The decedent had been unwelcome among his family over the last few years of his life. He had served some time in prison and upon exiting incarceration, had not been particularly kind to those who loved him. In fact, his family said he had terrorized them. Their situation seemed extreme. The decedent had not prepared for death. He had no money, he had no friends, and he had alienated himself from those who loved him.
The man sitting in my gathering room was asking how his family would pay for the required services. His family was without means and without motivation to memorialize someone who had terrorized them. I certainly understood his dilemma. Unfortunately, this family has an obligation to pay for their loved one’s final expenses. The decedent, however, had nullified their familial attachments through his unkind actions against them, and they therefore were not compelled to fulfill their obligations on his behalf. After intense discussion, his family decided to cremate their decedent without services. This method of final disposition is the least expensive option. Even so, it is not inexpensive.
I suggested the family seek out extended family members to help with the expenses, as the decedent’s terrorizing behavior was most likely not perpetrated against anyone outside of his immediate kinship circle. Without unjust aggression aimed at them, extended family may still foster gentle feelings for their loved one and be willing to offer assistance for his final disposition. I also suggested that they reach out to their community, and to the religious community within their area.
This family is by far, not the first family to come to the funeral home without means to pay for their needs. They are, however, one of the few who actually acted upon the information I shared with them. Due to their willingness to get out and act upon the information, they had pledges and were able to secure the necessary funds through the generous donations of their community, within a few hours.
When one is suffering bereavement, one does not look forward to going out and asking for help. The fact of the matter is however, if your loved one did not prepare for his final expenses and left you holding the bag, you may find yourself without the means to cover the expense of death. Thankfully, there are generous people who will reach out and help you. I have seen it many times. Complete strangers will come by the funeral home and pay someone’s funeral expenses in full upon hearing the decedent’s story. In general, people are very kind when someone had died. They are also very generous. Many people want to help and when you ask them for specific assistance, they are very willing to help you. Family members and friends who were planning on purchasing flowers will donate funds to cover expenses instead. Charities such as churches and missions will generally assist you as well.
It is sad when I see a family in such turmoil as the one I helped this past week.. My faith, however, is restored, when the community comes together to assist a family in need.
My name is Tracy Renee Lee. I am the owner and Managing Funeral Director at Queen City Funeral Home in Queen City Texas. I am an author, syndicated columnist, and co-founder of Heaven Sent, Corp. I write books and weekly bereavement articles related to understanding and coping with grief. I am the American Funeral Director of the Year Runner-Up and recipient of the BBB’s Integrity Award. I deliver powerful messages and motivate audiences toward positive recovery. It is my life's work to comfort the bereaved and help them live on.
For additional encouragement, read other articles or watch video “Grief Briefs,” please go to my website at www.MourningCoffee.com.