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Can you afford to die?

Posted at 8:30 PM, May 09, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-10 00:20:18-04

It's not a topic many want to discuss, but the unexpected loss of a loved one can come with a big price tag.

David Dembowski is the owner and funeral director at Boise Funeral Home. Dembowski's business is based in goodbyes. 

"We are taught from the time that we are very young to say goodbye and say hello," he said. "There's emotion in goodbye and hello."

Dembowski says many of his customers expect their experience at the funeral home to be similar to that of buying a car. He says many are expecting to be price-gouged or to have to haggle for an appropriate price.

"When people walk out our door sometimes they are surprised at how little it costs to have a simple service," he said.

A basic cremation service at Boise Funeral Home includes a death certificate and will start at $880. Dembowski acknowledges that $880 dollars can still be a lot of money to some. In instances where an individual or family cannot afford to cover those costs, counties will step in to assist with cremation or burial costs. 

"It doesn't have to be five or ten-thousand dollars," Dembowski said. "It can be. If people start saying 'I want' and choosing different things, it can be, but it doesn't have to be."

Added expenses come in the form of flowers, caskets, a burial plot or elaborate services. 

Dembowski says the funeral business, though, is highly competitive, and directors often work to keep their costs reasonable. 

"It's competitive in Boise," he said. "It's competitive anywhere, and if you don't give a quality service and a price that's competitive, then your won't get the call. 

While it's often advised that you plan for your own funeral and even set aside money to cover the costs, Dembowski says micro-managing every detail might not be the best way to go.

"You can pre-pay, pre-arrange, answer every question and have everything decided ahead of time," he said. "That takes away any opportunity for your family or your children to do what they want."

No one wants to have to say goodbye, but Dembowski says knowing your options and honoring a loved one in a way that's meaningful to you can have emotional benefits.

"When people are not given the opportunity to say goodbye, it robs them of that emotional letting go," Dembowski said. "I think there's tremendous value in doing something."