By Jason Meidl, Funeral Director at Creston Valley Funeral Services
Often I am asked what is the value, if any, in a funeral service? From my experience the funeral provides family members and friends an environment to offer comfort, support to one another and share their thoughts and feelings about the life of the deceased. This can be a formal, structured event based on religious ritual, a less formal gathering in a special place, or perhaps something else in between. The primary importance of the funeral lies in honouring the life lived and allowing the surviving family and friends to share in their loss and gain support from one another. A “service” is honestly whatever we make of it, and at times, this includes the funeral home and other times it does not.
“Could you provide some information for those of us who do not wish to have our deceased handled by funeral directors? My wife and I don’t want to burden each other with the high costs associated with such services.” – LJ
In B.C., there are certain things that the law requires when it comes to death and the handling of the deceased. If we are talking about cremation, a family is able to register a death on their own through Service BC or Vital Statistics once they have received the Medical Certificate of Death from the doctor or the coroner. Typically, this is done by the funeral home, as funeral directors in B.C. also act as Vital Statistics Registrars which helps with this process.
A family is also able to do what is called a “private transfer” with a permit from Consumer Protection BC, which has the following requirements:
• Obtaining and, if applicable, providing the hospital or health-care facility with a copy of the Medical Certification of Death, the Registration of Death, and the Burial Permit.
• Attaching a copy of the burial permit to the container prior to removal from the home or facility.
• Certifying that the vehicle being used for the transfer is sanitary, that the container holding the remains will not be visible to the public, that the deceased will be cared for in a respectful manner, that the deceased will be transported in a rigid leak-proof container that is suitable for presentation to crematorium or cemetery personnel, and that the person doing the private transfer will comply with provincial health and safety legislation.
If a person is able to do all these things the next step would be to find a crematorium that accepts private transfers. A crematorium is not required by law to accept private transfers. As such, in order to do all of these things, one would need to research whether crematoriums in their area allow this.
There are other ways that a family can help to save costs. For instance, a family can supply their own cremation container, casket, or urn. Under B.C.’s cemetery and funeral services law, you have the right to supply your own casket for interment or cremation as long as it meets the requirements, such as the ability to be closed, hold weight, and be sufficiently sealed. Similarly, you also have the right to supply your own container to hold the cremated remains of your loved one.
There is also funding available to families, through the Ministry of Social Services and Development Burial Program, if they do not have the means to pay for funeral services. To be eligible, your application must include confirmation that there are no resources available through the deceased’s estate, spouse, or parent (if the deceased was a minor). This is a benefit that the funeral home should apply for on your behalf at the time of arrangements.
If a person is not eligible for assistance through this program, there is also the Canada Pension Death Benefit, which is one-time payment to the estate of up to $2,500 that most funeral homes will submit an application for on your behalf. As a funeral director, I will always be up front about costs, and there are never hidden fees. The cost you are given at the time of arrangements should not change, and I will work with families to best serve them.
Keep the questions coming to firstname.lastname@example.org!