In 2008, my dear husband, aged 44, died on the couch at home after a prolonged illness. We lived in one state, his father and sister in another. Over the course of his two-year deterioration, they visited twice.
As I had no family in town, I was blessed to have a dear friend who went with me to make the cremation and funeral arrangements. With her loving support, I was able to make the decisions that needed to be made and was able to plan the memorial service that I knew my dear, late husband would have wanted. He and I had discussed such things.
The memorial service was lovely: 21-gun salute, a violin solo, bagpipes, dear friends telling stories about him… My late husband had been in the Air Force, so I was presented with an American flag. Odd as it may seem, I even had a friend tell me, in a rather embarrassed way, that it was the best funeral she had ever attended.
My late husband’s sister and father chose not to attend the memorial service I had for my late husband. Rather, they ran a separate, inaccurate, obituary (not the one that I had lovingly written) in the town where his father lived, and planned a $5,000 funeral there. A pastor who never knew my late husband performed the service. It was, from all I heard, a very sterile, somber event. An American flag was presented to his sister. They had the funeral home produce a video of pictures from my late husband’s life with generic piano music for the soundtrack, as the beautiful one I had independently produced with my late husband’s favorite songs, and had given to them in time for the second funeral, wasn’t to their taste. They asked me if I wanted a copy of their video. I said “thank you and yes.” I did not attend that funeral.
Less than a month later, I received a bill from the funeral home that orchestrated the second funeral. It was for the full amount of the second funeral, and included on the bill was a charge for the video! A note came with the bill stating that my father-in-law told them to bill me and have it come out of my late husband’s estate. Although I was aware of the second funeral, I had no input on it and never signed a contract with the second funeral home. I let that funeral home know in no uncertain terms that I was not legally obligated to make payment and therefore no payment would be forthcoming from me. I then filed a complaint with the Funeral Directors Association. The billing funeral director was required to take a “communicating with the family” course as well as, at my suggestion, an ethics course. I sent the video back. 0513-13
In the 15 to 18 years I have owned EtiquetteHell.com I have never heard of anyone having the audacity to plan a second funeral and pass the costs on to the widow. It is a first.