Is the Economy Really Putting the Deathcare Industry In a Recession?When I used to tell people that I worked in the deathcare industry, they would all say the same thing: ?I guess you will always have plenty of business.? And I assumed they were right. I?m sure many people in this trade have thought the same thing. Who would have believed that the economy could affect the one thing in life that is guaranteed?
In just the past few months we have read about a handful of cases where families have failed to pay the funeral home for services, and the funeral home has held the body for an extended period of time. We have read about families never coming back to pick up the remains of a loved one because they didn?t have the money to pay the funeral home for the cremation. Even in the ?Bible Belt? of North Carolina they are seeing higher cremation rates than ever before. Is this really all because of the economy, or has our society become so careless about death and dignity that they don?t care about the remains of their loved ones?
One article I recently posted on ConnectingDirectors.com was about a widow who was selling her husband?s crypt (in which he is currently entombed), with the intent of to use the money to pay her mortgage on her $1.3 million Beverly Hills home. It helps to know that the crypt is located directly above the crypt of Marilyn Monroe and is currently listed on Ebay for $500,000. One of the husband?s last requests was to be entombed facedown above the crypt of Marilyn Monroe. A member of ConnectingDirectors.com replied to article saying, ?Just wrong. Disturbing a final resting place for some extra cash for an already-wealthy person? Dishonoring a last request? What good is preplanning if later someone can change their minds and have you dug up or otherwise disturbed??
It used to be that regardless of a family?s financial position they always treated the dead with dignity and respect, using whatever they could put together to give Mom or Dad a proper viewing and burial or cremation. I have had conversations with funeral directors in the past few months who related stories of families having plenty of life insurance to have a proper service for their loved one, but instead they opt for cremation. And instead of buying a nice urn they just use the temporary container that comes back from the crematory.
So where do we head as an industry from here? Well, we keep doing what we have always been doing?providing families with the guidance and comfort needed to properly celebrate the life of their loved one. We continue enforcing the importance of having a viewing with the body present. We keep educating families about the new products and personalization options that are available so they can honor the deceased in the best possible way. We stop thinking that the word ?cremation? automatically means ?direct cremation? and realize that cremation doesn?t have to equal recession. We remember that the service provided by funeral directors is unmatched by any other industry. Death is a part of life, but it is not the part of life people think about. Every day funeral directors are faced with tough families and situations that would cause the average Joe or Jane to crumble. Above all else we continue to over shadow the few bad apples with honesty and integrity and help families put respect and honor back into the grieving process.
Ryan Thogmartin is the Founder and CEO of ConnectingDirectors.com. ConnectingDirectors.com provides the only online gathering space where funeral professionals can visit to read daily articles, funeral industry news and ideas shared through a funeral industry discussion board. In addition, Mr. Thogmartin works in sales for his family’s burial vault company, Hupp Stiverson Wilbert Vault Inc.