Welcome to Virginia: where we have twice as many funeral homes as we need to serve the dying population; one of six states where caskets can only be sold by funeral directors; where the governing Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers is made up of 9 members, seven of whom are funeral directors; and where independent crematoriums don't exist because they are under the control of the Funeral Board to "protect us."
Are you prepared to do business? When your loved one dies, will you be able to determine what needs to be done: earth burial? cremation? embalming? cemetery plot? grave marker? flowers or no flowers? memorial or religious service? church or funeral home? And do all this in the space of a few stressful days?
Dying is not easy no matter where you live; it may be just a bit more inconvenient if you live in Virginia. That's why in 1976 we started our Funeral Consumers Alliance chapter8 years before the Federal Trade Commission Funeral Rule went into effect. Things are better now throughout the country, but we still have a way to go in Virginia. We hope that you'll not only join us for the benefits we can provide but also to help us bring about changes in both the funeral industry and in attitudes towards death that will benefit everyone.
From time to time, our address and information about us appear in the local newspaper. One fellow saw the notice but chose not to call or write, that is, until his mother was dead and at a funeral home. When he did call he tearfully asked what could be done. Well, what could we say? What he needed to do should have been done months before. Did he know what his mother would have liked? Did he know the options available at time of her death? Had he or his mother made any advance preparations? No, no and no. At this point there was nothing we could do except offer sympathy. He didn't want information sent and as far as we know he never contacted us again. Apparently he doesn't realize that there will another time where he will need to with death and dying, including his own. We all need to start educating ourselves now and make decisions now: we need to plan ahead and talk about death issues.
We want you to know more about the funeral industry and the business of dying. We encourage simplicity and economy but ultimately the decisions are your own. We encourage you to plan ahead, to shop around, to explore the options and to do this as a service to your survivors, the ones that are going to pick up when you move on. We have the tools to help you get started.
The Funeral Consumers Alliance of Tidewater is the local chapter of a national consumer education group created to let people know they have choices in funeral planning. We know that if people haven’t planned ahead and then make funeral arrangements under a cloud of grief, it can be unnecessarily costly. FCAT volunteers educate planners on their legal choices and make sure they’re not pressured to create a funeral they will later regret.
Our members come from southeast Virginia and northeast North Carolina. We need your support just like you need our services. Please become a part of this movement. You can help by joining our group and by choosing one of our volunteer opportunities (link to vol opps) or even being on our 9-member Board of Directors.
We often think of funerals and funeral services as one of the most expensive items we’ll ever spend our money on. These costs are often excessive, not only because the funeral industry is in business to make lots of money, but also because so many of us don’t know we have choices and we think that extreme display at a funeral is almost a requirement. In actuality we are the ones who are in charge and we are the ones who should be making the decisions. We can spend as little or as much as we wish, as long as we understand our options.