Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Dying is an Expensive Undertaking

As some may be aware, my uncle passed away over the weekend. I wrote a tribute to him here. It was barely sufficient to show my respect and love. You know, he wasn't perfect. He could be quick to anger and he could ferret out your "buttons" and push them quite regularly. He was always tough and ready to kick somebody's butt. But, the truth was, he was that guy everybody always talks about: tough on the outside, soft and marshmallowy inside.

He'd sneak candy to his grandkids whenever they came over. He kept a giant candy jar full just within arm's reach behind his reclining chair. He had taken courses to repair motorcycles and, if you had a problem, he could tell what it was and how to fix it in a few minutes. He had connections with local repair shops. He helped me get my bike fixed for $246 (when the real cost should have been about $500) by hooking me up with a repair shop where he'd made friends with the owner (he swore it was because my t-shirt was too tight, conveniently forgetting that I had my cousin and brother with me who the repair guy thought were my body guards or boyfriends).

He was never a joiner. He said he always wanted to go his own way. Probably doing that now, as a matter of fact.

His obituary was in the Kansas City Star. His guest book is here.

As noted, his family is having a hard time paying for the funeral. Some great folks like Chief Bill and a few others have pitched in to help us figure out how to contact agencies or work with the VA to see if there is something else that can be done. Some other folks have been nice enough to ask how to send donations and I wanted to say thank you and God Bless everyone of you who have gone out of your way to help us out.

Some may not yet have experienced personally the death of a close relative where they are responsible for making the arrangements and figuring out how to pay for it. You'd be surprised (or not) what a no frills funeral costs. There are so many line items that you never realize, until you do it, how much it costs or that it was even necessary.

Things like preparing the body includes more than embalming. There's a charge for putting their clothes on. A charge for putting on make up or fixing little flaws related to their illness or cause of death. There's a charge for fixing their hair. It's like an ultimat spa for the dead and they charge you because you can't get away from it, particularly if you want to do a visitation. Visitation can cost you between $100 and $300 an hour depending on what you ask for. A plot of land can cost over $600 and the opening and closing is over $500 (a vet could get this part for free if they opt for burial in a national cemetary; if their last wish is someplace else, you or your insurance is paying for it). Don't forget the casket and the vault. You cannot have a burial without a vault. If you're lucky and your relative was a vet, the VA will supply a headstone. If not, it can be between $600 and $2000 (particularly if you need to get a double for an already deceased or future deceased spouse; we're opting for government headstone to hold the position until a much future date). There's transportation from the hospital to the undertaker, from the funeral home to the grave. (The VA is going to pay for that for us, but don't think you're going to ride in a limo; the transportation is for the body and hearse).

All in all, an inexpensive funeral can cost about $4000 (if you simply put them in the casket and then the ground) and can go as high as $10,000 or more.

Non-Service Connect death benefit $300.00
Medicare death benefit: $255.00

Paying for your loved ones funeral: Eternity

Don't forget the flowers.

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