Floating Cremains & Ominous Epitaphs | 4M #111
Welcome to the hundred-and-eleventh edition of Morticians’ Monday Morning Mashup, 4M #111, 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.
Like a good neighbor …?
In a recent edition of 4M we shared the plight of a 90+-year-old man who was not at all pleased that the completion of a green cemetery was being blocked by disapproving neighbors of the proposed site. This week we’re seeing a (slightly) similar situation in California, where the prospective owners of two crematoriums (one for pets, one for humans) would like to open businesses in a Kern County multi-tenant business plaza. Neighboring business owners are opposing their applications, but they promise it’s not because of the so-called “ick factor.” Instead, they cite potential danger of fires from incinerators, as well as the associated noise, heat, and emission they believe will ensue. The crematorium owners call these concerns baseless, and one is alleging “unfounded discrimination.” This begs the question of just how hard, and for how much longer, must potential providers fight to be able to offer services like cremation and green burial to the growing number of folks who want and need them?
“Oops” doesn’t cut it
Meanwhile, in Australia, a couple combing the beach came upon a bottle containing a slip of paper and some other grainy contents. As they immortalized the “uncorking” on TikTok (because of course that’s what we should always do) they tipped the bottle over to knock out the slip of paper and poured out the other substance. Reading the note, though, they discovered that what they had just emptied were the cremains of a man named Geoff, who, according to the note, was happily traveling the world by sea, and asked that the bottle (with cremains intact) be placed back into the outgoing tide. The couple’s response when they found out they’d ended Geoff’s journey but dumping him unceremoniously into the sand? “Ooops.” And if you think that’s horrible, you don’t want to read the comments that have helped this TikTok go viral.
Stoic storefronts preferred
No one will argue that Halloween is the holiday where death takes center stage. Gravestone-shaped foam, plastic skeletons, cardboard coffins, ghosts fashioned from bedsheets, and the like adorn front yards and business storefronts alike to the delight of passersby — unless the storefront belongs to a funeral home. A UK deathcare establishment has been blasted for decorating its front windows with flossy spiderwebs, fake skeleton pieces, and blood-red painted handprints in celebration of the last holiday in October. The uproar led a spokesperson for the mortuary to apologize for the “shocking,” “tasteless,” and “inconsiderate” window dressing, which he insists was intended to “demonstrate our commitment to the local community and support for charities and national events.”
A Halloween lesson
While tidying up a Texas cemetery recently, a volunteer group of youths discovered a timely lesson on one of the tombstones. The monument marking the resting place of Carl B. Dobbins (1901-1935) is topped with the ominous epitaph: “The Wages of Sin is Death.” As it turns out, Dobbins was executed via electric chair in 1935 after killing his mother-in-law and another woman and severely injuring his soon-to-be-ex-wife after their meeting with a divorce attorney. Dobbins’ last wish was to be buried near the road so students of the high school across the street could read his last message and might learn from his earthly mistakes.
Return to Nature Update
Although no arrests have yet been made in the horrific Colorado case involving green funeral home Return to Nature earlier this month, civil proceedings are moving forward. Richard Law has initiated a lawsuit accusing the funeral home and its owners, Jon and Carrie Hallford, of “intentionally inflicting emotional distress, negligence, fraud and violating a number of Colorado laws among other claims.” Law, whose father died from COVID-19 in 2020 and was entrusted to the Hallfords, filed the suit on behalf of his and a number of other families whose loved ones have been identified among the nearly 200 sets of human remains found in a Penrose storage facility in early October.
This week we found a few pieces of good news that help to shine a positive spotlight on the deathcare community, including …
- This story about how more millennials are preplanning their funerals;
- This video touting a funeral home’s celebration of Dia de los Muertos;
- This announcement of an upcoming storytelling event addressing grief, loss, and death;
- This awards list honoring a book by an obituary writer about telling your own life story;
- This grand opening coverage of a community’s very first (and very cool) mausoleum; and
- These two stories (here and here) encouraging the preservation and upkeep of cemeteries.
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!