With the cost of a funeral and burial upwards of $5,000, it is not surprising that more and more local families find themselves hard-pressed to provide what their deceased loved one wanted or requested.
"We were lost, and I didn't know what to do," said Krys Williams, whose son David was shot and killed in April in a downtown Cleveland parking lot.
"It was a horrible situation," says her husband Dan Rinaldi. They could not afford a suitable Christian funeral and burial, but were rescued by a little known Catholic organization called the Callistian Guild.
"It makes us feel like we're providing that high level of ministry and service that we're really called to do," says local funeral director Don Ferfolia, a member of the Callistian Guild of the Diocese of Cleveland.
He and other members of the Guild who were involved in David Williams' funeral and burial provided everything to the family at no cost.
"People should know that they're there to help," says Krys Williams. "People like us that don't have the money for a proper funeral or burial for their loved ones."
Local funeral directors and cemeteries say they can't remember a time when so many people were unable to pay for a funeral and burial.
"The numbers are increasing where not only individuals, but families have found themselves without the resources to bury their loved ones," says Andrej Lah, director of Cleveland's Catholic Cemeteries.
"That's the reason for the Callistian Guild, to help those who may qualify for this service," says Lah. "You have to be Catholic, you truly have to be unable to provide burial for your loved ones, or if someone is truly alone and there is no one left to provide that service."
The Callistian Guild was formed in 1975, and now includes dozens of funeral homes and directors, livery services, florists, cemeteries, and vault and monument companies.
"Our goal is to have everyone have a final remembrance that is meaningful and dignified," says Lou Ripepi, a local funeral director and member of the Callistian Guild.
Local public cemeteries are also seeing an increase in the number of families opting for reduced-cost cremation done by their municipality.
County coroners say it's not unusual to hold bodies which are not claimed by families because they cannot afford a funeral.
The Callistian Guild also provided a Catholic burial at Calvary Cemetery for the family of Michelle Mason, one of the 11 women whose bodies were found in the Cleveland home of accused serial killer Anthony Sowell.
"It was just the saddest day of my life, the saddest day of my life," sighed Adlean Atterberry, Mason's mother, about the day she learned her daughter's remains were found in Sowell's house.
"We wanted a Catholic funeral for her, because she had been Catholic all her life," said Atterberry. "We started trying to put some money together but it was tough, and then the Callistian Guild stepped in and provided everything."
"It was absolutely beautiful."
"When it all happened, we didn't know what we were going to do," said Mason's son Franklin Williams. "It helped so much. They showed us so much respect. We did above and beyond what I thought we'd ever be able to do."
Andrej Lah says the Callistian Guild cannot meet every request, but tries to determine those who are the most unable to afford funeral and burial services, and that it depends on the generosity of members and supporters.
"It is truly a ministry and it's done humbly and it's done with in the mission of the Church," he said.
"What impresses me most about the Guild is that our members do this ministry quietly. We don't talk about it much, but when someone really needs help, we're here."