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Alain Guillot Show

Jun 25, 2018

The typical burial in North America cost about $10,000. The sad thing about that absurd prices is that the surviving members of the family are too sad, too stressed, and under a time limit to shop around for better options.

In addition to losing a loved member of the family, two other bad things happen:

  1. Generally, families don't have $10,000 at their disposal to pay for funeral arrangements. Many families go into debt.
  2. Every burial creates too much damage to the environment. Burials across North America use tons of good wood, concrete, metals as well as millions of gallons of carcinogenic embalming fluid.

Imagine that your aunt who has always been conscious of the environment. It would be disturbing to know that her last interaction with the planet would be one of pollution.

[caption id="attachment_5479" align="aligncenter" width="546"] This burial is very polluting. Look at the hard wood, the metal, the concrete vault.[/caption]

Expenses related to a burial

Basic Fees
  • Funeral planning
  • Permits and copies of death certificates
  • Preparation of notices
  • Sheltering the body
  • Coordination of with cemetery, cremation, or other parties
Optional Services and merchandise
  • Transportation (you can use your own vehicle)
  • Embalming and other preparations (This is carcinogenic fluid are not necessary. Eliminating this service can save you hundreds of dollars)
  • Use of funeral home for the viewing (This can done at other venues or not done at all)
  • Casket: The average casket costs slightly more than $2,000, but mahogany, bronze or copper caskets can sell for as much as $10,000. Pine caskets are a less expensive option, but funeral homes don't like to display them. You can buy one from Cosco, Amazon, or Walmart for significantly less.
  • Casket rental: If you decide to cremate, you can rent the casket, you don't have to buy it.

[caption id="attachment_5480" align="aligncenter" width="659"] This is an inexpensive and environmentally friendly burial[/caption]

Environmental damage

  • Hundreds of pound of good wood used as caskets
  • Metals
  • Cushion
  • Burial vaults made of cement
  • Gallons of toxic, carcinogenic embalming fluid
  • The disposal of the blood in the water system.
  • The waste of land use as cemeteries.
  • The maintenance of the green grass in the cemetery. Hundreds of hour of labor plus the pollution generated by the machinery to cut the grass and make it look natural. There is nothing more unnatural than golf course grass. No to mention all the chemicals used as fertilizers.

Alternative to polluting burials

  • Natural burial: burial in a way to allow natural decomposition of the body. In Quebec, natural burials are not allowed. In some other provinces, allowed. In some states in the United States, it's allowed. In some other states, it's not allowed.

Highlights from the interview

[caption id="attachment_5481" align="aligncenter" width="317"] Elizabeth Fournier[/caption]

  • Elizabeth Fournier, also known as the "Green Reaper,"  has been in the funeral industry for 28 years.
  • She started her career as a funeral director and then she opened her own funeral home, Cornerstone Funeral Services, in Boring, Oregon.
  • At one time, Elizabeth was also a ballroom instructor (like me :) )
  • During her infancy, she saw the death of many family members and she became familiar with the procedures. As she was living her life, friends would ask her opinion and when their relative would pass away.
  • A lot of people are unprepared for all the expenses of death. A regular person lives on the financial edge, just barely making it, then they go through the long period of pre-death, which is very expensive. Finally, at the time of death, the family finds out the true cost of death.
  • "It's free to be born, but it's not free to die."
  • People can plan their wedding, people can plan to have kids, but sometimes death arrives by surprise and there are no financial arrangements for the dead. It's an expense that for the most part, the family members have to pay right away.
  • Natural burials have always been the norm until about 150 years ago. In the United States, people started embalming at the time of the Civil War, when there were a lot of bodies that needed to be preserved until they were transported to their families.
  • The most popular form of burial is by cremation because it's less expensive, but natural burials are gaining popularity and it's growing.
  • One of the new tendencies of the industry is called water cremation.
  • Other more creative things are: sending the ashes into space; creating diamond rings or earrings with the ashes, tattoo ink and having a tattoo.
The Book: The Green Burial Guidebook

The book is a step-by-step guide on how to:

  • Plan your green burial
  • What are the home funeral basics,
  • What are the legal guidelines
  • How to save lots of money in the process


Book: You Need A Budget by Jessie Mecham

Blog: Every Day Minimalist
The Penny Hoarder

Podcast: Money Girl

Other resources

  • How to donate your organs if you live in Quebec
  • How to donate your body to science if you live in Quebec. Note: If you donate your body, your burial expenses will be covered by the university or hospital who takes control of your body.