Why Do People Choose a Funeral Home?
Like many people, I set “Google Alerts” for key topics I follow about end-of-life. Recently, my alerts are unusually concentrated with media reports that revolve around cremation. The latest media hype, was over a funeral home having unclaimed cremated remains. What this means, is that the deceased’s family, for whatever reasons never picked up their loved one’s cremated remains from the funeral home or crematory. This may sound strange to the general public, however, it really isn’t new worthy. For all funeral homes and crematories across the country, it’s a common occurrence. Other alerts include wedding planners adding funeral celebrations to their repertoire, and entrepreneurs who have a new concept to send their loved one off in style. One company was trying to raise money to build a rocket that will fly your loved one’s cremated remains to the moon. After reading these alerts, I have become curious about the reasons behind the “why” people choose a funeral home.
The next few paragraphs will share observations, random thoughts, and questions about this topic. As you read this, please take a moment to reflect and share your thoughts at the end.
History shows, a major reason is because that’s where their family always went. Today, this doesn’t prove to be true. Location, can also be a factor. To some degree, this still holds true. However, funeral homes, much like hospitals, are a destination, typically not a place of convenience.
Is price the determining factor?
If price is strictly the case, many funeral homes have a “free” cremation option. It’s an organ and body part donation option, that is followed by cremation. This is a newer concept and is offered though a company called MEDCURE, who partners with funeral homes. MEDCURE is a for profit organ donation business, that will compensate the funeral home for their professional services and the necessary legalities. The deceased’s family will receive their loved one’s cremated remains within twelve weeks after death, along with one death certificate. This option, is not too good to be true – its very real. MEDCURE is a reputable company that provides a no cost cremation solution for families. Keep in mind that MEDCURE does have the right to decline a body based on it’s condition. There are two reasonable caveats that must be met which revolves around the condition of the deceased. You can learn more about this on their website.
Do people perceive funeral homes as a rip off?
Probably to some degree. It only takes one disreputable funeral professional to place a stigma for everyone who operates an honest business. All professions have their “black sheep”. However, because there is reverence that comes with the care of the dead, one unethical behavior, becomes over sensationalized and then the poster child for all death care professionals.
Just a side note. The death care profession is highly regulated. Funeral homes, directors and their staff must uphold to numerous standards. All of which are set by the Federal Trade Commission, Occupational Safety & Heath Administration, Music Licensing and Regulation, Insurance and Trust institutions that regulate pre-funded funerals, not to mention all the necessary insurance liability requirements.
Does religion or race play a role?
Many ethnic communities remain segregated by choice. For example, 98% of all African Americans patronage a funeral home that is owned and operated by African Americans. As a country, we should be past this. How do we overcome this norm?
Religion – one could argue either side of that decision. Statistics show, that there is a decrease of persons who attend organized religion. Why? The baby boomer generation have a large segment that is “un-churched”. Please don’t confuse un-churched with “un-religious”. A large sector of boomers will outwardly say they are spiritual. Others will say they have their own personal relationship with God, and don’t feel the need to congregate with others. There are also others who have prayer groups at their home, rather than attending a church.
Does the deceased control the funeral home choice?
Most families will honor their loved one’s request by using the funeral home their loved one requested. If the deceased pre-arranged or prefunded their funeral, 99% of the time, the survivors honor that decision.
As an end of life expert, understanding the wants and needs of today’s consumer, is how I help death care professionals better serve their community. In today’s world, funeral norms are becoming a thing of the past. My observation is that people don’t know what they want, but they do know what they don’t want! In closing, what are your thoughts on this subject. The only way the end of life and death care profession we can learn, is to ask and then listen! Your insight is valuable.