Death often comes unexpectedly and if a person has not made arrangements to pay for his funeral expenses, the family can be left with a financial burden as well as an emotional one. While the family may want to honor the person’s memory with a headstone, funds might not be immediately available. Charitable organizations might be able to fill in the gap.
Different regions across the country may have charities that offer to pay for headstones for individuals who died in the area. For example, the Bradley Summersill Foundation is a nonprofit organization in Apopka, Florida that gives monuments to individuals who have lost a child and cannot afford the cost of a headstone. The Dempsey Burdick Memorial Foundation provides a similar service for financially needed families who have lost a child in the Phoenix area. The Unforgettables provides assistance to families in Southern California who wish to give a child a dignified burial but who lack the funds to do so. The Angel Names Association assists families with end-of-life expenses for stillborn babies in New York.
If the individual’s death was a result of a crime, compensation might be available through a victims’ compensation fund. Each state has its own such fund. This can be tapped into to pay funeral costs, but the victim’s family must comply with the rules of their state’s program, such as cooperating with law enforcement requests and submitting a timely application.
Unites States armed forces veterans and immediate family members might be eligible for a free headstone and employees of the military or Public Health Service also might qualify for funeral benefits. The state where the individual is being buried might have state veterans’ cemeteries that provide free burial and free headstones.The Department of Veterans Affairs provide free burial services and headstones for veterans who are buried in one of the national cemeteries that it maintains.
If you can’t locate a charitable organization to help, other routes might be available. For example, a special account can be created in which friends and family can make donations to cover the cost of a headstone. A monument company may be willing to donate a headstone if the victim’s death was particularly compelling or sympathetic. If the deceased was a member of a church, he may qualify for funeral assistance at a reduced cost, which may include a headstone. The same may apply for individuals who were members of civic organizations.
- Orlando Sentinel: Charity Provides Headstones for Children of Poor Families
- The Funeral Site.com: Resources to Help Pay for a Funeral
- Dempsey Burdick Memorial Foundation: Dempsey’s Fund
- Angel Names Association: About ANA
- Office of Justice Programs: Office for Victims of Crime
- St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Charity Burials Don't Get Headstones at Calvary
- Unforgettables.org: Burial Assistance
Samantha Kemp is a lawyer for a general practice firm. She has been writing professionally since 2009. Her articles focus on legal issues, personal finance, business and education. Kemp acquired her JD from the University of Arkansas School of Law. She also has degrees in economics and business and teaching.