If anyone ever lived a selfless and fulfilling life, it was Bonnie Clark.
“Great gal, probably two people in her whole life who didn't like her. Everyone else loved her. She was one of these gals who was uh.... how can I put this? Others above self,” recalled Bonnie’s son, Ed Clark.
In May, Bonnie passed away at 80. Ed abided by his mother's wishes and had her cremated. The family wanted a very small part of her to rest in a small urn near her husband Richard, who died in 1976 and is buried at Sunset Hills Cemetery in Bellevue.
“It seems to me that it should be very simple to cut the sod, pull it back, pull a little bit out. We don't even have to put it in the casket. It's not for her. It's for us,” explained Ed.
To do that, the cemetery wants Ed's family to buy half of a plot, plus opening and closing fees. It would cost more than $13,000.
“We paid for it once, theoretically we should own it. Including all the inherent rights that go with owning it,” said Ed.
I contacted Sunset Hill and the general manager sent me the cemetery's rules and regulations that read,
“In the event the Cemetery elects to allow the interment of more than one human remains in a particular space, the Cemetery shall charge a separate fee for each right of interment in a particular interment space as well as a separate fee for each interment service provided.”
To get an industry perspective I spoke with Russ Weeks, a past president of the Washington State Funeral Directors' Association. He said the charges Ed's family are being asked to pay are customary throughout the industry.
“There is a charge for a second right of interment because each person you are buying a right to be there not the space itself,” said Weeks.
This is the perfect reason for consumers to pre-plan their funerals and put matters in writing beforehand.
“This just smacks of double dipping and really taking advantage of people at a point in their life when they shouldn't be gouged,” said Ed.