The Memorial Society, Inc., 66 Marlboro Street, Boston, Mass. 617-859-7990

Greetings from the FCAEM Board and your new president!
The essential work of our consumer activism for end-of-life choices relies on you. Your gift counts—toward education and advocacy. Your involvement counts—sign up for occasional email updates and actions.

We need to raise $10,000 this season to reach out, to educate, and to support those in preparing for their last days. Often with a sudden or even an expected loss, the bereaved don’t know where to turn. Last wishes may be unknown. Your help will go directly to aiding families and neighbors across our region who have an urgent need to know – “What do I do next? What are my options? What resources are available?”

Funeral homes rarely post their price lists on websites. The information they do provide may be confusing, resulting in cost surprises at a most vulnerable time. We consumer advocates need to have a strong voice to shape policy that affects each of us. And we all need support to help us prepare. To give that support, we need your help.

At FCAEM, we help people in planning whatever kind of end-of-life departure they want – but only if they know about us. And no one else does the work we do.

  • Actions
    As the new president I have been attending as many events as possible, learning from our longtime volunteers. The biennial national FCA conference in Rochester this spring was a terrific learning experience. Massachusetts was well represented by FCAs of Western and Eastern Mass. We delegates started plans to collaborate on a statewide website plus education/advocacy plans. Recently the FCAWM president and I observed a Mass. Board of Embalming & Funeral Directing meeting, and then held our own meeting to consider statewide policy objectives.

    When the Death Salon brought activists from across the country and beyond together in Cambridge this fall, FCAEM members were planners, presenters and attendees. Our volunteers have done outreach by tabling and presenting at various events -- to highlight a few just this fall: Massachusetts Association of Councils on Aging and Senior Center Directors in Falmouth; the Massachusetts Association of Resident Service Coordinators in Housing Conference in Worcester; and the Anarchist Book Fair in Boston.

    Our Cape Cod volunteers have coordinated monthly Death Cafes and death education classes and programs. We’ve also hosted successful screenings of Living While Dying with the filmmaker.

    Your gift this season will enable us to:

  • • Reach more people in need through email, our phone line, and through the
    events we attend and sponsor.
    • Revamp our website and develop a greater social media presence.
    • Produce essential outreach materials (“Free” booklets really do cost!)
    • Broaden our connections with diverse cultural, religious, and economic
    • Establish a greater presence in libraries and senior centers from Worcester to
    Provincetown and Salisbury to Sturbridge.
    • Advocate for policy changes and end-of-life services for those who cannot
    afford them.
    • Monitor and address funeral industry issues and legislation.

  • Join our efforts to build the leading death-positive organization around. Please contribute today with a generous gift. Please mail your donation to: FCAEM, 66 Marlborough St., Boston, MA 02116

  • Thank you for your support!
    Patti Muldoon

    PS Please include your email address with your contribution, so we can
    notify you of upcoming events in your area.

Eva’s Story
While giving a workshop, “What You Need to Know about Funerals,” FCAEM’s
board member and activist, Eva Moseley, shared her story.

When my mother died in 1971, my brother and I were totally ignorant about what to do
next. We went to a Jewish funeral home and were shown an array of coffins. I didn’t like
the ornate, costly ones -- but in a dark corner was a plain pine box… “I want that,” I
said, but the undertaker said, “It’s only for the Orthodox.” We were Jewish but secular,
so we bought a more expensive box, even though she was to be cremated. The undertaker
was being dishonest, but I now know that sort of plain coffin is an option for anyone.
For my generation, cremation was considered the intelligent choice, but I never wanted to
be cremated. It uses a lot of energy, generally from fossil fuels, adding to global warming.
It pollutes the air. What’s more, with cremation you're burning up matter that could
replenish the soil.

Then there is conventional burial: many funeral homes encourage mourners to buy those
expensive caskets I resisted, and many promote viewings with an embalmed body, turning
it toxic. Most cemeteries require vaults or grave liners to keep graves from subsiding, to
make mowing easier. Some funeral directors may imply that these choices preserve the
body, in fact they won’t, or for only a few days. Nor are any of them required by law.
About a dozen years ago I learned that others in the FCAs of Eastern and Western Mass.
were also interested in simple, natural burial. Together we created Green Burial
and today I’m on the board of both FCAEM and GBM.

Like nearly everyone else, when friends or relatives die, I find their deaths hard to accept.
But the idea of becoming part of the earth again, helping a piece of land to remain or
become open space, protected from development and to be enjoyed by hikers, birdwatchers,
by my offspring and everyone else’s – that idea makes death a bit easier to
accept. ~~~

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 page 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.

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.

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