November 16 - 30,  2017  twittercanadian filipino

The Cost of Dying: Cremation and Funeral Services

Saying final goodbye to a loved one is a most difficult time. Photo by pixabay.com

Dahong Pilipino 2017, the Philippine business directory of B.C. listed four funeral homes offering a variety of funeral services aimed at their fast growing and aging Filipino clientele. Two ads even had photos of their Filipino representatives to help families prepare for the inevitable with “pay now, die later” instalment plans.

 All the ads promise excellent service. However, a Google search for details of services and costs of three homes proved futile. This was discouraging because the purpose of this article is to present the actual cost of cremation and funeral services.

 Fortunately the website of one of the four funeral homes came up with clearly itemized services and prices. This was Amherst Funeral and Cremation Services, Inc.

Amherst listed on its website at www.amherstcremation.com six different packages with services and prices ranging from the cheapest and basic to the most expensive funeral service package. They are: Essential Cremation Package, Amherst Cremation Package, Funeral and Burial packages with Direct burial, Funeral service with viewing, Graveside service without viewing and Memorial services to choose from.

Since saying final goodbyes to a loved one is a most difficult time, if funeral homes truly wish to provide “peace of mind and care for families in time of need,” they would do so by clearly publishing their costs and specific services upfront on their contracts and websites so clients are not faced with so much uncertainty regarding costs at a time when they are most vulnerable to predatory pricing practices.


Cremation Guidelines for Catholic Filipinos
For Catholic Filipinos, funeral services and cremation have undergone some changes along with the changing church rules and regulations on dying. For most of its 2,000-year history, the church only permitted burial, arguing it best expressed the Christian hope of resurrection. But in 1963, the Vatican explicitly allowed cremation as long as it didn't suggest a denial of faith about resurrection. Ashes were usually kept at home in makeshift altars or scattered on land or at sea.

On November 2, 2015, however, new instructions were issued by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith just in time for All Souls Day when the faithful are supposed to pray for and remember the dead. The document states that burial of remains is still preferred but for those Catholics who want to be cremated, the guidelines specified that remains cannot be kept at home, but should be buried or stored in a sacred, church-approved place.

The Vatican guidelines further forbid the dividing of cremation remains among family members or putting them in lockets or other mementos. The Vatican reiterates that the ashes may not be scattered in the air, land or sea since doing so would give the appearance of "pantheism, naturalism or nihilism".

Words of Caution
Online reviews of funeral homes and services caution potential clients to “read the Contract very carefully” and not to rely on even the most basic verbal "promises." That it would help to have an independent friend witness or tape every conversation.
One unhappy client compared funeral homes with an ultra low-cost airline which charges extra for almost everything from using the toilet to getting a glass of water. But there were also many positive reviews about “a very efficient, thorough and easy to deal with funeral home and its professional team that made a difficult and painful process easier to get through.”

As in any market place especially one charged with emotion over the loss of a loved one, buyers must beware and ensure that they get exactly what they pay for. The onus is on the buyer to perform due diligence before making a purchase. One reviewer, very satisfied with a $845 funeral service “provided with grace and sympathy,” as posted on a home’s website, said “no one pushed us to pursue anything other than what we ourselves requested (expedited, urn).” While a reviewer who spent over $10,000 for a customized funeral service found the chosen arrangements wanting.

Funeral arrangements are never easy to plan. While funeral homes generally try to provide services that are clear, simple, straight-forward, and professional, with the right amount of compassion, clients have a responsibility to be clear about what they want, examine various packages offered, ask the right questions and shop for cheaper options to compare. There is no indignity to the departed in that. The cost of dying in Canada is not cheap but “with due diligence, this difficult time can be a lot easier, less stressful and definitely affordable!”


Useful information for comparative shopping of cremation and funeral services

The following lists of services and costs (in dollars and cents) are from a funeral home’s website. They illustrate what services are included in a funeral service package and at what cost. They are helpful for easy comparison when shopping for cremation and funeral service packages.

1. Cremation Package This is a direct cremation service without any additional viewing of the deceased after completion of its removal from the place of death.
 
- Professional Duties and Services $ 664.29

  • 24/7 staff support – Immediate response and availability for arrangement requests.
  • We come to a convenient place and time of your choice (e.g. your home, office) and complete all required paperwork for you.
  • Removal of the deceased from place of passing and transfers to our sheltering facility and to crematorium.
  • Refrigeration, shelter and facilities.
  • Obtaining all required releases, permits and death certificates, including registration with Vital Statistics BC.
  • Delivery of cremated remains and death certificates to you in 5 (five) business days.


- Cremation Fee $ 380.00
   Includes an exclusive, dignified, fabric-covered cremation container.
- Consumer Protection BC (BPCPA) Administration Fee $30.00
- 1 (One) Original British Columbia Death Certificate $27.00
- Included Items & Services (a value of over $720) INCLUDED

  • An exclusive, cloth-covered cremation container (a value of $155)
  • 1 (one) signature cherry-finished wood urn (a value of $50)
  • 2 (two) notarized copies of death certificate (a value of $50)
  • Canada Pension Plan & Estate Handling Kit.
  • Online memorial (condolence) page (a value of $150)
  • Removal of implant devices/pacemaker* (a value of up to $85)
  • Afterhours removal from place of passing (nights & weekends)* (a value of up to $150)

Removal from home, hospice or other non-hospital care facility* (a value of $100)
* Please Note: where these additional services may be applicable or required, some homes may charge extra for them in addition to their quoted package prices.

Subtotal                          $1,101.29
GST                                 $53.71
COMPLETE TOTAL        $1,155.00
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2. Direct Burial
This is a direct burial service without any additional viewing of the deceased (after removal from the place of death) nor witnessing of the burial itself. Burial is completed at convenience of Funeral home and the cemetery, without any family member present. (Extra fee for ‘Graveside Service’ if you wish to be present).

- Basic Professional Service $670.48

  • 24-Hour availability to respond to your request for services.
  • Arrangement meeting with family at their home or in our office.
  • Obtaining medical death certificate from physician or coroner.
  • Securing cremation permit from Vital Statistics.
  • Registering and obtaining original death certificate with Vital Statistics.
  • Having death certificates notarized by our affiliate barrister/solicitor.
  • Delivery of death certificates to family


- Removal & Transfer Included
     Removal of the deceased from place of death and its transport to sheltering facility and to cemetery.
- Refrigeration and Shelter Included
- Simple Cloth Casket $650.00
(A choice of either #20 Mazri or Tranquil cloth casket.)
- Dressing, Casketing & Staff attendance at Graveside Included
- Canada Pension & Estate Handling Kit Included
- Consumer Protection BC (BPCPA) Administration Fee $30.00
- 1 (One) Original British Columbia Death Certificate $27.00
-  2 (Two) Notarized Copies of Death Certificate (a value of $50.00) Included
- GST $67.52
COMPLETE TOTAL $1,445.00
____________________________________________________________________________

3. Funeral Service with Viewing (Open Casket) This is a funeral service at a church or a hall, preceded by an hour of viewing (open casket).

- Basic Professional Service $949.65

  • 24/7 staff support – Immediate response and availability for arrangement requests.
  • Arrangement meeting with family at their home or in our office.
  • Consultation & coordination of service details.
  • Obtaining medical death certificate from physician or coroner.
  • Registering and obtaining original death certificate with Vital Statistics.
  • Having death certificates notarized by our affiliate barrister/solicitor.
  • Delivery of death certificates & ashes to family.

- Transfer, Sheltering, Facilities & Attendance $590.00

  • Removal of the deceased from place of death to sheltering facility
  • Refrigeration, shelter & preparation facilities
  • Staff attendance at the Service

- Embalming $375.00
-  Preparation $150.00

  • Essential care of the deceased, dressing & casketing

- Hearse (Funeral Coach) $450.00
    Funeral coach to transport casketed body to the Service.
- Service Memorialization (a value of over $480.00) INCLUDED (with purchase or rental of casket)

  • 100 Memorial Cards, 1 Memorial Book, 1 Framed Memorial Photo
  • 1 Crucifix (where applicable)
  • Asian funeral & memorialization package (where applicable)
  • Lifetime Online Memorial Page

- Consumer Protection BC (BPCPA) Administration Fee $30.00
-  1 (One) Original British Columbia Death Certificate $27.00
-  2 (Two) Notarized Copies of Death Certificate (a value of $50.00) INCLUDED
-  GST (5%) $127.23
COMPLETE TOTAL $2,698.88
___________________________________________________________________________

4. Full-Body Shipout (International) This is repatriation service of a full-body to Philippines (or other countries) via airline transport.

- Professional Service & Duties $750.00

  • 24/7 staff support – Immediate response and availability for arrangement requests.
  • Arrangement meeting with family at their home or in our office.
  • Consultation & coordination of service details.
  • Obtaining medical death certificate from physician or coroner.
  • Registering and obtaining original death certificate with Vital Statistics.


- International Documentation & Consular Duties $350.00

  • Obtaining international shipment permits and clearances
  • Administration of required documents and permits and obtaining clearance and mortuary shipping certificate from the Consulate General of Philippines.


- Transfer, Sheltering, Facilities $400.00

  • Removal of the deceased from place of death to sheltering facility
  • Refrigeration, shelter & preparation facilities
  • Transfer of to the body to the Airport

- Embalming $375.00
- Preparation Included

  • Essential care of the deceased, dressing & casketing

- Calgary Liner Metal Transport Casket (Container) $875.00
-  Shipping Crate (for Metal Sealer) $400.00
-  Consumer Protection BC (BPCPA) Administration Fee $30.00
-  2 (Two) Original British Columbia Death Certificates $54.00
-  GST (5%) $159.00
-  Airline Cargo and Handling Fees TO BE ADDED

TOTAL        $3,393.00
                (Plus final costs of Airline)
               ~ $1,200 to $2,000
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