Does Anyone Know of a Charity That Would Help Bury My Friend?

A fellow caregiver asked...

My friend is dying of brain cancer. The doctors are giving him about a month to live. There are a few family members but all are 75 and up. These family members are on different types of financial assistants and cannot help with his burial. My friend is also a veteran and the VA will only give a few hundred toward his cause. If there is someone/organization that may be able to help me give him a decent burial/cremation or may have some information about a charity that may help, please let me know.

Expert Answer

Rebekah Peoples, CFSP, CPC, Is a licensed funeral director and embalmer. She is passionate about serving others and believes that giving clients honest, accurate information empowers them to create tributes and services that are meaningful and appropriate.

This is a tough time you're going through and it's admirable that you want to ensure your friend is given a respectful burial or cremation. As for financial assistance, there are a couple of factors to consider.

If he is receiving some type of veterans assistance now, such as a pension or disability payments, he will be eligible for some veterans benefits. This is also true if he dies in a veterans hospital, veterans nursing home, or other veterans care facility. If all these variables apply, it could be more than a few hundred dollars.

As a veteran, he is also eligible for burial in a veterans cemetery, which is free. To save the costs involved in having a funeral at a funeral home, you could have the service at the veterans cemetery.

Other assistance depends on the state where he lives. Most states have public assistance (welfare) or social services departments that offer financial help for burial or cremation to people who have no assets or who were receiving assistance prior to their death. Some states will provide funds to the funeral home but will only pay if the services arranged for are less than a specific amount. For example, a state may contribute $1100 toward burial/cremation expenses but not if the funeral planned is more than $4500. The reasoning is that if the surviving family members can afford to pay the difference of $3400, they can probably come up with the $1100 too.

Make a call to a couple local funeral homes; they will be aware of what your state laws are regarding social services funds and also any state or local veterans assistance that is available. A reputable funeral home will also be sensitive to your financial status and help you plan something respectful.