Stolen Sex Dolls & Hell’s Angel Pizza Ovens | 4M #109

Funeral Industry News Morticians' Monday Morning Mashup October 23, 2023
4M 109

Stolen Sex Dolls & Hell’s Angel Pizza Ovens | 4M #109

Welcome to the hundred-and-ninth edition of Morticians’ Monday Morning Mashup, 4M #109, where we’ll serve up bite-sized, easily-digestible nuggets of the deathcare news you need to crush conversations in the week ahead. Bon appetit!

This newsletter is powered by MemoryShare, a funeral livestreaming platform that you can set up in 30 seconds or less.

That’s not evidence

A contracted transport firm worker has been arrested in Nebraska for allegedly stealing a life-sized sex doll from the apartment of a deceased person he’d removed. According to reports, the man carried out the removal with no issues; however, he later contacted the property manager saying the sheriff’s office wanted him to retrieve some “evidence” from the scene so it could be “swabbed for a biopsy.” The manager refused his request, but when later investigating noises coming from the vacant apartment, he eventually found the workers in the apartment behind a chained and locked door looking “disheveled.” The worker was terminated from his position and faces charges for attempted burglary, criminal trespassing and tampering with physical evidence.

Funds for the federal fallen

Arizona senator Kyrsten Sinema is sponsoring a bipartisan bill that would exponentially increase benefits for certain federal employees who die in the line of duty. Currently, the families of civil servants killed while on the job receive a bereavement payout of $10,000 and a funeral benefit of $800. Sinema’s bill proposes increasing those benefits to $100,000 and $8,800, respectively. This would be the first revision to those payouts in more than two decades.

Lauren the Mortician canceled?

Say it ain’t so! Lauren Eliza, a popular #deathTok mortician, whom we’ve mentioned several times here in the 4M about her success in sharing solid advice with her 2.5 million followers, may have crossed into someone else’s lane. It seems that a child safety expert on TikTok took offense to Lauren’s advice about the safety of car seats — based on her professional experience of having to work on children who died in auto accidents. Lauren and the safety expert have been trading increasingly scathing (and F-bomb-laced) TikToks, and it’s led to quite a few calls for Lauren’s “cancellation.” We hope things settled down soon in #deathTok land, and that @lovee.miss.lauren survives to post more relevant advice. It’s been nice to see the profession represented (prior to this scandal) in such a positive and helpful way.

What do you call your retort?

It’s fair to say that few people outside the deathcare profession would be familiar with any of the “proper” names for the crematory/retort/cremation chamber. However, we hope they’d come up with a more respectful description than “pizza oven,” which is the nickname a group of Hell’s Angels apparently used when describing a crematory they employed to covertly (and illegally) dispose of bodies. California prosecutors have alleged that members of one Hell’s Angels gang “coaxed” a Fresno funeral director into letting them use the firm’s cremation equipment for their own purposes. Court documents captured the “pizza oven” moniker when describing the alleged illegal cremation of four missing individuals thought to have been murdered by the gang. 

Cemetery spooks lawmakers

Recent discussions about green burials in Minnesota sent shivers down the spines of the state’s lawmakers — so much so that a two-year moratorium on new green cemeteries was “tucked into” an existing bill during their March session. Apparently, they found the idea of green burials “distasteful and even disrespectful” while people living near a proposed green cemetery voiced concerns about coyotes digging up the dead as neighbors “watched from their kitchen windows.” Lawmakers were so freaked out that they allocated nearly $80,000 for a Department of Health investigation into the safety of green burials. 

However, a 90-year-old resident of the county where the proposed cemetery was in progress, but put on hold by the bill, isn’t happy about the decision. He’s gathered more than 300 signatures to urge the health department to hurry up, as two years is too long for someone his age to wait for green burial to be available in his home county. “My body is a temple, with its [30] trillion cells,” he said. “Those cells are valuable to creation. I don’t want them pickled with formaldehyde and I don’t want them incinerated in a waste of fossil fuels.”

Grief in the workplace

A trade publication for folks in human resources positions recently published a plea for those departments to pay more attention to this “overlooked employee experience.” This article in online magazine HR Executive cites multiple studies to support their argument that an HR professional’s role includes “addressing concerns surrounding loss” to “create psychological safety among employees.” Anyone who has ever had to return to work three short, exhausting days after losing an immediate family member can certainly understand the unique challenges dealing with grief and loss in the workplace can pose.

Tricky trick-or-treating

Here in the 4M we’ve opined on multiple occasions the various and sundry woes of managing a cemetery — from corralling stray wild animals to dealing with the growing number of crimes committed on the grounds. Let’s add another challenge to the list: Connecting with your community without causing controversy. Of course you want to give back, and hosting events for the public’s entertainment or education is one way to do that. However, if you want to host said event on your property, you risk backlash from the families of loved ones under your care. 

Case in point: An Ohio cemetery is preparing to host a Pumpkin Fest later this month, complete with hayrides and face painting. It’s the 11th year they’ve held the event, but the first year they’ve put out a sign to advertise it. As a result, families, concerned about the “dignity” of having such an event in the cemetery, contacted the local news station to complain, prompting the manager to explain that no activities take place in the actual burial grounds — just in the parking lot. It’s one of those “damned if you do” situations, I suppose … 

Pray for the people of Gaza

Although the conflict between Israel and Hamas seems to be happening a world away, the travesties and horror being experienced by innocent citizens in Gaza are very real. Thousands of people of all ages have died to date, and bodies continue to pile up in the most literal sense. Morgues are overflowing to the point that even ice cream trucks have been commandeered into service for temporary refrigeration. As soon as families can identify and claim their loved ones, the bodies are quickly buried in mass graves. Body bags are in short supply, and children are being buried one on top of the other. The struggles and pain of these families and those dealing with the deaths are unimaginable, so if you have a moment, please remember to include these people in your prayers.

Say goodbye to Facebook

If you’re using Facebook for live streaming, does this sound familiar?

  • Copyrighted music is silenced (even with proper certifications!)
  • Advertisements out of your control pop up during the livestream
  • It’s difficult for families to access because it requires a Facebook account

This is why Carlton Stevens Jr., Operations Manager and Mortician at Stevens Funeral Home in North Carolina, said goodbye to Facebook and switched to MemoryShare—a live streaming platform built specifically for funeral professionals.

“Now, families don’t have to worry about Facebook accounts. It works, and it’s easy to use,” Carlton said. “It’s the best, I’m telling you. It’s liquid gold.”

After he started offering live streaming during the pandemic, Carlton saw Stevens Funeral Home call volume bump from 20 calls to 41 calls.

Today, Stevens Funeral Home live streams a service every other day.

And with MemoryShare, all they have to do is push a button.

“It’s a no brainer,” Carlton said.

Read how Carlton is using livestreaming to grow his business in our latest case study—click here to read it!