Consumer Advocacy

The Funeral Rule

The Funeral Rule is implemented and enforced by the Federal Trade Commission to protect funeral consumers. The following rules must be followed by funeral homes:

  • If you visit a funeral home in person, the funeral provider is required by law to give you a general price list itemizing the cost of the items and services the home offers.
  • If the general price list does not include specific prices of caskets or outer burial containers, the law requires the funeral director to show you the price lists for those items before showing you the items.
  • The Funeral Rule requires funeral directors to provide price information over the phone to any caller who asks for it.
  • Many funeral providers offer various "packages" of commonly selected goods and services that make up a funeral. But when you arrange for a funeral, you have the right to buy individual goods and services. That is, you do not have to accept a package that may include items you do not want.
  • The funeral provider may not refuse, or charge a fee, to handle a casket you bought elsewhere.
  • A funeral provider that offers cremations must make alternative containers available.

Funeral Consumers Alliance (FCA)

www.funerals.org

The Funeral Consumers Alliance is the oldest national non-profit organization dedicated to "protecting a consumer's right to choose a meaningful, dignified, affordable funeral".  The FCA works with local affiliate nonsectarian, nonprofit, educational organizations in support of their communities. Some local FCA Affiliates perform price surveys of local funeral homes.  Find your local Funeral Consumers Alliance Affiliate to answer local funeral questions and access regional funeral home price surveys.

The FCA supports funeral consumers by:

  • offering pamphlets and newsletters on funeral choices to increase public awareness of funeral options, including how to care for your own dead without using a funeral home
  • monitoring funeral industry trends and practices nationally and exposing abuses
  • serving as a consumer advocate for legal and regulatory reform, giving advice on or lobbying for necessary changes locally, state-wide, or nationally
  • serving as a credible source of information for media covering death and dying
  • working with national organizations sharing similar concerns to expand families' choices and control over funeral options
  • giving advice and guidance to local memorial and funeral planning societies
  • refering people to local funeral planning societies and regulatory agencies
  • helping 100 funeral planning societies stay in touch with each other and exchange ideas

Their website is full of valuable information on funeral and end-of-life matters. 

Funeral Ethics Organization (FEO)

www.funeralethics.org

The Funeral Ethics Organization is non-profit organization whose mission is  "... to promote ethical dealings in all death-related transactions by working for better understanding of ethical issues among funeral, cemetery, memorial industry practitioners, law enforcement, organ procurement organizations, and state agencies, as well as better understanding between these and the general public."

The FEO website disseminates funeral law and consumer rights as well as educational resources.  They offer a State-by-State Guide to Funeral Rights which can be accessed by clicking on this link.

National Home Funeral Alliance (NHFA)

www.homefuneralalliance.org

The NHFA is a nonprofit alliance of home funeral educators, guides and consumer advocates whose mission is “to educate and empower families and communities to care for their own dead.

The NHFA promotes activities that encourage family-directed after-death care as a matter of spiritual healing, environmental responsibility, and affordability. The organization maintains a website that links the public to a vast array of information about home funerals and related topics, including:

  • Where to learn how to care for your own at death
  • How to find a home funeral guide in your area
  • Where to find a speaker to come to your group
  • Where to find a green burial site near you
  • How to find your state’s advanced directive forms
  • Where to study to become a funeral celebrant
  • Who to call with funeral consumer questions
  • Where to find a home funeral guide mentor
  • How to join monthly teleconference calls
  • Legal aspects of home funerals
  • Downloadable brochures and pamphlets

Green Burial Council (GBC)

www.greenburialcouncil.org

The Green Burial Council (GBC) is an independent nonprofit organization working to encourage environmentally sustainable deathcare and the use of burial as a means to protecting natural areas through ecological restoration and landscape conservation. 

The GBC has established the worlds' first certifable standards for funeral providers, cemeteries, burial product manufacturers, and cremation facilities.  A provider becomes certified by demonstrating compliance with stringent established standards for a given category.

To learn more about green burials, please visit the GBC website.

Canadian Integrative Network for Death Education and Alternatives (CINDEA)

http://www.cindea.ca/

CINDEA is a Canadian-based non-profit and advocacy organization which respects the wisdom of ancient death traditions and encourages the renewal of older death practices that are appropriate to our modern-day life. They support death-care practices associated with Wholistic, Ecological, and/or Natural Alternatives (DWENA). CINDEA's mission is to:

  • provide information and educational resources focused on a broad spectrum of options throughout the pan-death proces (before, during, and after death) including family-led, at-home, and hands-on home funeral options
  • promote pan-death options that are more natural, personalized and/or ecologically-responsible
  • support the networking of those who offer related services in Canada
  • encourages the acceptance of death as a natural part of the cycle of life

Death Cafe

www.deathcafe.com

Death Cafe is now an established 'social franchise' that has spread quickly across the globe. 

At a Death Cafe people, often strangers, gather to eat cake, drink tea and discuss death. A Death Cafe is a discussion group about death rather than a grief support or counselling session. 

The objective is 'to increase awareness of death with a view to helping people make the most of their (finite) lives'

Death Cafes are always offered: 
- On a not for profit basis 
- In an accessible, respectful and confidential space 
- With no intention of leading people to any conclusion, product or course of action 
- Alongside refreshing drinks and nourishing food – and cake!

Since its launch in 2011, there have been thousands of Death Cafes across Europe, North America and Australia, and Asia. Death Cafe has no staff and is run on a purely voluntary basis.

To find a local Death Cafe near, you visit the official website and use "Find a Death Cafe" or try sites like Meetup.