Passing The Funeral Buck

by admin on May 14, 2013

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.

{ 65 comments… read them below or add one }

Dorothy Bruce May 14, 2013 at 6:03 am

If the in-laws signed the paperwork, they should have been sent the bill. The Funeral Director was an idiot and deserved the sanctions he got.

I would have liked to be a fly on the wall when FIL and SIL got the bill returned to THEM for payment.

I’m sorry for your loss.

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Chris May 14, 2013 at 6:45 am

I’m wondering if the director’s behavior was unethical, or merely a case of poor judgement? If the sister/father told him that the estate was to be billed was he informed that the departed had a widow? Or was he given your name as executor? Unfortunately your story doesn’t include these details.

I’m more appalled at the behavior of your late husband’s family because of their role in things. I don’t blame them for wanting, however bland and unoriginal it may have been, a different service from what you planned (we all grieve in our own ways and must cope as we can). But to attempt to pin the bill for it on you… that’s reprehensible.

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Heather May 14, 2013 at 6:57 am

Unbelievable!
That his family would have that audacity… and that the funeral director would be so utterly ignorant.

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Sarah May 14, 2013 at 7:02 am

I actually have angry tears for you over this situation. I cannot believe the gall they had. I’m so sorry, but you handled it so well. It sounds like your husband was an amazing man and like you honored him well. I’m sorry for your loss.

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Lo May 14, 2013 at 7:10 am

This story made me sit and stare at the screen for a while.

I think that the etiquette issue alone of hosting a second funeral– a full fledged funeral– is so out there… I truly believe that when you marry someone and stay married to that person until death, then you are the one who has full reign over the after death arrangements. It doesn’t matter what relatives of the deceased are living or what their relationship with the spouse was. It doesn’t even matter if the spouse was not a particularly good one in the family’s eyes (and I’m speaking generally, not at all of the OP’s own situation), what matters is that the spouse in a married unit, as long as s/he is actually taking care of things, has the final say on these things.

I can understand having a seperate memorial event for those who loved the deceased in another state. But this sounds like they had their own full-scale event that didn’t take any of your or your late husbands wishes into account. I know that funerals are for the living, not the dead, but that’s frankly one of the most disrespectful things I’ve ever heard of.

Then to expect you to pay for it is just a whole new level of awful.

My brother is my closest family next to my spouse. I adore him. If he someday moved to a faraway country to marry someone I had only met a handful of times, at the end of his life when she had that funeral, regardless of any time or money constraints on me– THAT’S THE FUNERAL. That’s it. I do everything in my power to go to that funeral because that right there is the event. I would not dream of belittling that for the sake of my own convenience regardless of the relationship I had with his spouse.

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Pen^3 May 14, 2013 at 8:23 am

… Just wow. That is atrocious. Wow.

Well done to the OP for coping with the ridiculous situation so well, especially given that it was right after the death of a spouse. But wow. I am reeling. There are no words for an action like that. It’s good the writer has seen to it that no-one else will suffer the same thing.

Wow.

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boanderey May 14, 2013 at 8:24 am

That sound you hear is my jaw hitting the floor. It’s too bad the father in law couldn’t be required to take an ethics course.

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Natalie May 14, 2013 at 9:34 am

I’m so sorry for your loss. I’m also so sorry you had to deal with your horribly behaved in-laws. Kudos to you for responding in an appropriate way. I probably would have called the in-laws directly to let them know what I thought of them!

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Gee May 14, 2013 at 9:39 am

Wow. I can’t say who shocked me more–the relatives for thinking they could send the bill to the widow, or the funeral director for going along with it! Or even having a second funeral at all. I have never heard of such a thing. Kudos to the OP for handling the situation so well during such a difficult time.

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Allie May 14, 2013 at 9:40 am

This is a very bizarre situation and obviously there is some family background here we are not being told about. It sound like you handled it well, OP. I would be interested to hear the other side of the story. I don’t see how it would be possible to justify what they did, but I’d be curious to know why they did it. As for the funeral director – he won’t be in business very long with those kind of practices. I am sorry you lost your husband at such a young age.

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doodlemor May 14, 2013 at 9:42 am

I really like Lo’s phrasing – “a whole new level of awful.”

I’m so sorry for your terrible loss, OP. You handled the bizarre situation well.

What a strange, strange situation. I can’t imagine why a funeral director had to be involved at all for the second funeral, since presumably you buried your husband near you. This must be the most out of line thing that I’ve yet read on ehell.

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Lisa May 14, 2013 at 9:51 am

Wow…. I am so sorry for your loss, and sorrier still that you had to endure this horrible behavior from your husband’s family at such a trying time.
Kudos to you for doing the right thing and not letting these thugs take advantage of you.
Again, my sympathies for your loss.

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Jo-Ann May 14, 2013 at 10:12 am

Dear OP,

I am so very sorry for your loss, and thankful that your late husband had a wife who dearly loved him. “And did you get what you wanted all along? Yes, I was beloved.” (Anonymous)

You must be a very strong woman to have handled a horrible situation with firmness, dignity, and grace. May peace be with you.

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inNM May 14, 2013 at 10:16 am

OP, my condolences for your loss. I lost my father two years ago and I still feel a longing to talk to him. I’d love to say that this is a rare occurrence with mourning family members and funeral homes, but having gone through something similar (although not as bad) when my father died in 2011, I’d be lying.
When my dad passed, I flew back home to give my mother support (and to gain closure). The first thing we did the next day (I came in on a night flight) was drive the 2 hours to my father’s mother’s house (after what happened, I do not call her my grandmother anymore). We, as well as my sister, spent the day with my father’s mother planning the funeral program, choosing the music, and basically doing a mock-up of the whole funeral service and burial. As my sister and I had gone to few funerals in the past, and my mother was more worried about how we were handling it, the choices were basically made by my father’s mother. We left that day with the plan that my mother and I would deliver the decisions of the day to the funeral home (a vague cousin on my sister’s side).
My dad passed away seeking treatment in Germany, so there was a delay in having his body arrive in the country and then the funeral home. On the day he arrive, my mother and I saw the body separately from his mother, who showed up after. We got a strange phone call in the evening from the funeral home director, saying his mother wanted to make some changes, but as my mother’s name was on the cheques paying for the service, she wanted to make sure we approved the changes. My mother, assuming his mother was moved by grief, said to let his mother change whatever she wanted.
We get to the church on the morning of the funeral and I’m asked to hand out the programs. I am curious to see the changes. There was one change: instead of “Husband of:” on the last page, it read “Reputed Husband of:” and my mother’s name. I was blazing mad. I wanted to set a bonfire in the middle of the church with those paper programs. I was so upset I wanted to change the wording of the eulogy from the words of love I wrote down to a scathing commentary of my my father’s mother airing all the dirty laundry to embarrass her in her community church worse than she tried to embarrass me. If my mother was his reputed wife, then was I the reputed child? Had my father’s mother pretended to love me for 26 years, but really thought that my mother had tricked my father into thinking I was his child? Fortunately my mother saw me, mistook my rage for grief, and took me outside to talk me down off the ledge I was running full speed towards. She was able to convince me not to stoop to that woman’s level and honor my father as I had intended.
I have never forgiven the funeral home, because they should have had more sense that to insult the person paying for the funeral. A firm: “I am sorry, but we cannot accommodate your request.” from the funeral home would have come in handy at that point. As for my father’s mother? Well, karma is a wonderful thing. Not only did my father make his “reputed wife” executress of his multi-million dollar estate, and he only mentioned my mother, my sister, a cousin and myself as his heirs, but turns out he owned my grandmother’s house; and due to a clause in the will that says that anything not explicitly named in the will that he owns but forgot to mention will be divided between my sister and I 50%, the “reputed granddaughter” owns a 50% share of her house. Further sweetening the situation is the fact that, in my home country, my mother has my power of attorney. In short, the “reputed wife” own 50% of her house.

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WildIrishRose May 14, 2013 at 10:22 am

This is just mind-boggling on so many levels. First of all, OP, let me extend my condolences to you on the loss of your beloved spouse. Gone too young.

As for his relatives, words fail me. I’m with Lo: The widow or widower is the one who should be in charge of all funeral arrangements, asking for help if s/he WANTS to. I’m happy that you had a good friend to help you get through the arrangements. That’s very hard. Your husband’s sister and father were incredibly out of line in not only planning a second funeral (who DOES that???), but in trying to stick you with the bill!! What nerve!

The funeral director who went along with that scheme should have known better, but at least he’s been taught and (hopefully) will never do anything so gauche again.

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Ashley May 14, 2013 at 10:24 am

How the heck would anyone think it was okay for you to get billed if you didn’t sign anything and weren’t even there??

Good move calling the Funeral Directors Association about this, he obviously needed to learn SOMETHING.

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Mojo May 14, 2013 at 10:25 am

I’m stunned. I’ve never heard of such a thing.

Well done for dealing with it so well, at what must have been a stressful time for you.

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Shoegal May 14, 2013 at 10:27 am

First – I’m very sorry for your loss.

2nd – I’m amazed. This site has done nothing but teach me that people can be so awful. I just can find no way to justify their actions on this matter – the funeral the OP had – was the funeral – period. If they chose not to travel or couldn’t come – well, they missed it. I have never heard of having multiple funerals – but whatever – if they wanted another service – fine but dear Lord – Pay for it!!! The father and sister felt it was necessary for whatever reason – ok, but PAY FOR IT. To pass the bill on to the widow who conducted her own was beyond reprehensible. The funeral director I don’t believe was completely in the wrong – he was instructed by the deceased’s father who arranged the service thinking this was already discussed and agreed upon. He couldn’t have known this wasn’t the case – but I’m sure that in the future he will be much more careful.

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BMS May 14, 2013 at 10:28 am

OP, the fact that you handled such a horrible situation without, say, returning the video in a flaming bag of excrement on their porch shows you to be a nominee for Etiquette Heaven, if there is such a place.

You were firm and showed immense grace under pressure, and I admire you for it. I hope that your friends continue to support you in your trials.

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gramma dishes May 14, 2013 at 10:41 am

What an astonishingly story! How awful.

I’m glad you kept your wits about you by not only refusing to pay for the second funeral, but also taking steps to “help” the funeral director of that one see the error of his ways!! Good grief. What a mess.

I am curious though (like Allie) as to why your husband’s father and sister didn’t come to your husband’s real funeral (the one you arranged). It sounds like they were ticked off about something. Did they not think the funeral you arranged was ‘dignified’ enough? Or were they angry because of something like, for example, they expected to be named in his will and they weren’t?

And is it safe to assume that you haven’t heard from them since? ;-)

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Coralreef May 14, 2013 at 10:45 am

OP, I’m sorry for your loss. And I’m sorry for the way FIL and SIL treated you during this difficult time.

What I can’t wrap my mind around is the involvement of a second funeral director. He was not involved in the actual cremation and other arrangements. A Church service and video does not cost $5000 that I know of.

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gramma dishes May 14, 2013 at 10:53 am

inMN ~~ Your story is equally awful. Maybe even worse.

So is it safe to assume Grandma’s currently living somewhere else now that you and your sister (and possibly mother) now own her house? Sometimes Lady Karma actually does make an appearance and it can certainly be wonderfully satisfying when she does!

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Stacey Frith-Smith May 14, 2013 at 10:57 am

Weddings and funerals really seem to bring out the full-on crazy. Here we see a textbook case of the magnitude of this type of insanity. There can be no excuse for the attempt to shift costs to you. My guess is that they found you to be accommodating of their wishes and preferences over the years and severely overstepped the limits of pragmatism and sanity, to say nothing of etiquette or courtesy. Good for you for declining to be their doormat.

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Cat May 14, 2013 at 11:20 am

Just when I am convinced that my family is entirely nuts, someone like you comes along with a situation that leaves me gaping. A second funeral, not memorial service, but a whole new funeral sans the deceased, but which his estate is to be required to finance?
How could they spend five-thousand dollars for a funeral that did not require a casket or the services connected with a body? And, I agree, why did they need a funeral home? Weird.
As I was gaping over your situation, inNM comes along to say that her grandmother used inNM’s father’s funeral to declare her mother a trollop and herself a child born on the wrong side of the blanket. Madam, you are commended for not beating granny to a pulp and selling her house right out from under her. I am a gentle, placid woman with deep Christian beliefs, but I do not have your self control.

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The Elf May 14, 2013 at 11:22 am

I’m so sorry for your loss. I’m also sorry that you have giant “glass bowls” for in-laws. There is no way you should be charged for this second funeral.

You did exactly the right things in refuting this and I hope you’ve heard the end of it – and them.

I have a lot of skepticism about the “funeral industry”. I think it’s best to, if possible, plan out and pay for your own funeral in advance of the event. At minimum, discuss it with loved ones, as this husband did. That way your grieving kin won’t have to make these difficult decisions under stress, and possibly get taken advantage of in the process.

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airlinepass06 May 14, 2013 at 11:39 am

This comment is an FYI. The OP’s husband was in the military. It’s important that family members know where a veteran’s DD 214 (statement of military service) is. There are hundreds of veterans who die every year and do not receive military honors at their funeral or memorial service because the next of kin does not know where the DD214 is at. Family members can go to http://www.archives.gov to request a copy. Please note that it may take several weeks/months to get the DD 214. DD 214 can also help with applying for a VA home loan or GI Bill benefits for dependents. Thanks.

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NostalgicGal May 14, 2013 at 11:44 am

I just suffered similar.

My dear dad passed away very early Dec 26th. I started to receive calls from flower shops and a funeral parlor about coming in to pick flowers and a casket. What? I am five states away and the plans were firm he wanted no funeral and a simple cremation. I told them in no uncertain terms that there were JUST TWO next of kin, his wife my mom and myself his only child. And neither one of us were going to have a service. If ANYONE was going to do a service it would be me, I’m ordained, thank you. THEN I get a pastor contacting me to go over the details. I told the fellow kindly enough that I was a minister and if anyone was holding the service it would be me alone.

It took a two day trip up there and a personal trip around to some neighboring towns and explaining IN PERSON that whoever was trying to do this service/funeral was not the next of kin, and I could NOT get the name of who was claiming to be family and doing this. One place was admantant that the wife had been in, and I described my mother and produced a picture on my phone of her. That was NOT who had been in. We did secure the urn, it had been returned to the doorstep with two nice fellows in uniform and a folded flag.

You think I signed a contract for flowers? I will take you to court and have a handwriting analyst look at that signature. I had phone call log to prove I was 5 states away at the time this was signed, and not with my legal signature.

It turned out to be one sister in law who can’t understand why she couldn’t have a chance to spend someone else’s money, for something that was not wanted. And be the darling grieving CENTER OF ATTENTION for her brother in law’s…. I never seen someone turn that shade when I did confront her in front of a few of her cohorts about this grief that we didn’t need that she was stirring. What estate? Who is going to pay for this? Um I didn’t win the lottery, I’m up here on borrowed money and sleeping on a floor. The Settlement? Oh, yeah it was filed for X and he got 1/2 of one percent of X and the lawyers got a third of that, three decades ago. You think they lived like that on purpose?

Fifteen pages of itemized ‘services’ (taking my father to appointments as he had no car) to bill the estate went poof too. I happened to have seen the literature for a year villa in Tuscany to vacation on retirement, after that….

I am home, my mom is living where she chooses (the apartment they had before for low income) and when she goes, I have the medical and other services filed with call me only then call the sheriff’s department until I can get there. And that particular family member has a restraining order.

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Mae May 14, 2013 at 12:08 pm

I am so sorry for your loss.

I am also sorry you had to deal with awful in-laws but you handled it with dignity and I commend you. Reporting the funeral director was a smart move. My stepfather’s brothers’ somehow ended up writing the obit for my stepfather and they listed my mom as his “fiancee”, my brothers, sisters and I were not mentioned by name (stepfather had no biological children) and our children were listed as “special grandchildren”. Of course, they listed their names, their wives names and their children’s names. I am sorry to say I sent them a ripped to pieces obituary, with a note explaining how inappropriate their little stunt was, especially considering my mom had been with stepdad for 27 years and how they had visited less than a handful of times in all those years, after the funeral.

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Angel May 14, 2013 at 12:10 pm

I have been reading the eHell website for quite a number of years, but this is probably the worst story of bad etiquette I have ever heard. It goes beyond bad etiquette–it’s morally and ethically reprehensible. I don’t understand why the funeral director would send a bill to a person he had never met or spoken to, and had absolutely no input on the funeral whatsoever. Common sense would tell anyone that’s more than a little fishy.

The fact that the father and sister of the deceased went behind the widow’s back and planned a completely separate memorial service is disgraceful enough. There is no excuse for also sticking her with the bill. My guess is that there are other motives than celebrating the life of their relative, more about putting on a show. Tasteless, vulgar and utterly disrespectful to his widow, the OP. I am sorry for your loss and hope you have no further contact with these hateful people!

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sv May 14, 2013 at 12:15 pm

Speechless.

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Bibianne May 14, 2013 at 12:31 pm

Dear OP, please accept my condolences. I hope I grow up to be as graceful as you were.
BTW, my jaw is STILL on the floor! WOW!!

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WildIrishRose May 14, 2013 at 1:16 pm

inNM: Oh. My. Gosh. “Reputed wife”? That’s just ugly. I can see why you no longer refer to her as your grandmother. And as equally ugly as THIS sentiment is, I’m glad she doesn’t own that house. Sometimes karma actually does come through!

The Elf: I’m with you on the planning and paying. My husband’s maternal grandparents did that–bought their plot and caskets, and planned out their funerals in detail. My MIL thought it was a great idea, but her brother laughed at them. Three months later, I was singing at Grandpa’s funeral. MIL told me later that of COURSE her brother thought advance planning was a stupid idea, because MIL was going to have to do all the work involved with having the body shipped, contacting the funeral home, etc. And she did, too. Unbelievable. And I’ve been thinking more and more about this type of thing since I was diagnosed with cancer last year.

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Elizabeth May 14, 2013 at 1:41 pm

I am sorry for your loss, and for the behavior of of your husband’s family and their funeral director.

My husband owns a funeral home. He cannot and will not invoice anyone other than the person authorizing services and signing the contract. In this situation, this was a memorial service (no preparation of the remains, no disposition), which means that yes, extended family can authorize a memorial gathering in their locale for those that live in the area to pay their respects. You have no obligation to pay for services you did not commission and the funeral home knows this, and likely (wrongly) assumed the sister and father were telling the truth when they said you’d pay for it. But this is a big, professional mistake.

As for the sister and father, you can now count them out of your life.

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Elizabeth May 14, 2013 at 1:51 pm

A note to airlinepass06 and others regarding veterans benefits, if your funeral director cannot speak in detail about the benefits available, find another funeral director. Benefits vary so what is available to one person, another may not be eligible. And please don’t worry about a missing DD214, we pull them up in under a minute.

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Gryphon May 14, 2013 at 2:16 pm

I had goosebumps as I read all of the kind comments of support regarding my post about the second funeral.

To answer a few questions, first, as you surmised, I have had no further contact with the family.

Second, as for the second funeral, I think that they wanted to have a funeral for my late husband to assuage the guilt they felt about the relationship they had (or didn’t have) with him during his adult life. Their failure to attend the funeral I planned is a good example of that dysfunctional relationship. Also, they never quite accepted me as his wife and they believed that I should have done more for him during his illness. They offered no assistance during that time. I am at peace in the knowledge that I did everything humanly possible for him.

Thank you again so very much for you supportive comments!

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Kim May 14, 2013 at 2:25 pm

It seems many of these stories stem from one of two motivations (because I can’t imagine doing this for no reason…?):

1. Hoping to dislodge the logical next of kin in the will. For all the good that will do. The will stands, thanks.
2. Getting some angst out of the system over some emotional ancient history.

I have no stories like this, thank goodness.

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Mlerin May 14, 2013 at 2:37 pm

I’m sorry for your loss.

My jaw dropped reading this story, and I can say I became pale as I read this. I commend you, OP. You handled a disgusting situation exceptionally, and I hope everything was straightened out quickly regarding the in-laws and the funeral director. Good on you for writing the Funeral Directors Association; I hope the director learned something from this, to not take things at what I’m assuming is face-value about being paid from the estate. I hope, too, that your in-laws learned something from this.

After reading through the comments, I can literally say my jaw dropped further and I became paler with every horrible funeral story posted. I’m trying to understand why people behave the way they do. On the one hand, I truly want to believe it is grief coming out in horrible ways. On the other hand, people truly do display their true nature at funerals- the selfish, it’s-all-about-me attitude. It really boggles the mind.

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Mae May 14, 2013 at 3:12 pm

Just to clarify, my stepdad’s brothers visited him & my mom less than 10 times the whole 27 years they were together and I sent the note about 2 weeks after the funeral. I didn’t tell my mother. I figured she had been through enough with a tragic death (stepdad was terminally ill, committed suicide and of course mom saw the aftermath) and then that disgrace of an obituary.

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inNM May 14, 2013 at 3:18 pm

@gramma dishes
I am not going to lie. I wanted so badly to sell my share of the house from right under her. I was hurting bad. Fortunately my mother is my voice of reason, and she convinced me to not retaliate. The house is going through the probate process like everything else. I found out through the cousin mentioned in the will why my dad bought the house, and what was supposed to be done with it. I don’t know what my sister will do, but I want to give it to my half to my cousin, who was supposed to have it, and especially since I want nothing to do with it, or its current inhabitant, unless we’re able to talk about what happened like adults and an apology is forthcoming.
My father’s mother is still living in it, with my father’s brother.

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Marozia May 14, 2013 at 3:22 pm

Completely disgraceful and vulgar on the part of your in-laws. They held the funeral, they should pay for it.
Kudos to you for handling this situation well.

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Angela May 14, 2013 at 3:25 pm

Unbelievable.
I have heard of a second memorial service under some circumstances, but they were with the full agreement of the bereaved spouse. For instance, a beloved figure at my college passed away one July, when most students and faculty were gone. A second service was planned at the college (it’s a private Lutheran college) after the semester started. But I’m sure the widow had complete veto power over the idea before anything was even specifically planned. And whatever costs were incurred sure weren’t passed on to the widow!

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kingsrings May 14, 2013 at 3:42 pm

This has got to be one of the most upsetting and shocking stories I’ve read here on EHell. This story epitomizes how a family member’s death and grief truly does bring out the worst in some people. When someone dies, there can of course be many different opinions on the funeral arrangements. That is why the surviving spouse is the one who gets the say on how it’s done. Those decisions are based on what the deceased wanted. That these family members could be so overrun by their own selfish desires on what THEY wanted for the service that they would have the gall to first throw their own separate funeral and then, if that wasn’t bad enough, to bill the widow for it is beyond belief.

My family has our own unfortunate similar story regarding this. When my grandfather died somewhat suddenly, my aunt caused a lot of problems for our family. Even though Grandpa was married, she somehow thought that SHE was the one who got to decide what kind of funeral Grandpa had, and when it was going to be scheduled. She was hellbent on the latter and did everything she could think of to try to get it scheduled for when she wanted it. Thankfully, Grandpa’s wife refused to budge and cave into her demands. Finally, my aunt backed down and solved the problem by saying that she and her family simply wouldn’t attend Grandpa’s funeral, all because it wasn’t scheduled to her liking. Death and grief truly bring out the worst in some people.

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Puzzled May 14, 2013 at 4:00 pm

And I thought I had issues with my mother’s funeral recently. I am so sorry you had to go through this.

My mother’s funeral was a little tense between “my side” and “their side,” but all in all it turned out beautifully.

You did the right thing. If it’s any consolation, they were horrendously overcharged since it was just a service.

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Library Diva May 14, 2013 at 4:33 pm

Most of the stories we see here are cases of uninformed people, shared blame, awkward moments where one comes off less than stellar. Then we have stories like this. There’s no two sides to this one. How OP’s in-laws can justify what they did is beyond me. It’s pretty obvious why her husband chose to move away and why there was so little contact, though. OP, I’m sorry you were put through all of that, and I’m sorry for your loss.

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Lynne May 14, 2013 at 4:35 pm

Flabber.Gasted.

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abf May 14, 2013 at 6:20 pm

Having worked in the funeral industry for over 20 years, I not really shocked. Oh the interesting people who come out of the woodwork! However, as several other people have mentioned, I have to wonder about that funeral director. Most funeral directors these days require payment or proof of payment up front before a servce takes place. I just have to wonder how close are your in-laws to this funeral director? Is it possible they were working together to scam you? You did the right thing by contacting the Funeral Directors Association. If I remember correctly the Funeral Directors Association is a trade association. You might also want to notify the Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers in your state. In my state, the Board can revoke a funeral directors and/or a funeral directors liscense. Even the newest and most in-experienced funeral director should have known better.

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FerrisW May 14, 2013 at 8:51 pm

Add me to the number of readers whose jaw hit the floor upon reading this post and the comments. I don’t think I even know how to express my sympathy to the OP and other commenters, nor my rage at the horrible relatives who’ve caused you all so much grief.

I strongly encourage everyone, regardless of age, to write a will and preemptively plan/outline your preferred funeral arrangements. This year I turned 30 and bought my first home, and as well as getting all of the legal side of things sorted, I decided it was time to talk to my next of kin (my parents) about my wishes, should the worst happen. It was a sad, but strangely refreshing experience- we each wrote down our wishes for our funerals and our possessions, shared them with each other, and stored them in safe places (both physically and digitally). Although not, I imagine, legally binding, we’ve at least given our opinions on what we each want, and luckily don’t expect any relatives to stick their oar in and ruin things, since we are none of us rich!

As I live on the other side of the world from most of my relatives, I have a special savings account which is my ‘emergency flight’ money for hopping on a place should a relative die, and in particularly I have the money available so I can be at my grandfather’s funeral when he dies. This is important to me, not just to say goodbye to him, but because three of my aunts used the fact that he remarried 5 years after my grandmother died (which they said was too soon) to a much younger woman, as an excuse to avoid visiting him. However, there are some family heirlooms which they have decided amongst themselves should go to certain grandchildren (their kids only, of course) upon my grandfather’s death- even though they legally would belong to his current wife. So I have that money set aside to go to her, to help her with the planning of the funeral if needed, and also to protect her from my evil aunts.

What is it about births, marriages and deaths that bring out the worst in people?

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InNM May 14, 2013 at 9:34 pm

Thank you, WildIrishRose

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Yenda May 14, 2013 at 10:51 pm

OP, please keep a close eye on this situation. In most states, if funeral and memorial costs are not paid for by the family in a timely manner, the funeral director can legally go after the estate to collect on the bill.

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Elfmama May 14, 2013 at 11:23 pm

Dear and blessed gods! Add my jaw to the thud heard all over the country…

You have my condolences on the loss of your husband — and my congratulations on the loss of your in-laws!

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