suggest you contatc the state board of Funeral Service in your State.

    7. Unture -I’ve seen bodies un-intured that had been buried for over 50+ years and people that were there say they look as good as when buried; maybe some slight discoloration were jewelry has touched the skin. But remember ashes to ashes and dust to dust.

    8. Untrue -Every funeral has to have one in the showroom!

    9. They will be returned (barring you don’t purchase a container) in a plastic bag inside a card board box marked: HUMAN REMAINS!

    10. It is Federal Law, that EVERY funeral home must provide a price sheet for services to anyone that ask. If they don’t contact the State Board.

    11. This is done before the body is picked up or a doctor removes the device.

    12. Untrue -See answer to #6.

    13. We provide a service when your loved one dies. Following State and Federal Laws!

  76. Is it true that cadavers’ thyroid glands and eyes are removed w/o letting the family know this has occurred?

  77. Is it true that cadavers’ thyroid glands and eyes are removed w/o letting the family know this has occurred?

    1. From a more scientific stand point infectious encephalitis can spread from a unembalmed  corpse in as little as 36 hours past the point of death. Putting a decaying body out for viewing is about as stupid as stupid gets.
      Speaking of refrigeration, if you have ever been to a large city morgue that keeps 50 to sometimes 100 dead bodies you would know that refrigeration simply slows the process. It does very little to stop the breakdown and seems silly for funeral homes to purchase one. If you have ever walked into the ‘racks’ (term for longtime refrigerated storage of corpse in morgues) you will be overwhelmed by an indescribable putrid odor that you will never forget-ever.

    2. From a more scientific stand point infectious encephalitis can spread from a unembalmed  corpse in as little as 36 hours past the point of death. Putting a decaying body out for viewing is about as stupid as stupid gets.
      Speaking of refrigeration, if you have ever been to a large city morgue that keeps 50 to sometimes 100 dead bodies you would know that refrigeration simply slows the process. It does very little to stop the breakdown and seems silly for funeral homes to purchase one. If you have ever walked into the ‘racks’ (term for longtime refrigerated storage of corpse in morgues) you will be overwhelmed by an indescribable putrid odor that you will never forget-ever.

  78. what a waste of time/money to hold a formal funeral and bury someone — it’s disgusting and only is for the benefit of a few people so they can feel better about death…it’s also what lead to the wide-spread plague in europe when scaredy-cat xians didn’t want to continue with the pagan rituals for cremation and there were so many bodies that they actually came thru the walls of people’s homes  — the thought of being in the ground for hundreds of years rotting away is so sickening!!

  79. She hit a nerve, very nice. So far all the comments here have been long-winded douche-baggery from Funeral directors. Why dost thou protest so much?

  80. She hit a nerve, very nice. So far all the comments here have been long-winded douche-baggery from Funeral directors. Why dost thou protest so much?

    1. I’ve been to some funeral homes, and let me tell you Mr. Khan your comments are about as ignorant as this author’s.  The care I’ve seen this one funeral home give for a friend’s mother’s wake was extraordinary.  I appreciate reading these comments whether they are from funeral directors or not, because there are good ones out there, and for every negative story you hear in the sensationalistic media, there are a million more that aren’t reported such as the follow up calls/cards sent to a grieving family who lost a parent/sibling/friend to check up on them, and the ones who pay attention to the little details during the wake/funeral.  You either have never experienced a death of someone close before or are just plain ignorant.  I’d like to know something that you do or believe in that is near and dear to your heart and see your reaction when it is slandered with misinformation.  I guess Umair, ignorance is bliss right?  I don’t expect you to understand much with that ignorant, tunnel vision mind of yours. 

    2. I’ve been to some funeral homes, and let me tell you Mr. Khan your comments are about as ignorant as this author’s.  The care I’ve seen this one funeral home give for a friend’s mother’s wake was extraordinary.  I appreciate reading these comments whether they are from funeral directors or not, because there are good ones out there, and for every negative story you hear in the sensationalistic media, there are a million more that aren’t reported such as the follow up calls/cards sent to a grieving family who lost a parent/sibling/friend to check up on them, and the ones who pay attention to the little details during the wake/funeral.  You either have never experienced a death of someone close before or are just plain ignorant.  I’d like to know something that you do or believe in that is near and dear to your heart and see your reaction when it is slandered with misinformation.  I guess Umair, ignorance is bliss right?  I don’t expect you to understand much with that ignorant, tunnel vision mind of yours. 

  81. Shame on you Michelle Crouch… TO ANYONE READING THIS… This author is an ill informed person who is spreading fear and distrust. There ARE funeral directors who care out there. Dont listen to this wretched article… IT ISNT THE TRUTH…
    Sincerely,
           Someone who does care

  82. I HOPE PEOPLE READING THIS KNOW THAT THERE ARE STILL HONEST HARDWORKING FUNERAL HOMES OUT THERE… Michelle Crouch SHAME ON YOU.

  83. Sad thing is, people will never be able to hear whats real in the funeral industry.  They won’t see our comments declaring what is the truth.  Only her deluded versions of things..Sad Sad Sad

  84. This has to be the most errant story I have ever read.  She needs to get out more!

  85. When people are writing articles about professions , they most certainly should not be printed with out the proper research . It is people as such as this that try and make bad names for good Funeral Directors . These kind of articles written as such makes me think they let  just any old body write and print words whether they are of truth or not . People take advantage of freedom of speech an take old myths an such garbage that history has made out of the Funeral professionals. There are a great deal of real good men and women out there doing their best to help grieving families for their loss and all society wants to do is create slander , garbage . Where have all the great writers gone to ? Have they all died out with Longfellow and the likes ?

  86. I don’t get what people are complaining about people leaving pacemakers in the body when they are creamated. Even if it is perfectly safe, what’s the big deal with taking it out? It’s not like the body is using it. And people say “well the body is going to look horrible before they put it into the stove”. Hey, the body is about to be ashes. It won’t matter what it looks like before it goes into the stove.

  87. This guy is a moron…really if you’re that concerned or have any questions regarding pre-arranging or any process done in the funeral home, call your local funeral home and ask…this is such bullshit, and most comments posted on here are from licensed funeral directors giving their feedback because they do KNOW what goes on in the funeral home. I as well am licensed and disagree completely with what this person has presented…get your facts straight before presenting mis-leading info…
    I think I might stand out at a cemetery today just so I can hear a casket explode from all the moisture building up in it…moron…

  88. This is such BS!  I’m a Funeral Director in NY and some of these points are completely false.  It’s terrible to keep the funeral industry in such a negative light.  The fact is, we work VERY hard at doing what’s right for the family.  We work around the clock (weekends, holidays, nights, days off, etc.) for the family.  We are overworked and underpaid.  We are also exposed to many health hazards on a daily basis.  Sure there are some bad apples, but that’s true for any business.  We do an incredible service to the public and we need to stop being bashed.  We are professionals and we know what we are doing. 
    Example #5: The refridgerator is a luxury for the Funeral Director so we don’t have to stay up all night embalming after a night removal.  Most funeral homes don’t have one because it’s just a luxury.  And NO, the body cannot be viewed if unembalmed simply because it’s a health risk to the public.  Even if they look fine, a dead body is FILLED with bacterian and whatever disease they may have had in life.  It is a serious health risk to the public and it is our responsibility to protect the public.

  89. You really need to spend the money on mortuary school, national and state tests, and become a funeral director, work in a funeral home, and also you need to learn your laws rules and regulations both state and federal (FTC Funeral Rule) that is put into place to protect the public from the lies you are sending out to the public Michelle!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Try reserching the material you are writing before you write it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am a licensed Funeral Director and did all the education, testing, and work on the deceased and with their grieving families!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! IT TAKES A VERY SPECIAL PERSON TO BE A FUNERAL DIRECTOR, SO YOU SHOULD NOT DOWN THE PROFESSION!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  90. I am a licensed funeral director in the state of South Carolina and some of the topics discussed in the so called 13 things the funeral director won’t tell you are totally absurd. FIRST thing is funeral home preneeds are regulated and monitored by your state dept of consumer affairs, who do yearly checks to make sure the consumers best interest are at hand. Should a funeral home go out of business they step in to move any preneed policy or policies to another funeral establishment, so that the money is safe. SECOND burial at a national cemetery is not free, yes the gravespace, marker, opening & closing fees, and graveliner (Not a Vault) are provided at no cost to family. However the funeral expenses are still there because a funeral home has to be in charges of the burial and services, thought that should be worded a little different than burial is free. THIRD the caskets from Costco, Walmart, etc are not always able to be shipped to certain states they have a small disclaimer on the bottom of their website that says which states they cannot ship to, and who is going to warranty those caskets should they be damaged in transporting to the funeral home. I have seen it and heard it first hand, then you have to postpone the service another day or two to get another casket. FORTH some cemeteries will not allow burial unless the deceased is in a casket not a THICK CARDBOARD CONTAINER as you say, but that is not all cemeteries. One would have to check with the cemetery requirements before you guys can just say that statement. FIFTH refrigiration is not a requirement that funeral homes have to have in some states, but to say that it is to get you to embalm is totally obsurd. Embalming is not required by law, but it is left up to the funeral homes discretion as wether to require embalming when there is an open casket during a visitation were the public is exposed to odors, decomposition, etc that might harm or cause mental anguish. Who would like to see your loved one when they start to purge from their mouth, eyes, nose etc, which will happen if the deceased remains are not properly preserved by embalming. SEVENTH gasketed caskets are designed to let any gases that occur during decomposition escape in a burping fashion and not any air back in, which is possible through the design of the rubber seal around the casket lid. EIGHTH cremated remains are returned to families in a plastic or metal container should one not chose an urn, which get this are called a TEMPORARY CONTAINER,  and that is the name that funeral homes purchase them through when we buy them in bulk. So call them whatever you want they are still temporary containers. NINTH pacemakers are removed to protect the crematory operator not the machine to keep them from exploding in ones face, should we have to reposition the deceased in the crematory chamber were the door of the machine would have to be open. They do no damage to the machine itself. Those were the problems I had with the article that I felt needed to be cleared up by this poorly written article. Next time you guys choose to bash an industry at least have the decentcy to contact a funeral home with these matters before just writing an article that is mostly wrong. Now there are some funeral homes that take advantage of grieving families but those firms will not make it long in the industry, due to your local dept of consumer affairs, and the federal trade commission.    

  91. Your vapid comments and ridiculous use of nomenclature belie your supposed “expertise”. If I call you at 2:00am on Christmas Day (yes, I am Christian) in the middle of a record snow storm, can I be guaranteed an emergency book signing? This article and related web posts are for one purpose. You making a profit $$ from an ill informed piece of literature you call a book. Regardless of your comments, funeral service continues to be a respected profession. You, however, have polluted the waters of journalism.

    A licensed Mortician and Funeral Director for 15 years.

  92. I have been a Funeral Director for the past 53 years. 99.9% of what is in that article is falaceous. We are a service oriented company and we alays tell families that we do not care where they purchase their merchandise for funeral usage.We`are not casket salesmen we are Funeral Directors.Families are given a choice from the rock bottom lowest to whatever and they make the choice not us. Our interests are in making a family completely satisfied with the services we provide and nothing else.   If the author of this article feels that guilty maybe she chose the wrong profession. If i felt that i misused the trust that a grieving family placed in me i certainly would not accept a paycheck from my employer.

  93. Michelle, Michelle, Michelle, where did you come up with this bunch of bull crap!!!  I read this same article 20 years ago!  I would never have thought Readers Digest would become the National Enquirer.  I’ve been a funeral Director, (yes Funeral Director, because that’s what my state license says right on the front)  for 37 years.  You should have investigated the facts befor you republished something like this.  It makes you look like a journalistic Moran and it sure doesn’t help Readers Digest either!  #1 Go Ahead and Plan Your Funeral.  If you pay for a funeral in advance, a lot of states have preneed laws that will not let a funeral home deposit and use the consumers money.  They require a funeral home to deposit any preneed monies paid to them into a special outside account.  Knowone can touch this money until the time of death, so that way, if the funeral home goes belly up, the consumers money is secure.  #2 If You Or Your Spouse Is an Honorably Discharged veteran.  The National Cemeteries in this contry buries more than any other cemeteries.  Why? because veteran’s know what their benefits are and funeral directors handle all the requirements on getting these veterans buried in a national cemetery.  #3 You can buy caskets that are just as nice.  Well, I wouldn’t say just as nice.  Let’s say looks as good.  These caskets that come from places like Costco are made in Communist China and these people do a good job in their sweat shops cloning American made caskets made by Americans.  But it’s completely up to the families we serve.  If they order a casket from China, that’s oaky with us.  All we ask is for them to sign a release in case the bottom falls out.  #4 A rental casket as you call it, is a cardboard cremation container.  If someone wants to be buried in a cardboard cremation box, that’s fine with me.  #5 Running a funeral home without a cooler.  A funeral home by law is not required to have a walk in cooler.  As far as embalimg goes, the FTC requires funeral homes to disclose that there is no law that requires embalming.  If they choose not to have the body embalmed, they will not be charged for it.  There is a law however (Tennessee) that the body must be embalmed if you choose public viewing and services.  This is to disinfect the body for public health.  An unembalmed body can never be displayed for public viewing no matter how good they look.  #6.  Hard-sell phrases.  This one is laughable!  People know how much money they have to spend.  If you sell them a big exspensive funeral and they can’t pay for it, what good have you done.  You have an outstanding debt on the books you will have to turn over for collection.  Who wins doing that?  This is a business and it has to run like a business.  I would rather sell ten bottom line funerals and them pay me, as too sell one big exspensive funeral and they can’t pay for it, just common sense.  Out standing debt will kill your business!  #7. Protective caskets with a rubber gasket.  Common sence here, decomposition is nature taking it’s course.  Nothing can stop that, not even embalming!  Moisture and tissue gases will make the casket explode!  I can’t speak for the Costo Chinese made caskets but the American made caskets, especially Batesville Caskets have a high outer edge on their gaskets, so when the tissue gass builds up inside the casket, it will push the gasket to the outside edge and burp itself to relieve pressure and then reseal itself.  #8.  If there is no low cost casket in the showroom.  So what!  The consumer has been shown a copy of the casket price list and has been given the price range of the caskets from the least exspensive to the most exspensive.  If a particular funeral home doesn’t show the least exspensive, you can ask to see it.  They’ve already showed you it’s available on the casket pricelist.  #9.  Ask the Crematory to return the ashes.  You can buy urns online or at the funeral home starting around $100.00, now is that exspensive?  You don’t have to buy an urn at all.  If you choose not to buy one, the cremains will be returned in a plastic snap tight container that does say temporary container.  They are also told the cremains can be buried in this container, scattered from this container or simply stay in this container.  Temporary container is to show this is not a solid container like an urn, but a plastic container that can be broken or severly damaged.  If your going to scatter the ashes, why would you want to buy an urn anyway? I don’t care who you are, people for the most part do not buy urns or do not buy exspensive urns.  #10. Shop around.  Sure you can shop around!  The difference between $500. cremations and $3,000. cremations is the overhead!!  Most $500. cremations are done buy a store front or single office business that sends your loved one off to crematory who knows where.  A $3,000 cremation will probably be done by a funeral home.  You serve so many families a year and some are cremations, some are indigent, some are ship-outs to another state etc.  You still have to pay your overhead know matter what disposition a family chooses.  You have salaries, maintainence, vehicles, benefits etc.  It cost a lot to operate a business!  If you choose a reputable firm it will be worth $3,000 knowing your loved has been taken care of properly.  Remember what happened down in Georgia a few years back?  #11.  We Remove Pacemakers.  Yes we do remove pacemakers because common sence knows batteries WILL explode in a retort under high heat.  By removing the pacemaker, you remove the danger of the crematory operator being injured or killed during the cremation process if those battires explode.  Besides that, we send the pacemakers back to the medical company to be refurbished.  Who cares if the pacemaker is removed?   #12.  If I try to sell you a package that will save you money.  Why would you ask for a general price list?  You should have one in your hand before you walk in the showroom, so you can see what everything cost.  A package is a package!  If you want a #1 combo at McDonalds, Big Mac, Fry and coke, but you decide you don’t want the fries, then you shouldn’t buy the combo, because when you remove the fries, it’s not a combo anymore.  A package does have a built in discount, that’s why it’s a package!!!  If you remove something, it’s not a package anymore.  But hey!  you don’t have to buy a package, that’s the beauty of living in America!  #13.  Yes, technically I am an Undertaker or a Mortician.  I’ve been in funeral service for 37 years and I’m not an embalmer or mortician.  I am a licsened Funeral Director by the state of Tennessee.  These other titles were started back in 1800’s.  I hope this clears up all of you missconceptions as stated in your article.  Next time instead of taking the easy way doing your job and reprinting an article that’s 20 years old, you need to take the time to investigate what your writing about and truly earn your money.  Thanks for your time.  Bill

  94. Ms Crouch, Where did you get your degree at . Because the person who may hay told you embalming is not neede if the veiwing will be in a few days . Does not have a clue . I sugeggest that before you decide to write on a topic you do your research

  95. This is a horrid example of someone turning Funeral Directors and Embalmers into money-hungry anti-caring jerks.  It doesn’t matter if the funeral home goes out of business you won’t lose any money.  A great number if not all funeral homes honor policies from anywhere. Also it is against most state laws to view a body without embalming for health reasons.  Where did you get your information for this list!?! This is outrageous and sad.

  96. Death is a very mysterious and miss-understood part of life. Many people often fear what they do not understand, including the duties of our local funeral directors. Naturally, it is easy to stir up emotions and fears when discussing anything death related. This article in Readers Digest is one of many that take the easy way in creating a buzz. There is nothing hard about demonizing a funeral home, and there is little surprise in the sensational nature of “uncovering the secrets” of the “dismal trade.”. The best advice for those with questions about what a funeral home does is to simply ask them. Ask for a tour. Ask to be involved in the preparations for your loved ones funeral. Ask about anything you don’t understand. Funeral directors are human beings, notoriously friendly generally, and would be willing to discuss. No small business would last long while taking unfair advantage of their clientele. And as for prices, every funeral is different, as are the corresponding expenses. There are very few 24/7 professionals left in today’s world. That level of service is valuable and worth the cost, especially when you experience a loss and are left with no idea what to do.

  97. I am very curious to know to whom Reader’s Digest spoke to in regards to these “13” things a funeral director will not tell you. I find this list to be very offenisve and once again it paints Funeral Directors as being devious and unprofessional. May I remind  the author that Funeral Directors are bound by the law, just like any other profession, and it is against the law for a Funeral Director to use deceptive practices in order to gain business. I am a very proud Funeral Director and when I make arrangements with a family, I discuss all of their options with them based on the type of service the FAMILY wants. Our families know about Veteran’s benefits because that is one of the first questions we ask when filling out vital statistic information. Our families know that they can buy caskets from a warehouse our event rent a casket. We are interested in providing SERVICE for a family because excellent customer service is what brings people back to use a particular establishment. If Reader’s Digest is going to provide information to their readers, it should be accurate and based on research and facts, not just on someone’s personal opinion.

  98. You would think a reputable publishing like this would have done its home work, sounds like a 5 year old wrote this.  Completely untrue and it heartbreaking that this magazine has now influenced someone into making a poor choice based on this review.  No wonder no one pays this subscription anymore.

    1. we remove pacemakers because when exposed to extreme heat as in a crematory they explode because of the batter and can actually blow a hole in the cremation chamber. And they can explode when removed if not deactivated by hospital or a heavy magnet is not placed over them when they wires are being cut to remove them. 

  99. I have to say a couple things about this article as a funeral director. First if it is a reputable firm your money is places in a 3rd party trust not controlled by the funeral home, and if you don’t prepay for the funeral the price is not locked in so if you get an estimate for say $10,000 and you don’t pay ahead and you die in say 10 years that price could now be $15,000 or more. As far as caskets from walmart, costco, etc. they are often cheap made by china and are delivered the day of visitation and you have no time to get deceased ready and if they have scratches or dents on them you cant get a new one as if you can with buying from a funeral home, and i’ve tried to deal with them they wont give money off for that. 99.9999% of funeral homes won’t show a body that is not embalmed because you expose the public to diseases and germs, and trust me if you have ever seen a body that has laid out without refrigeration or embalming is not a pretty sight. The veins turn black, there is a really bad odor, the skin falls off when touches (Skin SliP), they turn purple, can purge body fluids from mouth, eyes, nose. There skin blisters with this nasty liquid that when barely touched breaks open. Not pretty i’ve seen it. A good, honest funeral director will feel out your budget and go from there they won’t try to sell you something you can’t afford because they want to get paid. Also show rooms are set up by grouping usually by the material made of the casket or by price. Funeral homes have a book of other caskets they don’t carry. All you have to do is ask. The crematory chooses what type of container the remains come back in its not a family choice the crematory pays for those containers. The pacemaker thing trust me i’ve been in the crematory talking when one exploded, its the battery in them that explodes and can damage the crematory, costing thousands to guess who because you sign a waiver in the crematory paper if you read saying you will pay for cost if you don’t tell funeral director about pacemaker. They can even explode while cutting the wires to take them out of the deceased. Packages often do cost less money, just look at the options. Also the terms undertaker and mortician are terms that were used in the 50’s to describe our profession it is an outdated term, there are funeral directors and there are embalmers some do both jobs in states. I am sick and tired of people degrading funeral service just because there are a few bad people in the profession. Also in most states embalming is required in certain cases of disease or illness, and is always required by funeral homes to view deceased after death unless it is what we call an id view for immediate family members only and there is usually a fee because when you die your mouth and eyes stay open. You know these people who write these articles have obviously listened to stories that people made up, but these people are the first ones to want our services and they usually want everything for free. Like my boss always says we could have a funeral for $5000 if you want to die monday thru friday between 9am and 5pm but we are on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year including holidays. 

  100. im sorry that after 40 years in the funeral service industry,  readers digest would allow such an misinformed article.  I will gladly invite michelle, to arkansas.  I will pay her motel bill, her food, her flight, and give her the opportunity to assist for one week. She will be given full access to any costs involved, and shown any profits derived.  but remember this is a 24 hour a day situation, with very little time off.  nite calls, embalming, refrigeration, dressing, casketing, cremation, trips to handle paperwork, visitations, maintaince, waiting on families, etc.  I feel that she could get a more accurate knowledge of funeral service as a whole.  I dont feel she is an ill intentioned person, just one who does not have facts.  look us up in the redbook of funeral homes. thanking readers digest, for the years my grandparents, and parents, read readers digest.  nwa mortuary service, springdale, ar, april russell, old wore out veteran.

  101. 1 thing readers digest writers won’t tell you:  its easier for writers to make up suff than actually reseach it. 

  102. Unbelievable!!! RD how dare you for letting this horrible article run. Get the facts straight before making awful accusatoins, #8 get a grip and #13 what does that even mean. I am appauled.

  103. Unbelievable!!! RD how dare you for letting this horrible article run. Get the facts straight before making awful accusatoins, #8 get a grip and #13 what does that even mean. I am appauled.

  104. Have your facts straight before you speak.  1)  Crematoriums do not explode if a pacemaker is left in the deceased during Cremation.  Who ever said that is unknowledgeable.  HOWEVER, a pacemaker WILL explode under pressure and heat and WILL damage the inner brick lining of the Crematorium which cost about $ 25,000. to replace.  2) Younger funeral directors who really know, know the casket means nothing.  Buy it whereever you want.  It will not fall apart.  Who cares.  We make all of our operating costs up on our professional services.  Casket and vaults are gravy.  If you sell it great, if you don’t, who cares.  I have the same mark up on my caskets and vaults.  I would rather have a family buy a 20 GA casket than a Stainless Steel.  I make the same amount of money and the family walks out with a less expensive bill.  The copper and bronze days all long over.  Costco and Wallmart do not do removals at 3:00 AM.  Thats where you make your money, as you should.  Call a plumber at 3:00 AM, if you can, and see that the charge is.  Drop the casket issue already.  Anybody who still put the old two or three time mark up on a casket is out of touch.   

  105. Thank you for this article. I was married to a funeral director for many years, and worked in a funeral home myself.

    They have a job, and are trying to make a buck. I hate it when they act holier-than-thou, like they are performing a saintly service.

    I witnessed embalmings, and never understood why anyone would ever want that done to their loved one. I would never want that done to my dead body.

    I witnessed my husband, and his co-workers complaining when someone opted for the cheaper casket, with a grave-liner instead of expensive vault. I would ask, “Why do they need a vault that seals.” Their only answer was, “for protection.” Protection from what? This is a dead body…they are dead, and nothing can really happen now, now can it.

    They loved it when people opted for the hearse, the limo, and the fancy stuff that the family didn’t even need. Then complain when there was not enough life insurance to cover it.

    It sickens me. I want to be cremated, and scattered in a nice place, and my husband love my memory. As I would his.

    1. I *highly* doubt that “stephljones” is actually married to a funeral director, and if she is…why stay with someone who so obviously sickens you?!?!  I call BS.

    2. This comment is complete BS. You have never witnessed an embalming it is AGAINST THE LAW for anyone to be in the prep room or witness an embalming unless they are licensed. Family privacy for one reason and the second being that embalming chemicals can cause cancer in the workers.

      Shut up. You don’t know anything you liar.

  106. Ms. Crouch – The only thing “sleazy” is you and the crap that you write!  People like yourself who write things like this make me realize that there are people in this world that have NO CLUE what they are talking about but like to see their “crap” in writing and write for the sake of a pay check. 

    1. The consumer WILL NOT lose their money if the funeral home goes out of business.  This is 2011 and there are things called LAWS that protect the consumer.  Check your facts; the one at the most risk are the funeral homes GUARANTEEING the funerals.

    2. Most of this true but a funeral director still has to oversee it and each state has their own laws and regulations. 

    3.  Yes, they can; however, they are junk and I personally have witnessed handles falling off and bottoms breaking.  You get what you pay for!  If this happens, guess who gets blamed?  The funeral director who tried to sell them a quality casket. 

    4.  Rental caskets are available but as the funeral home we still have to charge for that because the inside has to be replaced and that COSTS MONEY. They are fine for cremation but what about the person who wants to be buried – what will they be buried in?  Oh, I forgot, a CHEAP PIECE OF CRAP FROM COSTCO!

    5. REALLY?  Are you that ignorant?  Most funeral homes don’t have coolers because not only are they costly embalming is a common practice for preservation of the body and most people will choose this so that they can have a visitation and service to HONOR THE LIFE OF THEIR LOVED ONE!   And this is typically, in most societies, done within 3-4 days.  The LAW in most states REQUIRES that the body be embalmed, cremated or buried within 48-72 hours!

    6.  You must have had a bad experience with a funeral director and that is unfortunate; however, MOST are not as “sleazy” as you just made them out to be with this statement.  Again, ignorance!

    7.  You just get more pathetic in your “reasons”  Caskets don’t explode!  Decomposition happens NO MATTER WHAT; however, have you ever seen an embalmed body that has been exhumed?  They look quite nice for having been dead.  Oh, but embalming is just a way for funeral directors to make more money! Yes, that is sarcasm!

    8.  Yes, some may do this but again, not the majority.  But according to you they could just get a “low cost” casket at Costco or Walmart so why even bother the funeral director with having to go to the boiler room.

    9.  Standard is a plastic container or heavily corrugated small boxes and frankly, just because it MAY say temporary doesn’t mean that they HAVE to purchase an “expensive” urn.  Most; however, will choose to do so so that they don’t have a plastic or cardboard box sitting on their shelves or as protection for the ashes IF buried.  Have you ever seen the plastic container after it has been in the ground 4-5 years?  If not, keep your idiotic opinions to yourself!

    10.  Yes, federal law requires disclosure to the consumer or anyone else that calls or comes in too bad you didn’t consult or quote federal law when writing the rest of this article.  If there is a variance of that much money it could be that the $500 is for direct cremation no service and if that is how important a loved ones life is – choose it.  Others may feel that having a service to honor the life of their loved one, even if cremated, is important and that costs money!

    11.  Again, check your laws.  And guess what, pacemakers, joint replacements, metal plates etc WILL DAMAGE the crematory – most specifically, the machine that grinds the bone down to ashes!  My guess is that you have NO CLUE as to what takes place during a cremation.

    12.Packages are common – it keeps the arrangement process simple and yes, they can eliminate certain items if they would like.  Packaging is common for almost anything – even purchasing a car or home.   Can I just buy a page or two of Readers Digest?  Trust me if I could, yours would be an article I would NOT waste my money on.

    13.  HMMMM, funeral “director”….lets think about that.  Do you really think they call themselves funeral directors because it sounds better or do you think that perhaps it because they DIRECT the funeral! 

    Readers Digest – SHAME ON YOU for publishing this kind of “crap” without thoroughly exploring the funeral directors world and getting the facts straight.  And if you interviewed funeral directors for this article, congratulations, you managed to find the worst and obviously the ones without morals or ethics.    Come spend a week with us and you will realize that not only is 90% of Ms. Crouch’s article untrue but that 90% of America couldn’t do the job that funeral directors do!  They are on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week….I think they deserve the money they make and frankly, most deserve more than what they are making.  I am the wife of a funeral director as well as worked in this PROFESSION for 9 years with the best of the best and I can tell you that MOST don’t come close to the awful image that you painted of them.

    1. In response to her #11 statement, a quick google search would find a story about a crematory in Florida a man losing his life becauase the family did not disclose the deceased had a pacemaker.  A man lost his life over this.  Something very simple do disclose but yet the writer (and I use that term very loosly) didn’t bother to do any creditable research.  What a  joke Ms. Crouch is!  And couldn’t agree more about RD priting this crap of lies to a demographic of folks who should pre plan.

    2. Thank you! I too am married to a funeral director and have seen him deal with some very difficult cases. He handles each family with dignity and compassion. He treats each family as he would his own. I have worked alongside him for 25 years and more often than not he will give you MORE than you paid for in time AND merchandise, He does NOT do this job to get rich, believe me.
      He leaves his family during birthday dinners, Christmas morning, and school functions. He gets up in the middle of the night when there is snow and ice coming down to take care of YOUR family.
      He cries at night when he comes home after taking care of a child that has passed away. He does his job because he feels as though it is a form of ministry, NOT because he wants to rip you off. Ms. Crouch, I wish you had talked to MY husband before you wrote this demeaning article – he would have told you the truth. But then you wouldn’t have been able to write this horrible article.

  107. Please do not try to make funeral directors look like bad guys. Seriously!? Why do we care if a veteran gets buried for free!? That’s the cemetery that’s losing money not us. Plus embalming is required in most states if there is going to be an open viewing to the public. How about doing some research.

  108. This article was just given to me I was told to read this.  Good advise???  Simply not true!!  As a owner of a funeral home you did not do your homework and shame on you!!!!!  You are put in a trusted situation when you do articles like these, and you exploit it.  If you really want to inform families and act all knowing, you should check your facts!!!  I take great pride in what I do for families I also pride myself on being informative and honest as do most directors. If we do such horrible, dishonest and shady acts then why is most of our business repeat families.   You simply got it WRONG!!

  109. Before you publish a story in a magazine with the clout of Readers Digest, don’t you think you would have crossed referenced your facts to make sure they really are true?  What was the average age of these funeral directors?  Don’t they know that profit on caskets went out with the rumble seat?  This article is about 25 years behind the times.  Perhaps Readers Digest should investigate their editoral staff and writers like Michelle Crouch before they publish garbage like this again.  I am not sure if any of their points are correct.  Lost one subscription today R.D.  Keep up the good work and maybe you can all get jobs at funeral homes when your unemployed.  Perhaps then you will find out the truth. 

  110. Even cheaper, donate your corpse to a medical school. You obviously don’t need it anymore. “You” are not your body, “you” are your brain and it’s powered down. 

    1. That’s one view, and while valid it’s not universal.  As with everything, not every product is for every person.  It’s also alot easier to dismiss the value of one’s own interment, I’ve found, than to consider not having a place to visit a parent or sibling – or for your family to visit you.  As for donation, there’s actually a fairly limited need for donations, particularly of elderly cadavers in poor condition, which comprises the majority of pre-arranged deaths (and donation after death is unlikely to take place). 

      1. Eb…having a “place” for my loved ones to “visit” me is exactly why I want cremation and my ashes scattered.  I dont want them to think of me as a spot in the ground somewhere that they are tied to.

  111. RD Better check your facts. Minnesota law requires that 100% of preneed funds are trusted. They are payable,” To any funeral home as its interest may appear”. They are also backed by the FDIC or the MN Insurance Guaranty Fund.  No Risk here!  AND, as an aside, our funeral homes make no charge for the minimum casket. As in all professions. a few bad apples spoil the reputation of many.

  112. RD Better check your facts. Minnesota law requires that 100% of preneed funds are trusted. They are payable,” To any funeral home as its interest may appear”. They are also backed by the FDIC or the MN Insurance Guaranty Fund.  No Risk here!  AND, as an aside, our funeral homes make no charge for the minimum casket. As in all professions. a few bad apples spoil the reputation of many.

  113. RD Better check your facts. Minnesota law requires that 100% of preneed funds are trusted. They are payable,” To any funeral home as its interest may appear”. They are also backed by the FDIC or the MN Insurance Guaranty Fund.  No Risk here!  AND, as an aside, our funeral homes make no charge for the minimum casket. As in all professions. a few bad apples spoil the reputation of many.

  114. and exploding caskets? where is the point of ignition? hard to believe. and will the corpse set up in the casket?

    1. Exploding caskets are a brief hiccup of the late 1800s, when the first hermetically sealed caskets became available.  The gases caused by decomposition created pressure which would break open the casket – ‘exploding’ is a dramatic way of putting it, and not really the right image.  Think more along the lines of leftovers in bulging tupperware at the back of the fridge. 

      Modern caskets (anything made in the last century and then some) have gaskets that are designed to let gas pressure escape, and I’m not aware of any cases since, say, the automobile started becoming popular. 

  115. A paid preneed contract placed in a trust account is interest bearing and helps off-set price increases.
    Pay-on-death savings account might also bear interest but probably not keep up with the increase in the cost of the funeral.  my understanding is that a paid preneed contract freezes services and merchandise, some consider it a good hedge on inflation and also gives the family peace of mind. 

    1. It does freeze the cost and, if the product you picked is no longer in production then at the time of service you pick a replacement to today’s equal which ends up being an upgrade.

    2. It does freeze the cost and, if the product you picked is no longer in production then at the time of service you pick a replacement to today’s equal which ends up being an upgrade.

  116. As a licensed funeral director of 15 years, I am so disgusted when I read this type of “advice”. No, your pre-paid funeral will not be lost if a funeral home goes out of business. These are often funded by insurance or a trust which can be transferred at the time of need to any funeral home. And I can’t require you to be present when your third party casket is delivered, but then don’t balk at paying me twice for casketing because the wrong one was delivered and I don’t know it until you show up…so now your guests are outside while you scramble to get Costco to hurry over with another one, and I scramble to get my staff to transfer Uncle Al to the right casket. Now you want Costco to pay my $300 casketing fee since their error caused me more work. Was that worth the $500 casket savings? Or, they deliver an oversized by mistake that won’t fit your vault…or they fail to deliver it in time for my staff to do their work. As far as embalming, it is not simply for cosmetic reasons. In this day and age of organ and tissue transplants and extraordinary lifesaving measures at the end of life, there are often problems with fluids and gases that cannot be contained properly if embalming or other preparation is not done. I am more than happy to let you have a viewing without embalming: as long as you realize I can make no promises to Grandmas appearance, or that she won’t bloat, give off an odor, or have something coming out of her nose. And in the event that those occur, you certainly won’t object to me having each guest sign a waiver before entering so that I will not be sued for “emotional distress” caused by them viewing such things. Most funeral homes don’t have refridgeration NOT to make you pay more, but because they are older buildings that do not have ample space. And, you get a “temporary” container free of charge at most crematories. It is often called that because it usually does not meet cemetery requirements for burial or inurnment, so you will have to purchase something that meets their regulations. If you want to give me a coffee can, I will use it. But, like any business, if you want an upgrade, you will have to pay for that. 90% of people I meet with chose services and merchandise similar to what their family has used in the past for other relatives…that seems like a ridiculous way to interpret the reason we bring it up. And I am more than happy to arrange a military cemetery burial. As long as you understand the government will tell us, when, where, and how long it will be. Don’t think the governement is going to let you have a 45 minute service at the time of your choosing. They have regulations about about how long people can speak, and most are not allowing people to go to the graveside…the burial will take place later in the day at their convienience. If aunt Gladys doesn’t show up on time…tough. You’re scheduled for 1:00? The show starts at 1:00. And you will NOT get a vault. You will get a government liner. Your funeral director can explain the difference. My job is not to oversell you…it is to educate you on what EXACTLY you are purchasing. And, as with anything in life, you get what you pay for. My advice? Talk to your funeral director. Ask questions. Don’t listen to slanted articles meant to scare you.

    1. I like to see fellow directors sticking up for our work. The funeral has become just like any religion…. some jerk enjoyed causing trouble, disagreed with one practice, and felt the need to open a huge can of worms and now we are having to fight for everything.

    2. A $300 casketing fee??? Wow, that is outrageous for putting something in a box.

      And, I wonder why the industry has such a reputation.

      1. That isn’t a fee for just casketing that fee usually includes dressing the deceased, cosmetizing the deceased, washing and bathing, hairstyling, and getting them ready for viewing this all takes hours it doesn’t just happen after embalming. Yes the funeral business is a business and you have to pay for services that YOU select and that YOU want to pay for. DO research before you condemn. 

  117. It’s encouraging to note that several funeral directors were consulted in putting together this list, in addition to the consumer advocate, Joshua Slocum. There are some good folks in the business as well as scoundrels–but since most of us don’t buy more than one funeral during our lives, it’s important to know what questions to ask.

  118. This is %80 crap. Allow someone who has actually been to mortuary school and worked in a funeral home tell you what’s what.

    2.) You can get all of these things when you present your DD-214 form to a director and they get you the flag and everything else for no charge.
    3.) Go ahead, get a walmart casket that is made from wood that can’t handle weight and held together by glue that fall apart just from the jostling of the truck…. I’ve seen it on every third-party casket.
    5.) If you don’t want embalming, that is fine. You have the right to a family and public viewing without embalming and most homes don’t utilize refrigeration because not many people actually want it.
    6.) Everybody uses these phrases and you would be surprised how many people actually walk into the selection room and request to see again every item their relative chose for their service and wish to buy the same thing.
    7.) It is illegal to claim any casket stops decomposition. Every funeral director is taught that from day 1 in school. There are hermetically sealed caskets that do prevent illnesses and odor from getting out and THAT IS A FACT.
    8.) Casket selection varies by area because yes, homes are meant to cater to different clients who have different needs; so if you don’t see what you are looking for they are not in a basement, the home simply does not have it on the floor stock.
    9.) Crematories use “temporary containers” because scattering ashes and containers purchased usually as decorations by the family are the most popular choices of a family now. It is not a sales tactic.
    11.) Embalmers remove defibrillaters because they are nuclear powered and will blow up a crematory. Anything with a battery also blows up under extreme heat.
    12.) By law you are given an itemized price list and yes, packages may have a few extras but they do save even with the extras an average of $300.
    13.) Undertaker is what the public calls a Funeral Director. Funeral Directors correct the public when they are referred to as such. A mortician is a medical doctor, so yes they are two totally separate people.

    1. I would also like to add the for 1), this is a horrible idea.  In the state of Florida, pre-arrangement of funeral funds require the funeral home guarantee the services be placed into a 3rd party for consumer safe keeping.  Most states regulate pre need funds for funeral homes this way today.  Seems to me like Michelle Crouch needs better researching tools in order to write a correct and informed article.  Many poeple trust Reader’s Digest and would take this article at face value and believe some of the mis-guided “truths” she is claiming.  Reviewing her sources, I can see now why she is so incorrect with these 13 “things”.   

      1. Thank you for this response! I was so appalled after reading this
        article I was searching for a way to contact the author directly. Its no
        wonder funeral homes get a bad rep!  

    2. I had no idea that plutonium was in a pacemaker.

      Just be honest, you have a business, and your business is to make money. If you were honest with your customers you would tell them:

      -It doesn’t matter what they are buried in, they are dead, and this is just a body.
      -Embalming isn’t necessary, but we can charge hundreds for it.
      -Cremation and scattering the ashes in a nice place is just as good as this fancy burial that will cost thousands of dollars.
      -no crematory has ever exploded from a missed pacemaker.
      -This package price will save you an average of $300…for things you don’t need anyway.

      1. Ugh if you knew anything about the cremation process, and you were ever in the building where the cremation retort is and someone had a pacemaker in the fire with them you would hear what sounds like a gun shot that is the pacemaker exploding and it can rip a hole in the cremation chamber costing thousands of dollars. A new cremation chamber is something like $200,000. Embalming is necessary to slow decomposition and sometimes last years, when they dug up Abraham Lincoln after 40 years he looked the same as when they buried him. In Michigan embalming is required in certain cases as if they died of CJD or sometimes even AIDS it is required by law because if you were to touch a person right after they died up to 24-48 hours and got exposed to their blood and had an open wound, guess what you got what the deceased had. Most packages include items that are chosen every day. Investigate before you beat up on funeral homes. The nickel batter in a pacemaker is what explodes. 

        1. My husband died of Sporadic CJD (not Mad Cow) 7 years ago. Not all funeral homes would take him due to this diagnosis. In Ontario, it was not required that he be embalmed. At his wishes he was cremated and not “viewed”  (which I must say, is a very macabre practise).

      2. wow, i cant believe what im seeing.  You my friend need to spend 10 min on google before making yourself look like an idot infront of everyone.

      3. YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! EDUCATE YOURSELF BEFORE YOU SPEAK, I HAVE A RETORT (that’s a crematory in case you don’t know) AND YES PACEDMAKERS WILL EXPLODE AND PUT A HOLE IN THE WALL OF YOUR RETORT, I’VE SEEN THE DAMAGE A PACEMAKER WILL DO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YOU’RE TOTALLY EMBRASSING YOURSELF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        1. hahaha I totally agree with you, this guy is an idiot…I hope I never see him at my funeral home…

        2. Then you replace a couple firebricks and you are done. As for ‘nuclear batteries’, they are beta sources that are not fissile and wouldn’t explode at all. 

      4. Well Steph, sarcasm works best when you know what you are talking about.  The earlier person claimed that pacemakers were nuclear powered and you countered with a sarcastic remark. A lot of the earlier model pacemakers were nuclear powered. This is no longer the case. A slow drain lithium style battery is the more common method of powering pacemakers now. And as with most batteries, they exploded at high heat. While they may not blow up a crematory, removing them does prevent damage to the fire brick lining the retort. And lets be honest, even someone like you doesn’t want mom or dad’s body getting a hole blown in it. 

        And yes, funeral homes are in business to make money…aren’t all businesses? Last I heard you can’t keep your doors open if you can’t pay your bills. 

        Embalming is optional and families are told that. It’s only required for certain types of services families request. And believe it or not, most folks already know that cremation is cheaper. They aren’t stupid. And lastly, how do you know what a family needs and doesn’t need? Some  people don’t mind paying others a fair price to do things they don’t want to do. That’s what most funeral directors do, the stuff others don’t want to or know how to do.

      5. Stephljones, You’re entitled to your opinion.  If you don’t feel the funeral ritual is important, that’s on you.  

        If you are or plan to be married, you realize that you could just go to a courthouse and have the legal papers saying you’re married.  But that doesn’t stop 95% of people from wanting a nice ceremony, dress, rings, huge reception, photographer, food etc… costing as much if not much more than a funeral ritual.  And funerals are put together in 3 days.

        I believe the ritual of a funeral ceremony is much more beneficial to people than a marriage ceremony.

      6. You have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about.  I am a funeral director and I have told many cash strapped families that cremation is a far more affordable option.  We are required by federal law to disclose that embalming isn’t necessary unless it’s a special case such as crossing certain state lines, or flying out of country.  It doesn’t matter to YOU what your loved one is buried in.  It matters to many other people what their loved one is buried in.Cremation is just as good as a burial for YOU.  We are in a business that is very very conservative and most of our clients want the same thing as their previously deceased loved ones received.

      7. Yes there have been accidents due to pacemakers.  The first reported case of a pacemaker explosion during cremation was in
        1976. The body of a
        70-year-old man was cremated at 800 °C. After 5 minutes, four explosions
        occurred in rapid succession with a final explosion a few minutes later. In
        the wall of the cremator was a finger-sized hole half an inch deep. Among the
        cremated remains, there were five discs ‘resembling the ends of rifle
        cartridges’, a short length of wire and a metal plate. The device was
        identified as a zinc/mercuric oxide pacemaker. These pacemakers explode on
        cremation because of the rapid formation of hydrogen gas which bursts the
        pacemaker
        casing

      8. Regarding the scattering of ashes… if you’re Catholic, the ashes must be committed (buried).  They don’t go for scattering.

      9. As a funeral director, I have to respond to this article and some of the comments:
        Yes, we are a business. A business that is open 24 hrs. a day, 365 days a year, usually with a small staff, unless you are one of the mega- funeral homes. I know it’s a hard concept for people to accept that we charge for services related to the most difficult time in their life, but we are not a charity or non-profit. If you chose a lovely, well run establishment with an excellent reputation, you have to accept the fact that we have huge overhead to run our facilities. We pay taxes, enormous liability insurance, utilities, etc. We do not force or “trick” people into purchasing services they don’t require, but if they are going to have a public viewing, then we do require embalming. We are trained professionals and unfortunately as with all professions, there are unscrupulous funeral directors out there. Do some research beforehand. Before you pre-pay for a funeral, make sure the money is placed into a third-party escrow account approved by the state you live in. That way, if the funeral home were to go out of business, or you decide to use another funeral home, the money is protected. And it also earns a fair amount of interest.

    3. I have no idea what you are talking about, but your number 11. is the largest crock of crap that I have ever heard or seen. YOU ARE EITHER A FOOL OR A TOOL. Stop posting lies and b.s. you are a danger to people who believe everything they read on the internet.

    4. I couldn’t believe what I read!  She is clueless…to everything!!

    5. It is 100% easier for someone who doesn’t know one thing about what we do, or how we do it to criticize and lie. I agree with what you say 100%. I spent my time in school and working at a funeral home so I know what I am talking about. Everyone is a critic. Everyone thinks they know it all. Its okay to post an opinion but know your facts.

    6.  There is absolutely no way for an medical implanted device containing nuclear material to blow up a building.  There is simply not enough nuclear material. 
      If that were so, wouldn’t we have heard of a nuclear explosion due to inadvertent cremation of a medical device?  Or, if someone dies in a fire, wouldn’t we have seen a city destroyed?
      If it was that easy to detonate nuclear material, we would no longer be safe from terrorists.

    7. Mortschool – I’d believe Reader’s Digest before I believe you!!!!!!!! Hmmmmm!!!!

    8. Mortschool – I’d believe Reader’s Digest before I believe you!!!!!!!! Hmmmmm!!!!

    9. Mortschool – I’d believe Reader’s Digest before I believe you!!!!!!!! Hmmmmm!!!!

    10. Mortschool – I’d believe Reader’s Digest before I believe you!!!!!!!! Hmmmmm!!!!

    11. Mortschool – I’d believe Reader’s Digest before I believe you!!!!!!!! Hmmmmm!!!!

    12. “A mortician is a medical doctor, so yes they are two totally separate people”

      They MAY be two separate people but morticians are NOT medical doctors.

  119. Interesting. These are things I never ever thought about concerning funeral homes. Hopefully this is information which I won’t have to deal with any time soon.

  120. Interesting. These are things I never ever thought about concerning funeral homes. Hopefully this is information which I won’t have to deal with any time soon.

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