We've compiled some of the most commonly asked questions we receive, this is a great place to start if you are thinking of using our services or are just curious by nature. We believe in tearing down walls and eliminating pervasive gatekeeping practices within the death care industry. If you cannot find an answer to your question here, you are welcome to contact us and we'll be happy to assist you.
- What is the difference between The People’s Memorial Association and The Co-op Funeral Home? Aren't they the same?
- How does membership with PMA work?
- How do I become a member of The Co-op Funeral Home of People's Memorial?
- I’ve signed up for a membership, what do I do now?
- If I have a membership, is that the same as pre-paying for my funeral arrangements?
- My next of kin told me they took care of everything and that everything was prepaid? Does their membership not entail this?
- My next of kin has passed away and they weren’t members, does this mean we’re too late to get the discounted rates?
- If I don’t want a funeral for my next of kin, then why do I need a funeral home?
- I cannot financially afford the cost of arrangements? What are my options?
- My loved one is imminent? What should I do?
- If my loved one does not have hospice or assisted living, what happens when they die?
- Once I’ve selected The Co-op Funeral Home for my next of kin’s care, how long does it take to have everything resolved?
- What towns or areas around Seattle do you service?
- What do the basic services of a funeral director and staff entail? And what is the cost of that?
- Do you contact Social Security and Medicare for me?
- What's the difference between a funeral home and a cemetery?
- What if I want to be buried out of state or out of the country?
- What is green burial? How does The Co-op Funeral Home of People's Memorial provide it?
- If I’m having my next of kin cremated or aquamated, will you transfer their remains to an urn for me?
- What is alkaline hydrolysis (aquamation)?
- What is natural organic reduction (terramation)?
- What happens to the gold dental fillings when someone is cremated?
What is the difference between The People’s Memorial Association and The Co-op Funeral Home? Aren't they the same?
The People’s Memorial (PMA) is a non-profit foundation whose mission is to help provide affordable funerary care to the residents of Washington. PMA contracts with funeral homes across the state and through memberships fees and donations, is able to provide affordable funeral care as well as financial aid for those in need. The Co-op Funeral Home is a not-for-profit funeral home, and is held to the same contracted pricing structure as all the funeral homes PMA partners with. While we work closely together, we are two separate entities.
Membership is one time $50 per person fee and is good for a lifetime. There are no family plans and membership is non-transferable. You can think of your PMA membership like a membership to a warehouse store or gym, it’s only good at participating locations, but when you’re at a participating funeral home, you get the full range of services and discounts available. If you would like to see these benefits and participating providers, go to www.peoplesmemorial.org.
Submit the membership application for People's Memorial Association, along with payment of $50 for lifetime membership. This entitles you to discounted prices at The Co-op Funeral Home of People's Memorial.
You have a few items on your checklist to accomplish. First, download the Disposition Authorization and Vital Statistics form from our website and fill those out. We recommend keeping those stored digitally on a shared drive with your loved ones so they can access it quickly should the need arise. These forms can be given to the funeral director who takes your case and they can carry out your death care wishes (it does not matter which funeral home you eventually work with).
Another step you can take is to get an idea of what your funeral care can cost then set those funds aside in a savings account and give access to a trusted loved one. If that is not a viable option for you, you can set up a pre-need policy. This is a policy set up through a life insurance company that is specific to the costs of your funerary care. You can see the benefits and risks of setting an account like this up by visiting this page on our website. There is also a link to set up your own pre-need policy on that page as well.
If I have a membership, is that the same as pre-paying for my funeral arrangements?
Unfortunately, no. Please see the question about next steps after membership to access the information about setting up a pre-need policy (aka pre-paying).
My next of kin told me they took care of everything and that everything was prepaid? Does their membership not entail this?
This is a common misunderstanding. Membership with PMA, unfortunately, does not cover funerary costs and direct pre-payment is illegal in the state of Washington. The only way to prepay for funeral arrangements is to set up a pre-need life insurance policy with a funeral home, which the funeral home can then file a claim with once the insured has passed away.
My next of kin has passed away and they weren’t members, does this mean we’re too late to get the discounted rates?
Not at all! PMA has no issues with signing a decedent up for membership. It is both our missions to provide people with affordable and dignified funeral care. Our funeral directors will gladly sign them up on your behalf as well.
If I don’t want a funeral for my next of kin, then why do I need a funeral home?
This is a great question and a common misconception. Funeral has become synonymous with a memorial or casketed service, when in fact funerary arrangements can mean anything from arranging final disposition (ex: cremation) or the ordering of death certificates. Funeral homes and their funeral directors are a way of legally assisting the next of kin with closing out the affairs of the decedent in a dignified manner.
I cannot financially afford the cost of arrangements? What are my options?
PMA has been able to establish a financial aid program. Our funeral directors will provide you with the application and walk you through it if needed. PMA is able to assist upwards of $635 and The Co-op Funeral Home is willing to do a payment plan of upwards of 3 installments for the remaining balance. If further assistance is needed, we are happy to assist you with that process.
**As of May 2023 the financial aid program offered by PMA has been put on pause. They are looking into revenue streams to reopen applications**
We empathize with where you are at, and understand how confusing and intimidating this entire process can be. We recommend that if there is hospice/hospital/assisted living staff caring for your next of kin, you alert them who your desired funeral home is, give them the contact number, then spend the precious time you have together. While it is bittersweet, it is better to have the time together than be preoccupied with arrangements. When the time comes, staff will alert the funeral home and they will coordinate the transfer of care. Usually within 24 hours, the funeral home will contact you to set up an appointment with a funeral director to begin the process of the final arrangements.
If my loved one does not have hospice or assisted living, what happens when they die?
In the event that someone passes away at home, much like if it were to happen elsewhere (outside of a hospital or assisted living) the authorities and first responders will need to be contacted. In the event this happens, they will be brought into the care of the medical examiner's office. It is at this point you may alert the funeral home of your choice and they will contact the medical examiner to coordinate a transfer of care. You may also need to confirm the funeral home of choice with the medical examiner’s office.
Once I’ve selected The Co-op Funeral Home for my next of kin’s care, how long does it take to have everything resolved?
Every case is unique and comes with its own estimated window of time and while we work as expeditiously as possible, there are many factors outside of our control that may impact the timing of your case. These include but are not limited to: case volume, timing of a doctor’s signature or entry error on a death certificate, inclement weather, county office holiday closures, the loss of paperwork in the mail, etc. In the event that any of these happen, we will communicate them with you.
We offer free transportation within a 30 mile service radius of either our funeral home in the Upper Queen Anne neighborhood of Seattle, or from our care facility located in Kent. If you are outside of this 30 mile service radius, there is a member pricing of $3 per mile (one way) service fee added to your invoice. Additionally, if ferry services are needed for clients across the sound from us, that fee is $150 for our members. Non-member pricing and additional transportation fees can be found on our general price list.
This is built into the price of all of our packages and includes: conducting the arrangements conference; planning the funeral; consulting with next of kin and clergy; sheltering of remains; preparing and filing of necessary authorizations and permits; and coordinating with the cemetery, crematory or other third parties. In addition, this fee includes a proportionate share of our basic overhead costs. The PMA member price is $525 and the standard price is $600.
Do you contact Social Security and Medicare for me?
Yes, during the process of filling out the death certificate information, we run the social security number through a verification database that automatically alerts Social Security Offices and Medicare that the number is attached to a decedent. While they are automatically alerted when the number passes verification, it can take 2-3 months for their offices to file everything officially. But rest assured they will get around to it!
In Washington these are two separate businesses. A funeral home (also called a mortuary) is responsible for preparing a body for burial, cremation, or aquamation. A cemetery (or graveyard) is the place where a burial or interment takes place. Some older funeral homes may also have their own cemetery, but any funeral home can work with any cemetery.
The Co-op Funeral Home of People's Memorial routinely arranges for the preparation and shipment of bodies all over the globe. We do this at a price that is far less than other funeral homes in Seattle. It's important to know that you will need to work with two different funeral homes during this process: the funeral home responsible for shipping your loved one's remains and a funeral home to receive their remains. The receiving funeral home will be responsible for the final disposition of the body.
Green burial is a return to the natural burial practices of our ancestors. An unembalmed body is enclosed in a cloth shroud, simple wooden box, or woven casket and placed directly into the soil with no concrete vault or liner. The Co-op Funeral Home of People's Memorial is proud to be the first funeral home in Seattle to be certified by the Green Burial Council to provide such arrangements.
There are currently two natural burial grounds in Washington state that are certified by the Green Burial Council: White Eagle Memorial Preserve near Goldendale and The Meadow Natural Burial Ground in Ferndale. For more information on green cemeteries, visit the Green Burial Council's website.
If I’m having my next of kin cremated or aquamated, will you transfer their remains to an urn for me?
Absolutely. This is included in our basic services. We will also divide remains to your specifications including, but not limited to: multiple urns, filling keepsake jewelry, and setting aside portions to be used in the creation of keepsake pottery, jewelry or whatever creative endeavor you desire.
The Co-op Funeral Home of People's Memorial is proud to be one of the first Seattle funeral homes to offer aquamation as an eco-friendly and greener option to our members and community.
Aquamation is a gentle process that uses water, temperature, pressure, and alkalinity to reduce the body to bones. Those bones are then processed into "ashes" and returned to the family in an urn. Cremation does the same reduction using flame.
Terramation, otherwise known as human composting, is a relatively new process for final disposition. The process is the act of gently transforming human remains into life-giving soil. A body is laid in with a mixture of alfalfa, straw and sawdust and given plenty of air flow to allow the organic matter to naturally break down over the course of 30 - 90 days. At the end of the process the next of kin is presented with nutrient rich bags of soil. You may choose any amount of soil you would like. Should you choose not to receive the entire amount of composted remains, they will be scattered on a piece of land in need of revitalization. This land is maintained by our partners at Return Home in Auburn, WA.
Believe it or not, we get asked this question fairly frequently. The value of the fillings is far outweighed by the cost of extraction. If you would like to understand the process further we wrote a blog post about it. You can read it here.