Would you borrow money to bury a parent?


#1

I'm hoping you can help...My family learned my mother is terminally ill. First, my siblings and I can not get my mother to write any of her wishes down. Further, she has orally given conflicting information to three of us. She has told one sister that she wanted to be buried and later told my brother and I that she would be OK with cremation provided all the rules of the Church were followed. The one sister is adamant that my mother be buried, "I KNOW what Mom wants..." She is probably right that this is our mother's preference but there is no absolute certainty about this. Needless to say, this has caused a lot of tension/arguments between us children (We have not mentioned this fact to our mother and likely would never do so given the circumstances).

The second problem involves my Mom's finances. My mother has a small amount of life insurance (about $8K) but little else to pay for her funeral expenses. She has never been great with money so she owns nothing and has nothing in savings, etc. She has a wealthy sister who easily could pay any difference in funeral costs. The sister who insists my mother be buried thinks it would be permissible to ask my aunt's assistance in paying for my Mom's funeral. I think this is very tacky and I'm not comfortable with it. I expressed this sentiment to my sister. Her response: "Well, so-and-so borrowed money to pay for her mother's funeral." I think borrowing money from anyone -- be it the aunt, the bank, whomever -- is foolish. I'm trying very hard to be financially responsible in my own life and don't see the sense in taking on more debt. I have no problem paying perhaps an additional $1,000 to do this, but I have my husband's resistance past that. So, here's my question: What are my obligations to what my mother's (presumed) wishes are and how far is reasonable in terms of accommodating my sister? Thanks for your help.


#2

One of the corporal works of mercy is to bury the dead. Couple that with the fourth commandment to honor thy mother and father, and think the answer becomes a little clearer.

Work with your sister to determine what is to be done when your mother passes and then make a plan. If that plan involves borrow money, so be it. You have a responsibility to your mother to see that she is properly buried (or cremated and the ashes buried).

At the end of the day, this isn’t going to cost tens of thousands of dollars. Her 8k in life insurance would probably most of it. I know that borrowing money is emotionally difficult for some people, but this an extremely important service.

I will keep your family in my prayers as you tackle this issue. End of life issues are never easy, so don’t feel bad about being conflicted. It hard to train for this kind of thing.


#3

I absolutely would borrow money from a family member or from a bank or any other credit association to bury a family member, especially if it was a parent. I wouldn't go overboard in the funeral arrangements though, but I wouldn't be so frugal either that my family member doesn't have a decent burial and arrangements. I think you need to find a compromise with your siblings, ASAP. You really don't want to be arguing over this when your mom has passed away.


#4

I don't know if I was clear about this, so I don't want anyone to misunderstand: I do believe it is my obligation to bury my mother and I don't dispute that at all. I also want her to have something dignified and appropriate. I do agree my siblings and I need to get on the same page with this ASAP. That is the struggle along with trying to work with my spouse on the financial end. Thank you again for your responses and opinions.


#5

I took a sociology class on death recently (I know that's a little strange . . . ), and a big part of our final project involved researching funeral expenses. The 8K in life insurance is probably plenty enough to have her buried, as long as you keep things simple (especially flowers!). You can check here for average costs in your state:

funeralconsumer.org/burial.html


#6

You must bury her ashes if she is cremated.

A basic cremation will cost you less than $2K. Talk to her home Parish about having a funeral Mass, the stipend is not going to be very much and will be waived if you have no money.

A small plot in which to bury ashes, small headstone, her 8K will more than cover a simple cremation and burial.


#7

Good info for those who live in the USA. Not sure where the OP lives.

I just want to point out that the purchase of a burial plot, marker, and any expenses incurred at the Parish Church are likely not included in the costs listed at that site. I know at my parish that it is expected that the family pay the organist/accompanist and cantor if there is to be music.


#8

I paid for cremation of a family member a year ago and the cost was $850.00. An urn for the burial is $300 and for burial the cost is the same as opening and closing the grave. In all, $8,000 is more than sufficient to pay for cremation and all related expenses.


#9

I’m really sorry, I haven’t been clear at all…the question isn’t if my Mom would be buried, it’s the disposition of the body. My original post said “buried” and that wasn’t entirely accurate. I should have specified that my sister wants the traditional casket burial, not a cremation with burial afterward. We aren’t clear what my Mom wants because she hasn’t written anything down and has told us different things. Pricing it thus far, it appears the $8,000 she has would not cover the cost of a traditional burial with casket, vault, headstone, etc. So, my real dilemma is: What obligation do I have as her daughter to have a casket burial versus a cremation/burial if she hasn’t been clear about her wishes? Should I borrow money to do this (my husband is opposed to this and wants us to spend no more than $1000 of our family’s budget out of pocket beyond the $8K)? And, lastly, what are my obligations in terms of keeping peace with other family members? Sorry I wasn’t clear. This is all very stressful. Thanks again.


#10

Your mother is still alive, right?
Ask her again if she is OK with cremation. Have her convey those wishes to your sister.

A direct cremation can be gotten for about $1,000. That includes transporting the deceased from their place of death to the crematorium.

If you decide on burial, there are ways to hold down costs. No embalming. Closed casket so no makeup and body prep. A basic casket. Shop around. You can even buy caskets on the internet. No limos.


#11

Call your parish secretary. She deals with all the funeral homes in town, she knows who is the most honest, who will not over sell you, etc. Make an appointment now to pre arrange. Also, go ahead and have your mom pick her readings and music, her clothes etc.

As a mother, I would not want my child to borrow money to pay for my funeral expenses.


#12

Get the family together, everyone involved. As a group, go to your Mom and settle on the details of how she wants to buried. With everyone present, there should be no question of what your Mom actually said or what she really wants. After you clearly know her wishes, someone should call a funeral home and start making the arrangements, then the costs should be split amoung you. There is no reason why you shouldn’t borrow money from your Aunt if she is willing to help. Most people do end up borrowing money to bury their loved ones. Keep in mind that a high stress situation like this tends to bring out the worst in some people. Have you called Hospice? They can be a great resource for you.


#13

If the mother’s sister is rich, she may be willing to give the money rather than lend it. It’s worth asking before arguing with your siblings.

Also, your mom has 8k in life insurance and it’s not enough for a funeral? Wow. I didn’t realize it was so expensive to bury someone.


#14

It is expensive, and I don’t doubt that $8K will not cover it.

I may be in the minority here, but the mother’s wishes are not the key point, unless she has set aside money to pay for what she wants. And she hasn’t. To the deceased, funeral arrangements matter not one whit.

Do not go into debt for funeral costs. Explain to the funeral director and anyone involved that the upper budget limit is $8K. The same goes for family members. If anyone wishes to kick in additional funds, then the budget limit rises. But you’ll have to all agree on the details as best you can.

You don’t want to add to your grief the added burden of debt.


#15

\Please go get all this settled now and in writing. My father just died in Feb. and is still not buried because we are waiting on a military burial even though he has been cremated. As my brother has power of attorney my hands are rather tied on this. Please get things settled and in writing. If you get along with your sister get together with her and then you both will hear your mother's wishes at once and can get her to sign it then and there. You don't want this hanging over your heads and disturbing your relationship with your sister.]


#16

[quote="JimG, post:14, topic:193324"]
It is expensive, and I don't doubt that $8K will not cover it.

I may be in the minority here, but the mother's wishes are not the key point, unless she has set aside money to pay for what she wants. And she hasn't. To the deceased, funeral arrangements matter not one whit.

Do not go into debt for funeral costs. Explain to the funeral director and anyone involved that the upper budget limit is $8K. The same goes for family members. If anyone wishes to kick in additional funds, then the budget limit rises. But you'll have to all agree on the details as best you can.

You don't want to add to your grief the added burden of debt.

[/quote]

Seems this way to me.

Your obligations is to burry your mother with dignity. It is not to throw an over-the-top funeral with 500 roses and full symphony at the burrial, no 3 foot granite headstone. Don't go over debt. Your budget is $8k. For the simple things that should be enough (as determined by others). If your sister is unhappy SHE can take on the extra debt or herself beg the aunt for money.


#17

I'm very sorry to hear this sad news :( . I think burial would be much better because there is a place to go! But I cremation, there isn't. Just do whats best for all of you! Hope things work out. :) Aidan.


#18

[quote="Irish_Girl_68, post:9, topic:193324"]
I'm really sorry, I haven't been clear at all...the question isn't if my Mom would be buried, it's the disposition of the body. My original post said "buried" and that wasn't entirely accurate. I should have specified that my sister wants the traditional casket burial, not a cremation with burial afterward. We aren't clear what my Mom wants because she hasn't written anything down and has told us different things. Pricing it thus far, it appears the $8,000 she has would not cover the cost of a traditional burial with casket, vault, headstone, etc. So, my real dilemma is: What obligation do I have as her daughter to have a casket burial versus a cremation/burial if she hasn't been clear about her wishes? Should I borrow money to do this (my husband is opposed to this and wants us to spend no more than $1000 of our family's budget out of pocket beyond the $8K)? And, lastly, what are my obligations in terms of keeping peace with other family members? Sorry I wasn't clear. This is all very stressful. Thanks again.

[/quote]

YOu can still do most of this very cheaply. First, you don' t have to have her embalmed or prepared. Have a closed casket funeral. Buy the least expensive casket and the least expensive liner (vault) and you should still come in under the price mentioned. My own opinion on what your obligation is. None. I think she has more of an obligation to make these decisions easy for you and your family.


#19

I think it depends upon the area you live, my husband’s grandfather passed away last November and the funeral expense were in the neighborhood of $5000.


#20

Sorry to hear about your mothers failing health. Yes, I might borrow money to bury my mother. But I get the feeling you could bury her in a respectful manor with the money available. Your family needs to sit down with your mother.Maybe not on easter Decide what arrangements your mother would like. Then go talk to the funeral home. They will be able to meet your budget. They do it for a living.

I'll remember your family in my prayers.


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