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Old 07-17-2009, 12:54 PM   #1
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Unhappy Father Digs Grave For His Own Son To Save Funeral Expenses

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - After cancer took the life of a 15-year-old boy, his family dug the teen's grave themselves to save on funeral costs and also received assistance from complete strangers to give him a proper burial.

Melvin Critney lost his battle with cancer last week. His father, Melvin Stewart, said his son was sent into the world with a mission, which he did well. He said Melvin left an impression on everyone he came across. Even Melvin's nurses said he had a special kind of energy. They said he was always grateful and grown-up. His mother, Rosland Critney, said most of all he wanted to see his parents not have to work so hard to live like other people.

Melvin's parents said they make just enough money to get by. When their son had to undergo several rounds of chemo therapy, they relied on St. Jude for funding. However, when Melvin died, his parents were on their own to pay for the funeral. Stewart said everything was about the money.

A local funeral director told the family it would cost $5,000 to bury their son. Funeral Director Hall Davis, IV told them they could save $300 if they dug their own grave. He said it is a common practice.

Melvin's father, cousin, and two uncles started digging. Stewart said digging the hole he knew his son was going to be placed in as his final resting place was not a pretty picture. Even after digging into the depths of despair, this family still owed the funeral director more money. Davis said the funeral home always gets paid in full before the funeral.

The Louisiana State Troopers Association heard about this family's fight and felt compelled to help. Sgt. Mary Beth Stupka said the association had never stepped in to help a family with funeral arrangements prior to this situation. The resources were pooled to pay the remaining costs. Help arrived from people the family never knew, but they're certain their son had a hand in it.

Melvin's family did not have insurance for funeral expenses. Local funeral directors say that's a common cause of concern for many struggling families.

http://www.wafb.com/global/story.asp?s=10733339
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Old 07-17-2009, 12:56 PM   #2
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OMG! that is heartwrenching. I can't imagine having to dig my 15 year old child's grave myself!
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Old 07-17-2009, 12:58 PM   #3
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that's just not right...this is not some third world country...
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Old 07-17-2009, 12:59 PM   #4
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I don't even know what to say...sad.
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Old 07-17-2009, 01:12 PM   #5
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A friend of mine, she lost her twins when she was 7 months pregnant. She had to give birth to them then they went through a funeral. Since they were buried in a church cemetery, her husband dug the grave himself. I don't know if that's the reason why he did it or if he just wanted to do it. They live in S.C.
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Old 07-17-2009, 02:42 PM   #6
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If you think back, family members used to have to dig graves for their own. It was the final act of love you could do for that family member.

It's sad if this particular man was forced to do so because he did not have the funds, but it's all in how he felt about it as to whether it did harm or not.
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Old 07-17-2009, 03:04 PM   #7
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$5k sounds like too much. I would think the funeral home could have done better for them than that.

I can imagine how hard it was for them but like Glory said, it is a final act of love.
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Old 07-17-2009, 05:19 PM   #8
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I've always thought that funeral homes would work out a payment plan. It sounds like me that the funeral home wasn't trying to help out, but get what they could out of this poor family.
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Old 07-17-2009, 05:45 PM   #9
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Funerals are big business. It's sad that funeral homes' rules of payment are so stringent, but they have to be. Otherwise, you'd have people demanding all the bells and whistles for Aunt Flossie's funeral, complete with mahogany casket and limo, and they'd never get paid for them. Funerals and weddings are eerily similar - people spend entirely too much for them.

I totally agree with Glory's assessment of the "final act of love". While my heart breaks for that poor father, he will have more closure to this. When you think of it, there is something so bittersweet about having a loved one dig the grave - every shovelful of dirt is filled with love and sorrow.
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Old 07-17-2009, 06:01 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Redsky327 View Post
Funerals are big business. It's sad that funeral homes' rules of payment are so stringent, but they have to be. Otherwise, you'd have people demanding all the bells and whistles for Aunt Flossie's funeral, complete with mahogany casket and limo, and they'd never get paid for them. Funerals and weddings are eerily similar - people spend entirely too much for them.
I imagine they would have to limit payment plans to the lower price range to avoid a lot of that.
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Old 07-17-2009, 06:08 PM   #11
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Sly, back in the early 1900's my great grandfather had a funeral home in Indianapolis and mainly worked with the poor people. They'd pay for the funerals by bringing him food from their gardens or odd jobs around his house. He said that no one ever skipped out on him and he held them in high esteem and did a nice job for their loved ones. I always thought that was nice.
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Old 07-17-2009, 06:11 PM   #12
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Indeed it was, Red
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Old 07-17-2009, 06:14 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Redsky327 View Post
Sly, back in the early 1900's my great grandfather had a funeral home in Indianapolis and mainly worked with the poor people. They'd pay for the funerals by bringing him food from their gardens or odd jobs around his house. He said that no one ever skipped out on him and he held them in high esteem and did a nice job for their loved ones. I always thought that was nice.
That is nice, I know now days people would have a lot more trouble getting paid, so if they did payment plans they would mostly have to go with a cheaper method just in case.
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Old 07-18-2009, 12:20 PM   #14
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Unhappy sad but it happens

my mom died 5 years ago and we had to help dig her grave but we had those kind of enough to volunteer there time with backhoe when the ground got to hard for hand digging. My grandparents graves are hand dug as well but this was the time back in the old days when you dug family members graves.
But the funeral home could have assisted this poor family but greed makes people forget those less fortunate, Im sure the director of this funeral home will suffer when those who read this will choose other funeral homes for their services, it always comes back to bite you when you do wrong.

The funeral home were my mother was not only helped us but also set arrangements for payment since we had limited insurance. nice to know there is people who care
May god bless these parents!
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Old 07-18-2009, 03:55 PM   #15
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It is such a sad story. I also agree it was also an act of love to do that. Families used to always dig the graves for their family, friends and neighbors. It's the "modern" way that has changed so many things.
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Old 07-18-2009, 07:42 PM   #16
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i think digging the grave is really a great idea - especially if everyone gets involved in it.
it's a good way to get rid of stress or anger too - it can be very spiritually renewing.
that the family can be in control of something related to the deceased...
i think it's heartwrenching that they had to bury their child -but the activity - the doing of the digging is productive for their grief i think.
maybe that's what's missing from sooo many services today - that ole' flight or fight response gets tempered when the activities are taken over by the funeral parlor and one feels stressed because one's not releasing that energy productively?
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Old 07-18-2009, 09:30 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Sly Cooper View Post
That is nice, I know now days people would have a lot more trouble getting paid, so if they did payment plans they would mostly have to go with a cheaper method just in case.
I imagine it would not be a good thing for a funeral home to have a payment plan these days. It is not like a car that can be repossed if the people do not pay. Its not like they will dig up Aunt Tilly and return her to the family for non payment.
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Old 07-18-2009, 09:54 PM   #18
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Many years ago most all families dug the graves of their loved one, nowadays most have the funeral home dig the grave. Mom of Two in KY, what part of KY are you in? I'm in southeastern KY.
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Old 07-18-2009, 10:32 PM   #19
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That is crappy business. I understand they have to have their money but I can say is that the funeral home did not work with the family from the way it sounds.
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Old 07-18-2009, 10:37 PM   #20
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I've always thought that funeral homes would work out a payment plan. It sounds like me that the funeral home wasn't trying to help out, but get what they could out of this poor family.
Not in FL. They do nothing until paid in full. It is a sad story.
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Old 07-18-2009, 10:51 PM   #21
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That is crappy business. I understand they have to have their money but I can say is that the funeral home did not work with the family from the way it sounds.
Cliptix, the problem is that when the arrangements are being made the family isn't thinking clearly and everyone believes at the moment that "nothing is too good for Grandma". The funeral director is actually doing people a favor by having it paid up front, as harsh as it sounds, otherwise you'd see lavish funerals that people could never be able to pay for.

Putting them on some payment plan would cause more grief and many people would just not pay.

Everyone should do their research and make their plans before it becomes necessary so they don't get caught up in something they can't afford.

I saw one case on Judge Judy where some poor gal set up a glitzy $12,000.00 funeral for her mom, only had $500 and borrowed the rest from her uncle and of course didn't pay him back - he had borrowed half of it from someone else. None of them had two nickels to rub together.
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Old 07-19-2009, 07:06 AM   #22
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My dh & his brothers dug their parents graves. This was 19 & 18 years ago.
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Old 07-19-2009, 12:41 PM   #23
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My heart goes out to that family and I applaud the Highway Patrol for stepping in and helping that family like they did my hat goe off to them
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Old 07-19-2009, 12:52 PM   #24
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Quote:
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That is crappy business. I understand they have to have their money but I can say is that the funeral home did not work with the family from the way it sounds.
When you spend $$$$ on a car or house there is something that can be repossessed and re-sold. A funeral home can't reposess anything. The family want to put the death behind them. Its awully easy for a family to stop paying for a funeral after its complete. And there is almost nothing the funeral home can do to get the money they are owed. Lawsuits are expensive, and don't work if the family doesn't have the money. I have no problem with funeral homes asking for payment up front.
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