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We recently returned from my Father in Laws funeral. He passed last Monday in Wichita. This is my third time in the last year and a half of doing planning for a loved ones funeral. Some thoughts on end of life care and navigating the often nefarious funeral home sales pitches.

Having participated in both in home and care facility hospice decisions I wish to share a few thoughts.

1. Hospice care support varies drastically from one company to another. Be sure you try and nail down all the details before the decision is made.
2. Having seen both kinds of hospice care , I can tell you in my opinion it is better for your family to choose care in a facility. If you choose in home care be aware that nursing support will be hit and miss. Your family will be responsible for most of the activities including administering drugs , dealing with severe dementia , cleaning etc..
--> Your family will need to devise a round the clock care schedule and be sure enough family members are willing to participate. Leaving these tasks to just a few folks will cause extreme stress and depression for them and hurt feelings against the other family members.
3. Don't expect a hospice nurse to be responsive when things go bad. It could take hours for a nurse to get onsite , and often by then the situation has changed so the nurse may not do much for you.
--> my darling wife spent two weeks providing this care - putting her life on hold so she could help her Mom. She was hoping her sister who is an RN and lives in Wichita , would be more helpful. But she didn't rise to the occasion. Remember though everyone grieves in their own way , so don't expect the best of your family during this time.

Funeral homes are a high profit business , so keep that in mind when purchasing packages which are sold as a way to ease last minute decisions. For example my Father in law purchased the complete package far ahead of time. So yes he got a casket , paperwork, service , hearse ...etc. However we had to pay an additional $1400 to have the grave dug and covered on the day of the funeral. Details left out of the sales pitch. There were other last minute expenses as well. My FIL wanted a Dixie land band and a bagpipe player. That wasn't planned ahead of time however. Luckily we had a long time family friend who was able to procure both in less than two days ( that is all the time we had )- but this was another additional expense, $425 for the band and $200 for the bagpipe player.

Pall bearers: pick as many young strong folks as you can. Most of us were 60 yrs and older and I was almost useless because of my issues. But we somehow managed to carry Clayton to his place of rest. The casket dolly and support system failed when we first set the casket down at the grave sight. Much huffing and sweating went on with all of us old farts keeping the casket held up while the funeral folks fixed it. We ended up having to put the casket back into the hearse so the repairs could be completed.

Now don't think I am all negative here - their church family did a wonderful job of helping out , and handling the service meals and visitation snacks. They also were just a great bunch of folks who helped as much as they could. The service was as near to perfect as possible. Bagpipes wailed and bands played - the chosen family members did a fantastic job with their comments. We drove home Friday and my wife is starting to recover from this - but it will take time.

Just take these thoughts as presented , try and capture as many of the end of life planning details long before they are needed. Keep lots of extra cash on hand to fund dinners, hotel rooms for family members who are cash strapped, travel assistance and last minute expenses. We had put aside $2000 in reserve and it wasn't enough. But since I kept $500 of my bonus in savings, we just made it.

21769_10206677033628156_2695783503027008963_n.jpg In Memory of
Clayton Becker April 22, 1931 - March 30, 2015
 

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My parents both did us a couple of huge favors in terms of pre-planning and pre-payment. Their services were simple but touching and every funeral expense was covered by their plan except the cost of the obituary, which we gladly assumed.

Our final plans are a bit more complex in that my wife and I have only ourselves. Careful consideration will assure that not only the first to pass will not leave any financial burden for the survivor, but that the final passing is also taken care of.

Another decade or more, we hope, before any of this comes into play, but that's not a very long time in the overall scheme of things- especially since the time is going past faster all the time.
 

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Condolences for your family's loss.

You nailed 1,2, and 3. I know from experience.
 

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I am sorry to hear of your FIL's passing. Thank you for your observations and recommendations. They are very sound and everyone should take them to heart and prepare.



Clayton Becker
 

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I am sorry for your loss Silverstring. Good advice.

I won't bore folks with the details but my Mom was, for all practical purposes, a healthy woman that had just turned 59. This was back in 1985. She had been seeing a Dr. trying to figure out why she had recently not been feeling well. On a Saturday she was feeling worse and called the neighbor lady. The neighbor came over and found Mom on the kitchen floor, called a ambulance. Mom was life flighted from St. Mary's to St. Francis in Peoria. Short end to this story is the following Saturday we unplugged her life support.

She was coherent enough on Wednesday to sign a will. Yes do prepare these things now.
 

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Very sorry for the loss to your family.
 

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Saw the funeral pics on FB. Sorry to hear this Bob.


Sent from an undisclosed underground location by fingerless monkeys using TapatalkI
 
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Sorry to hear about your FIL passing may he rest in peace.
 
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Let me add that things paid for in advance can change over time in some states. Burial plots and plans bought in years past can have added cost now. For example the burial plots we bought in the late 50's and early 60's are our plots. They charge over $2000 to open and close the grave. The companies that carried some of the burial policies are out of business. The things that were covered when my dad and brother were buried were not covered when my other brother died. Today the out of pocket cost is thousands more. Unless you have checked lately the prepaid plans of yesterday may only be worth a fraction of what the burial cost.
 

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Sorry to hear about the loses in your family. I've been responsible for making arrangements for 3 immediate family members over the last few years. Your comments/suggestions are spot-on, especially when dealing with funeral homes, etc. While those who are responsible for making the arrangements definitely shouldn't focus on just costs, here's a few additions I learned:

- It is now a federal law that funeral homes have to accept caskets bought from other providers. I was able to purchase a casket for under $1500 (including 2-day air freight) vs $4600 for a similar casket at the funeral home. Truthfully the internet-purchased casket was better built and had a nicer interior.
- For those that have to transport the deceased a longer distance for final burial. We held funeral home visitation/church services for my mother in both a south suburb of Chicago and also in a northern Wisconsin town where she grew up, visited often in life and returned to be buried. My brother and I transported her casket ourselves instead of having the two funeral homes meet for transfer (there was some no-cost paperwork required to ensure proper burial in another state). While there was a $1000+ savings in transpo costs, it also allowed my brother and I to personally take my mother home for a final time. This may not be an activity some folks want to partake, but it provided additional closure for my brother and I that we cherish to this day.
- Have someone check the burial site a few days after final interment. With all the astro-turf used around a gravesite, its hard to insure exact location. I remained in this local Wisconsin town for a day after my father's burial and when I visited his site for a final farewell, I discovered he was buried in the wrong site. It was quickly corrected but...
 

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Sorry for your family`s loss. May he rest in peace..
 
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