By Abigail Delgado
When immigrants come to live in the United States, they think of all the possibilities that await them – a better job, a better house and the ability to give their loved ones a better life. Death is not at the forefront of their minds; death is something that happens to others, something that we watch on the news, feeling badly for those who did not have the chance to see the light of another day.
However, preparing for how you want to be remembered when you leave this world is not such a bad or morbid idea, especially when the average cost of a funeral could reach $8,000. And if you have not planned ahead, your loved ones will have to foot the bill.
Confessor Rodriguez, who has an Associate’s Degree as a funeral director and embalmer and is the owner of Danbury Memorial and Cremation Services LLC, explains that those who are born in another country have three different options as to how to handle their funeral arrangements. One is repatriation, a process in which the deceased is sent back to his or her country, which according to Rodriguez costs an average of $5,500 (depending on the country of origin), without considering the cost of additional funeral services such as a ceremony or the embalming of the body. This process also involves a significant amount of paperwork and is not quick.
If repatriating the body is an option that you would consider, you must think about certain factors, such as the ability to have a family member willing to handle the arrangements for your funeral in your country of birth. Also, it is important to think about where you see yourself in the future. “Before you decide whether to send your body back to your country or bury it in the United States, you have to ask yourself a question: ‘Do I want my loved ones to be able to pay their respects and visit my gravesite?’” explains Rodriguez, who has seen many cases of clients who had chosen to have their bodies sent back to their hometowns but they did not realize that their loved ones that live in the United States were never again able to visit them and pay their respects.
The second option is to have a regular funeral service, which would include consultation, coordination of the service, transportation of the body, the use of the utilities of the funeral home, caskets and urns. The average price in the Great Danbury area for burial services could be over $7,500, depending of the kind of funeral service you want, and this does not include the price of the plot at the cemetery of your choice and for this, the even the least expensive option can cost you an average of $3,500.
The third alternative is cremation, a process where the body is reduced to ashes, but it is widely opposed by many Latinos for religious and cultural reasons.
Of all the options, cremation is the most affordable and can cost an average of $3,000. “Most people who decide to cremate is due to the cost. I opened this funeral home because I want people to have access to an affordable option but still have what they really want,” said the owner of Danbury Memorial.
Rodriguez, who has over twenty years of experience, always had a different vision in his mind of how a funeral home should work. “For many years in the past, I suggested to my employers to update their services and provide something different from the dark and cold rooms but I got tired of saying that without being listened to,” explained the entrepreneur, who wants to change the way funerals are handled. Danbury Memorial steps away from the typical funeral home. Here, you will find clear, open, inviting and comfortable rooms, plasma TVs, handicapped bathrooms, Wi-Fi and Skype services for people to interact with their family members that cannot be present.
With Danbury Memorial and Cremation Services, you also have the option to decide in advance what you want and pay in installments for your own funeral. According to Rodriguez, they are committed to give people a new, modern and affordable service, not only for those who die but also for those who stay in this world and have to deal with the sorrow and suffering of a loss. “I started in this business thanks to a friend and I stayed because I like to help people. I lost my father when I was very young and I know how a person that has lost a family member feels. I am for them,” said Rodriguez.