Ashes Lost In The Mail

Ashes Lost In The Mail

A New York woman is suing the Walter B. Cooke Funeral Home in Manhattan because they returned her mother’s cremated remains to her via postal mail, and they were lost. What most people probably don’t realize is that sending cremated remains via postal mail is surprisingly common. A great many funeral homes receive cremated remains back from the crematory in this way, and use the postal service to get them back to the family in cases where the family can’t or doesn’t want to pick them up. In fact, the practice is  so common the USPS has guidelines about it: they must be shipped Priority Mail Express. And it’s one more reason to do plenty of research about what you want and think you need, before a crisis arises. After all, who would think to ask how cremated remains will be returned to a family?      ...

Planning is a luxury not everyone enjoys

Will you know when  it’s time to plan? Planning for the inevitable is necessary- even for those of us who are invincible. Lack of planning has implications extending way beyond wondering what kind of casket mom would have wanted. Over at the National Death with Dignity Center,  Nora Miller wrote a piece about how suddenly and quickly dementia can enter and change one’s life. Miller writes, “…there’s a whole separate set of decisions that must be made long before we develop the terminal illness that eventually requires end-of-life thinking. In some ways, these may seem even harder than some of the end-of-life decisions, since the subject of the decision is still present and may not consider it necessary for anyone else to decide for them.   Beyond immediate measures to ensure the safety of the person with dementia, there are concerns about how to determine when someone is unable to live on their own, how to pay for additional care, how to address  these life changes with  someone who is already frightened… and quite often the children who are suddenly making these decisions for their parents, are doing so without the counsel of their must trusted advisor- the person suffering. Miller had the very sound idea of including a letter written to herself among her other end of life plans, to be used if she ever suffered from an illness or accident which impaired her mental abilities. “Dear Me, no matter how much you think you are okay right now and all those around you are not seeing things as clearly as you do, trust me when I say...

Funeral Industry Advertising Still Gets a D

The more things change, the more they stay the same, don’t they?  Well, it’s true in the funeral industry, that’s for sure. In 2007 I wrote a guest blog for Tim at Final Embrace about how terrible funeral home advertising is. Very little has changed- there are still too many funeral homes which lack websites, have no social media presence, and rely on the yellow pages for people to find them. These are likely the same funeral directors who will argue that the most valuable funeral is a traditional service followed by a burial, and rigidly rail against the rising cremation rate and its impact on the bottom line. How’s that working out for you? Are your margins still decreasing? What’s your call volume like? We all know that funeral directors aren’t known to be early adopters of anything. However, it’s time to smell the spider mums before your competitor does. Research shows that when people are dissatisfied with a service or experience, they will tell 15 other people about it, but if they have a compliment they will tell only 3: and that’s when a situation isn’t emotionally-charged like a funeral.  That’s not to mention how frequently grieving families have a captive audience of friends and family around them, meaning their complaints and praise have a very broad range. Does complaining about the rain keep you from getting wet? So how will clinging to the past help you attract today’s savvy consumer? If you want to capitalize on every dollar they’re willing to spend, you have to be flexible and creative, or they’ll spend that dollar at your...