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How much does it cost to die in the Cariboo

And what are my options for a home or family led funeral?

From the gazebo at Serenity Garden overlooking the Williams Lake Cemetery, Feb 2019 NFinch Photo

Dying can be an expensive proposition.  Thinking about and planning the details of our own funeral provides us some peace of mind, and it is a gift to the people who love us. Letting our families  know our preferences will save them questions and confusion in their time of grief.  

If you are planning a conventional disposition, you will probably call a funeral home. Primarily, what funeral professionals do is provide services. Perhaps because funeral services are bundled differently and everyone has their own specific needs and desires, it's rare to find prices  online. In BC, Funeral Service Providers are not required by law to post their prices. 

Some funeral service providers will sell pre-need plans, some work with Insurance agencies like Purple Cross and some simply advise clients on potential costs  allowing families to plan for the eventual expense. 

While price is rarely the single deciding factor when it comes to end-of-life matters or funeral planning, it's helpful to have an idea of what different disposition options cost. If you are working on a tight budget, knowing what it's going to cost is super helpful. There are some BC funeral homes who offer excellent information online including prices for their products and services.

There are very few products actually needed for burial or cremation. You can spend as much as you want of course and there is a dazzling array of options, but let's look at the bare necessities. For residents of Williams Lake, there are currently no Green Burial options.

For a conventional casket burial, you will need a casket, a burial plot, and if the cemetery bylaws require it, as is the case with our local cemetery; a concrete or fiberglass vault or liner will have to be purchased.

If you are choosing cremation and going 'bare bones', a cremation casket or container is required and there is the actual cremation fee (but that is a service, not a product). If no urn has been supplied or purchased, cremated remains are delivered in a very basic cardboard container, with the ashes secured in a heavy plastic bag. You can always purchase an urn later, or even make your own.

The local Five Rivers Crematorium is a public facility owned by the City of Williams Lake. The crematorium is a publicly owned facility that is managed and operated under contract by Cariboo-Chilcotin Funeral Services.

"The name of the crematorium came about because the birthplace of the Sikh community is a state in Northwest India known as the Punjab, translating to the Land of Five Rivers. Cremation is an important part of the Sikh sacred death ritual, and the Williams Lake Sikh community built the Five Rivers Crematorium and gave it to the City." (LeRae Haynes, The Green Gazette Sept 7, 2016)

In Williams Lake as in most of our BC towns and cities, the Municipal Cemetery is operated by the City. To find a price list on a municipal site, look for a listing called 'Cemetery Bylaws'. The cemetery fee schedule is usually on the last page of a long document that lays our the bylaws of that cemetery.

The bylaws and costs associated with a burial plot, mandatory grave liner, and optional memorial markers are itemized on the City of Williams Lake website. The Fee Schedule is shown here.

Williams Lake Cemetery Fee Schedule

"Resident” means any person who resided within the boundaries of the Municipality as well as the Cariboo Regional District Electoral Areas D, E, and F, (see the map below) for more than one year prior to the purchase of the grave space. Definitions BYLAW NO 2252

For residents, the minimum cost for an Adult sized grave space at the Williams Lake Cemetery would be $1375 (Grave Space, Opening and Closing and the Grave Liner) For 'non-residents' the minimum cost for a plot at the cemetery would be $1600. (By comparison, if you want a plot at Mountain View Cemetery in Vancouver it will set you back a cool $27,500!)

Residents of Areas D, E and F are considered residents in regard to local cemetery fees.

We are not obliged to buy funeral products from our local funeral homes.

"By law, you are allowed to supply your own coffin or urn (as long as it meets certain specifications). Whether you choose to purchase it from another supplier or make it yourself is up to you, but it has to meet the requirements found in the Public Health Act, it has to be strong enough to hold and move the human remains and can’t pose any health hazards. For full details and specifications, check out this part of the law. You will also want to ask the cemetery if they have size restrictions or charge extra fees." (source Consumer Protection BC)

Below is an example of a mass produced casket available online. This Cherry Casket sells for $1,790.00 CDN + $195.00 shipping. Caskets can be ordered on Amazon and shipped directly to you or to the funeral home you're working with. (I wouldn't be caught dead in one of these but to each their own.)

Trenton Cherry Casket,  Casket Depot

If you're into a more hands-on approach to your funeral, you can purchase a sustainable pine coffin from Evergreen Coffin Company in Royston on Vancouver Island. Sita and Gavin Then also sell Burial Shrouds.

Fiddlehead Caskets in New Brunswick is another awesome Canadian option. Jeremy's casket kit comes complete with everything you need. "Made of locally sourced solid eastern white pine wood. Do-it-yourself, flat-pack to finished casket in under 30 minutes. Includes step-by-step instructions and a hammer for assembly." Jeremy also sells burial shrouds and trundle boards.

This is the kind of thing you could buy ahead of time and have tucked in your basement until it's needed or even set up as a bookshelf.

Fiddlehead Casket Company   casket kit

You'll find lots of artists online who are offering traditional and non-traditional urns for cremated remains. KORU Cremation in Vancouver offers a really nice range of urns from $65 to $675; stone, wood, metal, salt urns, and scattering tubes. Here's one example from KORU; a sustainably made, biodegradable sand urn for $420.

Sustainably produced environmentally-friendly alternative urn made of sand. Suitable for land or water burial.  KORU Cremation

A basic or budget Burial Shroud can be purchased from Evergreen by Diana for $230 Cdn. "The basic design will fit a body from 5 feet to 6.5 feet and weighing up to 200 lbs. Diana's basic shroud has three cotton ties. Her more elaborate shroud has an absorbent inner liner and reinforced carrying straps."

Evergreen by Diana, Burial Shrouds

A simple cremation tray or 'cremation trundle' can be ordered online and delivered to your home where family and friends can decorate and personalize it. The decorated cover can then be placed over the deceased and delivered to the crematorium, which you can also do yourself with a simple Private Transfer Permit from Consumer Protection BC. For $200 plus taxes and shipping you can order this basic cremation tray from Koru Cremation in Vancouver.

Ancient Burials in Aldergrove is another progressive funeral home that shares helpful information and their prices online.

KORU Cremation / Burial / Ceremony

I encourage you to visit KORU; their website and their Facebook page. These women are game-changers in the BC Funeral Industry. They are knowledgeable, helpful, kind and open minded. They are my go-to funeral service website in British Columbia offering accurate and excellent BC-specific information, and clear pricing for their products and services.

Locally, "Cariboo-Chilcotin Funeral Service Ltd. is the regional death care service provider serving the entire Cariboo-Chilcotin and Central Coast of British Columbia. It's Coroner Division provides body removal services to the British Columbia Coroner Service under contract throughout the region as well as transportation logistics throughout the province. Cariboo-Chilcotin Funeral Services Ltd. (formerly 100 Mile Funeral Service Ltd.) was established in 1978 and is locally owned and operated. With funeral homes in 100 Mile House and Williams Lake, it serves one of the largest geographic areas of the province. CCFS also operates Five Rivers Crematorium in the City of Williams Lake."

Company Profile on 

From the CCFS website: "It has been said that an individual adult may only need to arrange a funeral once every ten or more years. We recognize that under these circumstances the expenses of funeral services and merchandise may not be familiar to everyone. We present the following information with the intention of helping each individual acquire a clearer understanding of the costs associated with the services we provide."

No mention of actual costs are provided on their website. Prices can be requested by phone or email, or you can pick up a price list at the funeral home. Cariboo-Chilcotin Funeral Service 1-844-392-3234

In BC, funeral and cremation prices vary widely.

Most of us (about 80% of British Columbians) are choosing cremation.

At Clayton's Funeral Directors in Quesnel, a Direct Cremation will cost $3120.

They post their prices online.

At KORU Cremation in Vancouver, the cost of a Simple Cremation is $1692.

Prices are on their website.

At Cariboo-Chilcotin Funeral Services the cost of a direct cremation is roughly $2400 plus Death Registration Fee ($30), Death Certificates ($27 per each original) and applicable taxes. 

If you are arranging a funeral in crisis mode, please take someone with you who is not in your circle of grief. Someone who can advocate on your behalf. You probably wouldn't plan a wedding by yourself ~ don't plan a funeral alone either. And DO some planning ahead of your own death! The people who love you will be forever grateful.

If you want a DIY / home or family led funeral, legally, in BC we can do much ourselves. Again, KORU Cremation offers an excellent guide to planning a Family Led Funeral. Community Deathcare Canada has published the very useful British Columbia Home Funeral Documentation Pathway. It's a visual follow-the-bouncing-ball guide to what needs to be done if we're doing it ourselves.

broken image

We can come at this a whole different way. There are softer, more thoughtful and organic ways to approach end of life and funeral planning. Have you heard of writing a Heart Will? Michelle Pante and Reena Lazar (two more BC game changers) have wonderful resources online as well as workshops, presentations and coaching; WillowEOL

And last but not least, please feel welcome to contact your local Death Doulas; Nicola Finch and Angela Gutzer. We will work with you individually, as a family or in a wider group setting to facilitate getting your wishes written down and communicated to those who need to know. Contact us anytime for information and for Death Doula services. Cariboo Community Deathcaring Network

Because it's always too soon until it's too late.

With love.

LINKS in this post:

Consumer Protection BC ~ Laws around making your own coffin

Consumer Protection BC - Consumer information Funeral Rights

Evergreen Coffin Company BC company, Burial Shrouds and handcrafted pine coffins.

Fiddlehead Caskets Build it Yourself Pine Casket

KORU Cremation in Vancouver and North Vancouver

Cariboo-Chilcotin Funeral Services Our local (Williams Lake) funeral services

KORU's resources for Family Led Funerals

British Columbia Home Funeral Documentation Pathway invaluable for DIY funerals in BC

Willow Legacy, Love Letters + Heart Wills.