Our annual meeting will take place Monday, May 15, 1:00 at the Chicago Near North Branch of the Chicago Public Library, 310 W Division Street. The meeting is open to the public, so bring friends or family members. Parking is limited; public transportation is recommended.
Our Speaker, attorney Mark Hellner, will speak on Advanced Health Care Directives and Power of Attorney. Mr.Hellner is the Executive Director of the Center for Disability & Elder Law. His lecture will be followed CHICAGO MEMORIAL ASSOCIATION by a Q&A session.

What’s New

National Public Radio’s All Things Considered did a month-long investigation into pricing and marketing in the funeral business. They collected price information around the country and found “a confusing, unhelpful system that seems to be designed to be impenetrable by average consumers.” To get info on the NPR report go to this page.

Additionally, our parent organization, Funeral Consumers Alliance and the Consumer Federation of America also did a price survey of 103 independent funeral homes compared to corporate owned (SCI) in those same localities. In general, they found that SCI Prices were 72% higher for simple cremation than independent funeral homes surveyed and 30% higher than Full-Disclosure Funeral homes. For more information go to and get the full report.

These reports indicate why it is important for organizations like Chicago Memorial Association to support initiatives like these to educate and inform consumers about funeral industry pricing. CMA is in the process of preparing price surveys in the Chicago area to provide to our members. Please consider donating to support these activities and ask friends and families to join CMA as members or volunteers.

Yes, funeral planning is the way to go, and I want to support the work of Chicago Memorial Association!

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□Please send me information about leaving a bequest to CMA. (This does not obligate me in any way)

Possible sources of help to pay for a funeral:

—Employer. Some companies have survivor benefits available for the family of the deceased. Also, some unions may offer benefits to help cover or defray funeral costs.

—Veterans’ benefits. All eligible veterans are entitled to burial in a national cemetery, with no charge for the gravesite, headstone, vault and interment. The family is responsible for all other charges. The VA makes additional burial allowance payments in cases of death during active duty, from service-related injuries, in a VA facility, or when veteran was receiving a VA pension or disability payments. Veterans’ spouses and dependents are also entitled to some burial benefits. See our brochure, “Veterans’ Funeral and Burial Benefits,” for more information.

—Victims’ assistance. Some states help families of accident or homicide victims with funeral expenses through their Victim Compensation Program. For example, New York State will pay up to $6,000 for the funeral of a homicide victim. Check the policy in your state.

—Other government agencies. Surviving spouses of Social Security recipients can receive a lump-sum death payment of $255. In addition, some states, or county Social Services Departments may help with the funeral costs of an indigent person, or those receiving Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. The amount is usually minimal, barely covering a cremation or direct burial.

—Fund-raising. Churches, businesses, clubs, and other groups sometimes help raise money to defray the costs for funerals for those in need. In some communities it is customary to hold special events, car washes or bake sales to help families with these expenses. You could also try crowd-funding websites like GoFundMe and Indiegogo, which allow individuals to set up pages to request donations.

—Borrowing. We believe that no one should go into debt to bury or cremate a loved one, and strongly advise against taking out a loan. Most ordinary lenders are reluctant to finance funerals. But some special loan companies offer their services through funeral homes. If your credit is good, you can borrow up to $10,000 with interest rates of about 15%. But borrowing money to pay for funeral costs should be a last resort only, after all other avenues have been exhausted.

—Free urns for those in need—Memorial Gallery, a Seattle company that sells urns and cremation/remembrance jewelry, is kindly offering free, slightly blemished urns to those who can’t afford one. You must mention Funeral Consumers Alliance to receive this offer. Contact them at or call them at 1-253-649-0567. Let them know what style of urn would be appropriate (for example, masculine, feminine, and child). They will select an urn and mail it to you. Please note, the urn is free, but you must pay the shipping charge.
Chicago Memorial Association receives calls regarding funeral services for outside of our 5 county areas. The website: provides an extensive directory of funeral homes and services for all 50 states. It lists the cities that have funeral homes and services; links and information about funeral homes, funeral flowers, cremation services, caskets, florists, and grave markers.