Breaking down the ‘cost of dying’ in Edmonton
Laying a loved one to rest, and everything that can involve, is something many might not consider until they have to – but a CTV News investigation looked into the potential costs, and how to avoid paying too much.
In Edmonton, Foster and McGarvey Funeral Homes has been providing their services for more than 80 years – and managing director Debbie Lambert said there really is no limit to the potential cost of a funeral, and everything that can be included.
“Cremation is definitely on the rise, however we still do a lot of burials,” Lambert said. “Ranges are from $4,000 to $20,000 or $30,000, just depending, and if someone wants limos too.”
Additions like flowers, a memorial book, a reception and obituary are usually added costs on top of the service, as is the cost of a casket (which can range from about $1,000 to more than $10,000), or an urn.
Price variation can also be seen depending on the funeral home – calls made to facilities around Edmonton for a basic cremation, which includes transporting the body, cremation container and death certificates, ranged from $995 plus GST, to $3,645.
A traditional burial, which includes a small service and transporting the body without add-ons (such as a casket or a reception), ranged from $2,995 to $5,899.
Meanwhile, a few funeral homes provide prices online, but most would offer quotes over the phone.
There is one company that said quotes could only be provided in person.
For one widow, the cost of her husband’s funeral added up quickly.
“I couldn’t believe when I got the bill: $8,000,” Reta Pettit said.
Pettit said she paid that price to a B.C. funeral home 29 years ago after her husband’s unexpected death during open-heart surgery.
“My decision was: ‘Let’s have a viewing, so that’ll help me, that’ll help my children to deal with the situation,’ OK, so if you have a viewing then you must have a casket,” Pettit said. “Of course, my husband loved wood so I looked there, and a beautiful wood casket, let’s use that casket.”
She said she was emotional during the process, and she didn’t pay attention to the prices or shop around.
“I think what I did was open the Yellow Pages and picked one because I didn’t have a clue,” Pettit said.
Now, she’s a member of a non-profit group called the Memorial Society of Edmonton, an organization with one staff member and a number of volunteers. For a one-time $40 fee, members can get a cremation or burial at a lower price through one of four funeral homes it partners with.
“The basic price covers all the things you need, it gives you nice processing and handling of the body that’s respectful,” Lea Callebaut with the Memorial Society of Edmonton said.
In addition, the group collects details about their members’ wishes, so when the time comes, their family isn’t left in the dark.
Members said when it comes to selecting a funeral home, research is important.
“See how they treat you, how they behave, and get some pricing,” Brian Baker with the Memorial Society Board of Directors said.
“You’ve got to literally put on your detective hat and do detective work.”
Experts told CTV News the best advice is to plan ahead and shop around – which could result in thousands of dollars saved.
With files from Nicole Weisberg