According to a 2015 survey by the National Funeral Directors Association, only 17 percent of people under age 65 make advance funeral arrangements. (Getty Images/iStockphoto/studio-pure)

An unexpected death can leave family members dependent on donations for funeral arrangements.

Instead of the comfort that comes with knowing final arrangements are made, some family members worry about how they're going to pay final expenses.

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Terry McCullough

They hope good Samaritans donate to "go fund me" sites or give to people collecting donations on the street.

Piney Woods/Oak Hills Neighborhood Association President Terry McCullough wants to help people do better.

"Too many of our people are faced with this situation, and it hits them in the face like a sledgehammer," said McCullough.

He and several neighborhood association leaders are hosting the Southside Funeral Session at Bethlehem Center from 4 to 6 p.m. Saturday.

Taylor, John P. Franklin, Advantage, Chattanooga and Ponders funeral homes will be among the funeral operators represented. Monument companies include Rico, Avery and Keith. And cemetery and insurance companies also will present information on exactly how residents can make funeral arrangements.

"We want to educate our people all over the city on something that we all need," McCullough said.

Some families may not make arrangements because they have little income, but having little income should be a reason to make arrangements.

Families who haven't planned spend more money because they make decisions at the time of a loved one's death. So they think emotionally, said Tonja Tate, family service counselor and licensed insurance agent at Ponders Funeral Home.

They think they need the best they can afford, compared to when a person is still living and makes his own arrangements when he's a lot more considerate of cost, Tate said.

The average price of a funeral and burial is about $8,500, she said.

If you go

› What: Southside Funeral Session

› When: 4-6 p.m. Saturday, June 2

› Where: Bethlehem Center, 200 W. 38th St.

However, Ponders offers traditional funerals at $7,500, and no one is turned away because of an inability to pay.

Funerals also can be more upscale. Ponders offers bronze caskets that sell for about $14,000, she said.

Those who plan can take up to 10 years to complete payments on funeral arrangements, she said.

"Planning in advance allows your family the freedom to celebrate your life," said Tate. "It helps relieve your family of both emotional and financial burden."

According to a 2015 survey by the National Funeral Directors Association, only 17 percent of people under age 65 make advance arrangements. As people grow older, they are more likely to make plans. After age 75, the percentage climbs to 34 percent.

Contact Yolanda Putman at or 423-757-6431.