Sunday, March 25, 2012


The following is an article I found in a Michigan newspaper. It pretty much hits the nail on the head, large corporate and pricy independent are driving your options away from you and themselves out the door. Take a good hard look at what is left, it will be the future of a more affordable, personalized funeral service.
How it all begins...
On Jan. 10, Diane and Randy Bathurst were having breakfast when Randy began to feel ill. He excused himself to lie down, and a moment later Diane heard a thud. When she arrived in the bedroom, Randy, 58, was unconscious on the floor. Paramedics couldn't resuscitate him; doctors said he had died instantly of a massive heart attack. Two days later, his widow is in a conference room in suburban Detroit meeting with Tom Macksoud, who runs a business called Simple Funerals. Bathurst, who has little income, wants a basic cremation with no casket and no service—just the way Randy would have wanted it. A traditional funeral home wanted to charge  her $3,200. Macksoud's operation—with no employees, chapel or embalming room (Embalming room AKA "Preparation Room" is required in Arizona, as is a chapel, hearse and conference room for arrangements), just himself and the Chrysler Town & Country minivan he uses as a hearse—can do it for $1,100. "Thank you," Bathurst says, tearing up. "This means I can make two more house payments." Macksoud hugs her and, two days later, single-handedly retrieves her husband's 300-pound body from the rival funeral home and maneuvers it into his minivan, a process that takes more than an hour and leaves him exhausted. "Sometimes I think I should charge by the pound," he says. (In Arizona, most funeral homes charge additional costs over 250 pounds)

Make them go away!

Also Known as "Alternative Funeral Homes"
With its revenue directly tied to the death rate, the $15 billion funeral industry has always been seen as recession-proof. No matter how bad the economy, people always die and families always spend money memorializing them, often equating dollars spent with respect paid, and rarely shopping around. Funeral homes tend to be the oldest businesses in town and generally earn solid profits—one reason why, in the 1990s, large, publicly traded corporations began rolling up the industry. But this recession is proving different—and as it deepens, families are beginning to seek ways to cut bills that were once seen as sacrosanct (That which is very sacred, not to be trudged or changed due to its sacred right of passage). Long-term trends (like the growing acceptance of cremation) are coalescing with the down economy to lead some industry veterans to sense a shift. "There's a major movement toward low-cost options right now," says R. Brian Burkhardt, a funeral director in Wheaton, Ill., who writes an industry blog called Your Funeral Guy. "Those businesses that adjust will do fine—and those that don't will be gone."

For Macksoud, 46, this penny-pinching couldn't come at a better time. For 20 years Macksoud worked in big funeral homes and eventually bought his own in Lapeer, Mich., a blue-collar town about 50 miles north of Detroit. But a few years ago he started noticing a change: fewer people were asking for the extravagant memorial service with the steel casket and limousine-led procession. "I realized all I needed was an office, a computer and my own car," he says. So in 2004 he sold his Lapeer business for $757,000, then took a few years off to spend time with his four kids.

The Rebirth of a Dignified Industry

Last fall he jumped back in with Simple Funerals, which he runs from a 1,500-square-foot storefront in a strip mall next to a dry cleaner. There's a sitting room with an oriental rug, and a wall of shelves holding urns (starting at $90). Toward the back, Macksoud displays three coffins, starting at $495. (He sends folks seeking something higher-end to Costco, which has carried caskets since 2004.) Macksoud subcontracts with traditional funeral homes to use their embalming rooms and to store bodies. With such low overhead, his customer's average bill is less than $1,200, compared with nearly $10,000 for a traditional funeral. "It's not about the size of your funeral home or how many Cadillacs you have—it's about the service you provide," he says. (BRAVO! Well Said...)

Keeping it Simple...

Macksoud is 6 feet 1 with dark, thinning hair and a plain, soft-spoken
A Simple Funeral
manner. If you spot him driving around in his minivan—which carries a whiff of formaldehyde—you might guess he's an accountant or insurance agent. And while laypeople think funeral directors spend all day with dead bodies, much of Macksoud's business involves paperwork: ferrying death certificates to get physicians' signatures, dealing with the medical examiner and then off to the county clerk's office. Along the way, the phone connected to his dashboard-mounted navigation system rings every so often. "Simple Funerals," he says, keeping his eyes on the road. "This is Tom."

Helping You Find a Way.... 

On many calls, he winds up alerting consumers to money-saving options they didn't know existed. For instance, a widow from Pontiac calls about her husband, a veteran who's just died. Macksoud tells her that as a veteran, he's entitled to a free plot, vault and grave marker in the Great Lakes National Cemetery—something the traditional funeral home she'd called first hadn't mentioned. "They would have missed out on selling her a vault and expensive plot," Macksoud says. "She was so appreciative. When things like that happen, I know I'm doing the right thing."


The responsibility of the funeral director is much more than ensuring the funds are collected, the check is cashed and the family is tucked away. The individual has a ethical and moral obligation to ensure that the family is well taken care of during a very vulnerable time. The job of the director is to as if "Keep the wolves away", Not to be a wolf in sheep's clothing. As we do not allow children to indulge in sweets during a time of hunger, we must ensure they receive proper nourishment and care. Not that a family is as if a child, but it is the moral and ethical responsibility of the director to ensure the family is looked after and cared for, for THEIR best interest, not the directors financial best interest.
I didn't know they couldn't afford it..
It's not my job to ask.

I do not think alone, As this article proves, there are those out there that are licensed funeral directors and embalmers that have not strayed from the given path. The Direction of the funeral industry is changing, some are desperately trying to hold on and ride that dying horse........

1 comment:

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