The idea for a page on funerals grew out of a discussion in the Ped Onc listserve of "Life Insurance for Cancer Kids." Parents felt slapped in the face because their life insurance companies refused coverage for their cancer kids. We discovered that life insurance companies can indeed legally refuse to cover our kids. Some parents asked, "Who cares?", thinking that by the time the kids need life insurance, they will be able to afford it for themselves. Well, the taboo, somewhat morbid subject is out of the bag: "because funerals cost a lot of money." The money from a life insurance policy would help cover the funeral costs.
"Your kid needs medical insurance. YOU need life insurance for your kid. That doesn't make the need any less real, but what I'm getting at is that policy will never do anything for your daughter herself. Or, put another way, life insurance isn't for the insured." (Mark)
"We're just making sure we save even a little money in the event that it's needed. If we don't need it then she can use it for college." (Connie)
"I have since gotten policies that would pay for the girls, but Eric is denied until off therapy for 5 yrs, I think. A real bummer, especially since I thought we would need it for burial costs. To complicate matters, Eric does have a small investment of about $6000. Paul and I were divided about the use of the money. I wanted to use it to enjoy the summer and he wanted to save it for funeral expenses. Well, my dad said not to worry about funeral expenses, my mom said "Play" and our church may help if the time comes. So, we're using some of the money to go on vacation next week and I plan to live it up. But, we still have half left untouched." (Winnie)
"I hope they never "need" life insurance. But you see, I have no savings. It isn't that my savings is low. It is non-existent. My checking account lives from paycheck to paycheck. I have no assets (no house, the bank owns the truck, no jewelry, nothing). If, G-d forbid, I should have to say goodbye to one of my children, without insurance I would have NO way of paying for a funeral. I couldn't even afford the flowers. And my kids would deserve the best funeral possible, not the bargain basement variety. That extra life insurance for my children only costs me about a buck twenty each month, but what it saves me in worry is worth it. The last thing I want to be doing if one of my children dies is counting pennies. Six years ago when I signed up for the life insurance, I would have agreed that children never need it. I couldn't even tell you why I signed up for it. But now, that false reality has been shattered and the cold harsh truth has entered my life. Children do die." (Roxie)
"In our case, obviously, buying life insurance would have been prudent. But I didn't ever think it was a necessity. We don't have it on the other two kids. That's a gamble, but so's life. Medical insurance, that's a necessity. But we have no crystal balls. We just plan the best we can and leave the rest to God." (Lynne)
"Cancer really messed things up for our family financially. When Matthew relapsed in 1995, we had to refinance our house, and it's been a constant struggle ever since. We didn't have life insurance for our children. When you live from paycheck to paycheck, as we have for the past few years, trying to come up with almost $10,000 to give your child the burial that they deserve isn't easy." (Honna)
"I remember 10 years ago when DH and I bought life insurance policies (privately, in addition to our employer-provided benefit), the policy states it would pay $1000 in the event of the death of a child. At that time, Brian was 3 years old, and I remember thinking how morbid that was, and it would be a drop in the bucket if we ever did need it. Anyway, I wonder if that is unusual or not for ins. to include a rider for children of the insured. We paid for the funeral of my nephew, killed in an auto accident 8 years ago. That one was around $5K, using a national military cemetery. What I'm trying to say is that we are NOT rich, but somehow you find a way, and the funeral home will work with you (at least ours does) and finance it over time." (Lisa)
"Through much research and having to do this for others, I've discovered that there is usually memorial park in the community that will do funerals for children at greatly reduced prices. The one we've referred families to on numerous occasions will handle everything at no cost if the child is under 3 and at a 50% savings if the child is between 3 to 18." (kerri)
"Kelly's uncle is a funeral director in the Seattle area, and he said that he does funerals for families (of anyone, not just kids) who can not pay for them. He gives them a nice funeral. Sometimes, people come forward to help with the expenses, other times he does it of his own goodness. He did mention that other funeral homes in the area will NOT do them for free and "refer" all of the customers who can't pay to him. (Nice huh?) He still refuses to turn them away. If only the whole world were as kind..." (Lori)
"Something to check out is some sort of a memorial society that provides low-cost funeral arrangements. Here in Georgia there is something called the Memorial Society of Georgia (Atlanta area). I have not known anyone who dealt directly with them, but they're part of United Way in Atlanta, and they were recommended by a local consumer advocate who has a talk (radio) show. Apparently, there is a one-time fee for "membership." The one catch that I can think of at the moment (without having done any research on the subject) is that we are a very mobile society in the USA. You may pay this one-time fee for membership and then move away. The fee, however, is relatively inexpensive at $35 (US). Perhaps there are such associations or societies in your area." (Kirk and Ruth Andry)
"I guess we felt funny asking for a hand or discount from the funeral home, we didn't plan ahead at all, so we felt we were between a rock and hard place. Asking our parents for the loan was the only way for us. But I wonder how people did it (do it) (Will do it) if that's not an option." (Lynne)
"I would like to add that we are, 11 months after Matthew's death, still trying to dig out from under the huge financial burden that cancer has placed on us. Our funeral cost around $6,000 but I can at least say that it was done the way I wanted it. I bought Matthew the best casket available, an ivory steel model with ivory satin lining. Completely water proof. As morbid as this thread might be, most caskets designed for children are rather ugly. I remember the first time I walked into the display room to pick his casket, completely freaking out at the funeral director for bringing me in to see such ugly, tiny, "boxes", as I called them. He was extremely understanding and quickly got me the catalog so we could have one special ordered for my angel. I also made sure that I ordered as many flowers as I wanted, in the species that I knew Matthew would love. Lots of purple. It took us a long time, but a few months ago we made the final payment on his funeral. The funeral home was very compassionate with us, and eager to do whatever they could to help. We live in a small town where everyone knew Matthew. People did what they could to ease the financial burden. Our minister and organist refused to accept their payment for the service, the church would not take any money for his spot in the cemetery, the men that dug the hole would not take payment, the printer that designed our memorial tribute cards with Matthew's picture made an extra hundred or so for free. It was expensive, but my angel was worth every penny". (Honna)
Note: the Kids Wish Network provides funeral assistance.
Funeral Costs | Preparing Your Child for Death | Planning the Memorial or Funeral Service | Grief Resources (links and books) | Poems and Thoughts | more Poems and Thoughts | Handling the Holidays
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