State lawmaker pushes for bill that would help families pay for funeral expenses

State Sen. Gaston says that even a relatively small benefit would ease the financial burden on families struggling just to put food on the table.

Nicole Alarcon Soares and Frank Recchia

Apr 23, 2024, 1:41 AM

Updated 28 days ago

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State Sen. Herron Gaston says he's pushing for a bill in the next legislative session that would explore the idea of using tax dollars to help families who cannot afford to bury a loved one.
"It has gotten to the point where people can't afford to die," said Gaston.
The bill is also being supported by Sen. Richard Blumenthal, who says these kinds of expenses can be “backbreaking” financially for a family.
"The fact that people can't afford to bury loved one, in effect, can't afford to die, is not just a financial issue, it's a public health issue," said Blumenthal.
While both lawmakers say the idea is sure to encounter strong opposition, a Bridgeport mother who lost her daughter says it would have the full support of her family.
Shantell Fields, whose daughter, Lauren Smith Fields, died tragically at the age of 23, says she was forced to take money out of her retirement savings to help pay for her daughter’s funeral.
"It's very, very stressful," Fields said. "It is a difficult task trying to get all that money together."
Sen. Gaston says the many requests his church has received over the years to help bury young people who've died tragically have inspired him to create a bill.
"To be clear, we're not talking about an extravagant service. We're talking about a minimum burial benefit,” he said.
Gaston says even a relatively small benefit, like $1,000 to $2,000 would ease the financial burden on families struggling just to put food on the table.


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