Websites

Perhaps the most comprehensive funeral site is one maintained by Father Henry Wasielewski, a Catholic priest who lives in Tempe, Arizona. Wasielewski helped found the Interfaith Funeral Information Committee, which has a fact-filled website (http://www.xroads.com/~funerals/). A longtime critic of the mortuary industry, Wasielewski says that the key to saving money is to shop around. People "don't get ripped off because they are grieving," he explains. "They get ripped off because they are ignorant. If you know how much tomatoes cost, nobody's going to sell you a $10 tomato."

For A to Z information about death and dying, go to the Natural Death Center site on the Web (http://www.newciv.org/GIB/natdeath/ndhbook.html). Based on the Natural Death Handbook, which was published in Britain, this site has all kinds of interesting and sometimes useless information. One section is called "Green, cheap and `D-i-y' [do it yourself] funerals." Another is called "The Good Funeral Guide." There's also information on setting up a living will, organizing a funeral without an undertaker, and blueprints for making your own coffin out of plywood.

The Funeral and Memorial Societies of America maintains an informative website (http://vbiweb.champlain.edu/famsa/index.htm), that includes an estimate of the number of funeral homes that are actually needed. (According to FAMSA, Texas has about twice as many funeral homes as are needed to handle the number of deaths in the state.) The site also has information about Federal Trade Commission guidelines and how to handle a funeral yourself, plus numerous links to other death-related sites. -- R.B.

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