The death of a family member or good friend is hard enough without the added trauma of huge expenses associated with the death. The Funeral Consumers Alliance of Princeton (FCAP) is an all-volunteer, educational organization that helps people avoid the “sticker-shock” of a funeral, and, more importantly, empowers people to make end-of-life decisions without pressure and stress.

Here are a few points FCAP for consideration:

When possible, plan to “shop around” for a funeral home that fits your needs and your budget.

The costs of various funeral home services vary dramatically. For instance, in the central New Jersey area, “direct cremation” (which all funeral homes must offer) ranges from under $500 to over $4,000 — for the same services.

Most funeral homes will travel a certain number of miles at no extra cost, so, unless you want a local funeral home for a service or viewing, there is no need to go local. Some funeral homes will travel up to 50 miles each way for free.

You may keep a body at home for up to 48 hours to give family and friends a chance to say goodbye.

In most cases, embalming is not required by law, though, after 48 hours, refrigeration or embalming are necessary.

You can buy a casket online or at a store, and the funeral home cannot charge a handling fee.

For more information visit www.fcaprinceton.org. Call 609-924-3320 or E-mail at info@fca­princeton.org. The organization has a free speakers bureau.

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