Tag Archives: prearranging

Lets go shopping for graves and caskets…

“Let’s go grave and casket shopping.”

Did you ever wake up on a bright, warm sunny spring day and turn to your husband or wife and say “What a nice day.  Let’s go grave and casket shopping.”?

Probably never is my guess.  Nobody likes to think about death in general, and specifically, their own death.  For many families, discussing one’s own mortality would not show up on a list of their top 100 things to talk about this week.  Until a death occurs.  Then, making cemetery and funeral arrangements jumps sorrowfully to number one on the list.

By pre-planning for your funeral and cemetery needs, you can relieve your family of having to make important financial decisions during a period of great stress and grief…a time when people aren’t thinking very clearly and may not know what to do because you never made your wishes known.

It’s easy to say, “Throw me in a bag in bury me in the woods,” which is a direct quote I heard once from a husband who was dragged by his wife to the cemetery to look into prearranging for their final wishes.  It was good for a laugh, but even he knew that his comment had zero merit.  But it is important to realize that the ritual of a funeral and/or memorial service isn’t for the deceased but for the living. It is a time when friends and family can gather together to grieve openly and to provide support for one another.

Pre-planning your funeral may be very informal, and as simple as filling out a Family Estate Planning Kit that is free from Calumet Park for the asking, and sharing your wishes with a family member. More formal arrangements in the form of a preneed contract can be set up with a Family Service Counselor or funeral director at Calumet Park Cemetery, Calumet Park Funeral Chapel in Hobart or Merrillville, or Rendina Funeral Home in Gary.  You can design exactly what meets your needs and financial situation.

And for those who want to relieve their family of the financial burden that goes along with making cemetery and funeral arrangements, you can take advantage of Calumet Park’s no interest payment plan that allows one to freeze the price and have their money trusted until needed at 1st Source Bank in Valparaiso.

Pre-planning, when done properly, can provide you with peace of mind because you know that your arrangements are ready when needed, and pre-funded, which means no worries about getting what you want if a death occurs unexpectedly and your bank account is not sufficient to meet the costs of even a simple funeral.  As with nearly all products and services, inflation drives the cost of funerals up yearly.  Preplanning and prefunding your final wishes ensures that your funeral is paid for at today’s prices.

While many people assume savings or life insurance will cover their final expenses, funerals must be paid for upfront, while many life insurance policies or bank accounts are not accessible to families until well after the funeral services are rendered.



By pre-planning your final wishes, you can:

  • make all the arrangements during a time of peace and not leave them to your family during their time of grief
  • make your wishes known
  • control the cost of your funeral and protect from inflation
  • ensure that personal records are organized and easy for your survivors to locate
  • protect your insurance so that it provides for your survivors and not for funeral expenses
  • provide protection in case the need arises before it is expected

Most people are not aware that over 150 decisions and tasks must be completed within the first 24-48 hours after an individual’s passing.  By arranging ahead of time, you can ensure that your loved ones will not have to wrestle over those details and decisions during their time of emotional upheaval.   The opportunity to know that everything is taken care of will allow proper remembrance and the first steps of healing.

All of your arrangements are guaranteed with Calumet Park and Affiliates preneed program and will be carried out just as you have directed.  You and your family will feel comfortable knowing that, when the need arises, all is taken care of and they can spend time celebrating a life that was lived and leave the grieving to the future.  Few people ever get over the loss of a loved one but a funeral helps to transition from life with a loved one to life after a loved one passes.

Pick up your phone today and call 219-769-8803 to speak to one of our professional and caring Family Service Counselors or funeral directors.  You have nothing to lose by at least allowing yourself a little time to have your questions answered, and if the answers meet your needs, you can make it possible for you and your loved ones to never have to talk about the subject again…until a death forces you to face the issue.  Be like so many of your neighbors who say “It is better to have it taken care of and not need it than to need it and not have it!”


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Filed under Calumet Park Cemetery, Calumet Park Cemetery in Merrillville Indiana, Calumet Park Funeral Chapel in Merrillville Indiana, Calumet Park Funeral Chapel of Hobart and Portage, Calumet Park Funeral Home, feature stories, Rendina Funeral Home, veterans at calumet Park cemetery, Veterans benefits

Making Sense of Pre-planning a Funeral


In 1988, I helped my first family with prearranging their cemetery property.   It was with a nurse and her husband, and she died shortly thereafter. She didn’t know that she was ill when we sat down and discussed her options, or at least she didn’t share her condition with me or with her husband. When he came in to sign the final papers the day after her death, we were both in a state of shock. His shock was understandable from anybody’s perspective, having just lost his wife at a relatively early age. But mine…my shock was more from the point of view of “Holy Smokes, people really do need this stuff, and the “when” is purely up to them as to when arrangements should be made.” She showed a lot of courage to come in and get things taken care of herself and her husband, and not leave it up to anyone else.

Twenty seven years later and it takes a lot to shock me now. After you have shared so much with so many people for so many years, it feels like all the ways to die have passed through my heart. I still cry with people, and some say that is not totally professional, but I cannot see these people as “business”. I see the pain and the loss and the confusion. I cannot know how they feel and yet I have watched so many people go numb as they waded through the challenge of making cemetery and funeral arrangements right after tragedy is crushing the joy from their soul…

In all of these years and with all the families that have prearranged for a funeral, I have never had one family say to me that they wish they hadn’t prearranged. It is such a gift to have everything taken care of in advance; and paid for. Questions about burial, or cremation, or crypts, graves, niches, caskets, vaults, and so much more can be decided upon from a perspective of being of sound mind when you seek help before a time of need.   This is in direct contrast with those who think they are invincible so they won’t need it at all, or too young and won’t need cemetery arrangements for years to come, or old and willing to thrust the decisions and cost upon their kids, or other family, Or sadly, if nobody has the money, they are ok leaving the state (all of us as tax-paying citizens) to pay for their funeral.

There is a part of a wedding ceremony when the priest or minister gets the man and the woman to agree to some pretty incredible promises to love, cherish, obey etc. til death do they part. Unspoken but also part of a wedding is a promise to either divorce or bury each other. Wow, talk about in your face! What are the other choices? I met a lady recently who was married 65 years, and she was here to complete the arrangements for her husband. Men tend to die first, but not always. Her son was with her, but he was getting long in the tooth himself and together they tried to figure out what would fit their financial circumstances and still honor the decedent. Neither Mom nor son were in a position to spend very much, and were both amazed at what it costs to die in 2015.

Some good news is that Calumet Park Cemetery, Calumet Park Funeral Chapel, and Rendina Funeral Home will work with you to develop a final goodbye that meets your emotional needs while not breaking the bank. Besides taking payment in full for pre-need contracts, it is possible to make your arrangements in advance, freeze the price, put as little as 10% down and Calumet Park will finance the rest with zero interest.

What might this mean for you and your family? I had a lady that came in to help her mother complete her arrangements just recently. For her own graves that she bought 20 years ago for $1200, the current value for the same space is $9450. That is quite a savings achieved by thinking ahead and securing the desired location at the going rate in 1995.

So, it costs nothing to be educated on all that is involved in making cemetery and funeral arrangements. There is so much more to be gained by exploring the possibilities, and nothing can be lost because you don’t have to do anything until the time of need is upon you. I invite you to call and set up a meeting with one of our no-pressure Family Service Counselors. They will work with you to develop a program that is just right for you and let you know the current prices for your choices. From that point on, it is up to you as to whether or not you want the peace of mind that comes with getting your affairs in order. You can do everything at once which gives you the greatest protection against inflation, or you can piece together a final goodbye a part at a time to avoid hurting your budget and still know that you are chipping away at an expense that set the meter running on the day you were born, and will continue to run until you stop it by making your arrangements.

Be brave and call 769-8803 for a private meeting. Drop-ins are also welcome.

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Filed under Calumet Park Cemetery, Calumet Park Cemetery in Merrillville Indiana, Calumet Park Funeral Chapel in Merrillville Indiana, Calumet Park Funeral Home, feature stories, Funeral home, Preneed, Rendina Funeral Home

Why should I prearrange? I have insurance for that…


“Come on, Dan.  All you guys want to do is sell graves and stuff.  Why should I prearrange?  I have insurance to cover my funeral.”

If you haven’t said it, let’s face it, you have at least thought it.  The above conversation came over lunch with a friend recently.  I’ll call him Jim, a fictitious name, and I will share the essence of our conversation as we munched on our fries and drank our cokes.

“Is that why you bought your insurance, to pay for your funeral?” I asked.

“Well, no.  But I have plenty of insurance so my wife and kids will be OK when I die,” answered Jim.

“It’s none of my business, but I’ll ask anyway.  How much insurance will your family receive when you kick the bucket?”  I mentioned that we are friends, right.  I would not talk about kicking the bucket with anyone but a close friend.  It is pretty hard for Jim and me to succeed at insulting each other after all the years we have been friends.

“You are right, it’s none of your business, but I will tell you anyway.  They’ll get 250,000 big ones.  That ought to hold them over for a while.  Even after all my final expenses, my wife will still have a chunk of change left over,” said Jim.  “She always jokes that when I die, she’ll probably run off with her travel agent.  At least I hope she’s joking when she says that.”

“First, Jim, have you ever sat down and done the math on the suitcase full of cash you plan on leaving them, provided the insurance is still in place when you die?”

“What do you mean, still in place?”


“I see it every day, Jim.  People come in thinking that they have insurance, and it was either borrowed on for some valid reason, or it was a term policy that did not get renewed, or they got too old for it to be cost efficient to be continued.  Many people over 65 think that they have insurance and find out too late that it’s not there when they need it.”

“Well, it is there now, so what is this math thing you mentioned?”

“Look at all your expenses as they are today and divide them into your $250,000 and you will see how long the money will last.  I congratulate you, Jim, because most people that come in with a valid insurance policy when a spouse dies have, on average, $50,000 worth of insurance.  Then they want these big, fancy funerals and $12 – $15,000 is used up immediately to bury the husband or wife.  Another chunk of the money goes to prearranging for the remaining spouse and very little is left to live on,” I said.

“Wow!  When you break it down, the way we spend money, there would only be enough for my wife and kids to live the way we do now for…I don’t know…maybe four years, five if you factor in the money they won’t be spending on me anymore.  Damn it, that is right about when my little one will be going to college!”

I took another bite of my burger and sat for a minute thinking.  This was a friend, and I never wanted to bother him with buying cemetery property, but this looked like a good time to bring it up.

photo (29)

“Jim, I don’t know if you know it, and shame on me if you don’t, but we have a free grave space for you and Carol worth $1000 at Calumet Park.  Or, you could use the $1000 as a credit toward something of greater value here at the cemetery.  I’d like to sit down with you two sometime in the near future and explain all that is involved in making arrangements.  A lot of the benefits to you have nothing to do with saving money.  Of course, you are such a cheap son-of-a-gun that I know you like saving money.”

“Hey, hey now!  I was going to treat lunch today, but…”

“Just kidding, Jim.  But seriously, people do this; make prearrangements for their cemetery and funeral needs, every day.  I have yet to have any person in 20 plus years of doing this work where a person came in after burying a wife, or husband or child and said I wish I wouldn’t have prearranged.  By way of contrast, I have had a lot of people tell me they wish they would have made advance arrangements instead of waiting until it was too late.  Just to know for sure what a wife would have wanted would have been worth it.”

“I know.  Every time Carol tells me about one of my old classmates who have died, we think we should do something, but who wants to talk about death?”

“Jim, I am in the business and I don’t want to talk about death.  I look at my job as doing the best I can to help people through a couple of the worst days of their lives.  It really does make me sad when they can’t afford to do what they really would like to do because they thought they had it covered with their insurance.  Even the wealthiest person has to meet with a funeral director and a cemetery person to make arrangements when someone they are responsible for dies.”

“Let me ask you, Dan, how much does an average funeral cost?  I remember when my mother died, she had a couple of days at a funeral home, then we went to church, then out to the cemetery.  How much does something like that cost?”

“Everybody is different. But, the average last year was around $12,000 for one person.  You can spend as much as you want, but that was the average.  What your mom had is what is called a traditional funeral, and prices can be all over the place due to casket choices, type of vault, and what cemetery is chosen, and where in the chosen cemetery someone decides upon.  We have graves for as little as $1000 and as much as $19,500?  And Jim, if you and Carol decide on some other cemetery than Calumet Park, you can still use our funeral home.”

“You gotta be kidding?  $19,500 for one grave?”

“Jim, it is like they always say in real estate about the three things that make the price what it is.  Location – location – location”

“For $19,500 I would want a view of the Swiss Alps as a backdrop to my $19,500 grave and I would want the Beatles singing ‘When I’m 64’ at my funeral.  And I mean all of the Beatles!  Reincarnate or clone, but get me the Beatles! ”


“That’s why a lot of people preneed.  They want to make an intelligent choice and not be at the mercy of an unscrupulous grave salesman when they are forced to buy out of immediate need.  You would be surprised how many times people overspend due to feelings of guilt.  Maybe they just had a fight and the wife drives off and is not paying attention and is slammed by a train.  Or a husband feels bad that he didn’t pay enough attention to his wife when she was alive.  And the worst to me is when a child dies and they both go overboard on funeral costs.”

“I guess I can see how that might happen.  I cannot imagine what I would do if something happened to one of my kids.”

“Jim, I remember one lady whose husband took a trip to Colorado.  He liked the mountains and she didn’t, so once a year he would go to the Rockies to refresh himself.  Anyway, he was killed by some random bad guys.  After the funeral, she gave some of the insurance money to family for a down payment on a house, she bought lots of jewelry, she gave a bunch of money to the ASPCA and guess what?  She was broke within a year and couldn’t even manage the price of the grave next to her husband.  Jim, I asked her why she spent all the money that her husband made sure she would get from insurance in case he died first and guess what her answer was.”

“I don’t have any idea.  What did she say?”

“She said that she would not have had the money if her husband had not been killed.  To her, it was blood money and she only wanted her husband back.  And get this; she was blaming herself for his death for not going to the mountains with him!  She felt that he probably would not have been murdered if she was with him.”


“Ouch!  OK, listen, let me talk to Carol and we will set up a time to sit and talk with you.  It can’t hurt to at least find out what we both would want and how much it will set us back.  You know that I just started the new job.  Do you have a payment program?”

“Jim, I prefer to think of prearranging as a great investment that increases in value the longer you live.  And the good part is Uncle Sam doesn’t get to collect a penny of capital gains taxes on the higher value when you die.  I know you did a bankruptcy a couple of years ago, Jim.  It doesn’t matter.  Everyone is approved for our zero interest financing, so all you need is 10% down and we’ll send you a payment book.  In fact, if you can’t do everything at once, we can do a little at a time until everything is taken care of and your money is trusted until it is needed.”


Just then the waitress came over with the check and as I live and breathe, Jim picked up the tab.  We never did get to talk about the Cubs and their constant lousy team or the Bears upcoming season, but I think we had one of the best talks ever.  Seldom do Jim and I get beyond surface conversation but this day was a good day for us; and for his family as he now understands that insurance is for the living, not to be spent on the deceased.

Call 219-769-8803 for information on preplanning and go to our website at calumetparkcemetery.com

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Filed under Calumet Park Cemetery, Calumet Park Cemetery in Merrillville Indiana, Calumet Park Funeral Home, feature stories, Preneed, Uncategorized, Veterans benefits

Fall 2008 Newsletter – large file, takes a little time to download but worth it.

2008 CPC Fall Newsletter

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Filed under About Us, Calumet Park Cemetery, Events, Funerals, Newsletter, Preneed