I’ve been threatening, in my head, to start blogging again. This was not the subject that I planned on leading with this, but I need to get it out there. Sit down and relax, because this may get long.
Just a friendly, yet mildly morbid reminder, dear readers: if you lose a loved one and have to plan their final rest, or you are looking to pre-arrange your own, or know someone that is, PLEASE AVOID BALDWIN FAIRCHILD AND DIGNITY MEMORIAL!! PLEASE!! I IMPLORE YOU!! DO ALL THAT YOU CAN TO AVOID THESE COMPANIES.
Making final arrangements for yourself, or a loved one, can be a stressful time. You need a funeral director/planner and cemetery that are ON. THE. BALL. to make your life easier. You’ve got a lot of decisions to make, and you need support, love, and options. When you call you need a friendly voice to answer the phone. You need people willing to work hard to provide you with what you need in a timely fashion. Trust me. I’ve done four of these so far.
I’ve dealt with Baldwin Fairchild for my grandfather, grandmother, mother, and more recently with Dignity Memorial (whom they’ve merged with) for my dad. I have had SO many headaches, as I’ve shared in the past. I do not wish this on any of you. For instance, and this may seem small, but my dad was a veteran. I was told that if I provided a copy of his discharge papers we would receive a flag in his honor. I supplied those papers at the end of November of last year. Its occurred to me, several times, that we never got that flag, which I know was something that was important to Zach. I made a phone call today, stated my case to a receptionist, and she, not the funeral director, made a phone call and located the flag. This is a good thing.
If you followed my posts at the end of last year, you know about the difficulties and frustrations and flat out anger I was dealing with at my dad and the cemetery. After my mom passed, I set up, what I thought, were my dad’s final arrangements. I thought that I was planning for cremation, an urn, and placement in the niche with my mom. Turns out, all that I paid for was the cremation. Maybe some of the blame falls on me, I didn’t ask enough questions. I was just thinking back to my grandmothers pre-paid where everything except death certificates and an obituary were paid for, and thought I was getting the same thing. Of course, I was also still in mourning at the sudden loss of my mom, so asking all of those questions was not at the front of my mind. I am still glad, however, that my dads cremation was pre-paid, because in just over three years, the price of cremation through them more than doubled, nearly tripled.
Anyway, there turned out to be a space issue in the niche FOR TWO that they sold me in 2011, so I was given the dimensions for an urn that would fit, and was told to search for something on my own. I voiced my displeasure, so they searched and rooted around, finding an urn for his ashes (oddly the one I thought I’d chosen and paid for) and gave it to me for free. However, we still cannot lay him to rest because they want $685 dollars to do so. To open the niche and place the urn inside. No ceremony, just placement. We did ask that his date of death be placed on the marker, since the marker is paid for and that would be done at no cost, providing us with a bit of a memorial for him. This was at the beginning of December 2014. I went to the cemetery to take flowers on Sunday (May 31) and it still has not been updated. I placed a call to, lets call her June, who has handled everything at the cemetery for me for my parents (and set up my dad’s cremation), today. She said she was surprised and would look into it.
This does not surprise me though. It took nearly four months to get the plaque placed when my mom died, but seriously. This is just adding a date. Five months, and nothing. Now, June is a very nice person, probably one of the nicer people I’ve dealt with. She’s also very forthright, which can be helpful when you’re making decisions, but also comes off as a bit brash. However, I’m beginning to question why so many problems have come up when I worked with her. I don’t know if its her, or the company, or both to be honest.
So if you can, save yourself the trouble and don’t use these companies if you can avoid them. There are other options out there. I wish I’d looked for someone else when my mom died, but since that was who I knew, that was where I went. The company has definitely gone downhill a great deal since 2008 when my grandmother died, and at that point they’d even gone further downhill from 1997, when my grandfather passed. And Dignity? They don’t deserve that name. They have been the least helpful and compassionate of all. You would think they would help families of veterans, who are sometimes entitled to compensation from the Veterans Administration, figure out the process. Instead, they just tell you to “check into it.” Its a MESSY place, and I really would have liked help because I still haven’t been able to wade through all their red tape and whatnot.
Also, please do consider pre-planning your final expenses if you are in a situation where you know what you want and can afford it, because the prices just keep getting more and more astronomical. Also, make sure you’re family and/or friends know what you want and make sure they will agree to honor that, pre-paid or not. Also, make a will. Please and thank you.
Love and light. Enjoy tonights full moon! Be bold and spontaneous!