Content here represents the voice of SIGNATURE SUNSETS, an informational initiative designed to broaden and brighten horizons in the funerary domain.

The material is an outgrowth of a pre-planning reference book, Pondering Leaves: Composing and Conveying Your Life Story's Epilogue, written by the author of this blog.


Sunday, October 14, 2012



In terms of trendy places these days, crematories are “hot!”  People in North America are increasingly opting for cremation rather than ground burial.  It is a phenomenon mourned by funeral directors and cemetery operators for whom conventional interments had always provided the “bread and butter” for their businesses.  Loss of income is at the root of their tribulation. These establishments, like so many others, have suffered the effects of a recession propelling individuals’ quest for cost-saving measures.

A customer need not pay an exorbitant amount if cremation is the preferred mode for final disposition.  In fact, the so-called “direct” approach allows for a body to be transferred from the place of death to a crematory with few intervening bodily ministrations that would entail fees.  But even if a whole body destined eventually for a furnace is tended in a funeral home for a while, certain funerary products and provisions will not need to be factored in when calculating costs.  Without a casket, vault, cemetery plot or mausoleum crypt, opening and closing of the space, a perpetual care allotment, bodily transport to a burial site and vehicles for a procession, monetary output can be reduced.

On the other hand, anyone opting for cremation can get “carried away” even in the absence of a body.  Maintaining physical remains on the premises for a period of time prior to cremation offers opportunities to contract for a number of “line items” from the general price list.  How about an expensive urn instead of the cookie jar at home?  Or a period of visitation would warrant embalming – a stipulation at most funeral homes.  For a funeral service on site, it doesn’t matter if a body or an urn is the central focal point.  And an impressive array of manufactured goods with equally impressive price tags is available for perusal. 

So altruistic nurturers with a high degree of empathy who choose cremation, but nonetheless want to feed a funeral director’s “kitty” can select variations on the usual theme. The livelihoods of funeral home personnel can still be boosted regardless of certain dead elements within their domain. Think of it as grief therapy for providers.  For example, I recently attended a Catholic church funeral that transpired according to tradition… except that the body had already been cremated.  An urn took the place of a casket.  But funeral home personnel assumed their usual roles, as if a body were on the premises.  They delivered the urn and floral arrangements to the church, waited throughout the duration of the service, and afterward, placed the urn inside a full-sized, snazzy hearse for transport to a cemetery columbarium.  Family members followed behind in a limousine from the funeral home’s fleet of vehicles. 

This, of course, might be considered “overkill” by anyone seeking to minimize expenses.  For the most part, as a result of abbreviated services in conjunction with cremation, income generated by funeral home participation is apt to be less if this method of disposition is chosen.

So if you are the frugal type, what can you do for after-death providers who are mourning their losses?  How about giving a funeral director a hug today?  It will "do a body good."

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