Urngarden is a career change for us, and was started after some sad events in our life, we sensed the changes that were happening in the industry (yes, death is an industry) and felt like we could offer families and funeral homes an alternative. Families have embraced the opportunity, funeral homes are another story.
There is a lot of angst within the funeral home world. The public has dictated that they don’t ALWAYS want the traditional casket/viewing/burial service. Funeral directors are feeling the squeeze. Not only from the public but the vendors they do business with. There are too many funeral homes for the death rate.
The Chinese are mastering the Western style of casket manufacturing and this frustrates the vendors. The quality is good and the prices are fantastic. That translates to jobs for the American manufacturers. Locally, a casket manufacturer closed their plant to “consolidate operations”. Meaning: move production to Mexico.
Recently, we spoke with a family who’s mother died suddenly. She had several children and the kids were aware of mother’s wishes to be cremated. One son held out for burial, the funeral home seized upon HIS wish and $10,000 later (without a marker) this family is struggling to pay the bill. Sometime ago, I met with the funeral director that handled the arrangements and we talked about the impact of cremation on his business. He was bitter about the trend and referred to it as “body disposal”. Morally, he feels cremation is wrong but says he’ll honor the families he serves. Hmmmmm.
Regarding morals and serving your customers I found this article of interest on the issues a Target in Minnesota is having with some of their cashiers.
More death and burial folklore from Vance Randolph:
When a death finally occurs, one of the bereaved neighbors rises immediately and stops the clock. Everybody knows that if the clock should happen to stop of itself while a corpse is lying in the house, another member of the family would die within a year, and it’s best not to take no chances.
The next thing to do is cover every mirror in the house with white cloths, which are not removed until after the funeral. This is done out of consideration for those who may come in to view the body, for it one of them should glimpse his own reflection in the house of death, it is believed that he will never live to see another summer.
In some houses, immediately after a death occurs, the chairs are all turned up so that nobody can sit in them, and people who come into the presence of the dead are forced to stand. Randolph could never find the source of this belief and was told by one old-timer that “it is a new-fangled custom, brought into the country by some outlanders about 1880.”
“When a hillman dies all his bedding and articles of clothing are immediately hung on a line outdoors. People coming far down the road see this and know that the patient is dead. In predicting a sick man’s demise, I have heard people say “Poor Jim’s britches will be a-hangin’ out most any day now!”
“The hillfolk have a veritable mania for washing dead bodies; the moment a death occurs the neighbors strip the corpse and begin to scrub it vigorously. A man man be dirty all his life, and in his last illness his body and bedding may be so foul that one can harley stay in the cabin, but he goes to his grave clean. All of the work connected with a death- washing and dressing the body, is done by friends and neighbors. Not one of the near relatives of the deceased will have any part in these doings, except in the direst necessity.”
Today’s tip: Perfect your yodel.