Planning ahead for the end of the line

My wife and I are in the winter of our years and we do not know have many more seasons we will enjoy. Realizing this scenario we want to plan ahead for the inevitable outcome especially if one of us dies while at home. In this case some representatives of a mortuary must come to collect the body. Because neither of us has the experience with such matters we would very much appreciate any recommendations for local mortuaries which have a very good reputation for help in this matter at the appropriate time.. We would like to deal with a business which is tactful. kind, sympathetic, compassionate as there will undoubtedly be some anguish and discomfort felt by the remaining spouse as we have been together for over 60 years. As a side note, both of us wish to be cremated. Many thanks for your suggestions.

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I'm sorry to hear of your situation.  Chapel of the Chimes in Oakland handled my father's body and his cremation after he passed away at home last year.  They were incredibly kind and supportive, and I would highly recommend them.

It's great that you are planning ahead, as hard as it is to contemplate your own deaths.  Many people I have worked with have used Neptune Society or Smart Cremation to do the pre-planning.  Counselors at Neptune Society have been particularly sensitive to work with.  It gives a sense of peace to know the plans are made ahead of time, and it spares a little of the anguish later. You could do the planning for both of you now and make sure you both have agents on your Advance Directives or in your estate planning to carry out your wishes.  I wish you both all the best.

My parents have an agreement with the Neptune Society for cremation. I am not sure how it works however suggest you contact them for information. 

I highly recommend the Neptune Society.  My late mother did all of her arranging years before she became ill and incapacitated.  They are professional in every way.  I also accompanied my late aunt to her consultation with them and when she passed away a few years later, I had the same compassionate and professionally handled experience.  I have worked with three different offices (San Francisco, Novato, and Walnut Creek).  Going now and doing the pre-planning will alleviate a lot of the concerns you may be having now.

Good luck

In my will I have Chapel of the Chimes, Piedmont expressed


When my father passed away somewhat unexpectedly, I used Pacific Internment Services and was very happy with them. We had not arrangements with them in advance but they still showed up in the middle of the night to transport my father’s body. They were very kind and professional at every step. We opted for a cremation and kept everything simple. They coordinated various paperwork requirements for us (obtaining death certificate, notifying social security) and everything went smoothly and was done with open communication about fees, etc. Although we did not make any advance arrangements with them, I imagine this would be possible. 

I don't have a specific recommendation for you but the non-profit Funeral Consumer's Alliance is a good source for more information.  I don't have experience with the local chapter but they are a good organization in my home town.

I had a good experience with the Neptune Society with my parent which included the cremation and distribution of cremains. My mother signed up for it years before she was even sick, and I think they may have had a local mortuary that they worked with specifically. For those of us involved in end of life, it was as smooth as it could be. I was located in AZ at the time, so I can't comment on the specific mortuaries used here, but if you look up the Society you can see if they are a good fit for you. They provide services all over the country. 

I applaud you and your wife for being proactive with your aging experience and would like to let you know about a new program called Gateway.  Gateway is a peer-based, prevention and early intervention program of the Berkeley Age Friendly Continuum and is funded through the City of Berkeley, Kaiser, Sutter/Alta Bates and the Gerbode Foundation.  Gateway offers a free, one-time home visit to people over 65 living in Berkeley, to engage older adults in meaningful and reflective conversation in order to explore financial and housing needs, social, technology and transportation options, and safety issues among other things. Gateway looks at challenges and concerns and then helps the person to access resources in the community that can aid in mitigating barriers to positive, healthy aging.  Each participant receives a binder of resources to take their next steps. The goals of the program include reducing accidents, emergencies, medical costs, and supporting older adults to age the way they want to!

A resource included in the binder (which may be relevant to your issue) is Bay Area Funeral Consumers Association at BA-FCA is a non-profit organization that does not have ties with the funeral industry or any religious group.  This is just one example of the resources that Gateway could assist with.  Check out or contact Barbara Williams, Gateway Program Manager at (510) 559-0036 for further information!