Simple Cremation…are you sure?

Simple Cremation…are you sure?

Rick Allen, Allen Family Funeral Options, Collin SENIOR Magazine

In today’s economy, it pays to shop around. We recently had to purchase our youngest daughter a car and we were working on a very limited budget. We found a great deal in the most unlikely place. A luxury import dealer in an upscale area of Dallas had a late model domestic car they had taken in on trade. They did not have much in the car in the way of investment and were looking to move it off their lot. As a result, we found an unbelievably good price on a quality automobile. We had looked at cheaper cars, but when weighing our daughter’s safety and well-being against a little more cost for the better car, the decision was easy. If we would have simply searched out the cheapest price, I am confident we would have had regrets later for one reason or another.

Believe it or not, many people will choose a cremation provider based solely upon who will offer the lowest price. While the theory exists, “who cares, you are gone and won’t know anything about it,” something can be said for respecting the dignity of an individual after they have died. I am not going to cast accusations against low cost providers. I will simply base my opinion on what I know to be fact and tell you that the phrase “buyer beware” applies totally when doing business with these type firms.

There are two major things to be cautious of. First, the bait and switch operator; this is the one who attracts you with a low price advertisement in the newspaper or on a billboard. Once you have committed to doing business with them, then the low cost “hook” has add-ons that increase the cost. This can be confusing and extremely frustrating. Secondly, and this one is even worse in my opinion, is the get-what-you-pay-for guys. This is where dignity goes out the window. Because low cost has to be offset with high volume in order for an operator to be profitable, these types of operations remind me of a processing plant more than they do of a funeral establishment. Human remains are stored in cramped areas while the firm completes the necessary paperwork and then the remains are shipped off, several at a time in a cargo van, to be cremated several miles away from the funeral establishment the family originally contracted with. The end result is a far cry from anything resembling dignified and on top of that, the family is left waiting, often times as long as 10 days to get their loved one’s ashes back.

The media has trained funeral consumers to use the word “simple” when describing to their funeral director what their wishes are. Unfortunately, funeral directors have trained themselves to hear the word “cheap” when a consumer says “simple.” I believe when consumers say “simple” they are really saying, “I want something dignified and appropriate, but I don’t want you to overcharge me for what you do.” A woman recently came to me after her husband had died. She told me she wanted “simple” cremation. After we visited for a while she started describing to me the type service she wanted at their church, and then asked about the possibility of family and friends coming together for a time of reflection and remembrance the evening before the funeral service. We then composed a beautiful obituary for our website, created a video tribute and selected an urn. When we finished she was relieved that the cost for all the things she wanted were so reasonable and that she felt totally comfortable with our firm and knew that her husband’s wishes would be carried out exactly as he described to her prior to his passing. Afterwards, I learned that when she originally told me of her desire for a “simple” cremation, she meant that she did not want to bury her husband in the cemetery and have an elaborate memorial marking his grave. She did save a tidy sum of money by not having to purchase those items, but in my opinion, the service we provided to her was anything but “simple.” This just proves that one person’s definition of “simple” may not always match up to that of another.

Cremation is growing in popularity in our particular geographic area. Some may see this as a positive and some may view it as a negative. I see it as nothing more than one way, out of several, to accomplish final disposition of one’s body. No matter what you choose, please do not make your decision solely on who will give you the lowest price. Cost should be one of your considerations, but not your only concern.

Rick Allen owns Allen Family Funeral Options and may be reached at 972-596-8200.