Funeral Homes Cited By The FTC For Not Disclosing Price Lists
This database only shows funeral homes businesses that have entered into the Federal Trade Commission’s Funeral Rule Offenders Program, or were sued by the agency for their business practices. It is a not a comprehensive listing of funeral homes businesses in every state.
The Funeral Rule Offenders Program is for businesses that the FTC alleges failed to disclose funeral price lists information to consumers. Those businesses instead make voluntary payments and receive training rather than face an FTC lawsuit.
FuneralResources.com and MemorialTechnology.com Offer COVID-19 Families New Funeral and Memorial Technology Tools
COVID-19 Families Face Funeral Planning Challenges
In response to the overwhelming number of families losing loved ones to the COVID-19 pandemic, Funeral Resources.com and MemorialTechnology.com provide COVID-19 families with the awareness, education, and access to some of the funeral industry’s newest and most innovative memorial technology tools.
Chris Hill, Founder says; “With a national shutdown in place, COVID-19 families and the death care industry are both facing the most devastating funeral planning challenges in the history. Not only are there extreme limitations on accessing traditional funeral planning needs like funerals, visitations, wakes, memorial services, but to make matters worse, lots of stress and pressure to afford the significant costs and expenses of losing a loved one.”
COVID-19 Families Have Much-Needed Help and Hope
Not only is there an abundance of free information, answers, and support available at these family-focused online resource centers for COVID-19 families, but also access to new memorial technology tools.
Memorial Reefs – Green Burials at sea offer an underwater living legacy
“After losing a loved one, my loss became an inspiration to help families make these difficult situations easier. Given the COVID-19 crisis facing families today, we felt compelled to serve as the hands and feet of Christ. We knew God was calling us to find a way to come together and do something special…at a time when families need it most”, explains Christopher P. Hill, Founder.
Isn’t it ironic that after 8 years of putting out my newsletter and talking to people about the importance of advance care planning, we are faced with a healthcare challenge of monumental proportion? One that emphasizes end of life plan reasons but, equally if not more importantly advance care planning, in many ways.
As I sit down to write my 100th newsletter, the current COVID-19 pandemic is sweeping the world and there is a special urgency to do advance care planning; by having the conversation, identifying someone to speak for you, and completing an advance directive.
Every day, there are new articles, by people who have never addressed the subject before, touting the importance of doing an advance directive and doing it NOW!
I receive calls from reporters asking for clarifications and quotes about how to make the process work. The momentum is building and hopefully people will take heed to the warning to have their conversations and complete their directives. This would be wonderful as it would be great to have something positive come out of this pandemic.
COVID-19 is a New Call to Action!
Your help is needed to continue to move the bar. If you’ve done your directive already, take a look at it and see if it is still current and meets your needs in this day and age. Update as necessary. Make certain the right people have a copy.
If you haven’t gotten there yet, now is a great time as the resources to plan a funeral, create a Last Will or Living Trust, and advance care planning, are available to make it easy for you to act.
If you still need help, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me. My contact information is below. Talk to your friends and loved ones. You know, those people whom you have mentioned it to before but who haven’t moved forward to do their plan.
Bug them, emphasize its importance. Remind them of the adage:
Failing to Plan – Is Planning to Fail!
They need this for themselves as well as their families. Equally as important, are the healthcare workers who are doing such a Herculean effort during these trying times. Make sure that they have access to people’s advance directives. This will allow them to be guided by the goals and preferences of their patients and not guessing what the best treatment course for a particular individual might be.
I have neighbors who have been very clear as to their plans. They are sheltering in place because of their ages and their medical conditions. They have made it very clear that they will not go to the hospital if they should come down with the COVID-19 virus. They feel strongly that they are at that point in their lives that they do not wish to go on the ventilator or receive aggressive care during their end of life stages. If they can survive the virus from home, great. If not, it was meant to be.
Now, let me be clear, I am not suggesting that other people should take this stance. We all need and deserve to make our own decisions whatever may be best for each of us individually. Thus, the advance directive is a critically necessary important part of your end of life planning and funeral estate planning!! Remember, it is still critically important to:
You’ll be happy to know that it’s never too late to insure for final expenses; however, it’s not the type of purchase you make every day, so it’s always best to consult with a knowledgeable professional who can guide you towards the best choice for your circumstances. By its very definition, insurance is an agreement where someone pays a premium in exchange for a guarantee of compensation at an unknown future time of loss, like death.
With regard to purchasing insurance for final expenses, the general rule of thumb is to buy it when you are young and healthy. There is good reason for that. Nearly all life insurance and final expense polices require some degree of underwriting. Generally, rates are based upon age and health, so older individuals will almost assuredly pay higher premiums.
What is Final Expense Insurance?
Final expense insurance policies are not one-size-fits-all. Here’s a quick preview of a few different types of policies:
Preneed Funeral Insurance – a policy, linked to a specific funeral service provider, that is in effect for your entire life once premiums are paid in full.
Final Expense Insurance – a policy that isn’t linked to a funeral service provider and can be either term or permanent insurance.
Burial Insurance – usually a term life insurance policy for a specified amount that is payable upon death to a named beneficiary.
Funerals are Expensive – and Prices Will Only Grow Higher
Few things are certain when planning for end-of-life expenses. However, one thing that is certain is that funeral expenses are increasing. According to the National Funeral Directors Association, the cost of a funeral with burial has risen 28.6% over the last decade. Considering current funeral costs of about $10,000 and future rising costs due to inflation, you’ll want to consider purchasing a policy sooner rather than later. As with any type of insurance, there comes a point where the cost of insurance surpasses the benefit that it provides. That’s the point where wise consumers choose to self-insure from their personal savings or other assets.
What is the Best First Step?
How do you decide which plan to purchase or if it makes sense to buy one at all? This is the time that it makes sense to consult with a funeral insurance professional that specializes in final expense planning—one who can review your individual needs, present you with sensible options, and guide you towards the best decision for your family. The best time to make insurance decisions is when you are calm and clear-headed. Give yourself peace of mind in knowing that you already have a plan for final expenses, so that you can focus on more important things at a future time that is sure to be wrought with emotion.
New Memorial Technology to Plan a Funeral
and Better Remember Loved Ones
MemorialTechnology.com is an online resource center designed to help families, Funeral Directors, and Cemetery Directors to learn more today’s new and creative ways to help cope with grief and loss and, most importantly, help celebrate the special life and memories of a loved one.
This family-friendly online resource center was specifically designed for three main purposes:
1. Raise awareness about today’s most popular, newest, and most innovative technology tools, all of which can help remember loved ones in a more meaningful way.
2. Offer valuable information and education on exactly how these new memorial technology tools work.
3. Provide access to the most qualified and credible companies offering these funeral home services.
MemorialTechnology.com features six of the most commonly sought-after and utilized memorial technology options families are choosing to add to their funeral, memorial, burial, or cremation planning. These six options include:
Unfortunately after my family lost a dear loved one, we were not aware that any these excellent memorial technology tools existed. Therefore, we did not know how they worked, nor did we know who to turn to for help.
My sincere hope and prayer is this helps families make a difficult situation a little easier.
Around the world, every day, every hour, every second, medical treatment is unable to prevent death. When doctors, nurses and hospitals can do no more for a patient, another industry steps in.
World population Estimate – 7,142,797,806
There are bodies everywhere.
World Death Rate: 8 deaths/1,000 population 55.3 million people die each year 151,600 people die each day 6316 people die each hour 105 people die each minute ~2 people die each second
Traditional Western Customs:
The two most common methods for the disposal of corpses are:
• Cremations (Burning the body) or
• Interment (Burying the body)
Today, the average North American traditional funeral costs between $7,000 and $10,000.
• Fee for the funeral director’s services: $1,500
• Cost for caskets: $2,300
• Embalming: $500
• Cost for using the funeral home for the actual funeral service: $500
• Cost of a grave site: $1,000
• Cost to dig the grave: $600
• Cost of a grave liners or outer burial vaults: $1,000
• Cost of monuments: $1,500
• Muslims try to bury their dead ASAP.
• Family or community members wash and shroud the body in scented water and clean white cloth.
• The body is positioned so that the head is facing Mecca. The average adult Islamic funeral, before the cost of burial, was $6,550 in 2009, according to the National Funeral Directors Association.
Tibetan Buddhist Sky Burial:
• The traditional Tibetan Sky Burial involves a corpse being dismembered by trained professionals and left outside (in one of the 1075 sky burial sites) for animals to feast upon. Today, 80% of Tibetans choose to have Sky Burials.
• Going “Green?” People are forgoing traditional methods for environmentally friendly burials.
• Why expose the Earth to unnecessary embalming chemicals or steel caskets.
• Opts for biodegradable caskets or having your remains turned into an artificial reef? Factoid: Americans currently bury around one million tons of steel caskets each year.
• Balinese cremation ceremony is performed to send the dead onto their next life, and is considered a sacred duty.
• The dead are placed inside a coffin, which is then placed inside a structure resembling a buffalo or temple.
• The structure is carried to the cremation site and set aflame. In group ceremonies upwards of 60 people’s remains were cremated at one time.
Ghana’s Elaborate Custom Coffins:
• In Ghana it is popular to bury loved ones in coffins that represent certain aspects of them, generally either an occupation, or something they loved.
• For example, a farmer might be buried in a coffin that was built to resemble an ear of corn, or a businessman could be buried in a coffin resembling a plane.
Famadihana – The Turning of the Bones:
• The Malagasy people of Madagascar have a famous ritual in which every five to seven years, the family has a celebration at its ancestral crypt.
• The cloth-wrapped bodies of the deceased are exhumed and sprayed with wine or perfume, before being brought out for family members to dance with while a live band plays.
• Money can buy you anything, even a burial in space.
• The first of these burials took place in 1997 and contained ashes of 22 people (including Timothy Leary and Gene Roddenberry).
• Cost, depending on how far you want your ashes to go, $1,000 – $12,000.
No Longer Practiced
• Originating over 1000 years ago, Sokushinbutsu was practiced by a sect of Buddhist monks, and resulted in self-mummification.
• Process that involved eating nuts, bark, and drinking poisonous tea, and took over 3000 days to complete.
• Though hundreds of monks tried, only 16 – 24 were successful.
• Sokushinbutsu is now illegal in Japan.
• Though now a long lost civilization, The Bo people of the Hemp Pond Valley in Southwest China’s Gongxian County, would use two wooden poles inserted into the rock to suspend caskets containing the dead on high cliff faces.
• Over 160 coffins were placed along the cliffs and natural caves. Today locals refer to the Bo as the “Sons of the Cliffs”.
• Now banned in India, Sati was the practice of recently widowed women throwing themselves on the funeral pyres of their husband’s bodies.
Perhaps you have never heard of a Funeral Consultant? Well even if you have not, you probably agree that when it comes to life’s most important and challenging decisions, seeking professional guidance and support is a good idea. You probably also agree that professional planners, such as wedding planners, can be sanity savers. Let’s take a wedding for example. Many people prefer to hire a wedding planner. Why? Mainly because they want a professional consultant to assist them along the way with the large number of emotional and financial decisions in planning this important once-in-a-lifetime event.
Why Hire a Funeral Consultant?
Most weddings are usually planned within a 6-12 month time frame. However, planning a funeral is usually done within a 24 to 48-hour time frame, and involves making over 150 important decisions. Studies prove that when most families are faced with the task of planning a funeral say they are largely unfamiliar, uncomfortable, and unprepared.
So similar to a wedding planner, a Funeral Consultant’s job is to help families make an important and difficult situation easier. Funeral Consultants are professionally engaged, but have the unique advantage of being experienced while not emotionally attached to the event. Funeral Consultants are trained and educated professionals whose job is solely to educate and guide you through one of life’s most challenging experiences.
Funeral Consultants are responsible for exactly what most families are searching for, which is being educated on a large number of funeral and/or cemetery options, helping you make decisions when you get stuck, keeping you within your budget, and making sure you know what you are doing – and that you don’t forget anything.
4 Ways Family Funeral Consultants Help Families
1. When a death occurs
2. If a death is expected
3. Planning in advance
4. Grief counseling and coaching
One Example of How Funeral Consultants Can Help You Save Money
In a recent survey of just one small community’s funeral homes and cemeteries, a basic cremation started at $710 at one establishment, but cost as much as $3,820 at another. Likewise, direct burial costs ranged from $1,695 to $4,455. The same casket cost was $996 at one place, but $4,200 at another. Cemetery opening and closing fees can vary by more than $2,000, depending on the cemetery and day of the week you choose. In just this particularly local community survey, there were 15 funeral homes and 13 major cemeteries. So how would a family know how to choose from among them? The answer is simple. Consider hiring a Funeral Consultant.
Funeral Consultants research and negotiate the prices for funeral home and cemetery services in a given area. Serving as part family advocates and part event planners, a Funeral Consultant can show you side-by-side comparisons of all of the cemetery or funeral home services, your options, and your costs in your local area. They can also help connect you to other funeral planning resources, including financial aid and support.
According to AARP, the average cost of a funeral today is approximately $10,000. (Note: This does not include the cost of the cemetery plot and associated fees for the monument, and much more.) The average funeral insurance policy that most people buy to pre-pay their funeral costs in advance is approximately $5,000. Getting help from someone who knows how this entire process works, and also knows your local options, just makes sense.
It’s Not Always Just About the Money
Rather than dress up and rush into a funeral home being unfamiliar, uncomfortable, and unprepared, most people prefer discussing their all-important funeral or cemetery arrangements in the comfort of their own home, among their family, friends, and loved ones. Rather than listen to strange terminology and make expensive decisions on the fly, most people prefer a third-party and independent professional to help guide and support them through this difficult and time-sensitive process. Rather than being uncomfortable or afraid to ask certain questions, most people prefer having the option and flexibility to say or ask things like: “That seems too expensive” or “We cannot afford that” or “What other options do we have?” or “What do other funeral homes or cemeteries charge in my local area?”
In addition, many families want their Funeral Consultant to join them at the funeral home or cemetery arrangement conference, which can be an option. Funeral Consultants can also be an excellent resource when it comes to matters related to aftercare planning, such as stopping bills and utilities, work with outstanding debts, working with insurance carriers, estate and tax planning, and more.
How Much Does a Funeral Consultant Cost?
For a set fee, Funeral Consultants will take care of all the tasks, price negotiations, and coordination details, freeing family members from this obligation and helping them arrange the funeral they want within their budget. With the average Funeral Consultant fee being $500, and the average family savings over $3,500, hiring a Funeral Consultant is a good investment. But keep in mind that by minimizing or eliminating a lot of the financial and emotional stress associated with families and funeral planning, most families will tell you that value-added services of a Funeral Consultant can be priceless.
For more information, or to find a local Funeral Consultant, click here.
At some point in life, everyone will have to pick out an outfit to wear to a funeral. Every small detail counts. How a person dresses reflects their respect for the deceased. Although your presence is more important than what you look like in this situation, women should dress conservatively. Keep in mind that outfits should not be casual. Here are some tips on what to wear:
Consider the Type of Funeral
Modernmom.com says that appropriate attire varies depending on the type of funeral you attend.
A close family member: The blog notes that although you will more than likely be distraught, all eyes will be on the close family members. This is why it’s important to dress respectfully and tastefully. Wear a classic black dress with a cardigan or blazer or a pencil skirt matched with a blouse. Choose shoes that will compliment a graveside service.
Friends and extended family: Complete black isn’t necessary for this type of funeral. Wear dark colors like navy blue, violet and gray. Keep accessories and prints small.
Acquaintance funeral: Wear something practical but polished. Choose an outfit you already own that you would wear to a work function. Although the rules are looser for an acquaintance it’s still important to avoid bright and light colors. Avoid low neck and hemlines.
To Reiterate on the Color Dilemma
Note that colors express different emotions. Although you can’t go wrong with black, gray or navy blue, dark brown and violet can portray somber emotions of sadness too. It is never appropriate to wear perky flowery designs and bright, bold colors. Wrinkled, dirty or transparent clothes can come across as disrespectful.
Choose a Simple, Classic Style
You can’t go wrong with a black dress or a black skirt paired with a dark top. Regardless of how close you were to the deceased, these outfits are acceptable at any location. Many cocktail dress brands offer conservative options. Alternatively, it’s acceptable for women to wear slacks or pant suits.
Shoes for Comfort
Pick tasteful shoes that are comfortable to wear. Classic leather styles are best; steer clear of suede, sequins, embellishments or glitter. Simple black flats are probably the safest choice. Do not wear flip-flops or peep-toe shoes. A low heel is acceptable but tall heels are inappropriate. In the winter a pair of low or no-heel boots are fashionable and keep your feet warm.
All About Accessories
Someone once said that accessories are the last thing a person puts on, but the first thing other people notice. An outfit for a funeral is not worn to get attention and should be relatively subtle. Likewise, accessories should compliment a look but should be small. Wear simple, traditional jewelry like a pearl necklace, diamond-stud earrings or a tennis bracelet. Choose a relatively small clutch or handbag free of flashy decorations.
Four Reasons to Offer DVD Tribute Videos to Families
DVD tribute videos are becoming a popular way to memorialize a loved one who has passed. Client families want to include a video tribute as part of the funeral or memorial services. They also wish to have these memorial tributes created so that they can watch them after the services are over as they work through their grief.
Client families are seeking out companies via the internet or are attempting to create these tribute videos themselves. Often their funeral professional has not made the service available to them. If your funeral home is not currently offering DVD tribute videos, here are four compelling reasons to rethink that choice:
1. Tribute Videos Fill a Need
Tribute videos help a client family tell the story of their loved ones life and relive cherished memories. They allow families to leave a legacy and connect generations by preserving memories and events. More and more client families are tech savvy and have seen tribute videos online or at a funeral service. While many would like to have a DVD tribute video created for their loved one, and may know how to make one themselves, during this stressful time they need someone to take the reins, relieve the burden and offer the service. Providing a world class professional tribute, one that far exceeds the quality of a homemade version, will ingrain you and your funeral home in their lives each and every time they watch the DVD tribute video.
2. Tribute Videos Are Easy to Create
Outsourcing a tribute video can be a nightmare to coordinate and to find a trustworthy company that won’t let you down. Thankfully, in-house funeral software has come a long way. Tribute video software has been developed that allows a funeral professional to create a professional, high quality tribute video in-house in just three simple steps. You simply import the photos, edit the copy, music, top funeral music, and motion effects, and burn the completed video to a DVD. The menu driven application guides you through the entire process. In minutes you’ll have created a stunning tribute video that will amaze the families you serve. Plus, the online tribute player allows you to upload your video to the web and link it to your website. Client families can direct friends and families to your website to view the tribute video.
3. Tribute Video Software Features Cutting Edge Memorial Technology
The quality of a DVD tribute video created in-house by a funeral professional utilizing today’s robust funeral software is unmatched. With the invention of high speed scanning technology, funeral professionals and funeral home services can now scan one photo every two seconds making the creation process a breeze. At the click of a button, innovative tribute video software can also bring life to each photo with motion effects, set transitions, sync funeral music, and create a stunning DVD menu. Every day, thousands of funeral home professionals rely on tribute video funeral software because of the state-of-the art memorial technology it provides and the results it delivers.
4. Tribute Videos Are a Value Added Service
Tribute video software has been designed specifically for the funeral industry. Because of this, for funeral professionals, creating an in-house tribute video is simple and affordable. Tribute video software available today has no long term contracts, no upfront costs, no equipment to buy and no support fees required. With a simple pay as you go system, you can create an unlimited number of professional quality video tributes in house quickly and easily. The quality is competitive with professional video tribute services, yet costs you and the family a fraction of the price. And, the value added service you are providing is priceless.
New cremation memorial reef to be located in Galveston, Texas.
The new Texas location makes the twentieth approved site for the company to offer an eco-friendly alternative to spreading the ashes of a loved one: participation in the preparation and placement of an individually-designed memorial reef ball that contributes to a new ecosystem.
An Eternal Reefs “memorial reefs” looks like a huge, hollow concrete ball with Swiss cheese holes specially designed to entice fish and other forms of sea life into the reef, building new habitats in and around the uneven structure. Eternal Reefs takes cremated remains and incorporates them into an environmentally safe cast cement mixture weighing between 600 pounds (2’ high x 4’ wide) and 4500 pounds (4’ high x 6’ wide).
Eternal Reefs encourages family members and friends to become involved in creating their loved one’s memorial reef. If they wish, family members can mix the concrete and remains and have the opportunity to personalize the Eternal Reef with handprints, written messages and other memorabilia in the damp concrete. The entire Eternal Reefs process is designed to be a positive and healing experience for the families and the sea.
“While many people who participate in our programs have been vitally connected to the ocean their entire life, we get to memorialize people who just like the idea of making a meaningful contribution to the health of the planet and to benefit future generations,” George Frankel, Eternal Reefs CEO, said. “We find it provides great joy for everyone involved to know their loved one will be surrounded by marine life and to know they leave behind an environmentally-sustainable, living legacy.”
Memorial reefs have become a solution for the “shelf people” crisis across the country. An astonishing 45 percent of families that have chosen cremation still have their loved ones remains sitting on a shelf or in a closet. Thousands of individuals pass away unexpectedly and don’t leave a will, leaving the next generation to handle their remains. Eternal Reefs offers a final resting place for these individuals.
With every Memorial Reef, the executor of the estate receives two memorial certificates that identify the longitude and latitude of the memorials, which are marked with bronze plaques. Loved ones can participate in every step of the Memorial Reef process and gather for the reef casting, viewing and placement ceremonies. Throughout the year, families and friends often return to the memorial reef site to dive, fish or visit by boat.
The new reef site off Galveston, Texas will have its first memorial service and placement November 12, 2010 at Barr’s Reef, 11 miles off the water break in Galveston Bay. It is anticipated the families of about 15 people will participate in the activities.
About Eternal Reefs Inc.
Eternal Reefs, Inc is an Atlanta-based company that provides creative environmentally enhancing means to memorialize the cremated remains of a loved one. The company incorporates cremated remains into a concrete mixture used to cast artificial reef formations. The artificial reefs are dedicated as permanent memorials while also bolstering natural coastal reef formations. Since 1998, the company has placed more than 300 Memorial Reefs in 20 locations off the coasts of Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Maryland, New Jersey, Texas and Virginia, substantially increasing the ocean’s diminishing reef systems. Memorial reefs can only go in properly permitted locations by the US Government. Contact Eternal Reefs Inc.
Consider a greener burial marker for your green funeral. Instead of large, elaborate grave markers, green burials feature unobtrusive, natural markers. These often involve trees, funeral flowers, and rocks found on or around the gravesite. While some families opt for a small flat stone identifying the burial location, more common in a green cemetery are the use of GPS coordinates. Though this modern global positioning method, the family of the deceased can find the exact burial plot for their loved one by mapping out the individual global position given to them by the cemetery manager.
Opponents to the traditional funeral homes view them as being more wasteful than green funeral providers citing the use of toxic chemicals such as formaldehyde in embalming fluid as unnecessary and damaging to the environment. To plan a funeral traditionally, this consumes enormous amounts of materials such as steel, concrete, copper, and bronze. The figures are in the tens of thousands of tons annually. During a burial, these elements remain in the ground indefinitely, polluting the earth.
Each year, cemeteries across the US bury approximately:
– 30 million board feet (70,000 m³) of hardwoods (caskets)
– 90,272 tons of steel (caskets)
– 14,000 tons of steel (vaults)
– 2,700 tons of copper and bronze (caskets)
– 1,636,000 tons of reinforced concrete (vaults)
– 827,060 US gallons (3,130 m³) of embalming fluid
*(Compiled from statistics by Casket and Funeral Association of America, Cremation Association of North America, Doric Inc., The Rainforest Action Network, and Mary Woodsen, Pre-Posthumous Society)
Today a green funeral is a new trend that is emerging in the death care industry. Green funerals, or environmentally-friendly burials, do without the use of artificial preservation methods and materials that may be harmful to the environment. By using minimalist caskets and grave markers, and natural habitats, this types of burial cost is a fraction of their traditional counterparts. Green burials promote harmony with nature and protect mother earth.
The original Rosetta Stone helped translate the pictorial language of the ancient Egyptians, providing definitions of the imagery and bringing to life a long-gone culture. Now one company is offering personal versions of the stones to tell stories about an individual long after we’re gone.
Objecs LLC’s RosettaStone is an oblong — think full-sized iPod – piece of granite or travertine stone inscribed with pictorial images that stand for different aspects of an individual’s life. Seemlessly incorporated into tombstones and monuments, the stones invite cemetery visitors to plug into a website – or in some cases simply wave your phone in front of the stone – and see the meaning of each symbol.
“Walk around a cemetery today and gravestones doesn’t tell you anything. Date of birth. Date of death. They’re cold and impersonal,” said Chris Hill, a financial advisor in northern Virginia and also Founder of FuneralResources.com, who personally owns two RosettaStones. “This will tell my story for thousands of years.”
Purchasers can choose up to six tablet symbols, reminiscent of hieroglyphics, from more than 300 options, including a striped pole for a barber, a caliper for an engineer, and a man behind bars for ne’er-do-wells who want to be remembered as such.
When selecting the symbols for his stone, Hill thought of his wife and two children, his passions for music and writing, his belief that life doesn’t end with death.
For his six symbols, he chose an “I” for general information, a U.S. map, stick figures representing a family, a music note, a hand holding a pen, and a telescope looking into space.
“It’s just as important to document your life as it is to remember it”, Hill said.
John Bottorff, founder of Objecs LLC, said the tablet symbols spur interest and conversation.
“When I see someone using a symbol I can relate to, I can’t help but be curious as to their life experience around it. We are seeing mini-meaning of life stuff here from common people, not a Dalai Lama,” Bottorff said. “I will never look at a barber pole symbol the same – I’m still awestruck at how a barber has learned the deepest values of life from his profession. Not all of the messages are positive, but I think they are all gifts to future generations from today’s cooks, barbers, lawyers, fishermen and all kinds of people and professions.”
But it’s the memorial technology element that makes the RosettaStone special, Bottorff said. If the cell phone is NFC-enabled — something still rare in North America but common overseas – simply touching the phone to the tablet allows direct access to the story behind each symbol. The internal microchip uses the phone’s own magnetic field to work and transfer the data, then returns to a dormant state.
For a regular cell phone with Internet access, users can type in the web information on the tablet and have the same information appear. Each symbol can be accompanied by about 200 words of text.
So how is this better than including a memorial website’s address on a tombstone? The answer is permanence, Bottorff said.
“Compare us to them and we look a bit primitive, he said. “The traditional memorial website is a much richer multimedia experience, but not necessarily pursuing the long-term data survival model we are. If you’re interested in a long genealogical surviving record, ours is a pretty good approach.”
RosettaStone boasts that the tablets’ information will remain accessible for the next 3,000 years. Even if the company folds, the tablets’ associated information will remain. In part, that’s because information is both hard-coded to the stones’ internal microchip and archived externally on the web. (Of course, without a time machine, it’s impossible to verify the 3,000-year claim, but the concept seems to sell nonetheless.)
Introduced a little over a month ago, Objecs has sold fewer than 100 of the products, which cost about $200. Among the buyers, Bottorff said, are a well-known American musician and a BBC Television personality.
Although Objecs initially offer for the product was a way to honor the dead, the living have quickly wanted it for themselves too. (In fact, the living are the product’s primarily buyers thus far.) On its website, Objecs notes that RosettaStones are also intended for “mature adults who have reached a stage in life with identifiable milestones and associations. Such milestones may include a profession, discipline, paternal capacity, love of music or skill….”
“When people started buying it for themselves, it was an awakening that it was something people wanted to hold onto as a family heirloom, so we adjusted our message,” Bottorff said.
Hill has been updating and frequently rewriting the text he wants to accompany his RosettaStone entries frequently.
“If a truck hits me tomorrow, I’ve got some words that will last forever and that’s real,” he said. “It’s hard to write at first. You’re thinking, ‘Wow. These are my last words.’”
Death can make us aware of the importance of life. When a person is a funeral director, he or she is surrounded by death. Many believe that blessings can arise out of grief and loss. As a society, we most often focus on the negative aspects of death. At FuneralResources.com, we choose to focus on the positive aspects of death. Here are some things I have learned that might help you and your families:
Everyday Life: Grief often brings into focus our daily life that we assume will “always” be the same. What we might take for granted now can come into full bloom when contrasted with death. Our families, our loved ones and our health start taking on far more importance and they are treasured far more. Material concerns have a chance during a loss to take a second seat. We get back to basics and realize what we have is good. What a blessing.
Hidden Angels: People can be a blessing. As we walk through the five stages of grief, people come into our lives to help ease our pain. A member of Beyond Indigo wrote:
“One of the things I remember most about my horrible summer in hell were three people I met who were walking angels. Each of them, in their own way, made that summer bearable and is remembered now, after it has passed, as huge blessings. I’m actually glad I met them even though I met them only because of the situation, which was causing such grief.”
Look On The Bright Side: Things could be worse. As trite as it sounds, it is true. Life can always be worse. Looking at what occurred as a positive can bring new thoughts to the surface.
Another Beyond Indigo member wrote to us about her pregnancy. She was 21 weeks pregnant when her doctors told her that the baby would not survive the cyst that had become part of its little body. She wrote, “Obviously, the RIGHT ending would have been for me to have a good, wonderful pregnancy that ended with a healthy baby. Wasn’t going to happen. Options like having a kid with horrible life-affecting illnesses and handicaps, or having a stillbirth, or worst – not knowing and having to make a choice. I ended up knowing what I had to do. I was able to end the pregnancy without wondering if I was making the right choice. That was a huge blessing.”
Opportunities: Death is permanent. Once a death occurs, it is hard to say,” I am sorry”, or, “I love you”. It reminds us that we have the opportunity to tell others that we love them or that we are sorry or how important they are in our lives. Take this blessing of time to let others in your life know how important they are to you. Do it now, and don’t wait.
Search: Search out others that have recently lost a loved one or acquaintance. Share your story, you thoughts, your feelings and your concerns and insights with them. Sharing, or volunteering to help someone else feel better will help you both.
Celebrate: Celebrate any occasion, any holiday or special event with a friend and share all the joys of the person lost. Remember well, and then go ahead and enjoy the day, the hour and the moment. NOW is what we all have.
People who are coping with grief and loss are definitely operating out of a different place then people who are not grieving. I call this the “Grief Space”. Within this space different thoughts and feelings are occurring to the grieving person than occur to those that are not grieving. If you could see this ‘space’, and experiencing the five stages of grief, it would look like a bubble that surrounds the person. If you could look into this bubble you would find:
Limited Awareness of physical events: Grieving people who are coping with loss tend not to be too aware of their physical surroundings nor do they care as much about doing so. If the house stays dirty or they forget to eat it doesn’t cross their own internal radar. People can lose awareness of national events, local happenings and family news. It just blurs together. I have even heard of people breaking bones and not being aware of the pain from the break. Acute Awareness of Emotions: People who are grieving are in acute emotional pain. This pain, most likely, is the worse, intense emotional pain they have ever felt. They know that they are in pain and don’t know what to do with it. Grieving people are highly aware of how other people react to their (the grieving person’s) grief. They know when people are not comfortable with the concept of death and the emotional loss that follows it. They know when others are uncomfortable with intense emotions that are being displayed. Blurring the Hands of Time: Time is a subjective concept for people who are grieving. On one hand, every minute is a painful reminder that their loved one is no longer with them. The days can drag and their mind is full of the grief and loss that they have just suffered. On the other hand people lose track of time when it comes to non-emotional aspects of their life (eating, drinking water, working out, paying bills, mowing the lawn, etc.).
How to connect with families while they are grieving
Remember that you are seeing people when their bereavement and grief are the most intense. People at this point in their grief journey are not functioning well or at all. Here are some thoughts for you to keep in mind while speaking to families during this time.
1. Be aware of your concept of death: Remember that families can tell when you are not comfortable with the thought of loss. They will be expecting pleasant platitudes because what else do people say? Your families will know when you truly are not afraid of deep emotions, yet are able to guide them through the practical aspects of taking care of business. Word will spread that you understand and care.
2. Listening to your family: When listening to the grieving person tell his or her story, allow silent spaces in the conversation. Silence is helpful but sometimes hard for the listener. It is acceptable to rephrase what you heard from those grieving. This will let the family members know you are listening to them and they will feel understood.
3. Keep checking in with your families: After the funeral, your part in helping them through their loss is completed, but for the family their grief journey has just begun. After a funeral, most people stop talking about the loss and act like it hasn’t happened. By avoiding the loss, people don’t have to deal with the hard emotional issues that surround it. Grieving people want to talk about their loss. This is their grief space. Their loss fills this space. Call the families once in a while or send a note in the mail. This is a marvelous way to provide aftercare, and maintain a relationship with your families.
A memorial website is another great way to keep in touch with families. These new memorial technology tools do not require great time commitments from your staff. With the proper software, your website becomes the 24×7 employee who keeps in touch with your families.
When you are dying it is hard to come to terms with the end of your life much less help others to cope with their grief and loss of losing you soon. The concept of death in our western culture is avoided by most people because they do not know how to talk about it. Terminally ill planning is rarely discussed and often misunderstood. But always remember you are not alone in this!
Before you sit down to discuss your condition with your family and friends take the time to create a handout. This handout would include why you are sick, how you found out about your condition, the nature of your illness and information on where to learn more about your disease. When people first hear the news they will be in shock and only remember one or two pieces of information. With hard printed information your family and friends can take a moment to digest the news and then when they want they can revert back to the information you gave them. This will cut down on the number of questions they might ask you and the difficulty you might have to talk about your demise and the cause.
Before you approach your family and friends think to yourself, “How do I feel about my situation?” Make sure you can verbalize how you feel clearly. It will be important to convey to your loved ones how you feel when you do talk to them. They will want to know, “Is he/she okay”? “Does he/she hurt?” “Will he/she be sick or just weak?” etc.
Some options to tell your loved ones
In a Letter: If you are the type of person who expresses yourself better in writing than verbally you might want to consider a letter. It could include how you feel, your concerns about how your family would feel, how you would like them to treat you or help you in the coming months. You could also include the information sheet discussed above. Write it in a manner that gives the impression you are sitting down with them for a nice, intimate chat. Over a Family Dinner/Conference: Invite your family over and make your favorite meal. If you don’t have enough energy to make a meal ask each person to bring one part of the meal. Tell them you invited them over because you have some important news to share. You could pass around a letter if you wrote one and your information sheet. Start off with what they mean to you and how hard a time it is for you right now and that you need their support. Once you start the conversation the rest will happen.
With A Therapist/Pastor/Minister/Rabbi: Sometimes having a third person in the room helps. The third person can help monitor people’s reactions, keep everyone calm and be the voice of reason when questions are being asked. This third person can start off the conversation and explain why everyone is being gathered. This means that you will have already had the opportunity to discuss your feelings, condition, and fears with someone. It acts as a type of dress rehearsal for the meeting with your loved one(s).
When you do meet with your friends and family you might want to stress to them that the time you have left on this earth is short but that you are still living. You have not died yet. This time would be a good opportunity to settle old differences, to clear the air of hurts and anger, and to have conversations about how much people have meant to you. Don’t forgot to talk about finances, your final ceremony and what you would like to happen with your possessions, and your memories (photos and etc.). You might even want to designate someone to go with you to discuss your end of life arrangements at your local funeral home or cremation society.
After losing a close loved one back in 2008, I am constantly trying to find ways I can help both families and Funeral Directors find new ways to make the funeral planning process easier. After working closely and researching extensively, I have learned a lot about how to plan a funeral and end of life planning industries.
However, since I am not a licensed Funeral Director, I have also focused on learning how challenging and meaningful of a role a Funeral Directors can play in a families life, and therefore, I have gained a tremendous amount of well-deserved respect and appreciation for a Funeral Director’s selfless contribution to this valued public service.
So given the importance and sensitivity of this matter, I am not only constantly trying to learn more each day, but also searching for any possible new and innovative ways to help add value to this industry.
When I look back on my personal experience, below are some of the key things I truly believe would have helped my family as we worked through the many funeral planning challenges:
1. I believe it would be helpful if the Funeral Director could give a brief history about their Funeral Home, Cemetery, as well as their personal background and experience.
This would help families learn more about choosing a funeral home or cemetery, funeral director, and feel more comfortable about the qualifications, experience, and credibility of who they are dealing with.
2. I think it could be helpful if a Funeral Directors would ask if anyone involved has any history or experience with planning a funeral.
This would help the Funeral Director and the family, since this lets the Funeral Director know if they need to begin slowly, starting with the basics, or whether things could be a little easier and streamlined based on any past experience.
3. Before the Funeral Director begins to review the basic outline of the funeral planning process, it would be helpful if they ask the family if they have any important questions on their mind that they feel like they need to find answers.
This allows the family members to ask about things that might be of concern, time-sensitive, or important to know regardless of the planning process.
4. The Funeral Director could explain the general outline of what the funeral planning process involves and what they will review and work on together. Ideally, this overall outline would be great to have in writing, so they can see it, read it, plan ahead, and follow along step-by-step.
This helps the families to get an idea of what to expect, and also begin thinking about the many funeral planning challenges.
5. The Funeral Director could tell the family members to feel free to interrupt him/her at any time, and ask any questions that come to mind, no matter how basic or uncomfortable they might feel.
This helps families feel like it is OK to ask questions, since from my personal experience, I was very reluctant to ask things that I now wish I had.
6. After the funeral planning process, the Funeral Director could find a way to help families learn about some of the new and popular memorial technology tools, resources, services, and funeral home services. In fact, I would even recommend offering families a printed list of these options so you can talk about them with the families, or simply let them research these things on their own to find out more.
Why not let every family know about all of these options? If families don’t choose to add these to their funeral or memorial planning, they are still better off from knowing these options were available. And if families do find these options to helpful tools that can allow them to better heal, remember, and pay a special tribute to a loved one, everyone wins!
7. Last, I would suggest Funeral Directors consider providing every family with helpful details, such as these below, at the end of their funeral planning discussion:
– Key things to consider when planning a memorial service
– Several phone numbers to contact for any questions or concerns, 24/7
– Grief support information, grief books, and local grief support
– Information on how to give a eulogy, funeral etiquette, how to write an obituary, and other common families needs
– Contact information on Charitable Organizations, and ways to help families donate funds “in lieu of funeral flowers”
– Key reasons and benefits to consider an End of Life Plan, and where they can go to learn more
– Names and contact information for people who you recommend that would be willing to help offer free advice for any financial planning matters, such as funeral estate planning, tax planning, wealth management, etc.
Again, these are just some thoughts I had after looking back on my personal experience, as well as some of the details I have found that most families are searching for – and today this is being done largely on the Internet.
I truly hope this helps both families and Funeral Directors, as I continue my quest to make this difficult process easier!