We’ve Moved! Follow Our Funeral Blog At It’s New Location


We have transitioned our blog to a new URL, please be sure to follow us at blog.imsorrytohear.com where all new articles and news will be posted.  We have also moved all of the existing content there so you can continue to access the funeral tips and education we posted in the past.

For more information on funeral planning, funeral home reviews, and to search and compare funeral homes that meet your needs, visit us at www.imsorrytohear.com.

How Much Does It Cost to Die? The Answer Might Surprise You…

Une Belle Vie released this helpful infographic on the true cost of death. The infographic illustrates how much funerals, memorials, cremations and other death care options costs have risen from 1960 to 2010. It also provides the breakdown cost between burials and cremations and their impact on the environment.

According to Une Belle via, the research tapped resources such as the Cremation Association of North America (CANA), the National Funeral Director’s Association (NFDA), NaturalFunerals.org, and pulled up to date information directly from iMortuary’s funeral database. The research revealed that traditional funeral costs have increased a staggering 827 percent in the last 50 years, while funeral alternative costs have remained relatively low.

The Growing Cost of Dying 1960 - 2009

via How Much Does It Cost to Die? The Answer Might Surprise You… | Une Belle Vie Cremation Blog.

Help! My Uncle Died in Arizona… What Do I Do When A Loved One Dies Away From Home?

Transportation of Remains via Air


It is stressful enough when a loved one dies, but when a loved one dies away from home there is an added layer of complexity. What is the common process of transporting the deceased home or to the location of the funeral? To get answers to these questions, we spoke with Anne Wladecki, Client Relations Manager at Eagle’s Wings Air (EWA), specialists in air transportation management of human remains, to shed some insight on this topic.

According to Anne, it is unnecessary for the family of the deceased to be directly involved in setting up air transportation of their loved one. She indicates that the first step for the family involved is to contact a funeral home of their choice at the location of where the funeral will take place. This funeral home, known as the Receiving Funeral Home, will do the majority of the coordination on behalf of the family.

The Receiving Funeral Home has the responsibility of coordinating all flights and contacting the Shipping Funeral Home, the funeral home holding the deceased. If the family is familiar with the location where the death occurred, they could request a particular Shipping Funeral Home, otherwise they can ask the Receiving Funeral Home to identify and coordinate with one at the shipping location, including making arrangements for ground transport from the hospital, morgue, assisted living facility, etc. to the Shipping Funeral Home for preparation for air travel.

Human remains are considered to be “specialty cargo” which has limited space on passenger flights. Typically they can only be carried on larger passenger planes, which only allow one or two spaces per flight.

The Receiving Funeral Home will coordinate the date, time, cost, and specific airline being used directly with the airline or with a 3rd party like Eagle’s Wings Air. A family should indicate to the funeral home their preference with regards to costs, timing, and body preparation at the shipping location.

Once these details have been confirmed and costs approved by the family, the Shipping Funeral Home will prepare the body for air transportation. No law requires remains to be embalmed for flight. Therefore, the Shipping Funeral Home will either embalm the body or preserve it for transportation with gel packs or dry ice as requested by the family.

Then the Shipping Funeral Home will transport the body to the airport’s cargo center. Upon arrival at the destination airport, the Receiving Funeral Home will pick up the shipment and bring it back to the funeral home to complete preparations as indicated by the family.

The Receiving Funeral Home or a 3rd party company would coordinate the transportation of your deceased loved one to the location of the funeral home, but families should be aware of a few more details.

Costs: What to Expect
Air transport of remains can be quite costly. Wladecki says it is similar to booking a last minute round-trip flight for a passenger – hundreds of dollars for domestic flights and thousands if international. To assist with the cost, Wladecki advises families to check their travel insurance, if applicable, to see if the cost or part of the cost would be covered by the insurance if the death happened, especially while on vacation or a business trip.

Aside from the cost of the airfare, families should also take into consideration the following costs:

  • Ground Transport to the airport by the Shipping Funeral Home
  • Ground Transport from the airport to the Receiving Funeral home
  • Booking or Service Fees (EWA charges $59 for domestic services and $89 for international, for example)

Key Terms:

Shipping Funeral Home :
The funeral home at the origin location (where the person died). The Shipping Funeral Home is responsible for obtaining, preparing, and tendering  the remains at the airport to be shipped to the Receiving Funeral Home.

Receiving Funeral Home:
The funeral home at the destination where the family is intending for the burial or cremation. Normally the Receiving Funeral Home is appointed first since they will do the majority of the coordination with the airline and the Shipping Funeral Home. They will likely consolidate the costs for the family, so the family only has to pay one funeral home.

About Eagle’s Wings Air:EWA Logo
Eagle’s Wings Air is the leading provider of air transportation management for North American funeral directors. Eagle’s Wings Air is a 3rd party service that works directly with funeral homes to assist in the arrangement of flight services for human remains. Eagle’s Wings Air works with all the different airlines. To assist the funeral director, EWA researches and books flights, coordinates transfer flights, and finds the best routing for the funeral homes on behalf of the families they serve.

Don’t Miss It! National Home Funeral Alliance’s 2013 Conference

This year’s annual National Home Funeral Alliance conference is being held in Raleigh, North Carolina from October 18-20.

This is a great event for anyone interested in knowing how they can care for their own dead while meeting Home Funeral Guides from around the country.

With Nancy Jewel Poer, producer and author as the Keynote Address, it is sure to be an inspiring and empowering event for all who attend.

For more details on the event, see the flyer below or visit the National Home Funeral Alliance website.

National Home Funeral Alliance 2013 Annual Conference Details

National Home Funeral Alliance 2013 Annual Conference Details


To find, compare, and review funeral homes and leverage Funeral Planning Resources for use when making funeral service arrangements, visit www.imsorrytohear.com – Funeral Planning Tools and Advice From Our Family to Yours.

Grief Talk with Audrey featuring I’m Sorry To Hear on Funeral Planning

On July 16th, Rachel Zeldin of I’m Sorry to Hear chatted with Audrey Pellicano, the Wise Widow about funeral planning, caskets, the Funeral Rule, and other need-to-know items when planning a funeral.

Listen online or download to be an informed consumer.

I’m Sorry To Hear: Funeral Planning 07/16 by Grief Talk with Audrey | Blog Talk Radio.

Grief Recovery Specialist

Audrey Pellicano, Grief Recovery Specialist

Audrey Pellicano R.N., M.S. is a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist. She has been in the health care industry for 37 years as a Registered Nurse, Case Manager with a Masters degree in Health Science. Having been widowed at the age of 38 with 4 young children, Audrey sought out support from professionals familiar to her but, who had no experience in working with a widow with years of raising children before her. Her goal as a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist is to be a guide through the process of grief.

The Home Funeral Trend: What Are Home Funerals and What You Need to Know.

Home funerals are on the rise all over the country, and home funeral guides are leading the way. But what is a “home funeral” and what is a “home funeral guide?”

I’m Sorry to Hear spoke with National Home Funeral Alliance Vice President and Home Funeral Guide, Lee Webster, to get answers to some of the biggest questions on the topic of home funerals.

  • What is a “home funeral”?

Simply put, a “home funeral” is when a family cares for the dead in the home in some capacity before the final burial or cremation.

Webster says, “a ‘typical’ home funeral depends on where you live and your cultural frame of reference.  A home funeral may consist of a few hours to a few days of keeping the body home, and will likely entail bathing, dressing, and caring for the body.

It will likely include staging an area in the home where mourners can come by to sit quietly with the loved one for the last time.

It may include a formal ceremony with clergy and musicians, or the storytelling (and beer drinking) that occurs while waiting for relatives to arrive; or transporting the body to the crematory or cemetery in the family van or truck bed or hearse.

Home funerals may include engaging professionals, clergy and funeral directors among them, or more commonly be handled exclusively by family, friends, neighbors.”

  • What is a “Home Funeral Guide?”

A Home Funeral Guide is an educator who teaches individuals, families, and spiritual communities about what all the options are and what is legal. They are often called upon to lend ideas, to demonstrate techniques, to suggest possibilities, to share knowledge, and to bear witness; however, Webster stresses that a home funeral guide’s main function, “is to teach the skills that give family members the confidence to take up this ‘heart work’ themselves.” 

  • Is Caring for your own dead legal?

Yes, in every US State it is legal to care for your own dead; however, in the eight states listed below, a funeral director must be involved in some capacity: Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, New York, and New Jersey.

  • Is Embalming Required for Home Funerals?

No, embalming is not required.

  • Why are home funerals suddenly becoming popular?

The cost of modern funerals and ecological (green) concerns are two factors that are driving the desire to have a home funeral.  Webster also said that it is gaining support because, “Home funerals give families a choice and are empowering.”

Webster explains that, “Some families participate in the preparations as part of working through their grief. Giving people jobs to do — such as changing the ice, filing death certificates, designing ceremonies, arranging final disposition, contacting people, making airport runs, managing food, and any number of other jobs — is healing and creates connection.

People who want home funerals don’t want strangers doing everything for them. They want to take responsibility for themselves. They may want to design services and hold them in places of personal meaning, or transport their loved one in the family’s truck, or simply stay by their side longer than usual. They don’t fit into any package deal, they don’t want cookie cutter services in parlors or slumber rooms or for-rent chapels. They don’t want everything to be made easy. They want to work through their grief by participating in the process, by helping one another in practical ways, to feel it and keep going anyway.”

To learn more about home funerals and home funeral guides or to find one near you, visit the National Home Funeral Alliance website at www.homefuneralalliance.org 

About the Author:

Lee Webster, Home Funeral Guide

Lee Webster, Home Funeral Guide

Lee Webster writes from her home in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. She is a frequent public speaker on the benefits of home funerals and green burial, a freelance writer, conservationist, hospice volunteer, and the current Vice President of the National Home Funeral Alliance.


For access to a highly searchable funeral home database, to compare funeral homes, to access funeral home ratings and reviews, and leverage Funeral Planning Resources for use when making funeral service arrangements, visit www.imsorrytohear.com – Funeral Planning Tools and Advice From Our Family to Yours.

How to Fill the Emptiness After Losing a Spouse

A nice follow-up to the blog on grief:

How to Fill the Emptiness After Losing a Spouse – by Chelsea Hanson

How to Fill the Emptiness After Losing a Spouse


For access to a highly searchable funeral home database, to compare funeral homes, to access funeral home ratings and reviews, and leverage Funeral Planning Resources for use when making funeral service arrangements, visit www.imsorrytohear.com – Funeral Planning Tools and Advice From Our Family to Yours.

Know Your Rights: A State-By-State Guide to Consumer Funeral Rights

One of our goals at I’m Sorry to Hear LLC is to provide access to information critical to consumers when making decisions regarding funeral planning.  There are several very reputable consumer-rights organizations that provide such information and in lieu of recreating this content for you, we prefer to work with those organization to disseminate the information.

The Funeral Ethics Organization (FEO) is one of those consumer-rights organizations whose mission is to,

“…promote ethical dealings in all death-related transactions by working for better understanding of ethical issues among funeral, cemetery, memorial industry practitioners, law enforcement, organ procurement organizations, and state agencies, as well as better understanding between these and the general public.”

As part of this mission, it supports consumers’ access to information and laws and keeps a close eye on industry trends.  The FEO has put together a valuable and complete state-by-state guide on consumer rights regarding funerals.  To access this guide and to know your rights, visit the following webpage: http://www.funeralethics.org/rights.htm.

Your State by State Rights

Your State by State Rights

Another important organization and website that is dedicated to consumer funeral rights is the Funeral Consumer Alliance (FCA):  www.funerals.org. The FCA is the oldest (since 1963) national nonprofit consumer group educating on funeral issues. Many of the FCA affiliates around the country have done funeral price surveys which are often relied on by hospices.  If you are would like to know if a price survey has been completed for your regions, contact your local FCA Affiliatehttp://www.funerals.org/affiliates-directory.

Both FEO and FCA can help mediate funeral complaints or suggest how to file them when complaints are legitimate.


For access to a highly searchable funeral home database, to compare funeral homes, to access funeral home ratings and reviews, and leverage Resources for use when making funeral arrangements, visit www.imsorrytohear.com – Funeral Planning Tools and Advice From Our Family to Yours.

New Credit Card Regulations May Affect Your Funeral Cost.

As a follow-up to last week’s blog regarding payment options for funerals, below is a reprint of the full article from the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) regarding new credit card regulations allowing funeral homes to impose credit card surcharges on funeral costs.

Funeral Homes May Impose Credit Card Surcharges Starting Jan. 27

Posted: January 21, 2013

By T. Scott Gilligan, NFDA general counsel

A seven-year class action antitrust settlement involving VISA and MasterCard took another step toward resolution. More importantly, one aspect of the settlement will allow funeral homes in certain states to impose surcharges on consumers using credit cards beginning January 27, 2013.

As NFDA has previously reported in several articles, VISA and MasterCard have been sued in a class action lawsuit involving the seven million retailers that accept those credit cards. VISA and MasterCard have been accused of unlawfully conspiring to set the swipe fees which merchants pay the two credit card companies. Both companies have agreed to a $7.2 billion settlement, the largest antitrust settlement in U.S. history. The proposed settlement requires the companies to pay the merchant class $6 billion in restitution and agree to an eight-month reduction in swipe fees worth $1.2 billion.

A key element to the settlement from the standpoint of funeral service would be VISA’s and MasterCard’s agreement to eliminate their current prohibition against merchants imposing surcharges on consumers who pay with credit cards. Currently, VISA and MasterCard both prohibit merchants from imposing any type of surcharge against a consumer paying with a credit card. Because merchants are barred from imposing a surcharge, there is no way to recoup the 1.5% to 3% swipe fee that is paid to VISA and MasterCard by merchants. As part of the settlement, VISA and MasterCard will eliminate that prohibition and allow all merchants, including funeral homes, to impose swipe fee surcharges on consumers.

Although the settlement was reached in April 2012, it cannot take effect until it receives approval of the federal district court. In October 2012, a hearing was held before the district court in New York on the fairness of the proposed settlement. A number of large retailers, such as Wal-Mart and Home Depot, opposed the settlement, especially the provision that would protect VISA and MasterCard from any future antitrust claims based on swipe fees.

Despite the objections of the large retailers, the district court gave preliminary approval to the settlement. Moreover, the court instructed VISA and MasterCard to amend their surcharge policies by January 27, 2013. VISA and MasterCard are taking action to eliminate the surcharges even though the settlement has not yet received final approval.

Home Depot, which is opposed to the settlement, immediately sought relief from the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals. It asked the court to order an expedited appeal of the settlement. The Court of Appeals declined to take any action until the district court has issued a final approval of the settlement. Only then will the Second Circuit entertain an appeal.

Where does this leave funeral homes that wish to impose surcharges? The answer is that starting January 27, 2013, VISA and MasterCard will be permitting merchants to impose credit card surcharges. However, before deciding to impose credit card surcharges, funeral homes should note the following restrictions, requirements and considerations:

  • The ten states of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Oklahoma, and Texas, which cover about 40% of the U.S. population, prohibit credit card surcharges by state law. Therefore, even though VISA and MasterCard will be eliminating the prohibition against credit card surcharges, funeral homes in those ten states will be unable to impose credit card surcharges since they are illegal under state law. Unless those laws are changed, funeral homes in those ten states are still barred from imposing credit card surcharges.
  • Prior to imposing a credit card surcharge, funeral homes must provide a 30-day written notice to VISA, MasterCard and their credit card banks or processors of their intent to add a surcharge. For VISA, merchants can submit a notification form by going to www.visa.com/merchantsurcharging. For MasterCard, please go to www.mastercardmerchant.com to post the 30-day notice. After notifying VISA and MasterCard, notify the bank or financial institution that processes your credit cards of your intent to impose a surcharge.
  • The surcharge may only be imposed upon credit cards, and not debit cards. The amount of the surcharge may not exceed the amount of the swipe fee paid by the funeral home on the particular credit card. Therefore, funeral homes will need to know how much a swipe fee is on each card if they intend to fully recoup the full amount of the swipe fee.
  • A merchant that decides to impose surcharges must post a notice of the surcharge at the point of entry into the place of business, at the point of sale, and on the receipt given to the consumer. Online merchants must post the notice on their websites.
  • As noted above, the notice of the surcharge must be printed on the receipt. The receipt must also itemize the dollar amount of the surcharge. For funeral homes imposing a surcharge, this would require adding a line item onto the Statement of Funeral Goods and Services Selected to record the amount of the surcharge.
  • Each funeral home will have to make a decision regarding how the imposition of a surcharge may impact its consumers and the competitive position of the funeral home in its market. Funeral homes will also have to decide whether to apply the surcharge only on certain items, like cash advances, or whether to impose it across the board. Each funeral home will have to make its own business decision regarding the use of surcharges.

Reprinted with permission of the National Funeral Directors Association, www.nfda.org, NFDA Services Inc. USA March 2013 Director/January 17 Memorial Business Journal.


For access to a highly searchable funeral home database, to compare funeral homes, to access funeral home ratings and reviews, and leverage Funeral Planning Resources for use when making funeral arrangements, visit www.imsorrytohear.com – Funeral Planning Tools and Advice From Our Family to Yours.

The Information You Need to Know When Planning and Paying for a Funeral

Did you know that the average cost of a traditional burial in the United States is $6,500?!  This ranks funerals as the 2nd or 3rd most expensive life event.  Less than 1/3 of the US population pre-plans for this life event and less than 40% have any form of life insurance to cover funeral costs.

However, most funeral homes expect payment for services rendered upon completion of arrangements.  What does this mean for you?  You have to pay for everything once you have made all of the plans but before the services take place.  After you have outlined all of the details around the funeral service, you may be surprised at the bottom line.  Below lists the acceptable forms of payment at most funeral homes:

  1. Funded Pre-Need Contract:  A funded pre-need contract was initiated and executed prior to death occurring.
  2. Life Insurance:  Verified life insurance policy(s) may be used for payment.  Some funeral homes use a factoring company which provides the funeral home with expedited payments from the life insurance proceeds.  A funeral home may require that the consumer pay the factoring fee for expedited payment services.  Those fees range from 3.50% to 5.00% of the total cost of the goods and services that the life insurance will cover.
  3. Cash/Check
  4. Credit Card:  Most funeral homes accept major credit cards.  Previously, a funeral home could not charge a “usage/convenience fee” for using a credit card; however with new credit card regulations that went into effect on January 27, 2013, funeral homes may now do so in select states. For more information on this topic, see this article posted by the National Funeral Directors Association.
  5. Payments Over Time:  Some funeral homes may offer in-house or 3rd party payment programs for goods and services rendered.  The qualifications for such services may be dependent on credit worthiness, down payments and interest is generally charged.

As listed above, a new consumer service that has emerged in the past year is funeral financing. Two such companies that we have taken note of* are Funeral Finance LLC and Funeral Funding Services, however we expect more companies to emerge in the market to support consumers looking for alternative payment arrangements for funeral arrangements.

For more information on making funeral arrangements, identifying and comparing funeral homes, a Funeral Planning Checklist, Casket Guide, and Funeral Tips, visit www.imsorrytohear.com, Funeral Planning Tools and Advice from Our Family to Yours.

*I’m Sorry to Hear LLC does not endorse 3rd party companies. Any 3rd party company listed in this article is given simply for informational purposes and to reduce research time. As with any financial decision, consumers should research all of their options thoroughly prior to selecting one.