By Rick Allen
I am becoming more and more supportive of the concept of cutting out the middle man. Often this can make a product or service more affordable.
It also seems like we are getting less and less service from service providers these days, so you wonder just what are we paying for when a third party is involved?
Here in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, there is a television commercial for an insurance agent who takes great pride in being a “middle-man”. He claims that in his case, as the middle man, he can save you time, money and get you the best value for your money spent. I have used this agent in the past and I will attest that as a middle man, he does a great job delivering what he promises.
Funeral homes, however, have done a pretty poor job in the recent times identifying their value to consumers and a trend has begun that cuts them out of funeral services because some of the public view them as unnecessary middle men. The Texas Funeral Service Commission has published a brochure in which the subject of do-it-yourself funerals is discussed. While it is not recommended, it is actually possible for a family to bury their own, completely on their own.
Self-sufficiency is not a bad idea, but where funerals are concerned, a growing number of people are confusing self-sufficiency with getting something for nothing. The bad part about this is, the entity being asked to provide something for nothing is not the funeral home, but rather the place where people go to church. Several people have told me that when they die they want to just be buried or cremated, and then if their family wants a service, they can work it out with their church. I have yet to hear of a church refusing to do this directly with a family, but when you get right down to what is right and what isn’t, is it really the responsibility of the church to act as funeral directors?
In my opinion, taking this attitude is actually a denial of reality. One reason people claim to have a lack of interest in their own service is the concept that “I’m not going to be there or know anything about it anyway”. I, too, believe this is true, but what about your spouse, your children, siblings, friends, or maybe even your parent or parents? How are they going to find an appropriate way in which to accept the fact that a death has occurred, and how will they be able to say good-bye?
The Frank Capra film “It’s a Wonderful Life” beautifully illustrates how one man failed to recognize the manner in which his life impacted so many others. Little did the character of George Bailey realize how his actions, no matter how small or insignificant to him, endeared him to so many others in very powerful ways. It’s far easier to assume that no one cares or that you yourself don’t care than to face the fact that you will be missed and people will want to honor you when your time here is done.
Putting this responsibility on the doorstep of your church is an easy way around a tough subject, but a far cry from the appropriate thing to do. Our funeral home has been asked on many occasions to come in and put together the loose ends. At other times we simply hear the tales from the church volunteers of how unstructured things seemed when the funeral home was not involved in a service. Things get overlooked in the planning stage and unfortunately are discovered absent when it’s too late. Other things that could have made a huge impact on the service as a whole are left out completely because no one knew they could be done. Simply put, a good funeral director and a thorough funeral home staff are worth every penny you may pay to them. They plan memorial tributes every day, and those that are really worth something are constantly searching for ways to innovate and contemporize the way people say good-bye.
Does value exist at all funeral homes? No. That is why I encourage you to discuss your plans with more than one funeral home. See the difference for yourself and then make a decision on which one you think will do the best job at helping you and your family create something that is meaningful, appropriate and affordable.