Part One
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four
Part Five

Why funeral costs stay so high

The Rev. Kenneth Dupree and his mother, Margaret McKenney Dupree, in the doorway of their family funeral home near 28th and Diamond Streets in Philadelphia. (Charles Fox / Inquirer Staff Photographer)
The way we deal with death has been a subject of countless reports. But the way we pay for it, even years after hard-hitting journalism on the subject, has not changed. This series is a look at the options available to people and how they work out.

Web links: consumer complaints, consumer information, funeral planning

May 2, 1999:
The Burying Business: Why funeral costs stay so high
Examining rituals and reforms of the industry that cares for our dead. First of five parts.

Funeral home-cemetery combos may create even more confusion
One of the most perplexing elements in funeral and burial planning is the blurred line between cemetery and funeral home

May 3, 1999:
The conflict of conglomerates
Corporations are making a big business out of once-independent funeral homes

Some dioceses have active role in funeral sales
To ensure their share of the coming business boom, funeral directors large and small are emphasizing "pre-need sales" - getting families to plan and pay for funerals in advance.

Preplanning can still have its pitfalls
Alice Davis, 72, poses proudly beside the glimmering white steel casket in which she will be buried. She shows off the full-length violet gown she has selected, along with a cape and matching slippers.

May 4, 1999:
Cremation on the rise
As families become more mobile, many people are choosing an alternative to the traditional burial. Some cremations can be just as expensive.

May 5, 1999:
Few funeral options for the poor
No stone marks the grave of Gloria Johnson. She died of an internal hemorrhage in 1978 at age 39, after raising nine children on the tips she earned waitressing.

May 6, 1999:
Keeping things simple
When Mary Comly Myers died in October at age 72, her children were surprised to learn she had made her final arrangements through the Memorial Society of Greater Philadelphia.

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