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FCAEM Annual Gathering, Saturday, March 18, 2017 - Cambridge, MA

2017 Annual Gathering

You are invited to the FCA of Eastern Massachusetts Annual Gathering with special guest, Josh Slocum followed by a Death Cafe

"Funeral Shopping in the 21st Century" by Josh Slocum, Executive Director, Funeral Consumers Alliance.

Free and open to the public!

Saturday, March 18, 2017, 2-5pm

Friends Meeting House
5 Longfellow Park, near Harvard Square
Cambridge MA 02138

The Funeral Consumers Alliance of Eastern Massachusetts is pleased to invite you to our Annual Gathering. Come out and meet your board members, socialize with other like minded folks and enjoy our special program comprised of a wonderful guest speaker followed by death cafe. Refreshments will be served.

Join us in welcoming special guest, Josh Slocum, Executive Director of the national Funeral Consumers Alliance to learn about "Funeral shopping in the 21st century."

When was the last time you went on the internet to compare products, services, and prices? Most of us turn to the internet first before we buy. But funeral consumers are stuck letting their fingers do the walking through a paper phone book when it comes to planning a funeral. FCA studied 150 funeral homes across the nation recently and found less than 25 percent of them put their prices online. That's why we're lobbying the Federal Trade Commission to compel funeral homes to put their complete price lists on line. As it stands, the law was written in the 1970s, and funeral homes need only give price quotes  by phone, or hand you a paper price list when you physically visit the funeral home.

We'll take a look at the numbers, and do a live demonstration of the problem by checking out some funeral home websites in Eastern Massachusetts. Using the latest cost comparison survey by the FCA of Eastern Mass., we'll show you why it matters, and how to protect your friends and family from bogus charges and upselling. Remember--bring your children or spouse! Your FCA membership is really a gift to them. You won't know how well it went when you're gone, but they need to know how to use our help today.

Stay for conversation and snacks as the FCAEM hosts the ever popular Death Cafe beginning at 3:30 pm! A Death Cafe is an international movement encouraging people to talk about death. It is simply a gathering in a relaxed, comfortable atmosphere with refreshments, allowing us to share a respectful, engaging, thought-provoking, and life-affirming conversation on any topics related to death, dying, and bereavement. Interesting conversation is guaranteed! To learn more about the death cafe movement -- visit deathcafe.com

About Josh
Joshua Slocum joined the FCA staff in 2002 and became executive director in 2003. He has appeared as an expert commentator on funeral issues in national media such as 60 Minutes and the New York Times. On behalf of FCA’s nationwide federation of consumer information groups, Slocum has testified before Congress and helped to draft federal and state statutes protecting funeral consumers.

In 2011 he published Final Rights: Reclaiming the American Way of Death with co-author Lisa Carlson. Final Rights combines a journalistic investigation of the funeral industry and how consumers navigate it with practical information on how to avoid funeral fraud.

A Will for the Woods
FCAEM has purchased a copy of the movie “A Will for the Woods” which is available for public screenings as part of our educational mission.
A Will for the Woods (1h 42m - Documentary/Drama)
A man's passionate wish for a legacy of green burials inspires a profoundly affecting and optimistic portrait of people finding meaning in death. Musician, folk dancer, and psychiatrist Clark Wang battles lymphoma while facing a potentially imminent need for funeral plans. Determined that his last act will not harm the environment and may even help protect it, Clark has discovered the movement to further sustainable funerals that conserve natural areas. The film follows Clark’s dream of leaving a loving, permanent legacy by using green burial to save a nearby woods.

The FCAEM supports the Green Cemetery Initiative, a collaboration between Mount Grace and Green Burial Massachusetts to establish Massachusetts’s first green cemetery open to all. The FCA of Eastern Massachusetts is dedicated to educating consumers about their rights and options, and publicizing up-to-date information about the state of after-death care options in Massachusetts.

Final Rights

Final Rights: Reclaiming the American Way of Death is officially released!
The only book of its kind, Final Rights is a must-read for consumers and policy makers. Library Journal gave it a great review, calling it an "essential purchase" and highlighting the books features: "They look at the components of burying the dead, including choosing caskets and markers, dealing with cemeteries and funeral homes, understanding pre-need funeral purchases, and new and revived trends such as home funerals and green funerals. They offer numerous real-life examples of manipulation and questionable practices and provide tips for consumers to help avoid rip-offs, such as misleading perpetual-care arrangements and exorbitant embalming costs. There is practical advice on filing a complaint when wronged by the industry and a cautionary chapter on the Federal Trade Commission and what the authors see as its failure to enforce its own consumer protection rules." 

Order the book here and more than half the cover price goes directly to the national FCA to support their work.

What Does the Funeral Consumers Alliance Do?

  1. Provides members with information about laws, practices and forms pertaining to death, burial, cremation, anatomical gifts and related subjects.
  2. Helps you plan for your funeral while you are healthy and able to make decisions that are right for you and your family.
  3. Provides information for those who might wish to care for their own dead.
  4. Gives you forms on which to record the kind of arrangements you prefer. Do you want family and friends to make charitable gifts in your memory to your favorite charitable organization rather than send flowers?
  5. Provides reciprocity with other affiliates around the U.S. if you move or die while traveling.
  6. Maintains information on funeral directors who are willing to cooperate with your choices.
  7. Monitors legislation pertaining to funeral practices to insure that freedom of choice in arrangements is preserved.
  8. Provides speakers on request to various civic or religious groups.

Plan Ahead
Death is something no one wants to think about. But, when a death does occur, there are many important decisions to be made. These are decisions which should not have to be made at such a difficult and painful time. To ease the burden on your family and friends, there are things that you can do now and plans that you can make today. Check out our benefits of membership.

For a helpful article on Planning a Funeral from Boston Consumers' Checkbook click here.

Do It Yourself
It is perfectly legal in Massachusetts, as in most other states, to care for your own dead without using a funeral home at all. Or, if you wish, you might want to use only limited services, for example, help with transportation, or the necessary paper work. Whether planning for yourself, or someone close to you, see our advice on doing it yourself.

FCAEM helped revive this time honored tradition in the 1990s by clarifying the law with the state after the funeral Board of Registration had led many to believe that the practice was illegal. Click here for details of that history.

2015 Funeral Service Survey Results
The FCAEM Board conducted a new funeral home survey in the summer of 2015.  Massachusetts Funeral homes were asked to answer a survey and send us their General Price List. 

You can view the responses to the 2015 and earlier surveys and the General Price Lists of those who responded by clicking here.

[last updated 2016-01-02]

Protecting a consumer's right to choose a dignified, meaningful, affordable funeral