Hi Allen, Thanks for writing back. Yes, it’s perfectly fine to have this kind of conversation publicly – it’s instructive for people who come by the site. I have a few thoughts on your latest: **I was simply pointing out that your office would also have to spend a considerable amount more on overhead if you have to pay employees to be on hand 24 hrs. a day. It seems that you want to lash out at funeral homes for charging money for 24 hr. services,** FROM JOSH: Yes, but we’re not a funeral home. In addition, all funeral home prices are not the same. What level of price do you think we’re objecting to? Are you interested in learning that before you get angry at us? What level of pricing do you find defensible? See, Allen, you don’t specify, you just object broadly. I don’t know what to do with that (and I suspect you haven’t taken the time to think about the different possibilities). For example, some funeral homes charge very reasonable fees, and others outrageous ones. In the same city, I’ve seen non-declinable basic fees from $795 to $4,000. Both those funeral homes are available 24 hours. So, what justifies the difference (see how you can ‘t just claim “24-hour service” justifies any price, without specifying that price?)? Sure, some are fancier than others. But often, the really pricey outfits simply charge what they can get away with, whether it’s reasonably related to the level of service they provide or not. That’s just a fact, Allen, and it really is legitimate for an advocacy group to point it out. That’s a lot of money. But again, you didn’t specify, you just asserted that FCA objects to pricing. That’s not any way we can build a conversation. **but yet if a funeral home didn’t answer that call at 2 a.m., you’d be right there to point out that deficiency in their services. ** FROM JOSH: Actually, Allen, I wouldn’t necessarily, which you’d have known if you’d asked me rather than making a snide statement. First, you chose to go into funeral service, knowing it was a 24 hour job. No one made you do so. Second, I don’t actually think every funeral home should be required to be available 24 hours. I realize that with public expectations as they are (and as they’ve been created in part by funeral homes), that is a reality. But it’s a peculiarly American reality. I’ve interviewed several English undertakers, for example, who are baffled by the American consumer’s insistence on getting the body out of the home “right now” at 3 in the morning. They’re equally baffled by the universal promotion of this service by funeral homes. These Brits say they’ll ask families if they should come by right away, or if the family would prefer to have some private time at home, and have the hearse come-round in the morning. Most choose the latter. Outside of the US, people aren’t so universally terrified of the dead such that they think the body must be whisked out of the bedroom on a moment’s notice. Yes, I realize nursing home deaths are a different story. **I suppose I do jump to the worst conclusions and results of changed laws. I guess that is what I was pointing out, is that people don’t think this can or will happen. I know you’re not advocating transportation in this manner, but the possibility is there. When this happens in our state, will you be standing next to the DIY’er on national tv saying that it was the right thing to do? I was not accusing families of any illegal acts or macabre behavior, I was simply saying that it was a possibility. ** FROM JOSH: Anything is possible. Funeral homes are allowed by law to serve the public, yet we have Tri-State Crematory, with 334 unclaimed bodies. We see stories every week about the wrong body being cremated (by funeral homes), or the wrong body being placed in a grave (by a funeral home or a cemetery). Does that mean you think funeral homes should not be allowed to be in business? Of course not. So why are you so concerned about the “possibility” of mistreatment by a person’s own family, the people who love them? Families are allowed to live as they please. If grandma doesn’t want to go to a nursing home, I’m allowed to care for her at home. The only time that can be taken away is if there’s a legitimate accusation of elder abuse. We don’t assume, as a matter of course, that a family is going to abuse grandma. So do you see why it’s not reasonable to be immediately suspicious of a private, family-directed funeral? ** Why should a state law apply to funeral directors taking care of a deceased body and not to the general public for taking care of a deceased body? ** FROM JOSH: Let me give you some examples. Most of the regulations you have to follow are put in place because you, the funeral director, are in a commercial relationship with a family. In most cases, you – just by virtue of the fact that you’re an expert, they’re not; they’re grieving, you’re not – are in a position of unequal power. Regs are designed to protect people from unscrupulous businesses, not to *protect families from themselves*. 1. The FTC Funeral Rule requires you to give families a price list, for obvious reasons. Now, why would the Rule apply to a family? Should they have to give themselves a price list when they’re doing their own funeral? That’s nonsensical. 2. Most states require embalmers who sell their services to the public to go to mortuary school and pass a test. Why or how would this apply to the private family merely bathing grandpa at home for a private wake? 3. Many states require funeral homes to refrigerate or embalm a body within a number of days before disposition. There’s a legitimate public policy reason to ensure families that the body will not decompose before they can arrange for the services they want. It’s a protection for the family against the unfortunate occasions when an unethical funeral home may try to use the body as a bargaining chip. I know that’s not usual, but it does happen. Now, why or how would that apply to a home funeral? Despite industry rhetoric, dead bodies are not a health hazard in most cases (except to the embalmer who’s opening up an otherwise intact body and exposing himself to lots of fluids). If a family chooses to keep a body at home for two or three days, there’s usually little trouble, and if there’s a concern, dry ice can be used. Quite simply, it’s not anyone else’s business what a family chooses to do for a funeral in their own private home. There are cases, of course, where such laws apply to families, too, but that’s not as frequent. Think of this analogy: every state regulates restaurants, and most mandate that walk-in coolers be kept at a certain temperature, and at a certain cleanliness level. This is to protect the dining public from food poisoning, which they can’t personally control if they’re paying someone else to cook their food. But no state restaurant regulations apply to your own kitchen. It may be unwise to use the same cutting board for raw chicken and vegetables, but we don’t permit the state to come and boss us around in our own kitchens. I think you’re having a hard time seeing the private funeral in the same terms as you see any other private sphere of activity. You’d consider it an outrage for the state to compel you to “prove” you weren’t going to medically neglect your children before you were “allowed” to take care of them at home if they had the flu. You’d consider it an egregious intrusion of your privacy if the state told you it was illegal to care for your mother at home as she died of cancer, because there was a “possibility” that you might hasten her death. It’s just the same with funeral matters. It only seems shocking to you because you’re on the inside, and you’re very used to funerals going the conventional way. If you can step back from your role as a professional, I think you’d probably agree.

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