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Are There Agencies That Provide Funeral Financial Assistance?


A close friend of mine has asked me to help her plan the funeral of her child who was the victim of a schoolyard shooting. She is unemployed and has no close family in the area. How can I help her understand the legal complications of her son's death? Also, are there any agencies or other means we can employ to provide a funeral service with dignity and purpose but without exceeding practical costs? Please HELP!

The planning of a funeral can encompass many things. This is a question that is asked of funeral directors around the country — I want a simple funeral with dignity. The pain of losing a child adds to the intensity of the situation.

Not knowing what state or city in which you are located makes this more difficult to answer. I know about the recourses for the state of Illinois. The death has occurred from a crime. In Illinois there is an official bureau dedicated to the victims of crimes. There is a fund that will pay $5,000.00 toward a funeral from the crime victims act of the state of Illinois. I do not know if other states have a similar recourse. The catch is the funeral home must apply to the agency for payment, then they have to wait until the case is tried in court and the judgment awards the compensation (roughly 2 years).

Other recourses would be Public assistance. In my state the agency is called Health and Human Services (formerly Public Aid). Each State has different amounts that they will pay toward a funeral. There are certain rules and regulations, check with the local office of Public Aid for assistance.

Is your friend a veteran? If your friend is a veteran, there may be a national cemetery near you where a grave, grave liner, and opening of the grave are available for free for the veteran and their spouse and a dependant child.

Other charities may have some funds available. One that has been helpful in the Chicago area has been Catholic Charities. They are able to help with Cemetery arrangements of grave, & opening fees. There are alternative funeral services that advertise low cost funerals. Most of them will have a visitation and funeral service in the family church.

Be cautious that there are not more and more items added on to services you want. If the family wants a cremation, perhaps having a direct cremation with a memorial service, or celebration of life, at the family church or in a park may be appropriate. I feel that the question is too open ended to give you a solid direction.

Please ask a local funeral director, or clergy person for more assistance. (You can locate a family-owned funeral home in your area by using the Funeral Home Locator ( here on Stephen Dawson

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