What are my rights?

Rights differ from state to state.

Your Funeral Consumer Rights in Maine

2013 Funeral Ethics Organization 87 Upper Access Rd. Hinesburg, VT 05461 funeralethics.org

For complete information on the State of Maine regulations and for other states visit: http://www.funerals.org

Funeral Arrangements

You may name an agent for body disposition if you want someone other than your next-of- kin to be in charge.

It is legal for a family or designated agent to handle everything without a funeral director. To find a home funeral guide, check: http://homefuneraldirectory.com/

If you will be using a funeral home, prices must be given over the telephone. You must be given a General Price List (GPL) if you visit in person and before discussing any services.

You must be shown a Casket and Outer Burial Container Price List before selecting either.

You must be given a Statement of Funeral Goods and Services Selected with the total cost before any services are provided.

The Funeral Consumers Alliance of Maine does a price survey periodically: www.funerals.org

Do not sign any contract for more than you can afford to pay. If the deceased was indigent, there may be limited municipal funds. There is no other organization that assists with costs.


If the death was unexpected or the cause of death uncertain, the state will probably require an autopsy.

If you have questions about the death, you may request and pay for a private autopsy.

If a viewing is planned, there will likely be extra charges to repair the body for embalming.

Organ, Body, and Tissue Donation

If death occurs in the hospital, you are likely to be asked about organ donation. Only about 1% of the deaths are eligible for major organ donation. The organ procurement organization (OPO) will pay for any extra body preparation needed if you plan a viewing. Decline any such charge you might find on the GPL.

After-death donation of eyes, skin, and long bones may be considered. Ask the hospital social worker or the funeral director about this.

Whole body donation to a medical school is one way to lower costs. After study, the school will cremate the body and return the cremated remains to the family if requested. You should have back-up funeral plans if your body cannot be accepted for any reason.

There are also non-academic companies that accept whole bodies for research and education. Various body parts will likely be shipped around the country and possibly internationally. The state has no laws regulating these companies. Note that this is an entirely different category of body donation from the traditional cadaver donation to a medical school.

To find the nearest body donation option, the cost if any, and the reasons for body rejection check: www.finalrights.org

Embalming and Other Requirements

Embalming is not required in this state for typical funeral arrangements.

Bodies to be shipped by common carrier must be embalmed or in an airtight container.

Many funeral homes have a policy that requires embalming for a public viewing. Embalming does not protect the public health. It merely delays decomposition.

Caskets and Vaults

Neither is required by state law for burial. A rigid combustible container is required for cremation.

A casket will not prevent natural decomposition.

You may build your own or purchase from a casket retailer. Vault dealers rarely sell to the public.

The purpose of a vault is to keep the ground from caving in. It facilitates maintenance for the cemetery. It has no preservative qualities regardless of how much you spend.


Family burial grounds of not more than a quarter of an acre are protected as a “burial place forever.” If you wish to set up a family cemetery, check local zoning. It must be 200 feet from a water supply and 100 feet from a house. A good practice is 25 feet from a power line with two or three feet of earth on top. You must draw a map showing where the family cemetery will be and have it recorded with the deed. A fence or other markers are also required.

If you purchase a lot in a commercial, town, or religious cemetery, you will have the opening and closing costs in addition to the cost of the plot.

Some cemeteries have restrictions on the kind of monuments or plantings and adornment allowed.

A disinterment permit can be obtained from a local clerk.

Cremation or Burial at Sea

There is a 48-hour wait prior to cremation.
A medical examiner’ s permit is required.
A pacemaker must be removed.
Some crematories will let the family witness the cremation.
The cremation process takes about two-and-a-half hours for an average adult. The staff will remove any metal and pulverize the bone fragments to small particles, similar to white or gray coarse sand, about 5-10 pounds.

Cremated remains may be kept at home, scattered or buried on private land with the landowner’s permission, interred in a cemetery or memorial garden, or placed in a mausoleum niche. If scattering on public land or water, don’t ask, don’t tell. Park service people are concerned that some may want to create a little shrine at the site and would prefer not to know your plans. Be discreet. The Environ- mental Protection Agency (EP A) says they must be scattered three miles out to sea. That’s because the federal agency has no jurisdiction over the first three miles; the bordering state does. Most states (except for California and South Dakota) have no restrictions on the dis- position of cremated remains, and there are no “cremains police” even in those two states. Do as you wish.

If flying with cremated remains, be sure they are in a non-metal container to pass through the scanner.
Cremated remains may be sent only by U.S. Postal Service. Use Priority Mail Express with delivery confirmation. FedEx and UPS will not knowingly accept cremated remains.

All cremations must be in a licensed crematory.

Crematories are registered with the Department of Health.

Veterans and Their Dependents

You will need a copy of the DD214 discharge papers for gaining benefits.

The VA cemetery in Togus is closed to new interments. There are four state-run veterans cemeteries: in Augusta (two, but one does only cremated remains), Springvale, and Caribou. Interment and marker are free of charge for the veteran, spouse, and certain depend- ants.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides markers for veterans no matter where they are interred. Markers can be up- right or flat, and they come in bronze, marble, and granite: (800) 697-6947.

A free flag can be ordered through the U.S. Postal Service.

A comprehensive list of veterans benefits can be found here:

Veterans- funeral-and-burial-benefits

The Maine Board of Funeral Service has eight members, three of whom are consumer representatives. 


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MPBN show, Maine Calling, Modern Funerals

Joyce Foley, President of Cedar Brook Burial Ground has been invited to participate on the MPBN show,  Maine Calling.  The topic will be conversations about death and dying and the need to have “the conversation” with family.

Modern Funerals
Wed, November 4, 12pm – 1pm

Guest speakers
Josh Slocum, Executive Director, Funeral Consumers Alliance (via ISDN from VPT)
Jim Fernald, Brookings Smith Funeral Home in Bangor (Bangor studio)
VIP Call-in: Joyce Foley/Cedar Brook Burial Ground (a Green Cemetery)


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A Winter Burial at Cedar Brook Burial Ground

Winter burial March 12, 2013 a group of family and friends gathered to pay their respects to a friend. The beautiful boughs a top the wooden casket were from the woods he loved and were crafted by a family member.

On FaceBook

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Living Tree by Robert Morgan : The Poetry Foundation

Living Tree by Robert Morgan : The Poetry Foundation.

This lovely poem lead a couple to Cedar Brook Burial Ground.

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The History of the Burial Shroud

Forest shroud This information was shared by Kinkaraco, a supplier of shrouds.


Kinkaraco is a culturally and spiritually diverse company that cherishes the Death Rituals of Human Beings all over this Earth.Here is a brief collection of Burial practices and histories of peoples who incorporate BURIAL SHROUDS in their sacred practices as well as herbs and flowers.

For more information go to Kinkaraco – History of shrouds

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Earthrise – Green Goodbyes

Death is a messy business. In America alone, 1.6 million tonnes of cement and over 870,000 gallons of embalming fluid – commonly containing formaldehyde – are buried along with 2.5 million caskets every year. One solution is to use eco-friendly biodegradable coffins made out of cardboard or even banana leaves. Campaigners also hope to increase the number of natural burial sites, where plots blend in with the natural surroundings. There are currently fewer than 40 in the US.

AlJazeeraEnglish will not allow us to view the video they prepared after visiting CBBG. If it becomes available in the future we will reinsert the link.

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Funeral Consumers Alliance of Maine June 2013 Newsletter

Funeral Consumers Alliance of Maine (FCAM) is a non-profit, all volunteer, educational organization dedicated to helping members make informed decisions about after-death arrangements that are dignified, meaningful, and affordable.

The following was included in their June Newsletter


Peter McHugh’s Death

We are sorry to hear of the death of Peter F. McHugh of Limington, Maine. Peter founded the Cedar Brook Burial Ground, one of only two green cemeteries in Maine. He was a strong supporter of the Green Burial movement, Do-It-Yourself burials, and of the Funeral Consumers Alliance of Maine. Peter spoke at our annual meeting on more than one occasion.

Peter set aside two acres of his 150-acre tree farm as a green burial cemetery, to preserve the natural beauty of the land in perpetuity. He was buried there on March 12th, next to the large stone marking the old Joshua Small family cemetery.
You can see what Peter created, and what his family carries on, at http://mainegreencemetery.com.

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‘Ecofunerals’ on the rise in the US

Environmentally conscious Americans are opting for ecofriendly “green” funerals.

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Entering Cedar Brook Burial Ground


Visitors are welcome to tour the grounds.

For a tour of the grounds or a brochure, call Joyce Foley at 207.637.2085, email at CBBG@MaineGreenCemetery.com or request information by mail: Cedar Brook Burial Ground, 175 Boothby Rd, Limington, ME 04049-3019

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Natural Burial: Build an Eco-friendly Coffin and Plan a Green Funeral


Have you considered natural burial options? From sustainably harvested bamboo to simple and inexpensive DIY coffins, there are eco-friendly options to consider when it comes to funeral planning.

By Tabitha Alterman
June 12, 2009

You don’t have to break the bank in order to plan a thoughtful funeral. You may want to consider building or commissioning a simple, handmade coffin.

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